Photo: Beach chairs at Vung Tau.

Transport

Use the quicklinks below to jump to the desired section regarding transport in and around Vung Tau.


Air

Vung Tau does have a small airport but there are no commercial flights. Tan Son Nhat International Airport aka Ho Chi Minh City Airport (SGN) is 90 kilometres away.

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Bus

The Vung Tau bus station is located at 192 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street. There are buses to destinations throughout the country.

Transport to HCMC is frequent, serviced by everything from minivans to large buses. We won’t list them all. Generally the trip to/from HCMC takes 2-3 hours, depending on the size of the bus and traffic, which greatly increases from Friday to Sunday.

Phuong Trang (Futa Bus) company is considered one of the most reliable and the ticket includes pick-up/drop-off at your hotel in Vung Tau, WiFi and water. Bus departs at 04:00, 05:00, then every 30 minutes until 17:00, when it resumes departures once an hour. Last bus at 19:00. Costs 95,000 dong and takes 3 hours. T: (064) 352 5354; futabus.vn.

Kumho Samco is another national bus company. There are routes to either HCMC’s Mien Tay or Mien Dong bus station. Bus departs hourly from 04:00 to 19:00. Costs 80,000 dong and takes 3 hours. T: (064) 3611 111; kumhosamco.com.vn/.

Sample of other destinations:

Bien Hoa: departs regularly from 05:00 to 18:00. Costs 80,000 dong, VIP costs 120,000 dong.
Rach Gia: departs at 02:15, 17:00. Costs 210,000 dong.
Ha Tien: departs at 18:00, 19:00, 19:15. Costs 197,000 - 220,000 dong.
Ca Mau: departs at 02:40, 16:00, 16:40. Costs 220,000 dong.
Can Tho: departs at 02:30, 04:30, 05:30. Costs 130,000 - 155,000 dong.
Phan Thiet: departs at 05:20, 09:00, 19:00. Costs 90,000 dong and takes 4 hours.
Mui Ne: departs at 06:20, 12:50. Costs 100,000 and takes 4 hours.
Nha Trang: departs at 08:00, 09:00, 19:00. Costs 180,000 - 220,000 dong.
Da Nang: departs at 18:00. Costs 420,000 dong and takes 11 hrs.
Hue: departs at 18:00. Costs 460,000 dong and takes 14 hrs.
Dong Ha: departs at 18:00. Costs 510,000 dong.
Dong Hoi: departs at 18:00. Costs 550,000 dong.
Da Lat: departs at 19:30. Costs 220,000 dong and takes 8 hrs.
Gia Lai (Pleiku): departs at 15:30. Costs 330,000 dong.
Buon Ma Thuot: departs at 04:30, 18:30. Costs 150,000 dong, sleeping bus costs 220,000 dong.

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Boat

Weather permitting, Vina Express-Petro Express, operates daily hydrofoil service between Ho Chi Minh City and Vung Tau. The trip takes one hour and 30 minutes. Compare that to the two to three hour trip by road fighting big city traffic. It’s also a more interesting journey as you travelling along the city’s river ways, conveniently departing/arriving very close to District 1.

However, the hydrofoil service between HCMC and Vung Tau has a dodgy safety record and history of incidents. In January 2014 the government suspended all operations after a Vina Express hydrofoil caught fire 15 minutes after departing HCMC. Eighty-five passengers and seven crew survived by jumping off the burning boat.

Service was reinstated in December 2014, after boats were supposedly upgraded and inspections passed in accordance with new safety regulations outlined by the transport ministry. When we travelled with Vina Express in March 2016, to us the boat looked old and worn out. There were life vests on board, it was air-conditioned and the journey was straightforward, departing on time. Crossing open water near Vung Tau was rocky, but very easy, smooth and slow once travelling on the busy river way. We arrived alive. Would we use it again? Probably, but definitely not in choppy seas.

In Ho Chi Minh City, hydrofoils for Vung Tau depart/arrive at a jetty near Nguyen Tat Thanh Street just south of the Khanh Hoi bridge. It’s just across the river from District 1, next to the Ho Chi Minh Museum and big floating restaurant Elisa. There’s a ticket office at this pier.

The Vung Tau ferry terminal is located on Ha Long Street, on the west coast of the city. Look for the signs for fast food joints KFC and Lotteria, and normally, many taxis lined up to whisk arrivals to their hotels.

From Ho Chi Minh City to Vung Tau: Ferry departs daily at 08:00, 10:00, 12:00, 14:00 & 16:30. On Saturday, there’s an extra departure at 09:00. Adult costs 200,000 dong, children 100,000 dong. The price is higher on Saturday, Sunday and holidays: Adult costs 250,000 dong, children 120,000 dong.

From Vung Tau to Ho Chi Minh City: Ferry departs daily at 08:00, 10:00, 12:00, 14:00, 16:30. On Sunday, there’s an extra departure at 15:00. The price is higher on Saturday, Sunday and holidays: Adult costs 250,000 dong, children 120,000 dong.

You can buy tickets through their website (we did so successfully with an international credit card). Or you can purchase the ticket at booths at the piers.

Keep in mind that Vung Tau is extremely popular on the weekends, so it’s recommended to buy your ticket in advance. If you’re doing a roundtrip journey, we heard rumours of a scam: the Saigon ticket office tells you that you don’t need to buy your return ticket in advance but once in Vung Tau, when you try to purchase a ticket you are told they are all sold out. Sellers then approach you with an available ticket at extortion prices.

Weather permitting, there is a ferry between Vung Tau and Con Dao Islands; no, you do not want to take it. Though we haven’t personally experienced it, we spoke to plenty of Con Dao locals and long-time residents who strongly advised against it. See our Con Dao travel section for details.

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Other

A private taxi to or from HCMC is an option. Negotiate a flat-rate. A one-way journey should cost around 1,000,000 dong. Try Sun Taxi T: (064) 3727 2727 or Mai Linh Taxi T: (064) 356 5656.

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Getting around

Hotels and guesthouses rent motorbikes. Prices vary wildly, anywhere from 100,000 to 250,000 dong. To save money do a quick shop around your block. Getting around by bicycle is doable, with the coastal road quite pleasant in the early hours.

Traffic balloons from Friday to Sunday, with many cars and buses driving in from Saigon. The roads (especially near the beach) can be hectic with drivers looking for their hotel and touts darting out trying to lure them into their establishment. People on motorbikes even chase people to hand out restaurant flyers or hotel business cards. On weekdays the streets empty and it can feel like a ghost town.

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Where to next?

Where are you planning on heading to after Vung Tau? Here are some spots commonly visited from here, or click here to see a full destination list for Vietnam.


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