Vung Tau is a “scruffy, and slightly seedy, but likeable place,” says Rough Guides. Located some 125km southeast of Ho Chi Minh City, “the city’s offshore oil industry and steadily growing port have transformed it into a more business-oriented conurbation, though residents of Ho Chi Minh City still flock here on weekends.” The city enjoys a “spectacular location on a peninsula, with ocean on three sides; the light and sea air makes it a refreshing break from sultry Saigon,” writes Lonely Planet.
Mui Ne is a 12-kilometre “long sweeping bay” dotted with beachfront resorts, writes Travelfish. “Twenty years of development have transformed the once sleepy fishing town into a water sports mecca, most notably for kitesurfing.” Four hours drive from Saigon, and “mainly known mainly for its sand dunes,” it’s also home to a “soft red creek known as the Fairy Stream that is colored by the clay and limestone particles that filter in from the strange rock formations at its shores,” explains Atlas Obscura. “Winding its way through bamboo forests, boulders, and the dunes behind Mui Ne, the whimsically-named Fairy Stream resembles a miniature version of the Grand Canyon in places.”
Travel a further 45 minutes and you arrive at Bao Trang, notes Atlas Obscura, meaning White Sand Dunes. It is one of the “only desert areas in Southeast Asia and is a beautiful expanse of dunes and sand,” where shepherds “herd cows through the sandy expanse.” Perhaps the most “striking part of the area” is a small lagoon covered in lotus flowers -- and there’s also a small pine forest that “makes the wind cool, even in the hot Asian desert.”