A popular weekend escape from HCMC, Vung Tau rocks at weekends when beach-starved locals and expats descend in numbers, but it is relatively quiet during the week. The city enjoys a spectacular location on a peninsula, with ocean on three sides; the light and sea air make it a refreshing break from sultry Saigon.
Oil is big business here, so the horizon is regularly dotted with tankers, and petro dollars dominate the economy, inflating prices considerably.
Vung Tau is a remarkably civilised-looking city of broad boulevards and imposing colonial-era buildings, but a slightly seedy bar scene also flourishes here, accommodating the tastes (and wallets) of oil and gas workers, retired Anzac servicemen and Russian expats.
Few travellers bother to visit the city, but it makes a good place to start (or end) an intriguing coastal road trip to Mui Ne and beyond.
Day 1: Ho Chi Minh City Arrival – Vung Tau (L/D)
Upon your arrival at Tan Son Nhat International Airport and after clearing customs, please proceed to the Meeting Point area at the arrival hall of Terminal 2 to meet our local tour guide. Have lunch at local restaurant. Then, embark on an approximately 125 kilometers’ journey Southeast of Ho Chi Minh City to Vung Tau, a provincial city and popular seaside retreat that enjoys a spectacular location at the tip of a small peninsula, with ocean on three sides.
Have dinner at local restaurant. Check in hotel and overnight at Vung Tau.
Day 2: Vung Tau City Tour (B/L/D)
After breakfast, start the day with a sightseeing tour around the city visiting Bach Dinh – often referred to as the White Palace, it was built in 1898 on the former site of a Nguyen Dynasty fortress as a summer residence for French Governor General Paul Doumer; followed by Christ of Vung Tau – a 32 meter-tall Statue of Jesus standing on Mount Nho with an internal 133-step staircase that allow visitors to climb to the top for a breathtaking panoramic view of Vung Tau City; Vung Tau Lighthouse – an 18-metre high lighthouse built in 1907 which boasts one of the best 360-degree panoramas of the city and can projects an impressive 30 nautical miles beam. Have lunch at local restaurant.
In the afternoon, continue to visit Niet Ban Tinh Xa – also known as the Temple of Nirvana or Pagoda of the Reclining Buddha, it is one of the most beautiful pagoda in Vung Tau which is famed for its giant bronze bell and a 12-metre Reclining Buddha; as well as Thich Ca Phat Dai – a sculpture architectural complex depicting the important events in the life of Gautama Buddha : his birth, renunciation, enlightenment, the first sermon and his passing into nirvana at Kusinara.
Have dinner at local restaurant. Back to the hotel and the rest of the day is free at leisure for your own activities.
Day 3: Vung Tau – Ho Chi Minh City Tour (B/L/D)
After breakfast and check out hotel, we turn back to Ho Chi Minh City. Have lunch at local restaurant. Then, you’ll take a sightseeing tour around the city visiting the War Remnants Museum – a comprehensive collection of more than 20,000 graphic photographs, military vehicles as well as weapons, documenting the horrors of Vietnam’s wars with both the French and Americans; and the Reunification Palace – formerly the official residence and administrative center of the President of South Vietnam until the fall of Saigon in 1975. Along the way, enjoy a photo stop at the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral as well as the General Post Office with its ancient French architecture.
Have dinner at local restaurant. Check in hotel and overnight at Ho Chi Minh City.
Day 4: Ho Chi Minh City – Cu Chi Tunnels (B/L/D)
Check out hotel, from Ho Chi Minh City we will head northwest to Cu Chi Tunnels, one of very few monuments remained from the Vietnam War. 200km of the tunnels, dug by hand and inhabited by the forces of the Vietnamese guerillas, are beneath the ground here and stretches from nearby the Cambodian border to the edge of Saigon, even covering a place that once was a US airbase. We can listen to our guides’ introduction about the traces, exhibits, old weapons here or crawl by ourselves several dozen meters inside the tunnel to get the real feeling of what the War had been in this land. Gradually we will find out the reason why Cu Chi is a symbol of the ingenuity, loyalty, hard work and determination of the Vietnamese. Have dinner at local restaurant. Check-in hotel and overnight in Ho chi Minh City.
Day 5: Ho Chi Minh City – Mekong Delta (B/L/D)
After breakfast, embark on a 02-hours journey to My Tho, a prosperous town of 170,000 inhabitants in Mekong Delta which is famous for its extensive orchards and immense rice fields. Enjoy a wooden boat ride along Mekong River through Bao Dinh Canal followed by a leisurely cruise around Dragon, Unicorn, Phoenix as well as Tortoise Islands. Bob along the tiny canals under shady palm trees; stroll through villages to learn about the daily lives of its inhabitants; and visit bee farms, coconut-candy workshop as well as sample freshly picked fruits at the invitation of friendly local farmers. After lunch, return to Ho Chi Minh City and rest of the evening is free at leisure for your own activities. Dinner on cruise in Saigon River and overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.
Day 6: Ho Chi Minh City – Departure (B)
Have breakfast and check out hotel. You’ll go to shopping at Ben Thanh Market – a bustling market that is popular among the native city dwellers and tourists alike, offering everything from souvenirs to clothes as well as local delicacies.
Transfer to the airport for a flight departure.