Southern Vietnam is one of the three regions within Vietnam (the other two regions are Northern Vietnam and Central Vietnam). The largest city in the South is Ho Chi Minh City, the nation’s largest city, other major cities include Can Tho, Bien Hoa. Southern Vietnam includes tow subregions such as southeast and Mekong Delta areas.
Vietnam’s convex southern coastline is lined with seemingly endless beaches that, for many, are reason enough to visit the country. The main resort areas of Nha Trang and Mui Ne have seen their popularity explode, and are now adding culinary sophistication and top-drawer accommodation to their coastal charms. There are also a number of less-heralded beaches to track down, and even a few islands, but the region also has historical significance – this was once the domain of the kingdom of Champa, whose magnificent ruins still dot the coast.
Vietnam’s southernmost beaches are not on the southern coast at all, but on the former French prison islands of Con Dao. While many beaches are now experiencing high-octane development, Con Dao retains a laidback, unhurried air that tempts many to stay far longer than they’d planned. Back on the mainland, the first town of note is Vung Tau, once a French seaside resort, and now a smart, oil-rich town with passable beaches; much better beaches can be found further up the coast at places like Ho Coc. In reality, few travellers have the time or inclination to meander along the beaches between Vung Tau and Mui Ne, but with your own transport and an adventurous spirit you’ll find somewhere to pace out a solitary set of footprints in the pristine sand.
You’ll never be alone at Mui Ne, a short skirt up the coast. Very recently, this was virtually unheard of, but its transition from being the country’s best-kept secret to one of its most high-profile resorts happened almost overnight. It’s perhaps a sign of things to come for Vietnamese tourism – slick resorts rubbing shoulders along a fine sweep of soft sand, looking out over aquamarine waters. This tourist enclave attracts a steady stream of overseas visitors, as well as providing an idyllic short break for Ho Chi Minh City’s expats and growing middle-class. Those for whom a day sunbathing is a day wasted will prefer to make a little more headway, and rest up around Phan Rang, site of Po Klong Garai, the most impressive of the many tower complexes erected by the once-mighty empire of Champa. The nearby beaches at Ninh Chu and Ca Na aren’t quite in the same league as Mui Ne, but both make appealing options for a bit of peace and quiet.