Vung Tau (Vũng Tàu) is a city in Southern Vietnam, about 125km from Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). Its close location to Saigon and its beauty and fresh air makes it a very popular destination for weekends.
Vung Tau is the tourist and commercial center of Bà Rịa - Vũng Tàu (an industrial province in Southeastern Vietnam). The whole city area lies on a peninsula which is separated from the mainland by a gulf river called Co May river.
During 14th and 15th centuries, the cape that would become Vũng Tàu was a swamp which European trading ships visited regularly. The ships' activities inspired the name Vũng Tàu, which means "anchorage". The Portuguese navigators passed Vũng Tàu many times and named it after Saint Jacques. The French invaded Vietnam afterwards and called it Cape Saint Jacques. The cliff of Vũng Tàu is now called Mũi Nghinh Phong (literally means “Cape of greeting the wind”).
Vũng Tàu was originally referred to as Tam Thắng ("Three Boats") in memory of the first 3 villages in this area: Thắng Nhất, Thắng Nhị, Thắng Tam. It was within the province of Biên Hòa under the Nguyen dynasty.
10th February 1859 marks the first use of cannons by Nguyen’s army, when they fired at French battleships from the fortress of Phước Thắng, located 100 m from Vũng Tàu's Front Beach. This marked an important period in Vietnam’s war against French invaders in South Vietnam (then called Cochinchina).
In 1876, according to a decree by the French colonialists, Vũng Tàu was merged in Bà Rịa county, a part of Saigon administration (French: Circonscription De Saigon).
On May the 1st 1895 the governor of Cochinchina established by decree that Cape Saint Jacques would thereafter be an autonomous town. In 1898, Cape Saint Jacques was merged with Ba Ria County once again but was divided again in 1899.
In 1901, the population of Vũng Tàu was 5,690, of which 2000 persons were immigrants from North Vietnam. Most of the town's population made their living in the fishing industry.
On April 4th 1905 Cape Saint Jacques was made an administrative district of Ba Ria province. In 1929, Cape Saint Jacques became a province, and in 1934 became a city (commune).
The French governor of Indochina, Paul Doumer (who later became President of France), built a mansion in Vũng Tàu that is still a prominent landmark in the city.
During the Vietnam War, Vũng Tàu was home to the Australian Army and American support units, and was a popular spot for in-country R&R for U.S. combat troops. After the war, Vũng Tàu was a common launching place for the Vietnamese Boat People fleing the communists.
On May 30th 1979, Vũng Tàu town was made the capital of Vũng Tàu-Côn Đảo Special Admistrative Zone.
On August 12th 1991, the province of Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu was officially founded and Vũng Tàu town officially became Vũng Tàu city.
Economy and society
The city is located in the south of Vietnam, and is situated at the tip of a small peninsula. It has traditionally been a significant port, particularly during Vietnam's period of French rule. Today, the city's importance as a shipping port has diminished, but it still plays a significant role in Vietnam's offshore oil industry. Vung Tau is the only petroleum base of Vietnam where crude oil and gas exploitation activities dominate the city's economy and contribute principal income to Vietnam's budget and export volume.
Vũng Tàu is home to 210,000 people, in which 1250 are Russians working as specialists in the oil industry.
Phu My Portis a deep-water port able to accommodate ships ranging between 40,000 and 60,000dwt.Phu My is a commercial port with nothing nearby. A shuttle may be provided to the small town of Ba Ria where you can take a taxi to a larger city like Vung Tau. The best way to get to Ho Chi Minh City is either with the ship's or private tour. Transfer from Phu My Port to Ho Chi Minh
Located in Southern Vietnam, Vũng Tàu has only two seasons in a year :
Vũng Tàu is connected to the mainland by Highway No. 51 (Quốc lộ 51), which runs from Biên Hòa City. Travelers take Highway No. 1 northwards to Bien Hoa. After crossing Dong Nai River bridge and arriving Vung Tau Intersection (Ngã Ba Vũng Tàu), turn right.
The fastest way on bus to Vung Tau is taking a high speed coach both at open tour and daily bus at Mien Dong Coach Station (Bến Xe Miền Đông). Comfortable 16-seat cars with air-conditioners. New trip every 15 minutes. It has one break station on half-journey. Duration : 2 hours.
To get to Mien Dong Coach station, you can take bus No 19 from Ben Thanh Market bus station, which will drop you just opposite to the Mien Dong Coach station entrance.
The same as Rạng Đông but with larger cars. New trip every 15 minutes. Thiên Phú is newbie to the route to Vung Tau.
Reliable inter-provincial bus service in Vietnam, esp. Southern Vietnam. Operates every 30 minutes. The journey from the bus depot in Ho Chi Minh City to the bus depot in Vung Tao takes approximately 2.25hrs during the day. A bottle of water is provided to every passenger. Using the toilet at the bus depot at HCMC costs 1000VND.
Operated every hour. Seats are reserved by telephone only. If you are in Vung Tau, you are picked up wherever you want.
"Tàu cánh ngầm" aka "Hydrofoil fast ferry" in Vietnam is a quick way to get to and from Vũng Tàu. Taking the Hydrofoil is a good way to see the commerical maritime areas as the boat runs through the Saigon River to the sea. After one hour and 15 minutes, Vũng Tàu peninsula appears with its two mountains (conveniently called "Big Mountain" and "Little Mountain") at the waterfront. This is a little more comfortable way to get to Vung Tau rather than taking the bus. It's a little more expensive at 200,000 VNĐ/person (US$10). On the weekends, be sure to get your tickets at least a day early. You will be lucky to get a ticket if you wait till the day of.
SCAM ALERT At the ticket counter in Saigon, they randomly didn't allow to buy the return ticket, recommending to buy it as soon as in Vung Tau. Once there, the lady at the counter will pretend that all the tickets are gone, and you will be immediately approached by local men willing to sell the tickets with a 100% surcharge, with the complicity of the Ticket counters employees. Make sure you buy the return ticket in Saigon, or accept to be considered as an ATM.
Essential information: Price: 10 USD/ 1 ticket/ 1 pax (adult) and 5 USD/ child (age 6-11, high under 1.4m) Duration: 75 minutes Depart at: Bach Dang pier in Saigon, District 1. Not far from the Majestic hotel (100mtrs) Land in Cầu Đá Port, Ben Cau Da, Ha Long Street, Vung Tau
You can arrange private transfer from Saigon or Mui Ne with Saigon2MuiNe.com . Book and pay online via PayPal. No hidden fee.
Taxis are rather expensive in Vũng Tàu. Prices are 30% higher than Saigon companies, especially along the beaches. Major companies are Gili Taxi, Petro Taxi, Vinasun, and Mai Linh. Petro Taxi by the hydrofoil port will charge five times more than a VinaSun taxi.
As an ordinary Vietnam urban area, Vũng Tàu has plenty of xe ôm (motorbike) drivers who are professional (and unfortunately seek out foreigners). Tourists coming to Vũng Tàu may find out that traffic is slower here, especially during the week. As of December 15th, 2007 all riders in Vietnam are now required to wear helmets an this is strongly enforced. As such, the driver should supply you with a helmet. If he doesn't - find another one, as you'll be the one stuck with the fine. Remember : always agree on a price before you set off.
Xe đạp đôi or double-bike (tandem bicycle) has been popular among youth and teenagers of Vung Tau. You can see groups of at least four riding along the windy and green streets and along the coast. A standard double-bike can carry 3 people in which 2 take the ride. You can rent a double bike at the Bãi Trước (Front Beach) Area beside Nhà thiếu nhi (Children Cultural House) or on pavements along the Bãi Sau (Back Beach) near hotels area.
Vũng Tàu is rather small in size, so don't hesitate to take a walk. Recommended ways are : Bacu street (the city's downtown), Đồ Chiểu Street (food center), Trưng Trắc and Trưng Nhị Square, Công viên Bãi trước (Front Beach park) and pavements along the coastline. The only drawback; foreigners are constantly sought after by motorbike drivers, especially if walking alone.
Next to the platform, 4 old French cannons (about 10m long and weighing several tons) were once used to defend the area from naval attacks.
The lighthouse affords a panoramic view of the whole of Vung Tau and is a really interesting site. No ticket is needed, but tourists are required to pay 4,000 VND per visit.
The sanctum is roofed with yin-yang tiles and is in the shape of “a couple of dragons joking upon the moon” and the pillars are engraved wit the shapes of dragons. This commune stores twelve pieces of sanction of Nguyễn dynasty.
On the right of Thắng Tam commune is the Whale tomb where there is a set of great bones of whales picked up from 100 years ago and on the left is Ngũ Hành Temple (5 elements of the space: metal, wood, water, fire and the earth).
Seaside status makes Vung Tau a nearby paradise for Saigonners. However, for well-travelled foreigners, expect a bit less. The beach is not all too attractive with litter lining the coast, and most of the sandy eastern beach has signage about dangerous swimming. There are four beaches in the city center located in different positions.
Bãi Dứa and Bãi Dâu are actually beaches along Mountains, thus you must go downstairs to get to the waterfront. There's less sand and no safeguard.
Vung Tau's landscape is suitable for climbing mountains, few of the hikes in Vung Tau are
Where to buy
What to buy
Almost all banks' ATMs are available in Vung Tau. Most of them are located in commercial roads such as Lê Hồng Phong, Ba Cu and Trưng Vương Square.
Visa and Mastercard are also accepted with a minimum fee of 50,000 VNĐ to 70,000 VNĐ for each withdraw.
Banh Khot is Vung Tau's signature meal, it is an all breakfast meal which includes greens and noodles.
A small bánh khọt restaurant run by a family. Not all tourists know it due to its location in a busy street but they find tastier fish sauce (nước mắm).
Well-known midrange restaurant for Vietnamese meals and variety of seafood. Tiger Beer and Pilsner Urquell available.
Largest indoor restaurant, ideal place for parties. Special food include ssashlyk (Russian fried pork) and Russian salad.
An area of four pavement restaurant beside each other. Come here to enjoy the Vietnamese hotpot in different styles. Hotpot is a must in every Vietnamese parties and group meetings (with 3 people and more). Beer is encouraged.
Mediteranean Restaurant with French and Italian Specialities .Price start at 24.000 vnd . Colonial House and tropical garden with a great view on the golf . Home made delicious Ice Cream and a very large selection of imported wines . Wood pizza oven and home baked french bread . Pizzas , BBQ , Fish , Imported Meats . Home delivery .Free Wi Fi access .
Italian restaurant with a wide selection of pasta, wood fired pizza, seafood and wine and Italian desserts. They also have fresh bread, coffees. Home delivery available.
A cheap beer garden frequented mostly by locals with snacks and seafood. Breakfasts too.
Little icecream spot with soft music. Well-known for 20 years.
Vung Tau features the largest cheap guesthouses and hotels in Vietnam. Rooms range from electic fans and public bathrooms to air-conditioned with hot water. All located in Thùy Vân Street, in front of Bãi Sau (Back Beach) at the foot of Small Mount. Lowest prices from 120,000/room (on weekdays) to 200,000 VNĐ (weekend).
Situated in front of Bãi Sau, Tháng Mười has 92 comfortable bedrooms with cable TV, airconditioners and minibars... Just a few walks to the beach. Prices range from 300,000 VNĐ - 500,000 VNĐ.
International 3-star Hotel, one of the most beautiful and luxurious Hotel in Vung Tau, located in the strategically tourist place (the Back Beach ) with private beach. Only 200 meters to the Paradise golf course and 5 minutes access to the central City. Offers 133 guest rooms and suites with air-conditioner, satellite television, IDD telephone, high speed internet access, mini bar, in-house music, dressing table, bath-tub.
The 4-star Palace is located in the heart of Vung Tau.It has 94 guest rooms and provides a variety of comfortable accommodations that match a wide range of business and travelers needs. The Palace Hotel is also the ideal venu for seminars, conferences, banquet group dinners and cocktail parties. Its restaurants offer extensive a la carte menus of award-winning Vietnamese, Asian and Western cuisines. Private dining rooms are also available. The main hall can accommodate up to 800 banquet style and includes bars and coffee lounges. There is a Casino within the Hotel premises. An adjourning Bar at the Casino allows relaxation and listening pleasures to the evergreens of the '70s. Rate per night range from 65 - 165 USD.
While pick pockets are not that common, theft (usually snatching of bags or purses) is becoming an increasing problem. Visitors should not carry valuables in bags and try to avoid carrying them as much as possible at night, especially in the city center or along front and back beaches. Bags or purses have been known to be snatched off bicycles and even motorbikes as well as pedestrians. This is sometimes followed by violent pushing or hitting to distract the victim and anyone who may be with them, to help the perpetrators get away. This is not as common as it is in Ho Chi Minh City, however the level of theft increases in the time leading up to the national holiday of Tet, as locals brace for the financial crunch of the holiday.
The city hospital is "Lê Lợi" Hospital (22 Lê Lợi Street. 832667). Tell the taxi "benh vien" and he'll understand.
171 (178) + 00 + National code + Area code + Phone number. Note : This method is not available with cellphones.