Vietnam might not have the reputation of its Southeast Asian neighbours when it comes to leaning palms and turquoise waters, but its 3400km of coast hides its fair share of resplendent beaches – not to mention the handful of tropical, coral-ringed islands bobbing off shore. Whether you’re looking for a stretch of sand near one of the country’s buzzing cities, a spot suitable for families, or a quiet cove to escape the crowds, here’s our pick of the best beaches in Vietnam.
1. An Bang
Just 3km north of Hoi An, An Bang is one of Vietnam’s most happening and enjoyable beaches. There's a wonderful stretch of fine sand and an enormous horizon (with less of the serious erosion evident at Cua Dai), and with only the distant Cham Islands interrupting the seaside symmetry. Staying at the beach and visiting Hoi An on day trips is a good strategy for a relaxing visit to the area.
2. Phu Quoc
Fringed with white-sand beaches and with large tracts of the interior still cloaked in dense tropical jungle, Phu Quoc has rapidly morphed from a sleepy island backwater to a must-visit beach escape for Western expats and sun-seeking tourists. With its picture-perfect white sand and mineral-water clear sea, Sao Beach is probably the pick of the lot, but venture off alone and you might find a section of sand all to yourself.
Island hopping tours visit the islands off of Phu Quoc's southern coast or its lesser-visited northern coast. Or catch the reasonably-priced 8km-long cable car from the An Thoi Station on the islands far south to Hon Thom Island with bonus panoramic views.
3. Nha Trang
Forming a magnificent sweeping arc, Nha Trang's 6km-long golden-sand beach is the city's trump card. Sections are roped off and designated for safe swimming (where you won't be bothered by jet skis or boats). Two popular lounging spots are the Sailing Club and Louisiane Brewhouse. If you prefer tanning alone, head south towards the airport to avoid the majority of the crowds.
There are plenty of very reasonably-priced island hopping tours available that include lunch and snorkeling. The beaches north of Nha Trang, around Ninh Van Bay, are also worthy of a day trip.
4. Con Son
Isolated from the mainland, the Con Dao islands are one of Vietnam's star attractions. Long the preserve of political prisoners and undesirables, they now turn heads thanks to their striking natural beauty. Con Son, the largest of the chain of 15 islands and islets, is ringed with lovely beaches, coral reefs and scenic bays, and remains partially covered in tropical forests. Just an hour's flight from Ho Chi Minh City (or a longer ferry ride from several southern cities), Con Son remains relatively undeveloped, more popular with local Vietnamese as a historic site rather than a beach destination.
5. Mui Ne
Mui Ne was once the jewel of Vietnam’s beach resorts, but recent years has seen harsh tides erode away the sand from the golden beach and over-development erode away its charm. That said, there are still some nice sections of sand tucked away here, ideal (in season) for those who like to party at night and snooze on sunbeds during the day. Kitesurfing is also a huge draw – there are several excellent schools and world-class wind conditions between late October and April. The opening of the Dau Giay-Phan Thiet highway in mid-2023 has cut down travel time between Ho Chi Minh City and Mui Ne from 4.5 hours to a little over two.
6. Doc Let
Stretching for 18km, the chalk-white sands and shallow turquoise waters of Doc Let ensure it ranks among Vietnam's best beaches. However, in the last few years developers have moved in big time, and busloads of tourists are herded here on tours from Nha Trang. Keep heading north along the coast for more secluded spots including Bai Bau and Bai Xep.
7. Ho Coc
With golden sands, clear waters and a journey time from Ho Chi Minh City of just two and a half hours, this beach – which stretches for almost 10km north of Ho Tram – makes a tempting place to stop. Ho Coc is getting increasingly busy with visitors from Saigon but on weekdays it still remains peaceful.
8. My Khe
My Khe is fast becoming Danang’s easternmost suburb. In the early morning and evening, the beach fills up with city folk doing t’ai chi. Tourists emerge during peak suntanning hours, while locals prefer the evening; fishermen still cast off from the sands in their coracle boats. The water can have a dangerous undertow, especially in winter, however, it's protected by the bulk of Nui Son Tra.
9. Cat Ba
Rugged, craggy and jungle-clad Cat Ba, is the largest island in Halong Bay and a stop-off for some tourist boat trips around the Unesco-listed region. To that end, the island can get very busy, which shatters the serenity somewhat; but visit during quieter months and its beaches are up there with the best in Vietnam. The three beaches of Cat Co Cove, a ten-minute walk southeast from Cat Ba Town, are perhaps the pick of the bunch.
10. My Khe Beach
Not to be confused with Danang’s beach of the same name, this My Khe is located a couple of kilometres from Quảng Ngãi in central Vietnam and boasts a superb beach, with fine white sand and good swimming. It stretches for kilometers along a thin, casuarina-lined spit of sand, separated from the mainland by Song Kinh Giang, a body of water just inland from the beach. If you avoid holidays and weekends you've a good chance of having this pretty beach largely to yourself. The shoreline's profile is gently shelving so it's great for children.