- A Brief 5000 Years of Surfing
- Surfing Vietnam in Popular Culture
- Danang – Most Epic Surfing in Vietnam
- Phan Thiet – Mui Ne – Raddest Place for Kitesurfing
- Nha Trang – Perk Surf Locale with Scuba Diving
- Two Brah Mentions
Surfing may not be the first thing that comes to mind when traveling to Vietnam. However, with 3000 km of amazing coastline, Vietnam’s becoming more and more popular as a surfers’ destination:
- Warm weather all-year-round;
- Comfortable water temperature;
- Beautiful scenery;
- Easy waves;
- Great food;
- Budget-friendly amenities;
- Uncomplicated visa processing.
A Brief 5000 Years of Surfing
Surfing is possibly one of the oldest sports on planet Earth. Even though its origin is unknown, Peruvian historical records indicate the existence of surfing dating back 5000 years.
Modern surfing is thought to originate in Hawaii. It was first witnessed by European explorers while visiting Polynesia during the 17th and 18th centuries.
George Freeth, an American lifeguard/swimming instructor, introduced surfing in the US in the early 20th century. He was able to do this along with fellow Hawaiian surfer Duke Kahanamoku.
During the 1960s, surfing caught on in California and spread through American Pop Culture. In the 1970s, it became an Olympic sport and surfers set out to explore the tides worldwide.
Surfing Vietnam in Popular Culture
Asia became a new surfing ground in the 1970s when surfers crashed the waves of Bali, Indonesia. Bali was also where they shot the 1972 Morning of the Earth by Alby Falzon and David Elfick. It was a classic film about early surf exploration.
Around the same time, the Vietnam War was burning and the US soldiers used surfing to relieve stress. Nha Trang was incorporated as a setting in the plot of the 1979 Academy Awards winning Apocalypse Now. The movie was eventually shot in the Philippines due to US military objections.
Apocalypse Now is an epic psychological war film by Francis Ford Coppola. It starred Marlon Brando, Martin Sheen, and Robert Duvall to name a few. However, present-day interest in surfing in Vietnam was refueled after Taylor Steele’s 2010 surf documentary Castles in the Sky.
Where to Surf in Vietnam
Cities like Danang, Nha Trang, and Phan Thiet – Mui Ne have some of the most favorable waves in Vietnam. They belong to the south-central coastline. While further north, the waves are blocked by China’s Hainan Island and peninsula. Waves are too calm further south due to being close to the Gulf of Thailand.
These cities are quite developed in surfing and their surf schools often have foreign licensed instructors. Some instructors have been in Vietnam for years and know offbeat locations as well as locals.
Vietnam has two main entry points, the bustling Ho Chi Minh City and the capital city of Hanoi. Danang and Nha Trang also have their own international airport. Additionally, you can easily fly to Phan Thiet – Mui Ne from Ho Chi Minh City. Domestic flights and trains also pretty much connect the main cities in Vietnam.
View the best surfing spots in Vietnam
*As of March 2021, all surf schools and shops listed are verified open for business.
Best Time for Surfing in Vietnam
The best surfing season in Vietnam is the winter monsoon from November to March. Typhoon conditions that occur at this time often result in high swells ideal for surfing. Vietnam has a tropical monsoon climate with warm waters all year round so you won’t be needing a wetsuit.
Getting Your Vietnamese Visas
Nowadays, it’s relatively easy to acquire a Vietnam travel visa, especially with the introduction of the Vietnam E-visa in 2017. You can go through the process on onlinevisa.com for a 30-day travel visa which saves a lot of time.
* For the changing pandemic situation please consult your country’s consular or embassy missions in Vietnam for updated travel information or restrictions.
Danang – Most Epic Surfing in Vietnam
Danang (Đà Nẵng) is the epicenter of surfing in Vietnam with long stretches of beach. As for the best season, great waves come to shore from September to March.
My Khe Beach (bãi biển Mỹ Khê) is arguably the best surfing spot in Danang with a long sandy shoreline. The waters near-shore are beginner-friendly. However, experienced surfers can venture further out where big waves break. If you’re new to surfing, this can be a great place to start.
North of My Khe along Pham Van Dong beach is also where you’ll find the highly recommended Danang Surf School. It’s in Temple Danang Resort and has ISA-certified instructors. They also offer standup paddleboard (SUP) lessons to help familiarize you with the waves.
Some surf schools in Danang, like Danang Surf School, are inside resorts. However, you don’t have to stay there to access the schools.
There are also other surf shops like Da Nang Outdoor Adventures along the beach of Danang. They offer a range of rental surfboards. You can easily check these places out on their Facebook pages.
If you’re a pro-surfer, you can grab a board and go to two offbeat locations for some thrilling waves. These are Nam O Beach (Bãi biển Nam Ô) or Non Nuoc Beach (Bãi biển Non Nước). Beaches nearby also offer many other watersports.
Phan Thiet – Mui Ne – Raddest Place for Kitesurfing
Mui Ne (Mũi Né) is a cape near the coastal city Phan Thiet (Phan Thiet). It’s a surfers’ paradise on the rise. You can try all things surfing, including surfboarding, windsurfing, and especially kitesurfing. There are clear and consistent waves from July to October.
Ong Dia Pier (Bãi đá Ông Địa) is a beautiful beach with nice resorts. Additionally, it has good kitesurfing schools like Surfpoint Vietnam and Muine Kitesurf School.
Hon Rom (Hòn Rơm) is an onshore island with Jibe’s Beach Club as well as Vietnam Surf Soul. They offer lessons on all the above-mentioned watersports from beginner to advanced levels.
Similar to Danang, some surf schools like Jibe’s Beach Club are in resorts that allow day guests. Mui Ne Local Surf School is on a small beach but the lessons are very beginner-friendly.
Phu Quy Island (đảo Phú Quý) is a very offbeat destination with untouched windy beaches and exotic seafood. However, a ferry from Phan Thiet can take over 3 hours and you’ll have to bring your surfboard along.
* You can search all these places out on Facebook or via Google Maps above.
Nha Trang – Perk Surf Locale with Scuba Diving
Nha Trang is usually known as the best diving spot in Vietnam, but that doesn’t mean you can’t surf here. Kiterabbit Kitesurf & Surf School in Central Beach offers lessons for beginners with English and Russian-speaking instructors.
A little bit further down south is Long Beach (Bãi Dài) with Nha Trang Local Surf School. They provide surfing and kitesurfing courses from beginner to advanced. You can rent surfboards from here and catch the number 3 bus to Doc Let Beach if you’re a pro.
For some more exciting waves from November to March, get a boat ticket to Hon Tam Island (Hòn Tằm). The island also has some more watersports like paddleboarding, windsurfing, and paragliding.
Two Brah Mentions
Two more coastal cities worth mentioning when it comes to surfing are Vung Tau and Hoi An.
Surfing in Vung Tau
Vung Tau (Vũng Tàu) is the nearest coastal city to Ho Chi Minh City, only around 90 km away. The beach of Vung Tau comprises the Front Beach (Bãi Trước) and the Back Beach (Bãi Sau).
The Front Beach is the gathering of luxurious amenities and the Back Beach is where you’ll get good waves. You can get surfing, kitesurfing, and paddleboarding lessons and rental boards at Vung Tau Beach Club Surf Station.
From Vung Tau, you can buy a hydrofoil ticket to Con Dao Island for some extra fun diving.
Surfing in Hoi An
Hoi An (Hội An) is mostly known for its historical urban landscape. However, its beach also makes for a good day out. The public An Bang Beach (bãi biển An Bàng) has developed facilities and surfing classes for kids.
An Bang also has deck chairs, parasols, and water sports like parasailing and jet-skiing. Unfortunately, due to the 2020 pandemic, Drifters Paddle Co. for paddleboarding is closed.