7 top tips for discovering Vietnam from the water

Don't be nauti

After a whirlwind adventure in Vietnam, Risa Merl shares her cruising know-how so that others can go exploring in this extraordinary part of the world.

1. Don't be nauti

Yachts are limited to ports approved for foreign commercial vessels, such as Ho Chi Minh City, Nha Trang, Da Nang and Ha Long. Cruising is allowed freely between ports, but dropping anchor is discouraged unless special permission is granted and fees are paid.

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Berth right

Nha Trang, Vietnam’s popular beach and diving destination, is set to be home to Vietnam’s first superyacht marina. Once completed, AnaMarina will have more than 220 berths and will be able to accommodate yachts up to 70 metres.

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Port pilot

“Whenever we were moving around a port – anchoring or leaving – we had to get a pilot on board,” says Barry De Kock, captain of 67 metre Vertigo. In principle, every yacht with a GT greater than 100 must call for a pilot, and Ho Chi Minh City requires every yacht to have one.

No-go zone

Ha Long Bay, with its thousands of limestone cliffs, is one of Vietnam’s most iconic sites but private yachts are not allowed to freely cruise the bay. Private yachts can berth at Quang Ninh maritime port and Hon Gai anchorage, near Ha Long, and charming traditional yachts can be chartered for a day.

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Expert guidance

Sytske Kimman, of Northrop & Johnson Asia, says it’s imperative to have a good yacht agent. “Over the past years, there have been some yachts who went there and tried to arrange things themselves, and one owner was jailed,” she warns.

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Peace of mind

Regulations require a 24/7 watch on board by the crew, so additional security isn’t required. If weapons are on board, this must be mentioned before arrival, and be locked away during the stay in Vietnam.

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Blown away

The best times to visit Vietnam are when the temperatures are more moderate and the rainfall is low, from February to April or August to October. Typhoons can strike in May and June in the north and move south through to the end of December. September, October and November have the most typhoons.

Picture courtesy of Shutterstock.com / NguyenQuocThang