Boasting some 2,000 miles of coastline plus a handful of renowned island destinations, Vietnam naturally has no shortage of beautiful beaches. Sure, you could just stick to cities, what with the colonial architecture and history of Hanoi, the imperial charms of Hue, and the bustling nightlife of Saigon. But you’d be remiss to plan a Vietnamese vacation without hitting the water at least once—plus, most cities are just a day-trip from the coast, if not on the coast already.
To help you decide, we’ve put together a guide to the most notable beach destinations in Vietnam. From the shores of the UNESCO-designated Ha Long Bay to the rolling dunes of Mui Ne and the island getaways of Con Dao and Phu Quoc, here are the best places to enjoy Vietnam’s surf, sun, and sand.
1/ Con Dao
Though typically spoken of as one island, Con Dao is actually an archipelago of 16 islands on the southern coast of Vietnam. Once the site of brutal French prisons, Con Dao is now known for its coral reefs, diverse marine life, and soft sandy beaches. On the main island, Con Son, you’ll find local home stays, budget hotels, and a few high-end resorts, most notably the Six Senses Con Dao, which offers access to the beautiful Dat Doc Beach. North of Con Son town (and bordered by no hotels) lays the tranquil Lo Voi Beach. And beyond the main island, nature lovers head to the beaches of the nearby Bay Canh island to witness the annual releasing of baby sea turtles.
If you’re in Hanoi, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a quick, and totally worth-it day trip that takes roughly four hours each way by bus. Though known primarily for its world-famous limestone outcroppings, Ha Long Bay boasts a number of its own number of beaches, the most obvious being Bai Chay, the artificial setup that lures in most tourists. For the full experience, opt for a boat tour that’ll take you to Ti Top Island, an island in the center of the bay with its own beach. And, if you’ve got the time to make an overnight affair of your visit, visit the less-trodden, white-sand-laden Ban Chan beach.
4/ My Khe – Da Nang
A one-time French colonial port on the central coast, Vietnam’s third-largest city is also home to some of the country’s best beaches. And it’s got a little something for everyone, from the bustling beaches located a short drive from city to the more secluded spots for those keen on adventure.
Fans of water sports can visit My Khe Beach, the closest beach to the city center and a world-renowned favorite for surfing, snorkeling, and jet-skiing. Meanwhile, those who prefer some privacy can hop on a motorbike to the untouched Tien Sa Beach on the north side of the Son Tra Peninsula. Other nearby attractions include the stunning Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, Caves, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is home to Son Doong, the world’s largest cave.
This south-central city long boasted some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, though tourism and development have made quite a dent in its landscape in recent years. Still, there remain a number of pristine, well-kept beaches and islands that are worth a visit if you find yourself in the area.At the city’s main beach, called Nha Trang Beach or City Beach, you’ll find that iconic view of the bay, along with a decently-sized crowd during peak hours. For more secluded options, check out the beaches on the nearby cluster of islands, including Hon Lon and Hon Tre, which is home to the gaudy but popular resort Vinpearl.