Beaches of Vietnam

Starting in the north is Halong Bay with its many sandstone islands – a photographer’s paradise. Cat Ba is the largest island in Halong Bay, attracting many visitors. Halong Bay has several other islands where the hotel junks anchor and allow passengers to enjoy a beach swim.

Do Son Beach, on a small peninsula near Haiphong, is shaded by sandalwood trees with pine tree covered hills nearby and mountains in the distance. Close to Halong Bay, though not as busy.

50 miles south of the Imperial City of Hue is Lang Co Beach. The water is warm year around and very shallow. It offers great scenery such as distant mountains, nearby forests and a beautiful blue sea. Diving, hiking, boating and fishing are offered here. China Beach, between Danang and Hoian, is the beach best known to Americans. This community is attracting many upscale resort hotels. China Beach is adjacent to the Marble Mountain Monastery. Bring your hiking boots. Small marble statues made by local artists make great souvenirs. China Beach is also about 10 miles from Hoian, a popular tourist attraction.

The Hoian with its beach area is the Vietnam destination for the budget traveler. Hoian has much to offer – restaurants, shopping and tours to China Beach & Marble Mountain as well as the Cham ruins of My Son. Huong Beach on Cham Island provides a bit of relaxation from the stresses of traveling.

Nha Trang, the Riviera of the South China Sea, is the next beach destination. Nha Trang is surrounded by mountains together with a 5 mile white sand beach front and over 70 off shore islands. Scuba diving and snorkeling tours are available. You can relax on the beach and enjoy great sea food restaurants. Walk Tran Phu Street, which runs parallel to the beach, or hire a cyclo for a tour of the Cham ruins, market and Buddhist shrines.

On to Mui Ne Beach, about 120 miles east of Saigon. Awesome sand dunes have been created by continual winds. Wind surfing and kite surfing are popular here. Mui Ne offers the strangest weather in Vietnam – It is actually hot and dry there.

Vung Tau – The beaches at Vung Tau aren’t that great, being near Saigon (80 miles) it attracts many Vietnamese weekenders as well as tourists. Vung Tau is about 80 miles from Saigon and can be reached by hydrofoil for about US$10 round trip.

Ha Tien is on the border with Cambodia (5 miles away) and is home to several superb beaches. Hon Chong Beach has soft white sand and calm tropical water, while nearby Tien Cave attracts visitors with two beach entrances. Nearby islands attract scuba divers, snorklers and those just wanting to enjoy a boat ride.

Phu Quoc Island, in the Gulf of Thailand, is Vietnam’s largest island, offering mountains, jungles and pleasant sandy beaches; it attracts nature lovers and sun worshipers. The furthest west of the Vietnam’s beaches is Bai Truong Beach, here you can sit, relax, and watch the sun go down on the Gulf of Thailand.

Spice of Life in Vietnam

Vietnam has grown and flourished after the difficult days of the war, with towering hotels that glimmer beneath the sun and plenty of tourist-friendly areas where you can purchase everything from exotic foods to tantalizing fabrics. Hanoi, the capital, will fill your every desire as you shop, party, dine, and simply walk among the people. Each street has something different to offer, and you may be surprised at what you find there. Take a moment to visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum for a unique experience you won’t soon forget.

Get a taste of Vietnam’s past by visiting Hué, the old imperial capital. It still has everything an emperor could want: stunning palaces, quaint pagodas, awe-inspiring temples, and ancient tombs. Take your time as you explore in order to see as much as possible – you won’t want to miss a thing here! You may also want to plan your trip around the Festival of Hué, a biennial arts festival that draws in hundreds of people every year and showcases everything from cultural clothing to music to culinary delights. And be sure to stick around until night falls to see the entire area lit up and bedazzled with fireworks.

If it’s time for a holiday, head straight for Vietnam for something different and a little unexpected. Most people travel to Europe for a fine time, but if you’re looking for a trip that will offer you a truly unique experience that most people never have, then the world of Vietnam is your ticket.

Vietnam Open Tour Bus

Front desk staff at hotels will be happy to book any transportation need, although you’re better off shop around at local tour agents, as prices will vary. Going directly to the bus company office may net you a commission-free fare, but most major bus operators may not be willing to negotiate price as agents will cut their commission to get the business.

Since tour providers charge very little, they make money on their “rest stops” or “bus stations” which are often souvenir shops or cafes. Travelers buy a meal, some munchies for the ride or souvenir while taking a break or waiting for their ride. Keep in mind departure, arrival and travel times are estimates at best – never early and may be a couple of hours late. Depending on how many hotels they have to pick up passengers at, it may be a while before you’re officially on the road. Getting on the bus at the tour bus company office may get you a good seat with your companions, get there early – Good Luck. Try not to drink too much water, as “comfort” stops, especially for overnight buses, may be just somewhere where there are a lot of bushes, but don’t get dehydrated.

Some buses imported to Vietnam are designed for those of Asian stature – bigger Occidentals may be uncomfortable, particularly on over night trips. Even though you may suffer from motion-sickness, it is a good idea to take a seat at the middle of the bus rather than at the front. In the middle you won’t have to suffer watching the poor driving habits of your driver and listen (a bit less) to the his incessant horn honking.

When taking any public transportation, keep a physical control of your day-packs and fanny-packs; and be aware of where your big pieces of luggage are stored during your trip. Make access into your luggage difficult.

Some Vietnam Open Tour Bus companies offer “sleeper style” buses. These are a bit pricier and, like other buses, have various levels of comfort.

Plan to arrive during hours of daylight (if possible) so that you can find an acceptable hotel room, be aware that your driver/bus company has a financial interest in delivering you to a particular hotel – they may even own the hotel. There may be an abundance of hotel “touts” waiting for your bus to arrive and make their “pitch” to you. I have no “sure-fire” advice in this circumstance. Just don’t be led too far away from the tourist center. When you arrive at a hotel be sure to inspect your room for hot water, window screens, air-conditioning, and maybe most important – security

Major Tourist Destinations

Vietnam is full of unexpected, unforgettable experiences. Anyone visiting the country for the first time would be overwhelmed by the sensory overdose varied geography, delectable cuisine, bountiful shopping sites and never-ending beaches.

Let’s delve a little further into Vietnam’s confines and see what the world is gaga about. Take a look at some of the best tourist attractions in Vietnam:

1. Hanoi: Hanoi is a rapidly growing city which has served as Vietnam’s capital for over a thousand years. Trips and tours to Vietnam often begin this beautiful Indochinese colonial city. Hanoi is a proud city which boasts of pagodas, lakes, dynastic temples, heritage monuments and French-era villas. It has, however, remained true to its elemental personality despite the tide of change.

2. Ha Long Bay: For many tourists, a trip to Vietnam is incomplete without Ha Long Bay, which represents a pinnacle of their Vietnam experience. Contrary to Hanoi, this is the perfect countermeasure to contemporary ebullience which Hanoi provides and renders the visitors with numerous opportunities for leisure and recreation in its chartreuse waters.

3. Cat Ba Island: Cat Ba Island is a mountainous getaway nestled on the periphery of Ha Long Bay. Defining Ha Long Bay’s southwestern limits, the island expands over 350 square kilometers and is one of the best destinations in Vietnam.

4. Ho Chi Minh: Along with Hanoi, this city provides a dizzying introduction to Vietnam. Set beside the Saigon River, Ho Chi Minh is the largest city in Vietnam and perhaps, the most exciting too. A high-octane city of culture and commerce, the city is buzzing with energy and breathes life into each and everyone who chooses to traverse through its soil.