MANNING HOTEL, VUNG TAU HOTEL PRICE, ADDRESS & REVIEWS

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A popular weekend escape from Ho chi Minh city, Vung Tau rocks at weekends when beach-starved locals and expats descend in numbers, but it is relatively quiet during the week. The đô thị enjoys a spectacular location on a peninsula, with ocean on three sides, & the light and sea air makes it a refreshing break from sultry HCMC.

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Oil is big business here, so the horizon is regularly dotted with oil tankers, & petro dollars dominate the economy, inflating prices considerably.

Vung Tau is a remarkably civilised- looking đô thị of broad boulevards và imposing colonial – era buildings, but a slightly seedy bar scene also flourishes here, accommodating the tastes (and wallets) of retired Anzac servicemen, Russian expats và oil workers.

Historically few travellers bothered to lớn visit the city, but new transport connections have put Vung Tau on the map. Hydrofoil links from central HCMC are now excellent, & the new coastal road lớn Mui Ne via Ho Trang offers a tempting, off-the-beaten-track route.

Sights

Welcome khổng lồ Rio di Vietnam, where soaring forested peaks rise over a turquoise bay. There’s even a giant Jesus, though few would compare Vung Tau’s beaches to the Copacabana.

Worldwide Arms Museum 

(http://worldwidearmsmuseum.wordpress.com; 14 Ð nhị Dong; admission 100,000d; 9am-5pm) An outstanding, & unexpected find in the backstreets of Vung Tau, this is a superb museum, even if you’ve little interest in warfare. There’s a simply stunning collection of military uniforms & weaponry from all over the world: Samuri nobility, crusaders in chain mail, Roman legionaries, Royal horseguards, even African warriors in leopard skins alongside dozens of vintage pistols, muskets, swords & helmuts, all in modern displays with English translations.

There’s also a private primate rescue centre with spacious enclosures for gibbons và monkeys rescued from traffickers. It is not a zoo, but the private passion of the museum owner who takes care of the mammals.

Giant Jesus MONUMENT

(parking 2000d; 7.30-11.30am và 1.30-5pm) Atop Small Mountain with his arms outstretched to embrace the South đài loan trung quốc Sea, this 32m Giant Jesus is the biggest in the world, or so the locals claim – 6m taller than his illustrious Brazilian cousin. It is possible to lớn ascend to lớn the arms for a panoramic view.


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Some 900-odd stairs wind their way up the mountain, a Vietnamese version of stairway to lớn heaven, but it is possible lớn take a short-cut by motorbike up a bumpy mountain road if you can find a local who knows the way. It starts from Hem 220, off Ð Phan Chu Trinh.

Lighthouse LIGHTHOUSE

(parking 2000d; 7am-5pm) Built by the French, this 1910 lighthouse boasts a spectacular 360-degree view of Vung Tau. From Cau domain authority Pier on Ð Ha Long, take a sharp right on the alley north of the nhị Au Hotel, then roll on up the hill. Although Jesus and the lighthouse look temptingly close, it is not possible to walk or drive directly between them, as there is a military base in the hills here.

White Villa MUSEUM

(Bach Dinh, Villa Blanche; Ð Tran Phu; admission 15,000d; 7am-4pm) The weekend retreat of French governor Paul Doumer (later French President) this gorgeous, grand colonial-era residence has extensive gardens and an oddly empty interior (besides the odd piece of furniture and some Ming pottery retrieved from shipwrecks off the coast). It sits about 30m above the road, up a winding lane.

French Field Guns LANDMARK

 Further along Tran Phu beyond Mulberry Beach, a pretty road winds up the hillside lớn some old French Field Guns. There are six of these massive cannons, all with support trenches, demonstrating how strategically important Cap St Jacques was lớn the colonial authorities as it guarded the waterways to Saigon. Look out for Hem 444 in the fishing village, about 8km from Vung Tau, và turn right on a small track.

 Activities

Vung Tau is not a major water-sports centre, but if the weather gods are smiling, some residents surf & kitesurf.

Vung Tau Golf Paradise GOLF

( 064-385 9697; www.golfparadise.com.vn) On the eastern side of the Vung Tau peninsula this 27-hole course is quite a challenge, with mature trees lining the fairways.

Surf Station SURFING, WINDSURFING

( 064-526 101; www.vungtausurf.com; 8 Ð Thuy Van) Based at the Vung Tau Beach Club, Surf Station offers board rental và kitesurfing và surfing classes.

Seagull và Dolphin Pools 

(Ð Thuy Ban, Back Beach) These pools are almost opposite the Imperial Plaza. Both charge 50,000d for the day.

ANZAC SITES AROUND VUNG TAU

Nearly 60,000 Australian soldiers were involved in the American War throughout the 1960s and 1970s. The Long tan Memorial Cross commemorates a particularly fierce battle that took place on 18 August 1966 between Australian troops and Viet Cong fighters. Originally erected by Australian survivors of the battle, the current cross is a replica installed by the Vietnamese in 2002. It’s located about 18km from bố Ria town or 55km from Vung Tau, near the town of Nui Dat. Permits are no longer necessary, and can be combined with the seldom-visited Lon Phuoc tunnels, an underground network that is a much smaller version of the more famous Cu Chi.

At Minh Dam, 5km from Long Hai, there are caves with historical connections khổng lồ the Franco–Viet Minh & American Wars. Although the caves are little more than spaces between the boulders covering the cliff-face, VC soldiers bunked here off and on between 1948 và 1975; you can still see bullet holes in the rocks from the skirmishes that took place. Steps hewn into the rock-face lead up to the caves, with spectacular views over the coastal plains at the top.

Nearby there is a mountain-top temple with more great panoramic views of the coastline.

Tommy’s ( 064-351 5181; www.tommysvietnam.com; 3 Ð tía Cu) operate tours for returning vets that include Long Tan, Long Phuoc and Minh Dam. The cost including transport & guide is US$120 for up to lớn three people.

Otherwise hook up with a xe om driver and expect to pay US$20 or so for a tour around these sights.

 Sleeping

During weekends & holidays, Vung Tau’s hundred or more hotels can be heavily booked, so it is sensible khổng lồ make a reservation. Most foreigners prefer khổng lồ stay on Front Beach where the restaurants và bars are found, while the majority of Vietnamese visitors head for Back Beach.

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Son Ha hotel $

Lua Hong Motel $

( 064-381 8992; 137 Ð Thuy Van; r 300,000-380,000d) For a more Vietnamese take on Vung Tau. This ‘motel’ has a cảm ứng (but only a touch, mind you) more decorative flair than some of the neighbouring places, plus sea views.

Huong Sen hotel $$

( 064-355 1711; 182 Ð Tran Phu; r US$29-49) Right at the end of Mulberry Beach, this is affiliated with the long-running Huong Sen in HCMC. Rates are very reasonable for the standards and it’s a nice escape if you want to get away from the honky tonk part of town.

Lucy’s khách sạn $$

( 064-385 8896; www.lucyssportsbar.com; 138 Ha Long; r 600,000d) These comfortable rooms, above a popular bar, could be just the ticket if you’re looking for a place khổng lồ kip down just steps from the ferry terminal. All have a balcony overlooking the bay, modern bathrooms & staff are friendly.

Lan Rung Resort & Spa $$

( 064-352 6010; www.lanrungresort.com; 3-6 Ð Ha Long; 7 from US$71) Lan Rung is also one of the few places with a beachside setting, albeit a rocky one. The rooms are attractive và include heavy wooden furniture and all the facilities you’d expect. There are seafood và Italian restaurants. Service is willing, but expect a few communication issues.

 Eating

There’s great seafood, and lots of international flavours available in Vung Tau.

Bistrot 9 FRENCH, INTERNATIONAL $

(9 Ð Truong Vinh Ky; snacks/meals from 55,000/90,000d; 7.30am-9.30pm; ) An atmospheric bistro on a quiet side street that’s perfect for breakfast or brunch, crêpe, panini or a full-on splurge (try the salmon carpaccio or pork with Dijon mustard). They also sell homemade gourmet chocolates and have the best wine selection in town.

Imperial Plaza VIETNAMESE $

(159 Ð Thuy Van; meals from 50,000d; 8am-9pm; ) This shopping centre offers a selection of dining options including a small food court. Perfect (and air-conditioned) for those overheating with indecisiveness: choose from pizza through to pho.

 Ganh Hao SEAFOOD $$

( 064-355 0909; 3 Ð Tran Phu; mains 55,000-210,000d; 11.30am-9pm) Impressive seafood restaurant, with tables positioned on terraces by the ocean, that’s always packed with locals, so try khổng lồ get here as early as possible. The thực đơn is extensive, with delicious fish, lobster, crab, squid và prawn dishes, though wine is expensive. It’s huge, và somehow, despite the crowds, it all ticks over efficiently.

Cay Bang SEAFOOD $$

( 064-383 8522; 69 Ð Tran Phu; mains 52,000-230,000d; 11am-10pm) A seafood institution with a great location on the water, Cay Bang is mix under the shadow of the Virgin Mary và Baby Jesus. At weekends, it draws a huge crowd of the Vung Tau faithful for the shellfish, hot pots & grilled fish.

Tommy’s 3 INTERNATIONAL $$

(www.tommysvietnam.com; 3 Ð ba Cu; mains 60,000-300,000d; 7am-11pm) Boasts a prime front terrace that draws a mixed crowd of locals, expats & tourists. The food is mainly Western và familiar, with big portions of steaks and burgers, plus local food including tasty noodle dishes.

David Italian Restaurant $$

(130 Ð Ha Long; mains 60,000-200,000d; 11am-10pm) Located on a prime strip overlooking the hydrofoil dock, this is an authentic Italian-run restaurant. The pasta is freshly prepared & the pizzas are the best in town.

 Drinking

Vung Tau nightlife is raucous by Vietnamese standards with lots of hostess bars & the occasional floor show.

Lucy’s Sports Bar 

(www.lucyssportsbar.com; 138 Ð Ha Long; 7am-midnight; ) Non-sleazy, non-hostess bar with a busy pool table, great sea-facing terrace and sociable vibe. As the name indicates there’s a viewing diet of sports events – from demo cricket lớn Aussie Rules. Also serves pub grub.

Red Parrot PUB

(6 Ð Le Quy Don; noon-midnight; ) One of the late-night spots that picks up as the evening wears on, this is Vung Tau at its most decadent, complete with war veterans, oil workers, alcoholics and working girls. Check out the vintage Vespas.

 Information

Consult www.vungtau-city.com for relatively up-to-date information on the đô thị of Vung Tau.

International SOS ( 064-385 8776; www.internationalsos.com; 1 Ð Le Ngoc Han; 24hr) A well-respected clinic with international standards và international prices.

Main Post Office (8 Ð Hoang Dieu; 7am-5.30pm) Located at the ground level of the Petrovietnam Towers building.

OSC Vietnam Travel ( 064-385 2008; www.oscvietnamtravel.com.vn; 2 Ð Le Loi; 7am-4.30pm) Government-run travel agency that offers transport booking & a host of local trips.

Vietcombank (27-29 Ð Tran Hung Dao; 7.30am-3.30pm) Exchanges cash, travellers cheques & offers credit-card advances.

 Getting There & Away

Bus

From Mien Dong bus station in HCMC, air-con minibuses (50,000d, 2½ hours, frequent) leave for Vung Tau between 6am & 7pm. From Vung Tau’s bus station (192A Ð nam Ky Khoi Nghia) lớn Mulberry Beach or Back Beach, a xe om will cost around 30,000d.

Boat

It’s much more enjoyable khổng lồ catch a hydrofoil. There are three boat operators khổng lồ HCMC (200,000d to 250,000d, 90 minutes), all using the same terminals. The best boats are run by Vina Express ( HCMC 08-3825 3333, Vung Tau 064-385 6530) & Petro Express ( HCMC 08-3821 0650, Vung Tau 064-3351 5151); those operated by Greenlines are in poor condition. Services leave every 30 minutes until 4.45pm and there are additional boats at weekends, when it’s important lớn book ahead. In Vung Tau the boat leaves from Cau da pier.

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 Getting Around

Vung Tau is easily traversed on two wheels or four. Guesthouses and restaurants can arrange bicycle hire (per day US$2) & motorbike hire (from US$6 to US$9 per day). Metered taxis will likely work out cheaper than trying to negotiate with ruthless cyclo or xe om drivers. Mai Linh ( 064-356 5656) is a reliable operator & has plenty of taxis cruising the streets.