Nov 16 2011
Saigon is a big and hectic city that can wear you out. If it’s not the grinding traffic of motorbikes and taxis, it’s the hoopla of Brad and Angelina, with their kids, visiting a restaurant that you reviewed. Sometimes it’s too much and all a person feels like doing is getting away. Luckily, the beach, in the coastal city of Vung Tau, isn’t that far away and some would say you could make a day trip out of it But, if you only have a day to break free, you transportation options are limited. The bus ride may say that it’s two hours each way but my money says it’s three. No, if you only have the day to spare and you need to get some beach time the only way to go is by hydrofoil.
Leaving every hour between 06:00 and 16:00, the hydrofoil trip takes just an hour and fifteen minutes from HCMC to Vung Tau. To purchase tickets, head down Ton Duc Thanh across from the Hotel Majestic and next to the Saigon River Restaurant boat where you will find the hydrofoil ticket booth, which sits in front of the dock. Choose from among three hydrofoil companies, Greenlines and Petro Express on the right and VinaExpress on the left, all of which charge 200,000 VND per one-way ticket and have little difference between themselves other than name and departure time.
Remember that this is a popular trip and boats fill up fast, so show up early or, better yet, buy your tickets in advance. Another tip that can save you headache is the fact that you can purchase your return ticket at the booth in HCMC; you don’t have to wait until you’re in Vung Tau to buy it.
Riding a hydrofoil is similar to riding a bus except that you are on the water. Even thought the ride is short you still get a customary wet wipe and bottle of water. Quarters inside are already on the cramped side without the additional over-packing that can occur on busy days.
Also, the boats aren’t the most beautiful things on the water and a few in the fleet could use some TLC. On my most recent ride my seat back was broken, which made it impossible to sit up straight, but luckily my boat had another seat available for me to switch in to. On a side note, try to stay out of the front row, as the air-con doesn’t quite reach. The ride is smooth and at no point did the issue of seasickness crop up, which is a real possibility for me in most cases. The only thing that can be frustrating about the ride is when the boat has to stop to avoid floating debris. Depending on the day this can add a few extra minutes to your ride.
Overall, the hydrofoil is an easy ride and much more enjoyable than three hours on a bus. Plus, it leads you to your day of rest and relaxation in the promised land of Vung Tau. Lounge on the beach, visit the Christ, swim in a pool, and eat some seafood; just don’t forget that you have to go back!
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