A popular weekend escape from HCMC, Vung Tau rocks at weekends when beach-starved locals and expats descend in numbers, but it is relatively quiet during the week. The city enjoys a spectacular location on a peninsula, with ocean on three sides; the light and sea air makes it a refreshing break from sultry Saigon.

Oil is big business here, so the horizon is regularly dotted with oil tankers, and petro dollars dominate the economy, inflating prices considerably.

Vung Tau is a remarkably civilised-looking city of broad boulevards and imposing colonial-era buildings, but a slightly seedy bar scene also flourishes here, accommodating the tastes (and wallets) of retired Anzac servicemen, Russian expats and oil workers.

Historically few travellers ever bothered to visit the city, but it makes a good place to start (or end) an intriguing coastal road trip to Mui Ne, and beyond.