1. Climb to the Top of the Christ the King Statue
The Christ the King Statue that stands on top of Mount Nhỏ overlooking the ocean in Vung Tau is reminiscent of the Christ the Redeemer statue in Brazil. Both have inviting outstretched arms that look like they are ready to give you a big bear hug.
The two statues are even similar in size – Vung Tau’s Christ the King is 118 feet tall in total (including the base platform) and his arms span 60 feet. Christ the Redeemer is a similar height but with a slightly longer arm span at 92 feet.
You’ll be rewarded with the best views of Vung Tau from the tiny, cramped viewing platforms on Christ the King’s shoulders. But in order to get there, you’ll need to climb over 800 stairs to the base of the statue and then another 133 steps once inside. The spiral staircase inside of the statue is small and often crowded so you’ll likely need to wait your turn to get out to the viewing platform.
It’s best to visit early in the morning to avoid the heat and the crowds and be sure to bring plenty of water. There are a couple of small shops on the walk up and at the base of the statue if you need some refreshments.
You’ll also notice signs indicating that visitors wearing shorts or tank tops will not be allowed inside the statue. This policy doesn’t seem to be enforced, but it’s still best to dress conservatively and respect the fact that it’s a religious site.
2. Hike to the Vung Tau Lighthouse
A long and windy road leads up the Nui Nho (“small mountain”) to the whitewashed Vung Tau Lighthouse. Built by the French in 1862, this particular lighthouse is well known as it is the oldest of the almost 80 lighthouses in Vietnam.
Once you reach the lighthouse you’ll be rewarded with 360° views of Vung Tau and it’s a great place to catch the sunset. Note that there isn’t really anything else here aside from a few overpriced coffee shops but if you’re visiting in the heat of the day you’ll appreciate taking a rest with an ice-cold beverage.
3. Ride the Doppel Mayer Cable Car
This fun activity in Vung Tau isn’t just a ride in a cable car, but it also includes a trip to an amusement park that kids will love! The Ho May Culture and Ecotourism Park sits at the top of a hill and is reached by a scenic ride in the cable car.
The entrance fee for the Dobbel Mayer Cable Car covers unlimited rides in Ho May park so kids (and adults) can go wild! The rides offered include bumper cars, rollercoasters, go-karts, and more. Adults will love the views over Vung Tau on the cable car ride to the top, and kids will love spending the afternoon playing games in the amusement park. It’s fun for the entire family!
4. Indulge in High Tea at the Imperial Garden Bar
The Imperial Hotel is a beautiful, old-fashioned hotel located right on the beach in the heart of the city. It’s one of the best places to stay in Vung Tau but even if you don’t spend the night there, it’s worth a visit to their stunning beautiful outdoor garden bar.
The front lawn of the Imperial Hotel has been transformed into a swanky little bar and teashop with classy but comfortable cushions for seating and large tent seats that are perfectly Instagrammable. It’s impossible to resist walking around snapping photos here.
5. Tour the White Palace
Built in 1898, the White Palace (Bach Dinh) is a mansion that has a French architectural style. It sits far above the city of Vung Tau on Big Mountain. It was originally built to be the summer retreat for General Paul Doumer, a French Governor.
The house itself is quite impressive and the expansive views out of the second-story windows are beautiful. But the exhibits are poorly signed and the mansion has no historical information to help you understand what you are looking at.
The most impressive room in the palace is right inside the front entrance which has clearly been well maintained. The rest of the palace and the furniture could use a good scrub and some TLC. There are no air-conditioning or fans inside the palace so you won’t want to stay here for long.
6. Wade out to Hon Ba Temple
Hon Ba is a small island off the southeastern tip of the peninsula with a small temple perched on in the middle. During low tide, you can actually walk along a slippery rocky path all the way to the island. Just be careful that you don’t stay too long or you’ll have to swim back to the mainland!
Ask your hotel concierge to check the tide charts before heading out on this adventure in Vung Tau.
7. Walk Around the Boardwalk
Vung Tau is situated on a peninsula so the small city is bordered by the sea on three sides. Running all along the coast you’ll find a fairly well-maintained sidewalk (a rarity in Vietnam) with plenty of coffee shops, bars, restaurants, food trucks, and even a couple of shaded parks.
It’s a great place for a stroll early in the morning before it gets too hot out or in the late afternoon as the sun is setting. In the morning you’ll see locals exercising, visitors heading to the beach, and fishermen bringing in their daily catch.
8. Lounge on the Beach
The 4 most popular beaches in Vung Tau are Front Beach, Back Beach, Pineapple Beach, and Paradise Beach.
Front Beach (Bai Truoc) and Back Beach (Bai Sau) are the most popular beaches in the city. The water isn’t the cleanest at Front Beach so you may not want to swim here but it is filled with restaurants so you’ll have plenty of delicious seafood dining options. Back Beach can get pretty windy so it’s popular with windsurfers and surfers. It has a long, wide beach so even though it gets quite crowded, you can find a good spot to lounge.
Pineapple Beach (Bai Dua) is the smallest of the 4 beaches but arguably the cleanest. Here you’ll find calm waters, perfect for swimming. And you’ll have to pay a fee to enter Paradise Beach because it’s part of a resort park so it’s much less crowded and has some high-end dining options. You’ll probably appreciate having access to bathrooms and changing rooms but you’ll pay considerably more here for food and drinks.
9. Stroll Around the Thich Ca Phat Dai Temple
The Thich Ca Phat Dai is a Theravada Buddhist temple located on the Western side of Vung Tau. You’ll follow rambling pathways and staircases up the hillside passing several different buildings and statues representing important stages of the Buddha’s life.
The thick forest surrounding the temple makes you feel like you’re miles away from the city of Vung Tau, and if you come here in the early morning you’ll likely have the place all to yourself with the exception of a few resident monks.
10. Visit the Chon Khong Monastery
The Chon Khong Monastery is a peaceful place to visit during your stay in Vung Tau. It is also located on the slopes of Big Mountain so you’ll be able to enjoy views of the city here. The area is nicely landscaped and has some shade if you need to escape the heat.
There is a large Buddha statue being constructed right next to the monastery which will make this destination even more of a must-see during your trip to Vung Tau!