© Ronald Tan

1 Day in Vung Tau & Ho Chi Minh City

1 Day in Vung Tau & Ho Chi Minh City

Oh, time really flies and it’s already my fourth day in Ho Chi Minh City! No going for guided tour today and will be exploring on our own – We will be going to Vung Tau, which is a popular destination with beautiful beaches.

1 Day in Vung Tau & Ho Chi Minh City

After breakfast, we took a cab from Elios Hotel to Bach Dang Passenger Quay (Ton Duc Thang Str., Dist. 1). The journey took a while due to the morning traffic and cost us VND 30,000. Initially, I have planned to take a bus to Vung Tau from Mien Dong Coach Station (Bến Xe Miền Đông) as it’s cheaper at VND 40,000 but at a longer duration (2 hours). Lucky thing is that I consulted the staff at Sasa Cafe the night before and they told me that Mien Dong Coach Station is quite far away and we need to take a cab (or bus #26 from Ben Thanh station) first. Then I decided that we should opt for the quick and easy way to Vung Tau via Hydrofoil fast ferry (Tàu cánh ngầm). Above photo is Bach Dang Passenger Quay.

1 Day in Vung Tau & Ho Chi Minh City

There are 3 Hydrofoil operators in Bach Dang Passenger Quay and the hydrofoils depart for Vung Tau almost hourly. Above photo shows Greenlines and Petro Express.

1 Day in Vung Tau & Ho Chi Minh City

Vina Express on the other side of the Bach Dang Passenger Quay. All three operators charge the same fare at VND180,000 per person. Although it’s a little more expensive but it’s much faster (1 hour 15 min) and comfortable than bus.

1 Day in Vung Tau & Ho Chi Minh City

Waiting area at Bach Dang Passenger Quay.

1 Day in Vung Tau & Ho Chi Minh City

Our tickets from Greenlines. We decided to go for Greenlines due to the timing as they are the next hydrofoil schedule to leave and we only require to stick around less than 30mins.

1 Day in Vung Tau & Ho Chi Minh City

Just around 15mins of wait and the hydrofoil arrived. Seats are allocated so there is no need to rush! 🙂

1 Day in Vung Tau & Ho Chi Minh City

As our tickets was bought rather last minute, we got seats that face the rest of the passengers. Haha!

1 Day in Vung Tau & Ho Chi Minh City

It was a rather pleasant ride and we reached Vung Tau in around 1 hour 15 min. Vung Tau is the capital of Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province and is the first tourist city in Vietnam. With beauty beach and fresh air, Vung Tau is a very popular destination for weekends.

1 Day in Vung Tau & Ho Chi Minh City

First thing after alighting the hydrofoil is to go get return tickets back to Ho Chi Minh City. You may choose to stay in Vung Tau but we decided to stick to just a day trip. Better get return tickets earlier, otherwise you will get stuck in Vung Tau if all the tickets are sold out. Hehe!

1 Day in Vung Tau & Ho Chi Minh City

Went for Vina Express for our return trip back to Saigon. Fares are the same at VND180,000 per person.

1 Day in Vung Tau & Ho Chi Minh City

Seems like a house to me… and it’s very nice! Sea view for all the rooms!

1 Day in Vung Tau & Ho Chi Minh City

Long and lonely road. A vast difference from the traffic at Ho Chi Minh City.

1 Day in Vung Tau & Ho Chi Minh City

Passing by a Chinese temple.

1 Day in Vung Tau & Ho Chi Minh City

Passing by another Chinese temple. 🙂

Vietnamese temple dedicated to Tran Hung Dao, the Vietnamese military hero. (Thanks to Walter for the correction!)

1 Day in Vung Tau & Ho Chi Minh City

If you are spending more time here in Vung Tau, you may want to visit “Statue of Jesus Christ with outstretched arms” which is on top of small mountain.

1 Day in Vung Tau & Ho Chi Minh City

Stopping at Coffee Ocap for a breather and to hide from the extremely hot weather! It’s burning our skin!

1 Day in Vung Tau & Ho Chi Minh City

1 Soursop Shake and 1 Saigon at a total of VND 33,000. Ice-cold tea is provided free-of-charge and WIFI is available too!

1 Day in Vung Tau & Ho Chi Minh City

After the rest, we continued to walk around. Passing by “The Etta Pub”, which seems like a nice place to chill out.

1 Day in Vung Tau & Ho Chi Minh City

Buying and selling crabs! Think crabs are a specialty seafood which is very popular in Vung Tau as everyplace have cooked crab on their menu.

1 Day in Vung Tau & Ho Chi Minh City

Passing by Cafe Chong Chong.

1 Day in Vung Tau & Ho Chi Minh City

The hot weather made us stop again but this time more for lunch.

1 Day in Vung Tau & Ho Chi Minh City

Menu at Bayview. Lots of food selection available!

1 Day in Vung Tau & Ho Chi Minh City

Our lunch – 2 sandwich (as above), 1 Saigon beer and 1 Heineken, which totaled to VND 125,000. Gotta have the beer to cool us down in the hot weather! LOL!

1 Day in Vung Tau & Ho Chi Minh City

View from our seats at Bayview. It’s nice to hide away from the sun! Haha!

1 Day in Vung Tau & Ho Chi Minh City

The interior of Bayview. Believed that the owner is an Australian.

1 Day in Vung Tau & Ho Chi Minh City

Time’s up – gotta board the Vinasun Express hydrofoil back to Ho Chi Minh City.

1 Day in Vung Tau & Ho Chi Minh City

This time round, we are given seats at the back of the hydrofoil. Personal opinion is that the Vinasun Express condition is worse off then Greenlines.

1 Day in Vung Tau & Ho Chi Minh City

We sat facing 2 LCD TVs but they are not on throughout the journey. In fact, it wasn’t even plug in! Check out the right LCD TV! Haha!

Anyway, beyond the door is actually the engine room so you get free diesel smell here too!

1 Day in Vung Tau & Ho Chi Minh City

After alighting the Hydrofoil, it was raining heavily in Ho Chi Minh City so we waited for a while for the rain to become smalller. Then, we grabbed a cab to Zen Plaza and paid VND 25,000.

1 Day in Vung Tau & Ho Chi Minh City

Explored Zen Plaza for a while and then took cab to Parkson at VND 30,000.

1 Day in Vung Tau & Ho Chi Minh City

La Dolce Vita Café at Continental Hotel Saigon.

1 Day in Vung Tau & Ho Chi Minh City

Passing by Saigon Opera House.

1 Day in Vung Tau & Ho Chi Minh City

Walking along Dong Khoi Street.

1 Day in Vung Tau & Ho Chi Minh City

Lucky Plaza. Well, not the Lucky Plaza in Singapore. 🙂

1 Day in Vung Tau & Ho Chi Minh City

The reason why we are roaming along Dong Khoi Street – French restaurant Augustin (10 Nguyen Thiep).

1 Day in Vung Tau & Ho Chi Minh City

The interior of Augustin. We reached early for dinner (7pm) so we were the only customers. 🙂

1 Day in Vung Tau & Ho Chi Minh City

A bottle of house red. Think it was around VND 250,000.

1 Day in Vung Tau & Ho Chi Minh City

Grilled Duck Confit. VND 150,000.

1 Day in Vung Tau & Ho Chi Minh City

Grilled Chicken Breast with Cream Sauce. VND 120,000.

1 Day in Vung Tau & Ho Chi Minh City

Lime Sorbet with Vodka. VND 110,000.

1 Day in Vung Tau & Ho Chi Minh City

Night view of Saigon Opera House.

1 Day in Vung Tau & Ho Chi Minh City

Passing by Hotel Continental Saigon while we are walking toward Ben Thanh Market.

1 Day in Vung Tau & Ho Chi Minh City

Water fountain where locals as well as tourist hang around.

1 Day in Vung Tau & Ho Chi Minh City

A statue of Ho Chi Minh with Ho Chi Minh City Hall in the background.

1 Day in Vung Tau & Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City Hall. It was renamed after 1975 as Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee.

1 Day in Vung Tau & Ho Chi Minh City

Passing by Trung Nguyen Coffee. Didn’t really try it as we can also find Trung Nguyen Coffee back home in Singapore (in Liang Court). I remembered always going there to stock up on G7 instant coffee!

1 Day in Vung Tau & Ho Chi Minh City

Next to Trung Nguyen Coffee is our destination – Bach Dang Ice Cream. A favourite place of young Saigonese.

1 Day in Vung Tau & Ho Chi Minh City

A recommendation from the staff of Bach Dang Ice Cream – Ice cream in coconut at VND 62,000. Nice!

1 Day in Vung Tau & Ho Chi Minh City

Night market at Ben Thanh. Never really explore around as it’s likely to be a tourist trap! 😛

Leaving you with a video at Ben Thanh Market. Generally, the traffic in Ho Chi Minh City is somehow similar! 🙂

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  • Great pics Ronald! I love how you capture absolutely everything.
    Just one factual point: the second temple you identify as a Chinese temple, but it is definitely not – it is a temple dedicated to Tran Hung Dao, the Vietnamese military hero. Most temples still use Chinese characters for decoration, but they are 100% Vietnamese.

    • Truthsayer

      You sound like you have an anglo saxon name. that is the reason you know jack about East Asian culture. As a Singapore/Malaysian Chinese, the world of Chinese names pronounced in southern Chinese way is something we are used to day in and day out for decades since the day we were born. A name like Tran Hung Dao, …for anybody who claim that it isn’t Southern Chinese in origin would just a big fat joke to us.

  • Hi Walter, thanks for the compliments. My style is to just shoot almost everything in sight and filter out those that I think it's interesting. Also thanks for the correction! My bad, I noted the Chinese characters and mistakenly assumed that it's a Chinese temple.

    Nice book you wrote on Vietnam – It will be great if you can show some excerpt (or TOC) to illustrate the rare insight and uniqueness. 🙂

  • ils

    hi ronald! im going to vung tau in sept! theres a picture of a hotel im guessing? the 13th picture. you said it looks like a house. if it is a hotel? any chance you might know the name? looks awesome! or maybe its just your photography. either way, was vung tau good?

    • Hey, nice of you to stop by! LOL, actually I am not sure whether it’s a hotel, office, or residence but it’s facing the sea! There are hotels around and it will be good if you can stay for the night. Vung Tau is good, a quiet break from the hustle (and honking) of HCMC and with nice beaches too! Be sure to try the seafood when you are there!

      • thanks! your post is really really helpful, ill be leaving in 2 days! 🙂 i just hope ill be in time for the last hydrofoil from ho chin minh cos we are landing at 2:05pm. also, is the bach dang passenger quay far from the airport. is taking the cab safe?

        • Hi Ilya, nice to hear that the post is helpful. Generally, taxis are usually reliable. Do avoid unlicensed taxis and go for metered ones. During my trip, I try to take taxis belonging to Mai Linh Taxi Company, Vina Taxi or Saigon Taxi. Do take note of the name as some creative scammers use the same colours but minus or add another letter to the name!

          As for the distance, I believe it’s achievable within 30 mins but still very dependent on the traffic conditions. The peak hour jams can take up hours! 

          Have a nice trip! Be safe! 🙂

  • esteewhy

    Love to hear about hydrofoils — warmest sentiment from my childhood spent on dnieper river (chances are high these are exactly the same ships brought from ukraine 20+ years back..)

    It’s sad to see miserable interior conditions, especially that of Vinu’s “Meteor” (IMO, the most beautiful vintage design out of the whole cohort of soviet built hydrofoils). Although, friendly Dutch captain who visited Vietnam and had a chance to spend some time in a wheelroom says that tech condition is rather okay. Of course there’re the original soviet M400 engines, no wonder there’s exhaust leakage…

    BTW, do you happen to know, are their hydrofoil lines subsidized by govt? Fare is rather cheap and they somehow manage to break even. (Asking, because want to relaunch such h/f service oneday in ukraine, that’s why collecting all available info)

    Thanks for report!

  • Eugenia Sintia Verianti

    Hi ronald, i’m sintia from Jakarta, i have a plan to got to ho chi minh this october.. can i asked you a few question? do you went to a beach in vung tau do you ever heard about an hai beach? which one better, stay for one night at vung tau or got to vung tau for 1 day trip only? and one more thing, is it difficult to go to the Bach Dang Passenger Quay from Ben Thanh Distric? waiting for your reply. thank you so much Ronald 🙂

    • Hi Eugenia

      I went to the beach nearby to the ferry terminal and I suppose that wasn’t the best (as far as I’ve heard). I went there for just 1 day trip but if I were to go again, I will plan to stay for a day or two, as there are a few attractions around to view and don’t need to rush. Going to Bach Dang Passenger Quay from Ben Thanh District is relatively straight forward if taking cab. Let me know if you have further questions. 🙂

      • Guest

        Hi Ronald, thank you for replying. is i

      • Eugenia Sintia Verianti

        Hi Ronald, thank you for replying. i’m confused. is it con dao island in vung tau? ( which is i can go by walk or i must use a transportation like bus or local transport? cause i’ve seen about con dao island. and it’s nice. i wanna go there, but i’m confused bout the place. is it in vung tau or not. and i don’t know where to ask. thank you so much. Regards, Sintia.

        • Hi Sintia

          Actually, I’m not very sure, but I presume that Con Dao Island and Vung Tau is different. Might need to clarify with Hoa? 🙂

    • Hoa Pham

      Hi Eugenia

      An Hai and Lo Voi beach are two wonderful beaches in two ends of centre of Con Dao distrct with
      gentle sea and pure water. Along the beaches, there are rows of
      birch-trees giving the shaper with charming landscape between the
      endless of sea and sky of Con Dao island.
      I agree with Ronald that you should stay for at least one or two days to get around Vung Tau to view all of attractions. I love night time in Vung Tau, it’s beautiful 🙂

      • Hi Hoa

        Great information! I wished I had this information and stay a couple of nights in Vung Tau. 🙂 Definitely would like to check out the night time in Vung Tau sometime soon too!

        • Hoa Pham

          Hi Ronald,
          Thanks for your reply.
          Ronald, Are you a vietnamese? Where do you live now?

          • Hi Hoa, I’m actually Singaporean and still living in Singapore. 🙂

      • Eugenia Sintia Verianti

        Hi Hoa Pham, thank you for replying. can i have your private email? i wanna ask a lot of question. because i never been there before. it’s gonna be my first trip to ho chi minh-vung tau. so i wanna prepare myself for a great trip while being there. thank you so much, Regards, Sintia.

        • Hoa Pham

          Hi Eugenia,
          My private email is [email protected]. Currently, I am working in Ho Chi Minh city, but my hometown is Vung Tau :). I wish we could have a chance and I will take you around Vung Tau 🙂