Vung Tau

Vung Tau as seen from Tao Phung Mount

Vung Tau (Vũng Tàu) is a city in Southern Vietnam, about 125 km from Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). Its nearness to Saigon and its beauty and fresh air makes it a very popular destination for weekends.

Understand

Vung Tau is the tourist and commercial centre of Bà Rịa - Vũng Tàu (an industrial province in southeastern Vietnam). The city lies on a peninsula which is separated from the mainland by a stream called the Co May River.

History

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, and Thắng Tam. It was within the province of Biên Hòa under the Nguyen dynasty.

10 Feb 1859 marked the first use of cannons by Nguyen's army, when they fired at French battleships from the fortress of Phước Thắng, 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 1901, the population of Vũng Tàu was 5,690, of which 2,000 persons were immigrants from northern Vietnam. Most of the town's population made their living in the fishing industry.

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 US troops. After the war, Vũng Tàu was a common launching place for boat people fleeing the communists.

On 12 Aug 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 in south Vietnam, and is 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 port has diminished, but it still plays a significant role in Vietnam's offshore oil industry. Vung Tau is the centre of Vietnam's petroleum industry. Oil and gas exploitation dominate the city's economy and contribute to Vietnam's current account balance.

Vũng Tàu is home to 210,000 people. Roughly 1,250 are Russian specialists working in the oil industry.

Climate

Vũng Tàu has two seasons:

Get in

By bus

Vũng Tàu is connected to the mainland by Hwy 51 (Quốc lộ 51), which runs from Biên Hòa City. The route takes Hwy 1 north to Bien Hoa, crosses the Dong Nai River Bridge and turns right at the Vung Tau intersection (Ngã Ba Vũng Tàu).

You can take a bus to Vung Tau from Tan Son Nhat (Tân Sơn Nhất) International Airport (SGN). All buses are parked near the domestic terminal. Look for "JetStar" or "Vietnam Airlines" painted on the bus body.

The fastest way on bus to Vung Tau is by taking a high speed coach from Mien Dong Coach Station (Bến Xe Miền Đông) in HCMC. Comfortable 16-seat buses with air conditioning make trips every 15 minutes. Duration: 2 hours, with a break at the halfway point. To get to Mien Dong Coach Station, take Bus 19 from Ben Thanh Market Bus Station, which will drop you opposite the Mien Dong Coach Station entrance.

By Hydrofoil

"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 commercial 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 dong/person (USD10). 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 passenger (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 (100 m) Land in Cầu Đá Port, Ben Cau Da, Ha Long St, Vung Tau

Get around

Bãi Sau (Back Beach)

By taxi

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.

By motorbike

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.

By double-bike

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.

Walking

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.

See

Jesus Statue on Summit of Small Mountain

Do

Beaches

The seaside makes Vung Tau a nearby paradise for Saigon visitors. Well-travelled foreigners may be underwhelmed. The beach is not too attractive with litter lining the coast, and most of the sandy eastern beach has signage about dangerous swimming. There are four beaches near the city centre:

Hiking

Buy

Where to buy

What to buy

ATMs

ATMs are plentiful in Vung Tau. Most of them are located on commercial streets such as Lê Hồng Phong, Ba Cu and Trưng Vương Square. Visa and MasterCard are accepted with a minimum fee of 50,000-70,000 dong for each withdrawal.

Eat

Banh Khot

Banh Khot is Vung Tau's signature meal. It is a breakfast meal which includes greens and noodles.

Drink

Bars

Coffee

Sleep

Budget

Vung Tau may have the cheapest guesthouses and hotels in Vietnam. Rooms range from fan-only with shared bath to air conditioned with hot water. All on Thùy Vân St, in front of Bãi Sau (Back Beach) at the foot of Small Mount. Lowest prices from 120,000 dong/room (on weekdays) to 200,000 dong (weekends).

Midrange

Splurge

Stay safe

While pickpockets are not common, theft (usually snatching bags or purses) is 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 centre or along the 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, thefts increase in the lead up to the Tet holiday.

Emergency numbers

Hospitals

Connect

171 (178) + 00 + National code + Area code + Phone number. Note : This method is not available with cellphones.

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This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Tuesday, January 05, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.