Vietnam possesses an exquisite coast line full of dramatic shape and colour and includes some very fine stretches of sand. Because of Vietnam’s complex weather patterns, the best time to visit varies geographically.

Although there are a few very isolated and beautiful small beaches in the north of Vietnam, there are few with accommodation possibilities and most of the country’s resorts are to be found along the central coast.

However, if you like small uninhabited far flung beaches, the combined oceanic formations of Ha Long, Lan Ha and Bai Tu Long Bays, hide countless little gems.

For islands which afford something in the way of facilities, the best regarded of which include Quan Lan, Ba Trai Dao, and Ti Top, the latter of which has a splendid viewpoint worthy of the strenuous climb. There are also some resort style facilities at Tuan Chau and Bai Chay, though both have artificial beaches.

For accommodation, the popular choice is Cat Ba Island, not least because in addition to its beaches, it also houses a National Park, home to the famous Cat Ba Langurs. Offshore from Cat Ba, Monkey Island is a more laid back accommodation alternative to Cat Ba town.

Away from the rugged and cooler north it is the central coast that truly plays host to beach lovers, with wonderful stretches of sand unfolding almost endlessly southward from the moment you travel over the High Van Pass near Da Nang.

Along Da Nang’s coastal strip you can find the 20 mile long stretch of 'China' (My Khe) Beach near Da Nang is regarded as one of Vietnam’s finest and historically the landing and recreational site of American troops in less enlightened and benign times. Other beaches in the vicinity are Nam O, Non Nuoc and Lang Co beaches.

Travelling southward, graceful Hoi An is best known for its quant historical features and its wonderful lantern festival, and is a great choice for cultured travellers, offering all the myriad benefits this delightful virtually traffic-free historic coastal town has to offer combined with all the nearby beachfront facilities you could wish for at nearby Cua Dai, An Bang and Ha My beaches.

Offshore from Hoi An, the Cham islands provide less busy, relaxed beachfront visions to enjoy, with seven beaches gracing it largest island, Cu Lao Cham, the most popular of which are Bai Cong, Bai Ong, Bai Bac and Bai Xep beaches. A little way further south the little visited Ly Son and An Binh Islands may suit those who like to avoid the main tourist areas and get a sense of authentic Vietnamese island life, though as with many beaches where there is a lack of infrastructure, waterborne rubbish can sometimes be an issue.

Back on the mainland, the area of Quy Nhon, equidistant between Hoi An and Nha Trang, has numerous stretches of beach, both developed and untouched. The town’s beaches are beautiful, but the northern beach is also host to the fishing fleet, which can occasionally mar the quality of the water.

Across the bay, on the Phuong Mai peninsula Ky Co beach is the best of several beaches found here, while to the south of Quy Nhon town, numerous ribbons and crescents grace the coast down to Tuy Hoa, where Bai Xep is a very popular choice, especially among younger visitors.

Quy Nhon’s largely untouristed but delightful coastline and litter of islands is undoubtedly ripe for future development and will become a tourist hotspot of the future.

Often referred to as the Vietnamese Riviera, Nha Trang is home to a 6km beach and is a much busier prospect for those who enjoy beachside bustle and lively nightlife.

In addition to the city’s beach, there are a number of alternative possibilities on the nearby islands, such as Bai Tru beach of Hon Tre, or Hon Tam beach on the neighbouring island of the same name. At the norther rim of Nha Trang bay is the beautiful but exclusive Ninh Van Bay, but you’ll need to stay in one of its luxury resorts to enjoy it.

On the mainland to the south of Nha Trang are Nhu Tien beach and, beyond, a lovely collection of  beaches of the Cam Ranh and Binh Lap peninsulas and islands, with Cam Ranh’s Bai Dai beach a popular choice. The best time to visit the Nha Trang area is between January and September.

Because of its benign climate, the best choice for all year round dry weather is Mui Ne, near Phan Thiet, far to the south of the Cam Ranh area, famous internationally as a windsurfing hotspot. Distractions from the beach include the Sea Links Golf Course, but there is little else nearby in the form of historical or cultural sightseeing, and the resort is best suited to those who prefer quietude.

The beaches on the island of Phu Quoc are a great getaway from mainland Vietnam, and unlike the South China Sea resorts in the rest of Vietnam, sits just within the Gulf of Thailand. And offer a fairly relaxed environment with good walks and diving.

Among Phu Quoc’s numerous beaches, Long Beach, Ong Lang, Bai Sao and Ganh Dau are popular choices for beaches, but there are many others to explore.

Phu Quoc is best visited between November and June, with the driest time between November and March.

Con Dao archipelago is host many beach escapes, among which Dam Trau, Lo Voi, and An Hai are the best, while windswept Nhat beach offers a rugged but beautiful wildness.