Apart from the Hong Kong to Nha Trang Race and a few intrepid cruisers, there has been very little activity for private yachts in Vietnam, although several superyachts have been able to explore Vietnam waters in the last few years − in the opposite season to Phuket.
One problem of cruising in Vietnam is that boats must check in and out of each port (sometimes even within the same province!) adding significantly to the costs, usually having had to give an advanced itinerary as well.
There are no separate regulations for pleasure boats, nor even recognition of their existence. Instead, Commercial Shipping Regulations apply, which also means the regulatory necessity for a Commercial Shipping Agent. Some small yachts have managed to get in and out on their own but the Internet is strewn with their tales of “hassles & woe” and the inability to go to the more inaccessible places of greater interest, such as Van Phong Bay, 31 nautical miles north of Nha Trang, an anchorage of great beauty, without parallel in Southeast Asia.
Van Phong Bay is populated by many small islands and has a massive sand dune along its northeastern side. Hidden away here is Whale Island, an eco-friendly resort that has done much to re-grow coral destroyed by dynamite fishing. In the past, yachts have based themselves here for weeks to take advantage of the excellent nearby dive sites, perfect protection in all weather and wonderful sailing conditions.
Khanh Hoa Province’s 60-mile coastline encompasses 70 islands. With constant 8-15 knot afternoon breezes, clear calm waters and friendly locals, it’s been a big hit with the yacht crews and guests on boats of all sizes.
Nha Trang is Vietnam’s premier beach resort town and its location and geography give clear skies and good weather between May and September. The town has many hotels and restaurants ranging from the basic to luxurious − and provisioning here is easy.
Within the cruising area there are several resorts. Seafood can be bought or bartered for at one of the hundreds of fish farms. The islands south/southeast of Nha Trang offer dozens of protected anchorages for any season and the diving in the Hon Mun Marine Park area is equal to the best in Asia.
It’s still early days for marine tourism in Vietnam and entry procedures can be time-consuming, if not overly expensive. The authorities do place restrictions on boat movements but seem to be loosening up slowly − and local pilots are no longer required on foreign-flagged yachts full time.
In general, the ‘Change and Renewal Principle’ (Doi Moi) has brought numerous changes in attitude and outlook. The overall willingness of the government and people to embrace new business opportunities bodes well for the future of the country. The most encouraging sign of this is the new marina, nearing first phase completion as the time of writing, at Nha Trang. This is our new Anchorage ‘A’.
In the previous edition of Southeast Asia Pilot, we wrote about a proposed superyacht marina to be developed in Da Nang. At the time of writing, there is no clear indication that this has progressed as anticipated in the intervening three years.
Con Son (Con Dao Islands): 8°40.205N, 106°37.722E
Lying 120 miles due east of the southern tip of Vietnam, this small group of islands has an indented coastline and gives shelter from any wind direction. The largest island is about eight miles long. The main town is best accessed from the south bay, but there are good roads around the coast. The town is extremely basic but has an interesting museum in the old prison where political prisoners − and eventually American servicemen − were incarcerated during the Vietnam War. There is an airport and a few small resorts.
Phu Quoc: 10°6.187N, 103°54.794E
Lying only 10 miles south of the Cambodian coast, this is a port of entry and the officials can be found in the main town on the northwest coast. There is an airport connecting to Ho Chi Minh City and the island is being developed as a tourist destination. On the southern tip is a large fishing port in a deep bay with good markets and provisioning. Fuel is available.
>>> Click here for a complete list of anchorages in Southeast Asia Pilot.
While every effort has been made to ensure that the information contained in this book is accurate, the charts of anchorages are based on personal experience and satellite imagery and are intended as a guide only. They should not be used for navigation. Please refer to Official Hydrographic Charts of the respective countries.
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