When thinking of Vietnam most people think of the country’s heritage and UNESCO sites before they think about the beaches.
The rice paddies, the Sapa mountains, Central Vietnam’s Imperial city of Hue, the quaint town of Hoi An, the ancient city of My Son or the UNESCO listed Halong Bay are obvious destinations within Vietnam. If you peruse the brochures at travel agencies, beaches are unlikely to feature. Travelers prefer to combine Vietnam with other countries in Southeast Asia and head to the beaches there.
But Vietnam is eminently a beach destination and has some of the least crowded and most unique beaches in Southeast Asia. The beaches in Vietnam have the added benefit of not being as crowded as in other parts of Southeast Asia, precisely because the country is not as easily identified with the sea.
Like Thailand or Malaysia, the best beaches in Vietnam are a mix between mainland destinations that are easy to reach, like Da Nang, more remote beaches that tend to be still under the radar like Nha Trang, and up-and-coming islands like Phu Quoc, where some of Vietnam’s latest luxury resorts are.
So let’s take a look at the best beaches in Vietnam to get you going.
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Bai Sao – Sao Beach
Sao Beach is on beautiful Phu Quoc island, just off the south coast of Vietnam. It’s one of the most beautiful beaches in Vietnam and certainly the best I’ve ever been on – fine, pure white sand and absolutely crystal-clear, warm turquoise water. I almost couldn’t believe how ludicrously perfect Bai Sao was. It’s a long beach and very unspoilt. When I visited, there weren’t many people there and I had long stretches of sand completely to myself. There are also a couple of extremely Instagrammable swings placed just beyond the surf.
Sao Beach is around a 30-minute drive from Long Beach, which is probably the most popular area to stay in Phu Quoc, but it’s worth the effort. You can also visit Sao Beach as part of a day trip visiting several attractions on the island, which is how I first visited Sao Beach. I wouldn’t recommend one of these tours however, because quite a few of the “attractions” were actually tourist traps aimed at selling products to travellers, and I’d rather just have taken a taxi to Sao Beach and had all day to spend there!
Location: Phu Quoc
How to get there: The easiest way to get to Sao Beach is to rent a scooter if you have a license – this is one of the best ways to get around Phu Quoc in general. Taxis are also readily available, but unfortunately there isn’t much in the way of public transport.
Best for: What makes Sao Beach so spectacular is its bright white sand and clear turquoise water, and you can enjoy that at any time of day.
Facilities: There are a couple of restaurants, and sun loungers for rent. It’s a quiet beach though, you won’t find a strip of raucous bars here.
Where to stay in Phu Quoc:There has been a recent increase in premium and upscale hotels in Phu Quoc Island. Some of the best include the JW Marriott Emerald Bay Resort & Spa, the colonial inspired Intercontinental Long Beach Resort, La Veranda, the all inclusive spa Fusion Resort and the stunning Premier Village managed by Accor. Check out the best hotels for you on Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda | TripAdvisor.
Read more: Find out more about Phu Quoc Island on Temples and Treehouses
Dam Trau – Airport Beach
Dam Trau is a golden sandy beach on Vietnam’s Con Son island in the Con Dao archipelago, which thanks to its remoteness has not caught up with the tourist boom of the Thai islands. It’s still fairly quiet most of the time, making it a great place to relax, sit back, and sip on a fresh coconut or a cocktail.
The name of the beach comes from its location, right by the airport and from where you can see the landing planes.
Location: Con Son island, Con Dao archipelago, East of Vietnam
How to get there: To get to Con Dao: Easiest by plane from Ho Chi Minh City or Can Tho. To get to the beach once you’re there: Get your hotel to show you the way to the beach on a map and rent a scooter. Everyone knows this place, and with only a few roads on the island, it’s hard to get lost.
Best for: Sunset
Facilities: There are some wooden shack restaurants with toilets at the back of the beach that provide hammocks, beach loungers, drinks and food all day long. A few jet skis are available for rent.
Read more: Take a look at more photos that will make you want to go to Con Dao on the Traveling German blog
Cat Ba’s Monkey Island has one of my favorite beaches in all of southeast Asia. The crystal clear waters are perfect for an afternoon dip and you can even hike to a nearby viewpoint!
Be careful when visiting or photographing the monkeys here, they are more tame than most and are borderline pets. I didn’t see them go after anyone with food except for one guy who fed them. Don’t be that guy and you’ll love this beach!
Location: Cat Ba
How to get there: Bus from Hanoi to Hai Phong port then ferry to Cat Ba and boat transfer to Monkey Island. The best way to enjoy the beach is by booking a night at the Monkey Island Resort and taking their boat from the mainland but don’t worry, you can stop by on a day trip too!
Best for: Sunset
Facilities: You’ll find one restaurant that serves some delicious coconuts and other refreshments (they have a restroom too).
Read more: Try a romantic getaway in Cat Ba as recommended by Live Travel Teach
Nha Trang’s 6km beach is the best city beach in Vietnam. With picturesque islands in the bay, spearmint blue waters and hot, blonde sands, it’s easy to forget this is Southeast Asia and not the Caribbean.
Nha Trang beaches have become very popular tourist destinations over the last ten years, especially with Russian and Chinese groups, but due to the huge size of the beach it’s still easy to find your own spot. In fact, early in the day and over lunchtime it seems to be possible to beat the crowds completely!
You will find lots of areas roped off for safe swimming, which keep out the jet-skis and kite surfers, and the facilities are fantastic. I recommend getting up early at least once, and watching the perfect sunrise over the horizon on this popular Vietnamese beach.
Location: Nha Trang
How to get there: Nha Trang is around 30km from Cam Ranh Airport, where there are both domestic and international flights. Nha Trang station is only 2km from the city centre, and is well connected to other big destinations in Vietnam.
Best for: Sunrise
Facilities: There are public toilets along the beach, and sun loungers can be rented for around $2. Lots of sellers work their way along the beach with fresh fruit, Vietnamese coffee and other snacks. Numerous bars and restaurants are located on the beach front, some will serve you in their allocated sun loungers. The waves here are low, so not good for surfing, but Nha Trang is famous for diving, and is a great place to learn.
Where to stay in Nha Trang: There are many options on Nha Trang to stay, but if you venture out a bit to Ninh Van Bay, you will find an array of great resorts like the Six Senses or An Lam Retreats. Another two hours away is the most gorgeous spa retreat to be had at the fabulous Amanoi. Closer to the city, you best options include the Intercontinental, the Sheraton, the Evason Ana Mandara or Vinpearl Resort & Spa Long Beach. Check out the best hotels for you on Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda | TripAdvisor.
An Bang Beach
On the outskirts of the ancient fairytale town of Hoi An, you will find one of Vietnam’s best kept secrets – beautiful An Bang Beach. As you approach the beach, you’ll spot rows and rows of the iconic Vietnamese basket boats lining the shore.
Grab a sunbed or head to one of the overlooking beach bars to relax with a drink and a sea-view. There is an increasingly popular and trendy food scene emerging around the An Bang area – if you can tear yourself away from the bright lights of Hoi An Ancient Town for a day, then this is the place to be for sunsets, sea-views and seafood.
Location: Hoi An
How to get there: An Bang Beach is only 5km from the ancient town of Hoi An and can be easily reached by cycling or taxi. Bikes are very popular to hire in Hoi An, with plenty of local operators offering cheap rates.
Best for: Sunset
Facilities: The beach is lined with restaurants and beach bars, which also have clean toilets that you can use. You can opt to try parasailing or jet-skiing directly from one of the local tour operators on the beach, if you prefer adventure to sunbathing!
Where to stay in Hoi An: As Hoi An is quite small, there are limited choices available in the city itself, two of the best being the Anantara Hoi An and the boutique Little Riverside Hoi An. I stayed at the Banyan Tree Lang Co which has free shuttle services daily to Hoi An and is a great base to explore the area including My Son temple ruins, or the Imperial city of Hue. Or base yourself at any of the other luxury hotels in Central Vietnam. The most premium hotel near Hoi An is The Four Seasons Nam Hai in Hoi An city followed by Vinpearl Nam Hoi An Resort & Villas Nam. Check out more hotel options on Booking.com | HotelsCombined | Agoda | TripAdvisor. See my review of Banyan Tree Lang Co here.
Read more: You can read more about An Bang beach on Part-Time Passport. The best way to explore the city is on a combined itinerary of Central Vietnam that includes My Son, Hoi An, Hue and Da Nang. Read my perfect 4 days in Central Vietnam.