With more than 2000 miles of coastline, Vietnam brims with secluded coves, white sands and waters fit for snorkelling. For days spent basking on sun-baked strands and evenings taking in the sunset, these are the best beaches in Vietnam.
Long Beach (Bai Trong), spanning the west coast of Phu Quoc Island, is a 20km stretch of largely deserted soft yellow sand and swaying coconut palms. Ideal for sunbathing, sunset watching and swimming, this beach is great for classic tropical beach views. It’s undoubtedly the best Phu Quoc has to offer.
The largely undeveloped east coast of Phu Quoc is less frequented than, but just as beautiful as, the more popular west. One of the most beautiful beaches on the island, Star Beach (Bai Sao) has dazzling white sands and mesmerizing, usually calm waters. A few beach restaurants line the pale blue waters, and in season there are kayaks for rent and half-day snorkelling trips by boat.
Nha Trang, a delightful south-coast city, is generally recognised as Vietnam’s premier beach destination. Six kilometres of sand joins the sea to the city; rolling waves are on one side, the others is fringed by cafes, restaurants and some unusual modern sculptures. Watersports, day trips by boat and, of course, fresh pineapple are all readily available – but bear in mind that the more choppy waters of November and December mean the beach loses much of its appeal.
Just north of Nha Trang lies the secluded Hon Chong Beach. It’s less refined than its central counterpart but worth the trip for the night-time views across the bay to the city centre. Cheap seafood restaurants abound at its far end.
Doc Let beach, on the splendid Hon Khoi peninsula, is a pristine location for a day’s beach-bumming. White sands and casuarinas (evergreen trees) make for a delightful, uncrowded scene. Good accommodation options are available, and even more secluded beaches can be found nearby.
A spellbinding, often deserted beach, Ho Coc offers a primitive but wonderful five kilometre stretch of golden sand. The beach has clear waters and is backed by fine dunes – and the Binh Chau Hot Springs are located conveniently nearby in case sunbathing gets too much.
The Hon Ghom peninsula is coated in largely empty, endless beaches. Perhaps the best is next to Dai Lanh, a tiny fishing village at the northern end of a one kilometre-long beach, hemmed between clear, turquoise waters of the South China Sea and a mantle of green mountains.
My Khe in Quang Ngai consists of seven kilometres of powder-soft sand, backed by casuarinas (evergreen trees), and is very good for swimming. Hamlets stand along the beach, while fishing boats are sometimes moored off it, and there’s a handful of restaurants that only get busy at the weekend.
It’s a popular bike (or motorbike taxi) ride from Hoi An to the clean, white sands of Cua Dai Beach. The best way to enjoy this stretch is to take an umbrella and deck chair at one of the many beachfront café-restaurants. That way you can sip cocktails and watch spectacular sunsets over the Chám Islands just off the shore.
Cam An Beach, just north of its more popular counterpart, Cua Dai Beach, is a pleasantly scruffy alternative to the tourist-focused Cua Dai. Ramshackle bars dot the far less visited beach, seen as the local expats’ beach of choice.
Con Son is ringed with pleasant beaches – Lo Voi and An Hai are nearest Con Son town, but Dam Trau to the north and Bat Dat Doc to the east are less frequented and just as nice.
Numerous parked coracles (round boats) line the beach at Ca Na, with its invitingly clear water and healthy, but razor sharp, coral. It’s easily accessible and, if wanting a little more solitude, just 2km to the south lies another good stretch of sand.
Five kilometres north of busy Phan Rang lies the pleasant, wide crescent of Ninh Chu Beach. Less popular with tourists than Mui Ne or Nha Trang, the beach still provides a quiet midweek stop, good for swimming, sunbathing and beach games in general.
About three kilometres south of the city of Da Nang, My Khe is a long stretch of sand popular with seafood-craving locals, where US servicemen were once flown for R&R during the war.
Quy Nhon, a small seaport town, is bordered by a beach admittedly less picturesque than others along the coast, but, for this reason, almost free of foreigners. For more adventurous travellers, this is a good place to get away from tourists, something which only adds to the town’s intrigue.
Non Nuoc is a dusty, unkempt village, inhabited since the fifteenth century by stone carvers. Follow the paved road east from the village and you reach Non Nuoc Beach, a pleasant and stretch of beach that competes for business with its northern neighbour, My Khe. A note of warning, however: there’s a powerful undertow off this coast, so riptides are particularly dangerous.
Three small, sandy beaches lie to the east of Cat Ba Town on the island of Cat Ba, just to the west of Ha Long Bay. Romantically named Cat Co 1, Cat Co 2 and Cat Co 3, One and Three are linked by a cliffside path that’s a joy to walk anytime, day or night, and Two is a quieter retreat.
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The unassuming capital of Binh Thuan Province, Phan Thiet is generally of less interest to foreigners than the sands of Mue Ne just along the coast. However the absence of tourists is, for some, a draw in itself. Doi Doung is the town’s own stretch of beach, and is very popular with the locals. To get to the best bit, head around 700m northeast from the main entrance point on Nguyen That Thanh.
A long skinny island on the outer fringes of Ha Long Bay, Quan Lan’s main attractions are the empty, sandy, and relatively clean beaches lining its east coast. Few specific sights in this area mean the beaches are relatively deserted – prepare to find yourself engaging even more closely with locals than you’re used to.
Whilst not technically a beach, kayaking across tranquil waters and swimming amidst twinkles of phosphorescent plankton are both possible in spectacular Ha Long Bay. From November to March there can be chilly days of drizzly weather when the splendour and romance of the bay are harder to appreciate, but the gorgeous caves and beautiful scenery make up for this in the summer months.