Vietnam is blessed with a coastline stretching 3,000 kilometers with hundreds of beaches up and down the country that cater to all tastes; from white sand beaches where you can view sunsets, to beaches with 5 star facilities, and beaches with nothing at all to do except swim, relax and enjoy the local culture.
Starting in the Far North, bordering China is Tra Co, not a beautiful beach by anyone’s standards what with its muddy flats at low tide; but it’s a pleasant place to stay if you’re on your way into ours out of China, before heading to Halong Bay.
Bai Chay beach is the nearest to Hanoi, so it draws a huge crowd of people on the weekends and in summer. It too doesn’t live up to the beauty of the southern beaches, but does serve up some good seafood harvested from nearby Halong Bay. It certainly isn’t a place to come in winter as temperatures can drop to the 15 degree Celsius.
Halong Bay offers plenty of small beaches, most of them on islands and islets in the middle of the Bay (though the majority of islands are too steep and rocky to have beaches).These are best visited by kayak because large touring boats don’t have the shallow depth to approach the rocky shore.
The North Central Coast of Vietnam stretches all the way down to the Hai Van Pass, and is almost a continuous stretch of golden sand pounded by huge waves churned by the frequent typhoons. Its an area rarely visited by travelers, because most either fly or take the train straight between Hue and Hanoi, but if you’ve got time they are beautifully deserted and make excellent places to go for long walks. Locals will regard you with great curiosity, and may even follow you to practice their English.
Though the facilities are scarce here, (you won’t find restaurants selling to tourists just yet) it is a rewarding break from the long drive on Highway 1. Take note however, that is not a wise idea to walk any of the beaches near the DMZ and Dong Ha, because of mines, unexploded ordinances can still be found in this area.
The Central and South Central Coast of Vietnam offers the countries best beaches: from Hue to Nha Trang, the miles of coast is populated with coconut palms and dotted with fishing villages with lots of facilities and choices to make your holiday comfortable.
My Khe beach to Vietnamese, or China Beach to foreigners, looks out at Monkey Mountain east of Danang Bay. It’s by no means deserted, because locals use the beach as a place to play football, do morning exercises and just chat away with friends. It has some of Vietnam’s best surf beaches and in November waves can reach two meters.
It’s here where 5 star resorts like the Furama and the Lang Co/Nirvana resort (north of the Hai Van Pass) are situated and offer the best services in the country including al fresco dining, water sports and day tours.
The beach is also incorrectly linked with the first landing of American Marines in 1963. In fact, it was Red Beach, around the point in Danang Bay, where this took place. My Khe was the spot where numerous attacks took place in the American war and it was a center of fierce fighting in the late 1960’s.
From Danang, the lazy coastline stretches all the way down to Nha Trang. Dozens of beaches, many of them just a few meters from Highway I can be visited as you drive south. Facilities are mushrooming up to meet the demand of the numerous tour buses that now ply these routes. Seafood restaurants, guesthouses and other businesses are making this area easier to visit.
Nha Trang is the epicenter of the beach travel industry in Vietnam, and if you’re looking for a secluded beach, you won’t find it here. But if you want to enjoy a day trip out to the islands in Nha Trang Bay, where you can snorkel and swim, then Nha Trang is the place for you. One of the best things in the city is its marvelous seafood, which includes abalone, prawns, scallops and crabs.
Doc Let is 40 kilometers north of Nha Trang where you’ll find solitude and long deserted beaches; the shallow bay in front is perfect for a swim and the place is famous for its boiled crabs.
Further to the north of Doc Let, there’re few more beaches just been named by new resorts, offering more choices to holiday-makers who love secluded beach resorts with simple to reasonable amenities.
The next famous site after Nha Trang is Cana beach. This stretch of beautiful white sand is a beautiful beach with a few restaurants; it is a popular rest area for travellers coming to/from the South.
Even further south is Phan Thiet and Mui Ne, close enough to Saigon to be a popular weekend outing destination for residents there. It has a laid back feels, and includes 4 star hotels like the Nototel Corallia, so roughing it isn’t required here.
Closer to Saigon is Vung Tau, and serves much the same function as Bai Chay near Hanoi; it’s the closest and cheapest destination for Saigonese to escape the crowded city streets. Again, if you're looking for solitude, this isn’t the place, because on Sundays the beaches are packed.
Phu Quoc has the whitest sand beaches in the country, and if you want to watch the sunset (it’s the only place in Vietnam where you can do this) this is the place to come. Geologically, it's totally different to the other beaches in Vietnam, because it's in the Gulf of Thailand, and Phu Quoc closely resembles Koh Chang or Koh Samet near Bangkok. Just an hour flight from Saigon and you’ll be enjoying the sun, sea, sand and seafood of Vietnam’s most southern beach.
North to South, there are a multitude of choices in beaches so whatever kind of beach you are looking for you’ll find it in Vietnam.