Vung Tau

Vung Tau is a port city and the capital of Bà Rịa Province, on a peninsula in southern Vietnam. It is located on the tip of the peninsula extending 15km outwards from the mainland and is surrounded by the ocean on three sides. It is a popular seaside resort with a long, busy stretch of sandy coast, including Front Beach and Pineapple Beach, has the verdant Small Mountain and Big Mountain as a backdrop.

This city has a rich history. During 14th and 15th centuries, the cape that would become Vung Tau was an area which European trading ships visited regularly. The ships’ activities inspired the name, which means “ship’s bay” or “anchorage” in Vietnamese.

Portuguese navigators who passed it many times named it Sant’Iago after Saint James. The French, who invaded and took over Vietnam in the mid-19th century named it Cap Saint Jacques (Cape St. James.) The cliff is now called Mũi Nghinh Phong (literally means “Cape of greeting the wind”).

Vung Tau was originally referred to as Tam Thắng (“Three Boats”) in memory of the first 3 villages in this area: Thắng Nhất, Thắng Nhị, Thắng Tam. It was within the province of Biên Hòa under the Nguyen dynasty, the last imperial house to rule Vietnam

On 4 April 1905 Cap Saint Jacques was made an administrative district of Ba Ria province. In 1929, Cap Saint Jacques became a province, and in 1934 became a city (commune). The French governor of Indochina, Paul Doumer (who later became President of France), built a mansion that is still a prominent landmark in the city.

During the Vietnam War (called the American War in Vietnam), Vung Tau was home to the Australian Army and American support units. With its impressive colonial architecture and beautiful scenery, Vung Tau has become popular with expatriates.

Getting to Vung Tau

The city is well placed too. It is only about a two-hour drive on a VIP bus—or a comfortable and scenic 90-minute hydrofoil boat ride—from Ho Chi Minh City. The cheapest option is to go to Eastern Bus Station (Bến Xe Miền Đông) and catch a bus.

The Côn Đảo (“Côn Island”) are an archipelago of Bà Rịa province, in the Southeast region of Vietnam. The travel distance from Vung Tau to Con Dao (Con Son) is about 190 km. You can take a ferry from Vung Tau or go to Ho Chi Minh to catch a plane that flies directly to the Island

It is definitely worth visiting Vung Tau and/or Con Dao. For more information on the tourist attractions in Vung Tau, please visit the 12go website. I am currently living and working in Vung Tau, so if you need any assistance, please do contact me via Facebook.

Author: Piers Midwinter
I am an artist and a teacher. I am currently teaching at a Cambridge International School in Vietnam.