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


  1. Martin R says:

    Don’t waste your time or money unless you’re one of the idle rich! The trip takes 2-1/2 hours and they justify it by saying the Duong Dong Express is not a ferry, it’s a cruise ship! Maybe so – but why then do they follow the exact same route as the ferries, and why do they always close the blinds so the Vietnamese passengers won’t get “black skin”? Sure, it keeps out the bright sun – but then the only way you can see anything outside is to actually go and stand outside (when you’ve just paid a small fortune for comfortable VIP seats inside!). It’s over-priced, over-rated, and under-scheduled – one trip each way for just three days a week is a nonsense!

  2. Alex Dobrov says:

    Everybody who need just to go from Vung Tau to Saigon or return they will choose hydrofoil, its obviously. Duong Dong Express is interested only for who first time go on this route and want to enjoy a trip. Obviously no sense to spend 2 and half hours if you can come in 1 and half and two times cheaper.
    Anyway thanks to owners for giving option in travel on this destination.

  3. Linh says:

    We’ve travelled twice on this “cruise ship” (definitely not a ferry!) – once upstairs in v. expensive “VIP” and once downstairs. Warning to everyone – three major problems in VIP: 1. Only lifejackets under middle seats, not under lounge seats (when I queried this, the hostess told me to change seats!); 2. Spacious aisles used by children as a playground (v. noisy, rowdy and intrusive); 3. Blinds always drawn to protect from sun so you can’t see anything outside! Also other problem with this ship – stabilisers not working properly – at least when moored (I nearly injured myself when the ship rolled violently and was only saved by crashing into the middle seats). My choice? Mai Linh taxi from the bus station – same journey time, no noisy children, and only 80k VND! Otherwise, hydrofoil – faster, cheaper, enough life jackets, and less room for children to run around!

  4. Yuri Doric says:

    Thank you for your feedback. It’s especially important with articles such as this that are not all encompassing in terms of research and delivery; you essentially fill in the blanks; are the missing pieces to the whole story.

    One point I did try to make clear, both in the story and more prominently, in the actual headline, was that the Express in Duong Dong Express doesn’t live up the literal definition of the term. So I especially appreicate the clarification regarding the actual duration of the trip.

    I also recently noticed that the ticket office next to the Rainbow Bar may be closed down and I cannot confirm where it has been moved to.

    Aside from that and the other details provided (lack of a view, limited lifejackets, etc) can anyone comment on such things as the selection and quality of the cafe, wine bar and restaurant? And what might determine the lifespan of this service: were there many people making use of it?

    Again, your feedback is appreciated. Be sure to keep at it and please consider writing and submitting stories of your own, or at least suggesting/providing leads for articles you or others might find interesting.

    Thank you, Yuri Doric — yuri(.)vungtaucity(@)gmail(.)com

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