The best beaches in Vietnam
by Ben Phillips , 12/16/2019
The phrase best beaches in Vietnam was not one I considered before spending a year in this great country. To me, Vietnam has always been synonymous with sprawling green countryside, hectares of wild, vine-looped jungle and, of course, the emerald waters and dramatic limestone karsts of Ha Long Bay. I knew Vietnam was flanked by coastline, but I had written it off as mediocre, especially when compared to the unparalleled beauty of the beaches I had grown up with in Australia. It wasn’t until I arrived in Da Nang City and witnessed surfers on multi-coloured boards cutting across 6ft waves on My Khe Beach that I realized Vietnam’s best beaches would become a topic I would share with anyone who’d listen.
For years, Vietnam shivered in a long shadow cast by Thailand, which was known around the world for its stunning beaches and resorts. Vietnam’s glorious coastline, in my opinion, offers so much more variety, so many more options to suit all kinds of travellers, from holiday-makers looking for a quiet, lazy, safe beach with drinks service all day, to adventure seekers, surfboards tucked firmly under their arms, ready to tackle sandy bottom surf breaks.
This is our guide to the best beaches in Vietnam.
Hoi An - An Bang Beach
Hoi An is among many travellers favourite destinations in Vietnam, yet countless people never make it out of Old Town. Fair play, Old Town is great with its lantern lit cobblestone streets and alleys, but Hoi An has so much more to offer.
Just a ten minute drive from Old Town is arguably Vietnam’s best beach - An Bang Beach. In the right conditions, An Bang produces gentle rolling waves, ideal for longboards. For those more interested in relaxation, it offers stark white sand, cool, clear water and sunbeds for hundreds of meters with drinks service running from late morning until sunset.
Miraculously, An Bang Beach rarely flirts with the label of ‘crowded’, and feels more like a secluded island than an easily accessible mainland beach. The strip is lined with fantastic bars and restaurants such as Kahuna’s Beach Club and Salt Pub.
Getting there: If you’re staying in Da Nang City, An Bang Beach is a 45 minute drive down the coast. For those staying in Hoi An, it’s a ten drive from Old Town.
Hoi An - Cham Island
The coves and bays of Cham Island are rarely considered in the various lists of the best beaches in Vietnam, but we think they deserve a mention. Cham Island is a mere 15 km boat road from the mainland and is visible from the white sands of An Bang Beach on a clear day. The clear turquoise waters shrouding the island provide a wonderful opportunity to spend a day snorkeling, while the islands, of which there are eight in total, offer secluded beaches to relax and work on your tan.
Getting there: A public ferry takes passengers from Hoi An to Cham Island daily, however, we recommend hiring a speedboat for greater convenience and, well, speed.
My Khe Beach - Da Nang
I first set eyes on My Khe Beach in Da Nang at 4:45 am on a warm August morning. A bubble-gum pink glow was building in the distance as I walked a few blocks to the water. Vietnam had just turned on one of the most spectacular sunrises I’d ever seen, with a stark blue sky above, and a grand mist of ever-changing pink bursting from a quickly rising sun on the horizon. Lady Buddha, the tallest statue in Vietnam, stood proudly on the edge of Son Tra Peninsula, as the sun kept climbing, a crowd of thousands watching in awe.
My Khe Beach earned its spot in our list of the best beaches in Vietnam, albeit, with a few conditions.
The beach itself is fantastic with plenty of white sand stretching from the water to the boardwalk, however, in peak season it can be incredibly crowded from 7am until sundown. To beat most of the crowds and enjoy brilliant sunsets, swimming at dawn is recommended from July through to August.
For surfers keen on a decent swell, My Khe Beach can produce waves of 3-5ft with plenty of power to keep you on the board from the break to shore. The peak season for surfers is October through to December.
Getting there: My Khe Beach is just a short twenty minute drive from Da Nang International airport, and a 40 minute drive from Hoi An.
Central Vietnam - Ninh Van Bay
We might be a little biased here, but Ninh Van Bay offers one of Vietnam’s best beaches - and we’ve got front row seats.
Our Ninhvana backpackers resort is quickly becoming a favourite destination among globetrotters seeking sun, sand and adventure. Picture relaxing in your own private paradise of white sand beaches, tropical blue waters, encompassed by dramatic rock structures, where you can swim and kayak until the day turns to night. If you’re keen to party in your own personal oasis, we put on nightly events with a stocked bar, exotic cocktails, and the latest tunes to get you fist pumping.
By some miracle, if you wake-up hangover free our Californian Yogi will be waiting for you
on the beach each morning to get you nice and centered before a day of activities.
Come with us on a trek through the wild jungle or explore the impressive rock formations of Ninh Van Bay from a kayak. And if your thirst for adventure isn’t quenched, jump aboard our speedboat to Vinpearl island, or spend the afternoon snorkeling and fishing as the sun dips below the horizon of the East Vietnam Sea.
Nha Trang - Hon Tre Beach
The main strip of beaches in Nha Trang is met with mixed reviews, with many travellers disenfranchised by the noisy party atmosphere. But a short trip by cable-car or speedboat to Hon Tre Island offers a brilliant patchwork of stunning scenery with clear blue water, white sand beaches, and fruit orchards blooming on the edge of a mountain.
Hon Tre Beach is perfect for spending a day relaxing on a deck chair and sipping fresh juices, beers or cocktails, while settling in for an unspoilt sunset.
Getting there: The train from Ho Chi Minh City takes 8-9 hours, so we recommend flying from Ho Chi MInh Airport to Cam Ranh International Airport, which is just 30km’s from the city of Nha Trang.
The wind-swept shores of Mui Ne are perfect for one thing - kitesurfing. Thousands of budding and experienced kitesurfers stream into South-East Asia every year to spend a few weeks in Thailand’s Hua Hin and Jomtien Beach, before flying over to Vietnam and the golden sands of Mui Ne. The beaches here aren’t exactly pretty, but they’re great for a few days of learning how to kitesurf, then shredding it up on the waves.
Getting there: The train from Ho Chi Minh City takes about 4 hours, or 6 hours by bus.