Vietnam’s best beaches
(CNN) — Diverse. Unique. Memorable.
These words reflect the people of Vietnam but they can also describe the country’s countless beaches. Long and narrow, Vietnam boasts 2,140 miles of coastline — and that doesn’t include its many islands.
From lively and popular to unspoiled and wild, there’s a beach for every type of traveler. Some sun seekers flock to popular tropical hotspots such as Nha Trang while more adventurous souls motorbike the entire length of coast, from Gulf of Tonkin down to the Gulf of Thailand seeking empty beach after empty beach.
Motorbiking isn’t the practical option for most (do leave it to the experts). These are Vietnam’s seven best beach destinations, no helmet or driving license required.
Long Beach, Phu Quoc Island
With a population of 96 million people, Vietnam is more famous for metropolises and motorbikes than tropical idylls.
However, the country’s largest island boasts not too crowded beaches including the aptly named Long Beach.
Located in the Gulf of Thailand, it stretches over 12 miles with clear water, soft beige sand and beachfront accommodation that unfurls against a backdrop of languid palms and jungle-cloaked mountains.
Con Son Island, Con Dao archipelago
A blip of 16 rocks off the southeastern tip of Vietnam, remote Con Dao Islands reward those who make the one-hour flight with deserted beaches, edge-of-the-world coastline, turquoise water and the best diving the country has to offer.
Some beaches on the main island Con Son are easily accessible, while others can only be reached by hiking through the national park, imparting a castaway feel. Six Senses Con Dao is the sole five-star resort here, its private shore dramatically nestled at the foot of a mountain.
The friendly locals, easygoing pace and rugged natural beauty are a stark contrast to the island’s dark history. For more than a century French colonialists, then the American-backed South Vietnam, used Con Son as a prison. By the time the prisons were closed in 1975, 20,000 people had died. The buildings are open to visitors, a somber note in an otherwise beach lover’s paradise.