A fantastic day trip from Ho Chi Minh City: A charming Vung Tau itinerary

Vung Tau City's lovely beach

Ho Chi Minh City is a fantastic place to visit and explore, but sometimes it’s nice to get away from its buzzing and hectic city life. Vung Tau is the perfect destination for a short weekend escape! It is an idyllic coastal city with plenty of activities to entertain you for the weekend. It only takes around 2.5 hours by bus/car from Ho Chi Minh City to Vung Tau. This article will provide some recommendations on where to go and what to do when visiting Vung Tau. So if you’re ready for a weekend getaway from Ho Chi Minh City, come along with us as we explore Vung Tau!

Jesus Christ Statue

Jesus Christ Statue Vung Tau

The Jesus Christ’s Statue is a popular pilgrimage destination for travelers and worshippers from all over the world. With its 32 meters tall and 18.3 meters width, it is the largest Christian structure in Asia and it is on the top of Nui Nho or Small Mountain. It was built in 1974 by the Vietnamese government to commemorate the visit of Pope Paul VI to Vietnam.

It is by far the most popular attraction in Vung Tau City. Not only because of its religious importance and massive size, but also because you can stand on Jesus Christ’s neck and arms. From there, you can enjoy a stunning view of the bay area.

Once you finished visiting the Statue, you can take a 30-minute walk (2.4 km) to the Vung Tau Lighthouse also known as Ngon Hai Dang Vung Tau (01, Phường 2, Tp. Bà Rịa, Bà Rịa – Vũng Tàu, Vietnam). Along the way, you will come across some remnants of the French colonial fortifications, such as bunkers and cannons.

Chon Khong Monastery

Chon Khong Monastery in Vung Tau is a place where one can find peace and tranquility. The monastery hosts a huge golden Buddha statue. The temple is on Núi Lớn (Big Mountain) and faces the Jesus Statue on Small Mountain.

Back Beach with Hon Ba Island

Back beach or Bai Sau (back) is a public beach in Vung Tau city near most of the attractions. This beach is particularly popular with the locals.

Hon Ba Island is a tiny island near the Jesus Christ Statue and Bai Sau Beach. It is the home of the small Mieu Ba Temple, which is dedicated to the Water Dragon Holy Lady. What makes this a unique destination is that visitors can cross the sea on foot during low tide. But be cautious because the rocky path is slippery!

Bach Dinh (White Palace Historical Cultural Relic)

White Palace Vung Tau

Bạch Dinh, or the White Palace, is an important historical building. It was built between 1898 and 1902 by the French colonial authorities as a holiday retreat. Bach Dinh was painted white and originally named after Blanche (which means white in French), the daughter of the Governor-General of Indochina at the time.

Ironically, this magnificent villa was used as a prison for emperor Thành Thái between 1907 and 1916. Emperor Thành Thái was forced to abdicate as a result of his strive for Vietnamese autonomy and opposition against French colonial rule.

Bach Dinh is a visit-worthy attraction from an architectural and cultural point of view. The villa itself is built in the typical French Indochinese architecture, hosts Nguyễn Dynasty cannons in the yard, and functions as a museum for antiques and relics from shipwrecks around Vung Tau.

Vung Tau hotels with beach access

There are several Vung Tau Hotels that have access to beautiful and well-maintained private beaches.

  • The Imperial Hotel & Resort Vung Tau: a stunning Victorian-style hotel and resort for those who fancy a royal getaway.
  • Mercure Vung Tau: A cozy and picturesque villa-style hotel with access to a small, private beach. It is centrally located near all the major attractions.
  • Hai Duong Intourco Resort: This resort is a budget-friendly option. While the resort is old, it is on a lovely beach strip and its rooms are clean but basic.

About 1 hour and 15 minutes away from Vung Tau City and 3 hours from Ho Chi Minh City’s city center, there is also Holiday Inn Resort Ho Tram Beach and Intercontinental Grand Ho Tram which operate a beach/casino resort with access to a pristine beach.

How to get from Ho Chi Minh City to Vung Tau City

Vung Tau City Skyline

Vung Tau is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike, located around 2-3 hours away from Ho Chi Minh City. Traveling to Vung Tau can be done by mini-bus, private car, or ferry, depending on the type of experience you are looking for.

The most popular way of getting to Vung Tau City from Ho Chi Minh City is by mini-bus. This is the cheapest option and it takes around 3 hours to get there. Private cars are also available, which offer more comfort and flexibility in terms of timing.

A word of caution on the mini-buses: While there are several operators that pick up passengers from the city center, it is not so convenient for non-Vietnamese speakers and the waiting area can be very noisy. For example, I had to wait for over an hour on an extremely busy street until the bus operator gathered sufficient passengers to organize the bus ride. Thus, it might be worth going to Ho Chi Minh City’s brand-new Mien Dong Bus Station and waiting in a more comfortable environment. The bus terminal is currently still very desolate, but this is expected to change once Line 1 of the HCMC’s Metro Line begins operations.

The last and arguably the most thrilling option is to go by ferry. It offers a novel experience since it allows you to discover Ho Chi Minh City from a different perspective. You can take the ferry from Ho Chi Minh City Port or Vung Tau Port.