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Vietnam’s long, thin shape means that it has thousands of miles of fabulous coastline just waiting to be discovered. These are our favourites:
As our guest blogger, Kirsty Denison, wrote in March – Con Dao “is an island of day-job, desk-bound fantasies”. Located about an hour’s flight south of Ho Chi Minh City, Con Dao is a dog-shaped island around 50 sq km (19 sq mi) in size. As well as a charming colonial-style town and a fascinating (but sinister) history as a penal colony, Con Dao boasts some beautiful forested landscapes and some even more beautiful beaches.
Our top tip is to avoid the “official” beach (Dam Trau) and look for your own secret paradise – there are plenty of stunning, unpopulated coves hidden around the island’s coastline.
Slap-bang in the centre of Vietnam’s long coastline is Danang, home to China Beach – where the American GIs spent their downtime during the Vietnam War. Danang has the virtue of being just a 15-minute drive from Hoi An, Vietnam’s stunning ancient port, and only three hours’ drive from the imperial city of Hue, making it an excellent destination to combine beach relaxation and culture.
Our favourite beach in the region is Non Nuoc Beach: absolutely lovely and surprisingly uncrowded for it.
Another island retreat, Phu Quoc lies just off the south coast of Cambodia but actually belongs to Vietnam. Though it boasts all the desert-island beauty of Thailand’s more well-known islands, it has seen comparatively little development and has retained much of its tropical charm. The beaches are superb – with Long Beach being our favourite – and there are some excellent kayaking and scuba diving opportunities to boot.
Back on the mainland, Nha Trang lies about a quarter of the way up Vietnam’s coast and has some more great beach options. Doc Let is easily one of the country’s best, boasting almost 18 kilometres (6 mi) of white sand. Avoid the northern, touristy section and the Hyundai shipyard in the centre – the south is much nicer and more peaceful.
A little further down the coast from Nha Trang, Mui Ne is another lovely stretch of beach. Though it’s now home to a string of resorts, the local development has mostly been conducted sensitively and has certainly not destroyed the beauty of the area. The relatively high numbers of tourists also mean that the beach is cleaner and better maintained than many Southeast Asian beaches – which are plagued by litter thrown out of fishermen’s boats.