If, like me, you are generally unconcerned with the aesthetic and overall comfort of your ride therefore the crumpled cigar tube aesthetic of the local hydrofoil fleet is perfectly acceptable. However, if you prefer to bask in that new-ship-smell and time is not of the essence the Duong Dong Express may be for you.
Built in Norway by Kværner Fjellstrand, a shipyard that develops and builds advanced high-speed aluminum catamarans for the world market, the Duong Dong Express began operating between HCMC and Vung Tau on July 16, 2011.
Owned by the Sea Gull Express JSC and managed by Ben Thanh Tourist Company potential creature comforts include the ubiquitous television as well as internet and video games; a cafe, wine bar and restaurant; and, for those who smoke or simply enjoy second hand smoke and bluster, a sizeable outside deck.
There are two tiers of seating which the ticket price reflects: standard and VIP, with the VIP section offering more comfortable seating, increased space and a better view of, I assume, the passing scenery. There are 180 seats in standard and 70 in VIP allowing a total of 250 passengers per trip.
Although I am uncertain of the technical specifications pertaining to the Greenlines, Petroxpress and Vinaxpress for comparison, the Duong Dong Express can travel at 33 nautical miles per hour which, I believe, is the same in knots — the unit traditionally used by ships and planes or for the measure of wind — which, for you of metric persuasion, is 61 kilometres an hour. And this in up to force 9 winds.
However, the Express in Duong Dong Express may be a little misleading. As per the information I was able to obtain from Huynh Bich Thuy at Duong Dong Express and via the ham fisted English translation on the company website it appears that the service schedule is very limited, especially when compared to the regularity of the established hydrofoil fleet.
I encourage you to confirm for yourselves prior to travelling but it appeared to me that the service operates Friday, Saturday and Sunday leaving HCMC at 8:00AM and returning from Vung Tau at 2:30PM. The actual trip duration is something of a mystery.
Regardless, if the day and the time is of little consequence and you prefer to travel in style then you could do worse. Like a pot of gold the Vung Tau booking office is located next to the Rainbow Bar at 124 Ha Long and they can be contacted directly (in order for them to confirm or deny anything noted above) at 064-351-3341 or the hotline at 093-890-6272.
Photos courtesy of: Duong Dong Express
Sources: Duong Dong Express, Ben Thanh Tourist Co, randburg.com, wikipedia.org
Yuri Doric — yuridoric.tumblr.com