Ho chi minh city to vung tau ferry tickets, compare times and prices

     

Last updated December 2019 | Words and photos by Vietnam Coracle

INTRODUCTION | GUIDE | bản đồ | RELATED POSTS

Taking the fast boat ferry between Saigon (Ho chi Minh City) và Vung Tau is one of Vietnam’s most underrated journeys. It’s a fascinating voyage from the skyscrapers of downtown Saigon, along several busy rivers, through mangrove forest, và across xuất hiện sea to Vung Tau (with a new, optional stop at Can Gio, near the river mouth). What it may lack in natural beauty, it more than makes up for in interest. Indeed, this journey is a more rewarding riverine experience than many Mekong Delta boat tours. What’s more, Vung Tau, especially during the week, is a very attractive, affluent, & peaceful seaside getaway. Even after the opening on an upgraded highway between Saigon & Vung Tau, taking the boat is still far more enjoyable, comfortable, và scenic. Going by bus, taxi, or motorbike is simply a means lớn an end; going by boat is an experience. Below is my full guide to the Saigon→Vung Tau→Can Gio Fast Boat Ferry.

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The Greenlines website is very clear, well-presented, well-organized, & available in English và Vietnamese. Over the phone, staff are helpful but you may struggle lớn get clear information if you conduct the điện thoại tư vấn purely in English (even though staff on the other end of the line do have some English, phone conversations are very difficult in a second language). Greenlines have ticket offices at the boat piers in Saigon and Vung Tau (and Can Gio). You can also find current times, prices, & book tickets through Baolau.com. Note: sailing times and prices are subject to change, especially due to lớn weather conditions. Always double kiểm tra before you leave). 
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Greenlines is the the boat company operating daily ferries between Saigon và Vung Tau (and Can Gio)*Please support Vietnam Coracle: you can search ferry times, prices, và make bookings directly from this page by using the Baolau.com tìm kiếm boxes & liên kết throughout this guide. If you make a booking, I receive a small commission. All my earnings go straight back into this website. Thank you.

Schedules & Sailing Times:The Greenlines fast boat schedule is pretty simple và straightforward: there are four sailings a day in both directions on weekdays (Monday-Friday), with an extra two sailings a day on weekends (Saturday và Sunday). Journey time is 2 hours. :SAIGON→VUNG TAU: 8.00am, 10.00am, 12.00noon, 2.00pm (plus weekends: 9.00am, 4.00pm)VUNG TAU→SAIGON: 10.00am, 12.00noon, 2.00pm, 4.00pm (plus weekends: 1.00pm 3.00pm) Can Gio Extra Stop: Two of the daily sailings in both directions make an additional stop at Can Gio, which is at the mouth of the river as it empties into the sea. Journey time from Saigon khổng lồ Can Gio is 90 minutes, và from Vung Tau khổng lồ Can Gio is 30 minutes. Below are the two daily sailings that make the additional stop at Can Gio:SAIGON→CAN GIO: 8.00am, 2.00pm (arriving Can Gio: 9.30am, 3.30pm)VUNG TAU→CAN GIO: 10.00am, 2.00pm (arriving Can Gio: 10.30am, 2.30pm) Weather permitting, most Greenlines boats depart/arrive on-time. But sailing times are liable to lớn change without notice if conditions are bad. If the weather has been particularly windy or stormy recently, kiểm tra by phone or at the ticket office to lớn make sure your boat is scheduled to leave on time.

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Tickets can be booked online, over the phone, or in person at the ferry piers in Saigon & Vung Tau*Please support Vietnam Coracle: you can search ferry times, prices, & make bookings directly from this page by using the Baolau.com tìm kiếm boxes & liên kết throughout this guide. If you make a booking, I receive a small commission. All my earnings go straight back into this website. Thank you.

Departure & Arrival Ports:The arrival and departure ports in Saigon và Vung Tau have changed since the days of the old hydrofoils. In Saigon, boats depart from Bach Dang Pier, in downtown District 1; in Vung Tau boats leave from the Ho May Tourist Pier, just west of Front Beach (Bãi Trước); và in Can Gio boats depart from the pier northwest of town. Taxis & motorbike taxis meet the boats at all ports:

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SAIGON PORT: All fast boats lớn Vung Tau (and Can Gio) arrive/depart from the Bach Dang Pier in downtown Saigon. Located right in the heart of the city, the Bach Dang Pier should be easy lớn find. However, make sure you go to the Bach Dang Fast Boat Pier (Bến tàu cao tốc trên không Bạch Đằng), not the Bach Dang Waterbus Pier (Ga Tàu Thủy Bạch Đằng). It doesn’t really matter, because the two piers are only a hundred meters or so apart, but that could make all the difference if you’re in a rush to catch the ferry. At the ferry terminal, you’ll find the Greenlines ticket kiosk. There’s a decent cafe on the pier where you can wait with a coffee or juice before departure time. From the pier, the views upriver back towards District 1 & Binh Thanh are impressive.
From Saigon, Greenlines boats depart from the Bach Dang Pier in downtown District 1VUNG TAU PORT: Boats arrive/depart from the Ho May Tourist Pier, also known as Hòn rù rì harbour. This port is at the northern over of Bãi Trước (Front Beach), beneath the green slopes of Núi Lớn (Big Mountain) & the grand, French colonial Governor General’s House. Boats dock at the over of a long pier, which doubles as a restaurant và cafe. A handful of taxis meet the boats, or you can walk along the pleasant seafront road to the waterfront cafes và hotels. The Greenlines ticket kiosk is located at the port entrance, on Tran Phu Street.
In Vung Tau, Greenlines boats dock at the Ho May Tourist Pier, just west of the Front Beach (Bãi Trước)

CAN GIO PORT: The fast boat ferry port in Can Gio is a 5-minute drive northwest of the main town. It’s a fairly quiet place with a few food & drink shacks & a collection of wooden fishing boats and patrol ships floating on the muddy water, sheltering among the reeds.
Can Gio Port is an inlet off the main river, filled with wooden fishing boats*Please support Vietnam Coracle: you can search ferry times, prices, and make bookings directly from this page by using the Baolau.com search boxes & liên kết throughout this guide. If you make a booking, I receive a small commission. All my earnings go straight back into this website. Thank you.

The Boats:Unlike the old hydrofoils – which looked pretty worn và forlorn – the new fast boats operated by Greenlines are clean, and, on the surface at least, well-maintained. All Greenlines vessels are painted blue and white. The crafts look quite smart from the outside, with pointy hulls and a speedy, aerodynamic appearance.
Soviet-era hydrofoils on the Saigon-Vung Tau route have been replaced by a fleet of modern fast boatsBoats are boarded at the stern, where there’s a decent covered deck with a bench and also two clean nhà wc cubicles. If, like me, you love boat journeys, then you’ll probably find that you spend most of the voyage sitting out on this back deck, watching the shipping và scenery pass by. But sometimes staff don’t allow passengers on deck, presumably because of rough conditions.

Best seat on the boat: all ferries have a covered back deck on which khổng lồ sit out và enjoy the sceneryHowever, inside things are just as good. A surprisingly wide, high-ceilinged, bright và clean cabin seats around 50-75 passengers. There are two or three rows of soft, coach-style seats with plenty of leg-room. The cabin is air-conditioned to lớn a reasonable temperature (not freezing cold as on some ferries in Vietnam). The windows are very large so you can enjoy the passing scenery from your seat. There’s even WiFi available. Complimentary refreshments include water, coffee & a cake. As well as that, there’s a little bar at the front of the cabin, selling pot noodles and soft drinks. The majority of passengers are foreign travellers, expats, và Vietnamese holidaymakers. Staff are young, quite friendly và polite. There are electrical sockets lớn plug your gadgets into, & there’s on-board WiFi, but it’s not that strong.
Inside, the cabin is large, bright và air-conditioned, and seating is comfortable, clean, spaciousOn board ‘entertainment’ comes in the khung of a TV which shows, depending on the whim of the captain, anything from terrible pop music to lớn prank-style comedy to lớn Vietnamese soap operas. But the volume is mercifully low (unlike the fast boats to lớn Phu Quoc Island) so it doesn’t intrude into your headspace. It’s also good khổng lồ bear in mind the reason for this entertainment: it’s not just to pass the time on a 2-hour journey; it’s also to lớn offer a distraction from the waves, especially for Vietnamese passengers who commonly suffer from travel sickness.
On board entertainment comes in the form of TV shows và pop music, but it’s at a reasonable volume

Ever since one of the old hydrofoils caught fire on the river in 2014, forcing passengers to lớn evacuate onto the muddy riverbank (which was the beginning of the kết thúc for those Soviet-era relics on this route), safety has been a major concern, both for passengers and ferry operators between Saigon and Vung Tau. In general, Vietnam has a pretty awful maritime safety record, but things are changing. Also, it should be pointed out that travelling between Saigon and Vung Tau by road is statistically far more dangerous than taking the boat. All Greenlines ferries have life vests under every passenger seat. During the voyage, two engineers are constantly opening up the hatches on the back deck to kiểm tra the state of the engine. The barrier on the back deck is a little low và the latch to lớn the boarding gate could easily come loose: don’t lean on it, và take extra care if you’re travelling with children. Seasickness shouldn’t be a problem for most people, because the majority of the voyage is on placid rivers, but the last 30 minutes crossing xuất hiện sea can be quite bumpy.
Safety measures include life vests under every seat, life rafts và regular engine checks during the voyageLastly, these new boats are fast. Not 30 seconds after maneuvering out of port, the main engines nguồn up & the boat ploughs its course, dodging all the other sluggish vessels on the river, churning up a silver-brown wake of river water và water hyacinths behind it.

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The Voyage:The swif-looking Greenlines vessel casts off from the Bach Dang pier right in the heart of downtown Saigon. The gleaming high-rises of Saigon’s District 1 tower above the water as the boat drifts onto the swell of the wide Saigon River.
The Saigon-Vung Tau ferry pulls away from the pier in District 1 with the thành phố skyline behind

The city’s major waterway is a constant presence if you live in Saigon, but when you are actually on it, as opposed lớn just looking at it, it’s a totally different experience. Saigon appears serene; without the noise, heat, congestion, và pollution that blights it on street level: from the river, this is a calm, controlled, và even beautiful, city. The old ferry between District 1 and 2 used to provide a similar experience, but since that went out of service with the opening of the Thu Thiem Tunnel in 2011, the fast boat khổng lồ Vung Tau is one of the few ways lớn see the đô thị from the water.
Leaving the city in its wake, the fast boat picks up speed as it begins the 2 hour voyage to Vung TauVery soon after departure, the main engines kick in, the bow lifts up, và the speed picks up. The boats are seriously fast, và if you sit out on the back deck (which I tend to do for the duration of the voyage, if staff allow it) you’ll be sprayed intermittently by cooling showers of river water.
When the engines power up the boat churns the water white, spraying the back deck with river waterThe Saigon skyline recedes, very quickly, into the distance; disappearing around a bend, reappearing on the horizon, then fading out of sight again as the boat moves through a chicane of meanders. These bends make the journey immediately disorienting: Saigon landmarks, such at the Lotus Building (the tập đoàn bitexco Tower) và the gleaming spire of Landmark 81 keep popping up to lớn the east then khổng lồ the west; behind the boat then in front of it, then disappearing altogether. It’s impossible khổng lồ get your bearings.


A chicane of meanders on the Saigon River makes the journey immediately disorientingSailing downriver, the skyscrapers of downtown give way khổng lồ the sprawling, apartment-filled suburbs, and the Saigon docks which line the riverbanks for many kilometres. It’s fascinating khổng lồ watch as the boat dodges all the different kinds of shipping: slipping between the bows of giant container vessels and freight ships, tugs & barges, fishing boats & canoes, tankers và warships.
Watching all the different boats on this increasingly busy shipping lane is a lot of funAfter passing beneath the soaring blade of concrete that is the Phu My Bridge, the boat veers right and joins the wider waters of the Dong Nai River. Continuing southwards into the Soai Rap River, the banks expand ever further apart, until they must span at least a couple of kilometres. Container ships are more numerous here but they’re made lớn appear small on the mighty, muddy river.
Passing under the Phu My Bridge, a soaring blade of concrete over the Saigon River

With Saigon now out of sight, industry takes over. Warehouses, factories, oil depots, cement plants, coal, gas, wood, metal: the brawny industrial arm of the southern hub & all of the boats that supply it. It’s an utterly compelling sequence, so much so that you won’t want to sit down, go inside, or take your eyes off it for one minute for fear of missing something.
The brawny arm of the southern industrial hub: ships supply factories along the river banksAt the confluence of the Soai Rap and Long Tau rivers, an enormous new bridge is under construction. The fast boat continues straight ahead, due south on the Long Tau River. From here, greenery begins khổng lồ colonize the riverbanks: concrete becomes a rare sight, small wooden fishing boats cast their nets into the wide waters, & the sky looms large over the flat expanse of boggy, delta land.
Eventually, greenery takes over the riverbanks và industry fades awayIn order to lớn avoid a detour on the Long Tau River, the fast boat takes a shortcut through a narrow channel lined with mangrove. This is a tight waterway, not big enough for larger ships. The banks are close together và the distinctive splayed roots of the mangrove trees are clearly visible. Suddenly, after all the urbanity and industrial activity of the first half of the journey, it’s now easy lớn imagine yourself sitting on the back of the boat in Apocalypse Now as it winds its way into the jungle, ever closer lớn Colonel Kurtz. The scenery is exotic & atmospheric. However, I’m not sure how environmentally sound it is. Mangrove are supposed khổng lồ be one of the major lifelines for Vietnam if it is lớn avoid sinking into the ocean in the future. Their roots help anchor the land, which, in these swampy, delta regions, is nothing more than mud và silt. The waves from the wake of the fast boats surely can’t bởi vì any good khổng lồ the stability of the mangrove trees.


A narrow channel provides a shortcut through mangrove forests & small fishing communitiesAfter rejoining the meandering arm of the Long Tau River, the Phu My Hills rise to the northeast. The water is brackish here: the colour changes, becomes lighter; the surface becomes ruffled as the wind picks up, and the banks are wider apart. The boat is nearing the mouth of the river. But before reaching the mở cửa sea, the boat may pull into the docks at Can Gio (if you’re travelling on one of the two daily sailings that include Can Gio).
Nearing the river mouth, the water becomes brackish & choppy, và large ships dwarf fishing boatsOut onto the xuất hiện sea, rainy season clouds mushroom above the waiting container ships, threatening Vung Tau with a storm. The sea is rough and, for the first time, you can feel the vessel rising & falling with the swell. The air is clearer, saltier; the sky is bigger, the light sharper, the humidity lower – it’s hard not to get excited as you approach the rocky promontory under which the white structures of Vung Tau glint in the sun.
Out on the open sea it’s cooler và brighter, và the excitement builds as the boat approaches Vung Tau

Vung Tau seen from the sea is a collection of hotels and houses at the bottom of Big Mountain (Núi Lớn)It’s an exhilarating journey, but when the boat docks below Big Mountain (Núi Lớn) and the engines are cut, all that remains is the searing tropical heat và the sound of the sea lapping the concrete pier. It’s time to make your way along the seafront road for a coffee or settle into one of Vung Tau’s harbour-view hotels, like Leman Cap Resort, for a relaxing mini-break.

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