Since Vung Tau receives far more Vietnamese than foreign visitors, the town is more geared up for domestic tourism than for international, but that doesn’t mean you would feel out-of-touch here. In fact, it’s a great place to meet Vietnamese in their leisure time and learn a little about how they like to have fun.
Sea Views from Vung Tau
The peninsula on which Vung Tau is situated features two large hills, Nui Nho (Small Mountain) and Nui Lon (Big Mountain), from the top of which there are expansive views out to sea and along the coast. Near the top of Small Mountain is a statue of a Giant Jesus that immediately brings to mind the Corcovado in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, although this statue is on a much smaller scale.
Nevertheless, it’s worth climbing the steps between trumpeting cherubs to reach the top. You can enter the statue and climb steps that bring you out on the statue’s shoulder to enjoy the impressive view.
Also on Small Mountain, but accessed by a different route, a lighthouse built in 1910 stands slightly above the Jesus statue, presenting more impressive views. To get there, turn up a lane called Hai Dang just north of the hydrofoil jetty. This steep and twisting road is a popular exercise route for the city’s joggers.
A newly-built cable car leads from the coast to the top of Big Mountain, from where there are even better views than from Small Mountain, and it gets rather crowded at by Friday when weekenders from the city jostle to get on board.
Governor’s House in Vung Tau
The town’s single historic building of note is Bach Dinh, 12 Tran Phu, which was built for the French governor-general of Indochina, Paul Daumier, and was later occupied by Vietnamese emperors and heads of state. The imposing structure is set in a garden of frangipani and bougainvillea, and the exhibits inside include findings from a shipwreck and some dusty Buddha images. However, it’s the view from the upstairs windows that are more likely to catch your attention.
Vung Tau Beaches
There are four beaches around the town. Bai Dau, Bai Truoc and Bai Dua all face out to sea and are either rocky, muddy or cluttered with boats, though this doesn’t stop the Vietnamese splashing about fully-clothed in the water.
In fact a recent clean-up has resulted in an attractive seafront promenade along Bai Truoc, complete with flower beds, which make for a pleasant stroll.
Bai Sau, meaning Back Beach, is the town’s longest, widest and most attractive beach, though the sea here is often murky. It’s packed at weekends with Vietnamese, many of whom flock to Ocean Park on the beach to rent watersports equipment, play beach games, or gorge themselves in the restaurant. There are also high-rise hotels and shopping malls which provide a cool distraction when the beach gets too hot.
Greyhound Racing in Vung Tau
The Lam Son Stadium, at 15 Le Loi, north of the town centre, is the only place in Vietnam where you can see this sport, and is worth a visit if you are feeling lucky or curious to see the Vietnamese at their most excited. Races take place on Saturday evening.