At some stage in their holiday, many visitors to Vietnam wish to experience the translucent, blue-green water, white sand and tropical greenery of the country’s beautiful coastline, and there are a wealth of resorts to choose from, ranging from boutique places on big-city beachfronts to Robinson-Crusoe-esque hideaways on tiny coral-edged islets.
Midway down the coastline of the South China Sea, Lang Co, Hoi An and Da Nang all lie on the fringes of Vietnam’s cultural hub. With accommodation options to suit every budget, their beautiful beaches and lagoons provide relaxing bases from which to explore the Cham ruins, pretty merchants’ towns and former royal centres inland. Relaxing spells on the beach may be mixed with visits to traditional fishing settlements, floating markets and cruises along narrow canals.
Thanks to its spectacular, 4-mile (6km) arc of golden sand and surf, Nha Trang, in south-central Vietnam, ranks amongst the country’s top beach destinations. Offshore, a scattering of islands hold world-class scuba diving and snorkelling, and provide targets for leisurely boat excursions that pause in hidden coves for wild swims and fresh seafood barbeques.
Further south, and closer to Ho Chi Minh City, Phan Thiet has in recent years been upstaged by its livelier neighbour, Mui Ne, but as a consequence offers more peace and quiet, and some great value accommodation overlooking the town’s superb, golden sand beach. The red dunes and palm-shaded lanes of nearby fishing villages also make ideal terrain for short cycle rides.
If you’re looking for somewhere really far-flung to unwind, the teardrop-shaped island of Phu Quoc in the Gulf of Thailand, 9 miles (15km) south of the Cambodian coast, is hard to beat. A brace of idyllic hideaways have sprung up in recent years alongside its powder-soft, white-sand beaches. The island also boasts one of Vietnam’s most highly rated diving and snorkelling sites – the An Thoi archipelago – where dugong, grouper and parrotfish are regularly sighted amid colourful coral reefs.