DanangNha TrangPhan ThietVietnam

Surfing in Vietnam: Top 3 Favorite Destinations

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 Surfing History

A Brief Surfing History
[ by Nha Trang Local Surf School from Facebook ]

Surfing is one of the oldest played 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 have originated in Hawaii and witnessed by European explorers while visiting Polynesia during the 17th and 18th centuries. George Freeth, an American lifeguard/swimming instructor, along with fellow Hawaiian surfer Duke Kahanamoku, introduced surfing in the US in the early 20th century.

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 in Vietnam

A Quiet Day of Watersports on Bai Tranh Beach
[ by Thomas_Gerlach from Pixabay ]

Asia became a new surfing ground in the 1970s when surfers crashed the waves of Bali, Indonesia. The classic 1972 surf film Morning of the Earth by Alby Falzon and David Elfick, about early surf exploration, was also shot in Bali.

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 directed by Francis Ford Coppola starring Marlon Brando, Martin Sheen, and Robert Duvall. However, present-day interest in surfing in Vietnam was sparked once again after Taylor Steele’s 2010 surf documentary Castles in the Sky.

Where to Surf in Vietnam

The south-central coastline with cities like Danang, Nha Trang, and Phan Thiet – Mui Ne has some of the most favorable waves in Vietnam. 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. While Danang and Nha Trang have their own international airport, 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.

Vietnam Travel 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 can save you 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.

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.

Vietnamese Number One Surfing Spot in Danang

Pham Van Dong Beach
[ image from Danang Surf School ]

Danang (Đà Nẵng) is the epicenter of surfing in Vietnam with long stretches of beach and great waves from September to March. My Khe Beach (bãi biển Mỹ Khê) is arguably the best surfing spot in Danang with a long sandy coast.

The waters near-shore are beginner-friendly and 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 in Temple Danang Resort with 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 but you don’t have to stay there to access the schools. There are other surf shops like Da Nang Outdoor Adventures along the beach of Danang where 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 the offbeat Nam O Beach (Bãi biển Nam Ô) or Non Nuoc Beach (Bãi biển Non Nước) for some thrilling waves. Beaches nearby also offer many other watersports.

Discover more about Danang

Phan Thiet – Mui Ne is the Best Place for Kitesurfing in Vietnam

Things To Do in Phan Thiet - Mui Ne
[ image by Jörgen S Öfjäll from Flickr ]

Mui Ne (Mũi Né) is a cape near the coastal city Phan Thiet (Phan Thiet) with clear and consistent waves from July to October. It’s a surfers’ paradise on the rise with all things surfing, including surfboarding, windsurfing, and especially kitesurfing.

Ong Dia Pier (Bãi đá Ông Địa) is a beach scattered with resorts and 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 where 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.

Discover more about Phan Thiet – Mui Ne

Surfing as a Bonus in Nha Trang 

A Perfect Beach Day on Tam Island
[ by pstung0 from Pixabay ]

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 experienced in surfing.

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.

Discover more about Nha Trang

Two Honorable Mentions

Two more coastal cities worth mentioning when it comes to surfing are Vung Tau and Hoi An.

Vung Tau

Vung Tau
[ by Khiem Antony from Unsplash ]

Vung Tau (Vũng Tàu) is the nearest coastal city only around 90 km away from Ho Chi Minh City. The beach of Vung Tau is divided into 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 

Surfing in Hoi An
[ by ewolivera from Flickr ]

Hoi An (Hội An) is mostly known for its historical urban landscape but 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.

Discover more about Hoi An

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