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Vung Tau travel guide

Vung Tau Introduction

| 12 Nov 2012
Last updated 12 Nov 2012

Vung Tau's best days as an international travel destination are probably in the past. The beach is a long way from Vietnam's finest and the town has been consumed by an oil services industry supporting a network of rigs off the coast.

There are petro taxis, petro hotels, petro boat companies and petro tourism companies.

Not really the stuff that conjurs images of paradise by the sea.

And Vung Tau's reputation for sleaze is well earned too.

It's a shame since the front beach area still sports nice views, colonial era architecture, a pleasant promenade, a laid-back vibe - and it's only 90 minutes by hydrofoil from Saigon.

Comfortable hotels are well priced too.

Locals converge on Vung Tau for weekends of seafood and sea air away from the stress of Saigon. Sun seeking international travellers are drawn more to the better beaches of Mui Ne, Nha Trang, Hoi An and Phu Quoc Island.

Vung Tau has been on shipping maps for centuries but the settlement was given a new lease of life by the French at the end of the 19th century. They named it Cap St Jacques and it became the destination of choice for colonials wanting to escape Saigon for the coast.

During the Vietnam War, the main Australian military presence was in and around Vung Tau. The area was known then as Phuoc Tuy Province.

Australian interest in Vietnam War history is growing - especially interest in the battle of Long Tan - and an increasing number of travellers are visiting the former battlefields around the old base at Nui Dat.
While remnants of the Australian military presence are modest, a little reading and a good tour guide will add meaning to a visit.

Most travellers make the visit to Nui Dat and Long Tan in a day from Saigon but a more relaxed experience can be had from Vung Tau.

If you need a short break from Saigon or have a special interest in Australia's Vietnam War history, Vung Tau's a pleasant place to spend a day or two.