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|Nha Trang at sunrise. Photograph by Getty|
Best for nightlife: Nha Trang
Vietnam’s answer to Miami, Nha Trang’s urban beach is a lively stretch of sand that’s lined with food stalls in the evenings and often hosts seaside music festivals. It’s popular with young Vietnamese and has a buzzing, carnival atmosphere. The backdrop may be high-rise hotels, but the view out to sea is idyllic, with misty hills in the distance.
Best for chilling out: Song Cau
The paradisiacal white sand beaches around Song Cau are some of the most pristine in southern Vietnam. They’re well-served by family-run homestays and guesthouses surrounded by shady gardens with unhindered sea views. But it might not stay that way for long — go now, before the big resorts move in.
Best for watersports: Mui Ne
The crop of new resorts that have sprung up in Mui Ne haven’t taken away from the town’s main draw: the superb waves that make this one of the best surfing beaches on Vietnam’s southern coast. Nearby Phan Thiet is a gorgeous coastal town with a pretty harbour and superb seafood.
Best for backpackers: Ghenh Rang
A largely undiscovered gem, Ghenh Rang — just south of Qui Nhon city — is a secluded beach surrounded by wildflowers, forests and mountain views, with islands scattered along the coast. Khu Vuc 1, a local fishing village, is a laid-back place to bed down for the night, with a selection of beachfront guesthouses.
Best for explorers: Tam Hai Island
To reach Tam Ha Island, south of Hoi An, you have to cross rickety bridges over rice paddies, then set sail on a ramshackle ferry — but the destination is well worth the journey. The island is centred around a small town that’s decorated with murals by local students. There are also sandy beaches and secluded beach huts./.