VIETNAM TRAVEL

 

Around Ho Chi Minh City

Cu Chi Tunnels - Tay Ninh - Nui Ba Den - One Pillar Pagoda - Can Gio - Buu Long Mountain -Tri An Falls - Vung Tau - Long Hai - Loc An Beach - Ho Tram Beach - Ho Coc Beach - Binh Chau Hot Springs - Cat Tien National Park - Con Dao Islands

LONG HAI

IDD Code: (+84) 64
Those heading south, who also want to escape the mass-tourism soullessness of Vung Tau, could press on to Long Hai, a less-commercialised seaside retreat within a couple of hours' drive of HCMC. The fishing village of Long Hai, 30km northeast of Vung Tau, has a pretty white-sand beach and the area benefits from a microclimate that brings less rain than other parts of the south. Its natural beauty and microclimate are the main reasons why Bao Đai, the last emperor of Vietnam, built a holiday residence here (now the An-oasis Beach Resort; Long Hai is a peaceful place to visit during the week, but it loses its local character on the weekends when Vietnamese tourists (and the occasional busload of Chinese visitors) pack the sands on weekends. Though there are a couple of low-key resorts in the Long Hai vicinity, western travellers have yet to arrive, so if you're looking for a lively spot with dining and nightlife action, Mui Ne is probably a better choice.
Sights & Activities
The western end of Long Hai's beach is where fishing boats moor and is therefore none too clean. However, the eastern end is attractive, with a reasonable amount of while sand and palm trees. For even prettier beach, keep heading east. After the Tet holiday, l.ong Hai hosts an annual major fishermen's pilgrimage festival, where hundreds of boats come from afar to worship at Mo Co Temple. Apart from the beaches, there are several sites in the area well worth exploring. At Minh Dam, 5km from Long Hai, there are caves with historical connections to the Franco-Viet Minh and American Wars. Although the caves are little more than spaces between the boulders covering the cliff-face, VC sol-diers bunked here off and on between 1948 and 1975; you can still see bullet holes in the rocks from the skirmishes that happened here. Steps hewn into the rock-face lead up to the caves, with spectacular views over the coastal plains at the top. Nearby there is a mountain-top temple with more great panoramic views of the coastline. Twenty kilometres away at Dia Dao there are underground tunnels (similar, but on a smaller scale, to those at Cu Chi) dating from the American War. If you are heading to/from Hwy 1, north of Long Hai, a less-travelled route is via the hot springs at Binh Chau, 60km away from Long Hai. There are also plenty of other beaches to seek out as you make your way north or south along the coastal Rte 55. You could also treat yourself to a day at Anoasis Beach Resort (Tell: 868 227; Provincial Rd 44;admission weekday/weekend US$6/10). The tropically landscaped grounds of this luxury resort were once home to another of Emperor Bao Dai's villas. Day passes entitle nonguests to full use of the recreational facilities, which include a swimming pool, tennis courts, billiards and ping-pong tables and a lovely stretch of private beach.
Sleeping
Miitary Guesthouse 298 (Doan an Dieu Duong 298; Tell: 868 316; Rte 19; r150.000-200.000d; At the dead end of Rte 19, this guesthouse is run by the navy, which may help explain its prime beachfront location. Rooms here are clean and comfort able, with tile floors and hot water; the cheapest rooms are fan only.
Thuy Duong Tourist Resort (Tell:886 215. fax 886180. bungalow US$20-30. hotel r US$35-60; A large complex in Phuoc Hai village, about 4km from Long Hai, this vast resort sprawls out on both sides of the road. Hotel rates include breakfast; bungalow rates don't. Try to avoid the beach bungalows facing the noisy cafes on the beach. Day use of the clean, attractive beach costs 15,000d.
Our pick Anoasis Beach Resort ( Provincial Rd 44; bungalows with break fast US$150-300; One of Vietnam's loveliest beachsidc retreats, this stylish boutique resort is the brainchild of French-Vietnamese helicopter pilot Anoa Dussol-Perran and her husband. Anoasis offers cosy wooden cottages spread out over the landscaped property, and it has a beautiful private beach. Recreational opportunities include cycling, fishing, tennis and, of course, massage. Weekday rates are slightly lower than the weekend rates listed above, with discounts offered for stays of two nights or more.
Long Hai Beach Resort (Provincial Rd 44; r/bungalow with breakfast from USSW5/125; Some 500m east of Anoasis, this new resort has pleasantly furnished rooms and bungalows scattered about a lush complex. The accommodations aren't huge for the money, but all the amenities are on offer - tennis court, pool, gym -and there's a pretty beach just a stroll from your door.
Eating
There's a cluster of thatch-roof beachsidc restaurants called Can Tin 1, 2,3 and 4 (mains around 15.000-70.000d; 7am-7pm) near Military Guest house 298. These serve decent Vietnamese mains - including good, simple seafood dishes. Apart from these relaxed places, there aren't many other options in Long Hai.
Getting There & Around
Long Hai is 124km from HCMC and takes about two hours to reach by car. The 30km road between Vung Tau and Long Hai is not served by public transport; a XE OM RIDE. should cost around 50,000d. Motorbike-taxi drivers hang around all the likely tourist spots in the area.