The first mentioning of the settlement on the cap where Vung Tau is located now was in 14th century. There was quite busy navigation and ships use Vung Tau bays for anchorage during storms and bad weather.
This ships activity inspired the name “Vũng Tàu”, which means “anchorage”. Portuguese navigators passing Vung Tau many times named it after Saint Jacques and the French invaded Vietnam afterwards called it “Cape Saint Jacques”.
But before the town get its official name “Cape Saint Jacques” and later “Vung Tau” the place was originally referred to as “Tam Thắng” (“Three Boats”) in memory of the first 3 villages in this area: Thắng Nhất, Thắng Nhị, Thắng Tam.
From 1761 till 1820 it was within the province of Bien Hoa under the Nguyen dynasty.
Once Malay pirates built a base here and this place became a danger for navigation, the king sent 3 troupes of army to crack down on the pirates. The pirates were ousted and solders of these troupes were given the land as a reward.
10th February 1859 marks the first use of cannons by Nguyen’s army, when they fired at French battleships from the fortress of Phước Thắng, located 100 m from Vung Tau’s Front Beach. This marked an important period in Vietnam’s war against French invaders in South Vietnam (then called Cochinchina).
On 1st of May, 1895 the governor of Cochinchina established by decree that Cape Saint Jacques would thereafter be an autonomous town.
In 1901, the population of Vung Tau was 5,690 of which 2000 persons were immigrants from North Vietnam. Most of the town’s population this time made their living in the fishing industry. On April 4th 1905 Cape Saint Jacques was made an administrative district of Ba Ria province. In 1929, Cape Saint Jacques became a province, and in 1934 became a city (commune).
In 1981 Baria-Vungtau province cames into new era. The first oil deposit in offshore was discovered by Russian-Vietnamese Joint venture “Vietsovpetro”.
At the end of eighteens there were around 5 thousand Russians living in the City that create specific subculture around Russian compound with number of restaurants, cafes, shops with specific food and drinks.
At this time foreigner specialists presence in the City is around two and half thousands but anyway many years of influence of foreign culture made its deal – now Vung Tau can be considered as a most foreigner-friendly city in the country.
At the beginning of nineties BP, Shell, Chevron, Texaco, Caltex, Occidental, Exxon, Total, Conoco, Petronas, KNOC and other international oil companies also got involved in oil production here and great number of overseas specialists brought with them the multicultural mix. Many foreign specialists stay in the City after completion of work for employer opening their own business and acquiring mix families here. By unofficial data there are more then 1,5 thousands expats living in Vung Tau now.
On August 12th 1991, the province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau was officially founded and Vung Tau town officially became Vungtau City.