Located only 120 km from Saigon, the seaside city of Vung Tau remains one of Saigonese people’s all-time favorite holiday destinations.
I last visited Vung Tau around 12 years ago and promised to myself at that time that I’d had enough of it. To my memory, Vung Tau’s beaches were hideous, overcrowded and dirty. Services there, albeit diverse, were considered by many as daylight robbery. Of all the times I visited Vung Tau in the past, I also could not recall any particular attraction that the city had to offer. Therefore, despite its proximity to Saigon, I for a long time thought Vung Tau would not be worth a visit.
Surprisingly, Vung Tau has changed for the better! Or so I’d heard. So when my Mum and 3 of her friends (all of whom were in their 60s) made plan for a weekend trip to Vung Tau and asked me to join, I said yes right away. I wanted to see how different the new Vung Tau would be, compared to my own experiences with it 12 years ago. Thank God, I wasn’t disappointed. Let me debunk these 3 myths of Vung Tau for you now.
(I painfully forgot my camera at home, which explained the lower-quality photos I have here compared to those in my previous posts’. I hope you find them useful anyway!)
Myth 1: Vung Tau’s beaches are hideous and dirty
In the past, Vung Tau’s beaches were filled with trash. People ate on the beaches and littered right there. At the same time, the large number of visitors from Saigon and nearby provinces used to challenge the city’s capacity for hosting tourists. Demands for tourist services went up, making it quite difficult to book hotel rooms, hire deckchairs on the beach or find some peace and tranquility here.
Well, it’s 2017 now and everything has changed completely. The beaches appear much cleaner than they were in the past, with cleaning staff frequently walking around to pick up litter. It was a bit crowded on the weekend when we stayed in Vung Tau, but still much less crowded than I remembered it used to be. The water was certainly not as crystal clear as Nha Trang’s or Phu Quoc’s, but felt clean enough for us to jump into. And if you love waves, you’ll love these beaches in Vung Tau, too!
Myth 2: There’s nothing to do and see in Vung Tau beside the beaches
Truth be told, people who have visited seaside destinations in central Vietnam often disparage Vung Tau’s boring attractions. I personally don’t think highly of attractions in Vung Tau either. However, it’s fair enough to say these attractions should suffice to entertain you for a weekend trip here.
One of the most popular things to do in Vung Tau is to climb up the 1000 steps leading to a huge statue of Jesus Christ, which resembles Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro. Upon reaching the top, you will be able to enjoy an amazing view of the city, the sea and the mountains.
The climb was quite easy and took me around 15 minutes to reach the 800th step. However, since I wore shorts at that time, I was not allowed to climb up to the top. (Well, try not to wear anything shorter than your knees if you decide to climb here!).
On the way leading to the big statue, there are also smaller statues depicting stories in the New Testament. They are not very impressive but still interesting to see.
And here’s the view you will see while climbing. I bet the view from the top is much more beautiful!
In the evening, we had a stroll along the night market behind Imperial Hotel. It was a boring place with touristy products. The only exciting thing about this market is the scene of many people dining out here, singing karaoke and picking fresh seafood to bring home.
Myth 3: Services in Vung Tau are overpriced, especially for innocent-looking foreigners
It’s true that services in Vung Tau used to be terrible, but I’ve heard it’s no longer the case. The authority in Vung Tau has since several years ago tightened its rules regarding overcharging tourists. These moves seem to have significantly improved the city’s tourism services. Of course, common sense is still needed here. As long as you dine out only at places with clearly-written prices on the wall / in the menu, I think you should be okay.
Banh khot is considered Vung Tau’s speciality. They’re basically fried shrimp batters eaten with fish sauce and vegetables. Co Ba Vung Tau and Cay Vu Sua are the two most popular brands of banh khot here. During our trip, we tried banh khot at Mien Dong (59 Ba Trieu St.), which were much cheaper (20.000 VND / 5 banh khot and 25.000 VND / 7 banh khot) and crispier. However, their eatery was small and a bit dirty. My mum thought she would be willing to pay a bit higher for a more decent sitting place at Co Ba Vung Tau. And I agreed.
Our dinner was a buffet from Minh Minh Restaurant with lots of seafood and Russian specialities. The food was amazing and the price was amazingly cheap compared to Saigon’s. I’d highly recommend checking out this place!
To top it off, is Vung Tau worth a visit now?
If you’re looking for a weekend getaway from Saigon which costs not much, requires little effort and takes less time, Vung Tau is still worth a visit. Receiving the healing effect of the sea will surely rid your mind of stress and worries.
As for me, I perhaps will come back to Vung Tau soon to take proper photos with my camera. But until then, if you have also been to Vung Tau, don’t forget to share your experiences with me by commenting below! 🙂