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Vung Tau

Vung Tau is a city in southern Vietnam. Its population in 2005 was 240,000. The city area is 140 km² (54 square miles) including 13 urban wards and one village. It is the capital of Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province, and is the petroleum center in Vietnam.

During 14th and 15th centuries, the cape that would become V?ng Tàu was a swamp which European trading ships visited regularly. The ships' activities inspired the name V?ng Tàu, which means "anchorage". The Portuguese navigators passed V?ng Tàu many times and named it after Saint Jacques. The French invaded Vietnam afterwards and called it Cape Saint Jacques.

The city is located in the south of Vietnam, and is situated at the tip of a small peninsula. It has traditionally been a significant port, particularly during Vietnam's period of French rule. Today, the city's importance as a shipping port has diminished, but it still plays a significant role in Vietnam's offshore oil industry. Vung Tau is the only petroleum base of Vietnam where crude oil and gas exploitation activities dominate the city's economy and contribute principal income to Vietnam's budget and export volume.

Vung Tau shipyard is scheduled to be completed reconstruction in 2008 and supplied with up-to-date anchor handling supply vessels of Aker.

In tourism, V?ng Tàu is more interesting for its extensive beaches. Tourists always prefer sightseeing at Front Beach (Bai Truoc) but go swimming in Back Beach (Bai Sau). Back Beach is well-known for its over 10 km of fine sand seaside. As V?ng Tàu is only 130 km away from Ho Chi Minh City, it is a favourite resort destination for those wishing to get away from the city. In recent times, the number of foreign tourists visiting V?ng Tàu's beaches increased. V?ng Tàu is also home to one of Vietnam's most well known golf courses. From Ho Chi Minh City, one needs two hours to reach Vung Tau by road (51A Expressway) or an hour and fifteen minutes by hydrofoil express ferry.

V?ng Tàu is also of interest for religious reasons. It has about 14 Catholic wards with active services.A notable monument in the city is a large statue of Jesus, constructed on a hilltop by Vietnam's Catholic minority. It was completed in the early 1970s with the height of 32 m and two outstretched arms spanning 18.4 m. It is considered to be among the tallest statues of Jesus Christ in Asia.The Thich Ca Phat Dai pagoda and Niet Ban Tinh Xa temple, both Buddhist sites, are also significant, drawing pilgrims from around the country.

Point of interest

1/ Giant Jesus Statue

This statue of Jesus, standing on Mount Nho in Vung Tau, The Catholic Association built the statue in 1974 and it was completed in 1993.
It is 32 metres (105 ft) high, standing on a 4 metres (13 ft) high platform, for a 36 metres (118 ft) total monument height with two outstretched arms spanning 18.3 metres (60 ft). There is a 133-step staircase inside the statue.

2/ Thich Ca Phat Dai Pagoda

Thich Ca Phat Dai Pagoda is one of the largest pagodas in Vung Tau. It occupies an area of 6ha on the side of Big Mountain. The beauty of the 19m high pagoda lies in the harmonious combination between the natural surroundings and the architectural structure.

This pagoda exists exclusively for religious worship. The pagoda is unique in its white cement construction of the giant statue of Thich Ca Buddha sitting on a large lotus blossom.

3/ Niet Ban Tinh Xa – Nirvana Pagoda

Niet Ban Tinh Xa situated on the side of Small Mount, Niet Ban Tinh Xa pagoda also called the pagoda of the Lying Buddha, face to the sea at a point about 2 km from the city center.
It was built from 1969 to 1974 completed by the money contributed from Buddhist fellow countrymen. Senior Thich Thien Hue undertook and took care of construction work. It is one of the most charming ones in Vung Tau, with the contour of the modernarchitecture. In front of the pagoda standing a 12 meters high flagstaff comprising the 42 notches that represent the 42 pages of Buddhist sutras which were firstly introduced into Vietnam since 11th century.

4/ Bach Dinh – White Villa

Bach Dinh (or the White Villa) is a historical site in Vung Tau beach town and has become a popular tourist attraction for visitors to the seaside city.

Bach Dinh is situated on a six-hectare plot with trees, ornamental plants and flowers. It is approximately 30 m above sea level, 28 m long, 15 m wide and stands 19 m tall. There are two entrance points, one along a curvy road and one paved with blue stones.
Stepping into the area gives the feeling of walking into a deep, mystical forest. In the old days, Nui Lon was an important strategic location for military experts.

A fortress called Phuoc Thang was built here in 1788 during the Nguyen dynasty to control the sea. Gunshots from the fortress destroyed many French warships in 1859 as they passed by Vung Tau on their way to attack Saigon-Gia Dinh.

Today, rock cannons are still preserved as relics of the former fortress. In 1898, the French governor of Indochina Paul Doumer, who later became France’s president until his assassination in 1931, had a villa built on the mountain at the site of the former fortress. He named the villa after his daughter, Villa Blanche, or “White Villa” and had the three-story building painted a pale hue.

5/ VUNG TAU BEACHES

- Bai Sau - Rear Beach
Bai Sau beach is located in the southeast side of the town and is the most popular beach in Vung Tau. The affluent Saigonese holiday makers are a common sight in this beach on weekends. During the rainy season the sea is calm, but frequent periods of high wind and dry waves during the dry season.

- Bai Dua - Pineapple Beach
Bai Dua beach, located at the foot of Nui Nho Mountains, is historically known for its pineapple trees and black rocks. It is the smallest of all the beaches in Vung Tau but is a very popular destination for its majestic sunset and calm waters.

- Bai Truoc - Front Beach
Bai Truoc beach is located between the Nui Lon and Nui Nho mountains and is lined with coconut trees, the beach looks like a crescent moon when seen from far. This is the closest beach from urban Vung Tau, Vietnam and hence is filled with open air restaurants and bars.

- Other beaches
Paradise Beach, Bai Dau, Hon Ba