Vung Tau

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What we say: 3.5 stars

Vung Tau is hardly surrounded by famous tourist sites, so it's best to make the most of the outdoors and perhaps take in a couple of the more interesting sights if necessary. Hon Ba Temple is unmistakable as it stands on a rocky outcrop -- it's only accessible at low tide. On the tip of the Vung Tau peninsular are two hills worth climbing as they present spectacular views over the region. The Jesus statue is unmistakable, and it's possible to climb to the top of this hill via a set of steps. The other large hill is home to Hai Dang, or the French built Lighthouse. A paved road winds to the top where you can pay around 20,000 for a tour inside the building. The Lighthouse still functions at night -- the views from up here are fantastic.

A few temples exist around town, probably the most interesting one being Thic Ca Phat Dai, although don't come to Vung Tau to visit temples.

Further afield, the Boulder Rocks draw some visitors. They're up in the hills to the north of Long Hai. It was in these hills and under these boulders that a number of Viet Cong were holed out. Despite massive bombing by American forces, the VC remained untouched -- you can still see the shrapnel scars and craters on the hillside and in the rocks themselves. It is possible to clamber down into some of the tunnels.

Back in Vung Tau city there is a small museum at the old French colonial Bach Dinh Villa, just down the road from the Rex Hotel.

Vung Tau is also home to the Vung Tau Paradise Golf Club, situated at the very northern end of Back Beach past Paradise Resort. A round of 18 holes cost US$40 on a weekday or $60 at weekends, there is also a driving range.

Back at the beach, Back Beach that is, the seafront contains complexes designed for families and tourists. Considering the water in the ocean is infamous for it's bad quality, many prefer to use these centres. Typically they have a restaurant and a swimming pool, with plenty of space for lounging and relaxing. One such centre is Dolphin Swimming, where entry costs 50,000 dong; Dolphin is opposite the Sammy Hotel. Another option would be to take the drive to Anoasis in Long Hai (around 30 minutes) to make use of the four star facilities including a private beach, much more suitable for swimming than Vung Tau's Back Beach. A day ticket costs $6 on weekdays and $10 on weekends.

Also on this stretch of the beach is the Vung Tau Beach Club. It's here you can arrange kite surfing or windsurfing lessons and equipment hire. Prices for kite surfing start at $50 for one hour and up to $250 for five hours, all including instructor, equipment and insurance. For windsurfing, one hour costs $40 or $25 with your own equipment, $120/$75 for three hours and $350/$220 for five hours.

On Saturday and Sunday nights the racetrack opens -- not horses, but dogs. Entry is 20,000 per person and races start from around 19:00. This is a real family and tourist event with a fun atmosphere. Food and drinks are available, and with betting starting at 10,000 dong, there's no need to worry about losing the house either.

Anoasis -- Ky Van, Long Hai -- T: (064) 868 227, F: (064) 868 229.
Dolphin Swimming Pool & Restaurant -- 8 Thuy Van St, T: (064 522 527).
Vung Tau Beach Club -- Gate 2, 8 Thuy Van St, T: (064) 526 101. www.vungtausurf.com
Vung Tau Paradise Golf Club -- 1 Thuy Van St, T: (064) 853 428, F: (064) 585 890
Vung Tau Race Track -- Thanh Thai St, Sat & Sun: 19:00 -- 22:00

Last updated: 4th May, 2007

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