Welcome to Vũng Tàu, the largest city of Bà Rịa–Vũng Tàu province in southern Vietnam. This picturesque city is situated at the tip of a small peninsula and boasts 4 extensive beaches: Back Beach (Bãi Sau), Front Beach (Bãi Trước), Strawberry Beach (Bãi Dâu), Pineapple Beach (Bãi Dứa). Its importance as a shipping port may have diminished, but it still plays a significant role in Vietnam’s offshore oil industry, making it the crude oil extraction center of Vietnam. Vũng Tàu consists of 16 wards and the commune of Long Sơn, and is rich in history and culture. Let’s dive deep into the city’s past and explore the numerous attractions it has to offer.
The history of Vũng Tàu reaches back to the 14th and 15th centuries when the cape that would become Vũng Tàu was a swamp visited regularly by European trading ships, which inspired the name Vũng Tàu that means ‘anchorage’. During the reign of king Gia Long, Malay pirates built a base here and subsequently became a danger to traders in Gia Định city. Hence, the king sent his army to crack down on the pirates. The pirates were ousted, and the troops were given the land as a reward. Vũng Tàu played an important role in Vietnam’s war against French invaders in southern Vietnam, then called Cochinchina. During the Vietnam War, the 1st Australian Logistics Support Group was based in Vũng Tàu, and various United States military units were stationed here at different times. After the war, Vũng Tàu was a common launching place for the Vietnamese boat people, economic refugees escaping the post-war poverty.
Today, Vũng Tàu is the only petroleum base of Vietnam where crude oil and natural gas exploitation activities dominate the city’s economy and contribute principal income to Vietnam’s budget and export volume. PEB Steel operates several factories in Vũng Tàu, making it a hub for the steel industry too.
Vũng Tàu has no shortage of attractions for tourists. The city’s 4 extensive beaches are perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and various water sports. Back Beach is the most popular and offers a variety of restaurants, bars, and cafes. The city has some 14 Catholic wards with active services, and the Christ of Vũng Tàu, a large statue built by Vietnam’s Catholic minority, is a prominent landmark. The city has some notable Buddhist pagodas, temples, and statues, including Thích Ca Phật Đài, Phổ Đà Sơn Quan Âm Bồ Tát Tự Temple, and Niết Bàn Tịnh Xá temple. The Lăng Ông Nam Hải Whale Temple is one of the Vietnamese whale worship sites, hosting a skeleton of a whale and an annual festival in recognition of Nam Hai General, a whale god who is said to govern the ocean and protect people from evils, monsters, and disasters. In Vũng Tàu, one of the most widely celebrated holidays is Lễ hội Cá Ông (Whale Holiday), and festivals in the region include the Kite Festival and World Food Festival Culture.
Vũng Tàu’s transport network is well-developed, and it is easy to reach from Hồ Chí Minh City. It takes about two hours to reach Vũng Tàu by road (51A Expressway), one and a half hours by high-speed ferry, or one and a half hours by car on the freeway. Vũng Tàu is twinned with many cities worldwide, including Baku, Azerbaijan, and its cooperation in petroleum extraction between Soviet Azerbaijani and Vietnamese specialists in Vũng Tàu in the 1980s is commemorated by naming a street in Baku after Vũng Tàu. In conclusion, Vũng Tàu is a hidden gem in southern Vietnam and a must-visit destination for anyone looking for a mix of history, culture, and natural beauty.