At the time of writing there is only one ferry service that goes from Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) to Vung Tau that takes around 2 hours. I normally ride my bike to Vung Tau if the weather is good but decided to try the Vung Tau ferry as i read some good reviews.
Vung Tau is a quiet beach town around 90km away from Ho Chi Minh. It’s not the most exciting of places but it’s a nice quick getaway from the polluted city of Saigon and a good place to recharge your batteries for a few days.
The service is operated by Greenlines DP ferry and the boats are new and feel safe. I get tired of the shitty traffic in Saigon so the thought of a relaxing boat ride to Vung Tau seemed like a good idea. The boat departs from Bach Dang Speed Ferry terminal, easy to find on a grab bike as it’s on a main road in district 1.
I was able to book tickets online with no issues using my mastercard, although its just as easy to turn up and pay at the ticket booth.
The ferries run daily from Ho Chi Minh at 8am, 10am, 12pm and 2pm, weather dependant.
They return from Vung Tau at 10am, 12pm, 2pm and 4pm in the weekdays with an extra boat at 1pm and 3pm on the busier weekends.
The weather on my outbound journey to Vung Tau was decidedly shitty.
This was ok until the last 40 minutes or so when the boat leaves the Saigon river and crosses open water toward Vung Tau. Here it can get really rough and the last part of the journey was uncomfortable.
I like traveling by boat, but if you get sea sick at all then i wouldn’t suggest this trip during the rainy season.
The journey takes around 2 hours and i found it a pleasant ride for the most part. The scenery as you leave Saigon is quite interesting and you get a new perspective of the city from the water.
The boat seemed well maintained and it felt safe with life jackets under each seat and a safety video from the crew.
You can buy some drinks and snacks on board, and there’s even a ‘phong VIP’ (VIP room) which you can hire.
The crew seemed nice and friendly although spoke no English. I tried to ask in my broken Vietnamese if i could ‘go outside on deck’ but she stared at me as if i’d asked to jump overboard or something..
The boat was fairly empty on the way there but a little more busy during the return trip. Price wise they currently have a promotion where it’s only 100k (~$5) each way-a real bargain. The normal price is 250K each way on the weekend and 200k on weekdays. Still excellent value.
All in all i’d definitely recommend the Saigon Vung Tau ferry, with the only caveat being if you get easily sea sick or don’t generally like to travel by boat then be careful during the rainy season.
As far as Vung Tau goes like many places in Vietnam it’s a slow burner.
It will take a few trips to get to know the area, but a nice hotel can be had for $15 a night and motorbike rented for around $5 day to explore.
It’s a lot quieter than it used to be as apparently a lot of the oil workers that used to live there have now gone home. I thought it looked a lot cleaner than when i visited last time and you can see the country is finally starting to spend some money on the place.
Girls In Vung Tau
Vung Tau used to have a seedy reputation and had quite a lot of ‘girly bars’ almost similar to what you might see in Thailand or Cambodia.
I didn’t really sample the nightlife during this trip as i’d already made friends with a lovely lady from Vietnam Cupid who picked me up from the ferry port on my arrival and was happy to ‘show me around the town.’ 😉
I’d definitely recommend getting on tinder or Vietnam Cupid a week or two before going to Vung Tau if you don’t want to be alone. I’ve done trips here by myself however, with girlfriends and met girls there from the internet and each trip has it’s pros and cons.
I found the people this time to be a bit more friendly than Saigon as is usually the case in the smaller more laid back beach towns.
Indeed it got me thinking, i’d definitely like to live in Da Nang or another beach town again in the future, so need to concentrate on making that happen.
In the mean time i’m happy to hop over to Vung Tau on the weekends to chill out and soak up that vitamin sea. 🙂