Vietnam's idyllic tropical beaches have long been a favorite amongst locals and intrepid travelers. In recent years, the beach scene has inevitably expanded as foreigners discover the turquoise waters and unique scuba diving along the country's central and south coast. While there are plenty of well-appointed resorts, adventurers can find welcoming budget bungalows and even some unassuming beach towns still untouched by developers.
Located in the Khanh Hoa province, Nha Trang is a busy beach area known for its endless days of sunshine. The beach is notably home to Rainbow Divers, Vietnam's first PADI-certified dive center. Divers explore hard and soft coral reefs, caves and walls for some of the best diving in the South China Sea. Adventures above water include wakeboarding, kite surfing and banana boat rides. Divers and aquatic athletes relax poolside and exchange stories over unique brews at the beach bar and pool at Louisiane Brewhouse. The luxurious Evason Ana Mandara and Six Senses Spa has a private beach and quick access to the countryside and nearby mountains. The Vinpearl Resort and Spa is a resort island that can be reached by motorboat or the Vinpearl cable car, the longest sea-crossing cable car system in the world. In addition to the 5-star resort, there's an amusement park, shopping mall and endless entertainment options both on the beach and off.
Danang Beach, a central fighting area during the Vietnam War, is known locally for its great beaches with notable surfing, scuba diving and even a swanky resort. Furama Resort is the grand dame of Vietnam's hotel scene and is continually praised for its 5-star service, top-notch amenities and perfect location on one of the country's best beaches. My Khe beach, known as China Beach to foreigners, has a busy expat scene and was the former recreation base for the US military during the war. The white sands are framed by natural pines and coconut palms, the perfect backdrop for a morning tai chi class or just lounging on the beach.
Doc Let is just 30 miles from the bustling beach town Nha Trang, but it offers a vastly different beach experience. There are few tourist facilities making this a popular choice with renegade travelers looking to forgo the crowds to settle into a beach paradise with lots of peace and quiet. The Paradise Resort Hotel has 25 simple but comfortable beach bungalows and a friendly proprietor. Prices include 3 meals a day so there's no reason to stray far from the beach. The White Sand Doc Let Resort and Spa brings 4-star luxury to the area with 54 luxurious rooms and villas overlooking the turquoise waters and private sandy white shores.
The fishing village Phan Thiet is a 3-hour drive from Saigon, making it a quick weekend escape from the city. Both Saigon's wealthy locals and expats flock to Cape Mui Ne, a 13-mile stretch of beach just east of the city. Head inland for a cool photo shoot at the unusual red sand dunes that rise above the village creating an exotic dessert vibe. The cozy and laidback Coco Beach Resort is a TV-free zone with thatched roof bungalows scattered around the manicured green lawn and overlooking a private strip of beach. The Novotel Coralia Ocean Dunes Resort is a more modern spot with 3 bars, 2 restaurants and a rare amenity in the area -- an on-site golf course designed by Nick Faldo.
Phu Quoc Island
Located off the west coast of the Mekong Delta, Phu Quoc Island is bit off the standard tourist track. The diverse topography is made up of national forest land, pepper plantations and sprawling white sands beaches. The island still maintains some of its untouched charm with dirt roads, quiet shores and limited tourist services. The most developed beach area is along Long Beach with large resorts and great budget options like the Beach Club. La Veranda Resort, an exclusive boutique hotel, is an elegant seaside escape. This French colonial-style mansion sits located on Duong Dong Beach on the shores of the Gulf of Thailand.