Nha Trang makes an awesome first impression: beach, sun, and a friendly atmosphere. Boasting a 6-kilometer sandy shoreline in the center of the city, Nha Trang has mountains on two sides, and islands on the other. This is not your typical seaside town. Managing to combine high-rise resorts and a laid-back backpacker scene, this city caters to absolutely anyone and everyone, for any budget level and preference. With many must-see places, endless to-do’s, and great restaurants to dine at, this article aims to help you create an itinerary for yourself so you can make the most out of your trip.
Introduction & History
Nha Trang is in the Khanh Hoa province on the South-Central coast of Vietnam. It has become increasingly popular in recent years, and is now one of the most important tourist hubs of Vietnam. The economy of the city relies largely on tourism. Services play an important role in boosting urban development, attracting more and more domestic and foreign travelers alike. But the city wasn’t always like this.
Hundreds of years ago when the Champa reigned over Vietnam, Nha Trang was known as Kauthara. Cham remains can still be found in Nha Trang, the best example being Po Nagar Tower. From 1653 until the 19th century, Nha Trang was a deserted area, rich in wildlife and known to have tigers roaming the jungles. Nha Trang then underwent rapid change. It was no more than a small fishing village until the French colonized Vietnam and turned it into a resort town.
Nha Trang has a tropical savanna climate. January to August is the dry season and the wet season which is shorter, is from September to December.
You can visit Nha Trang at any time of the year; however, summer is the time where you can experience most of the activities, especially water-related activities. The most ideal time to visit Nha Trang is from February to April, when the temperature is moderate – at around 26 degrees Celsius, and rain fall is at its lowest. The weather is beautiful and the beach will be pleasant. It is also the best time for diving as the water is clear and the coral reefs are most beautiful. June to August are also good for visiting Nha Trang, however these months get a little too hot and humid. You will be sweating within 5 minutes of stepping outside of your comfortable air-conditioned hotel room. But this is all the more reason to go take a dip in the ocean or partake in some water sports.
The four months during rainy season are the months one should typically avoid. You can still visit Nha Trang; however, you may be limited when it comes to activities you can partake in and you will probably spend most of your time in indoor venues. Typhoons are common during the wet season, but thanks to the islands scattered around the bay, the city is shielded from the worst winds. One good thing about visiting during the rainy season though, is that you will be able to find accommodation and tours for a lower rate than usual.
You should spend at least 2 days and or more when visiting Nha Trang. There are quite a lot of places to see and things to do and if you cram it all into one day, it will not be enjoyable. 4 days is ideal, but if you are on a tight crunch, then stick to two.
What to Do and See in Nha Trang
Beach time: Sunbathing, islands, diving, and more!
Why visit a town on the water if you’re not going to spend at least one evening on the beach? A pro tip is to book your accommodation on Tran Phu Street. The beach will be right across the street from you and chances are you can find a room with a beautiful sea view. The Nha Trang beach strip is extremely lively, and parallel is a pleasant waterfront promenade. This means it’s great for a morning jog or you can walk under the shade of palm trees. This strip is also extremely popular for the sunrise. Locals come down as early as 5 AM, and meditate on the sand as they wait for golden boy to make an appearance through my butts. Others will be dipping their toes in the cold morning water, or running around with their children and pets.
If crowds are not your thing, don’t worry, there are plenty of alternatives. You can either walk down the stretch of the main beach front and find yourself a less crowded spot, or you can hop on a motorbike (renting your own is better) and try your luck at one (or more) of these: Bai Duong beach, Bai Dai beach, Dai Lanh beach, or Doc Let beach. Bai Duong is the closest to the city center, where as the rest of the beaches take some time to reach. Don’t let that put you off as these beaches are more local, cleaner, warmer, and more ideal for swimming.
A personal favorite of mine is Jungle Beach – probably one of the most tranquil beaches I have ever been to in my life. You can only get there through a simple beachside bamboo resort (you don’t have to book a room, but it would be nice if you have lunch at the restaurant there). It takes around 2 hours to get there from the city center. If you do decide to spend the night, don’t forget to go for a swim in the bioluminescent plankton-filled waters! It’s absolutely magical.
Many of these beaches are also diving, snorkeling, and surfing friendly. You can even kite board, go sailing on catamarans and rafting. Contact the Nha Trang Sailing Club or The Shack if you have any questions, or a simple Google search will answer your queries. The Shack is in Bai Dai beach and it is a bar/restaurant/surf club, all in one, and it is a great place to spend your day. Accommodation in the area will not be too hard to find either, but don’t expect luxury. Most are simple and affordable with no frills.
Nha Trang is the scuba diving center of Vietnam. There are about two dozen dive shops around the city which means competition and great value. PADI open water courses are available with full equipment rental for as little as $250USD. A two-dive boat trip with equipment rental can be as cheap as $45USD. Off-shore and not too far from Nha Trang are a series of islands that offer diving and snorkeling.
Nha Trang is the scuba diving center of Vietnam.
These islands are easily accessible by tour or by yourself, and really, a day trip would suffice. You can combine diving and snorkeling with some downtime sunbathing with a cocktail in hand. Popular islands include Hon Mieu island, Hon Tre island, Hon Mun island, Hon Tam island, and Monkey island. Some notable diving companies you may want to consider are Vinadiving, Coco Dive Center, Rainbow Divers, Mark Scott’s Diving Vietnam, and Nha Trang Fun Divers. Take your pick, they’re all great!
Adventure: Hiking, waterfalls and mud baths!
Nha Trang is a lot more than just a beach town. How about some hiking? You can hike up to Co Tien (Fairy Mountain) for some excellent panoramic views of the city. The peak is about 800 meters and will take around 2 hours to conquer, and Bai Duong beach is close by if you want to wash all that sweat off afterwards. If you want something more strenuous, 60 kilometers north of Nha Trang is Hon Ba mountain. People call it the ‘Da Lat of the beach city.’ It’s the ideal place for one seeking some time away, and after a long trek up winding paths, the peak will offer magnificent views of the region from an altitude of 1500 meters. Up on the top is another bonus, a wooden house built by Alexander Yersin, a famous French doctor.
Ba Ho waterfall is a fine alternative. To get there, it’s a scenic 27-kilometer journey north along the coast and then a 25-minute hike up to the first of three falls that you can swim in (“ba ho” means “three pools”). Trees and vines will be your hand and footholds, so make sure you wear appropriate shoes. Fairy spring waterfalls is another one – a small cool stream and swimming hole. It makes for a popular getaway on the weekends for the locals. Head there on any weekday and you may have it to yourself.
Nha Trang is also famous for its mud baths and hot springs!
Nha Trang is also famous for its mud baths and hot springs! You have 3 options and either one is great for an evening. Mud is said to have all sorts of healing properties so what better way to heal yourself than to jump into a tub full of mud? You can do this at Thap Ba Hot Springs, 100 Eggs Mudbath, or I-Resort which is a little more upscale. However, you can take a mud-bath in any of these for as little as $6USD, depending on the option you choose. You can have your own private tub or share with friends/strangers. These venues offer other services too such as hot stone massages, beauty services, and acupuncture, and has other facilities such as herbal baths, Jacuzzis, artificial waterfalls, saunas, and swim pools. You could easily spend a whole day there pampering yourself.
History & culture: Temples, museums and markets!
Nha Trang has all sorts of religious monuments for you to visit – temples, pagodas, churches, you name it. Probably the most popular of these is Po Nagar temple, a Cham tower complex built in 781A.D. It may not be Angkor Wat of Cambodia, or the My Son Temples in Vietnam, but it is still amazing nevertheless. Long Son Pagoda with its 79-foot-tall statue of Buddha is also worth a visit. Bear in mind, these sites are of religious importance, so modest dress is expected. Men and women should both cover their legs and shoulders. For the Catholic community, the Nha Trang Cathedral serves as a place of worship, with mass being held on a daily basis.
If museums are your thing, lucky for you Nha Trang has a bunch of them. My two favorites are the Impressions Museum and the National Oceanographic Institute of Vietnam. The latter is the largest of its kind in Indochina and houses thousands of oceanic life samples and exhibits that are on display for museum-goers to see. The Impressions Museum is not really a museum, and more of a 3D art gallery. It’s a great place to spend a few hours, taking pictures with the fun 3D interactive paintings. Go with a friend, it’s definitely more fun that way.
No holiday is complete without some shopping. Dam Market is where you should head for a traditional local experience. Colorful stalls decorate the market and you are able to purchase not only essential goods but also souvenirs – little Vietnamese trinkets that make for great gifts for loved ones back home. Nha Trang Night Market is another that opens in the evening and runs till late night that sells a similar range of goods. Both have food stalls and I recommend you give some seafood a try here! If you want to do some more upscale shopping then resort to Nha Trang Center, a modern shopping complex with luxury brands, entertainment centers, and restaurants spread around its four floors.
Pro tip: A great way to visit some/all of these spots is to take the Magical Mystery Tour Nha Trang. These guys do not do standard tours and tailor each tour according to your specific tastes. If you want a place included, all you have to do is ask and they will make it happen!
Seafood: Crabs, jellyfish, rolls, and pancakes!
Seafood is an absolute must try in Nha Trang. There are many delicious specialties, and the three you must try are banh canh cha ca (mini riceflour pancake with fish paddies), bun ca sua (rice vermicelli with jellyfish), and nem nuong nha trang (Nhra Trang pork rolls).
There is no shortage of restaurants to try these dishes at as they can be found virtually anywhere in the city. Bo Nuong Lac Canh restaurant is one of my absolute favorites and if you do decide to go there, make sure you order the bo nuong lui. You will get raw beef and a grill on your table with a baguette and a dipping sauce. Make sure you dip the beef into the sauce (and the bread too!) before you place it on the grill to cook. This interactive meal is a lot of fun to share with friends over a beer. Believe me, it is delicious. Order the eel vermicelli cake to go with it. You’ll probably ask for seconds or even thirds.
There are many western options to dine at as well. These include Louisiana Brewhouse, Pita Gr Restaurant, Rooftop Lounge, LivinCollective, and Alpaca Homestyle Café. These restaurants are great for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. But you are travelling in an Asian country, so forget your craving for bacon and eggs and sit yourself down by a sidewalk food cart or tuck yourself into a small mom&pop restaurant. Opt for a local breakfast instead, of pho, bun bo, or some banh cuon! Either way, your options are endless.
Cooking classes are available to those looking to spice things up. Most courses will offer a trip to the local market in a cyclo where you buy your own ingredients to cook with. Lanterns Vietnamese Restaurant has a fantastic course for just $24USD and it’ll certainly be a unique experience!
Entertainment, booze cruises and nightlife!
Nha Trang is also an entertainment paradise. Vinpearl Land (where many global beauty contests are hosted), is a resort that occupies a whole island. It has its own amusement park, water park, underwater world, amphitheatre, shopping mall, food village, and just when you think it can’t possibly have more, you find out it has a golf course too. Certainly not a cheap experience however. You must take a 3320-meter-long sea-crossing cable car system (Guinness World Record!) to reach the resort.
Hon Tam resort is another entertaining paradise, with many swimming pools, its own wild beaches, and a tropical forest. Last but not least, is Tri Nguyen Aquarium which looks like a giant ancient fossil ship. It is also worth your time, especially if you have children. If you prefer entertainment that is not so…lavish, the Nha Trang shopping center has a 10-pin bowling center, a cinema, and even a slot machine area.
Nightlife in Nha Trang is quite limited but you do have options! You cannot compare it to that of Hanoi or Saigon. However Nha Trang nightlife is superior to other coastal towns such as Mui Ne and Da Nang. Tran Phu street is lined with some lovely beachside bars that make for a good night out. A few rooftop bars with great views (and even pools!) are scattered around the city, as are local bia hoi joints. These are more friendly to the backpacker budget. You can get a pint of beer for just half a dollar or so. Try partying in the local style, where you (once again) sit on the sidewalk on a small plastic stool, order yourself many local dishes to share over drinks, and join the countless others chanting “mot hai bay o!” which is the Vietnamese way of saying cheers!
But if you want a fancy night out, then hit a rooftop bar or a café with some live music. Some popular options include Fuji Café, Red Apple Club, Guava Bar, and Louisiana Brewhouse. A favorite, however, is Nha Trang Booze Cruise Bar & Grill, a sports bar with excellent food, drinks, and service. You can even play some games of beer pong or watch major sporting events on TV.
Pro tip: Speaking of booze cruises, there really is a Nha Trang party boat trip – an infamous 4-island visiting booze cruise frequented mostly by backpackers. For a day of guilt-free day-time drinking and silly fun, this should be your go-to. I recommend trying this on your last day in Nha Trang. The city isn’t fun to explore with a hangover.
Where to Stay in Nha Trang
Evason Ana Mandara Nha Trang
This resort is part of the Six Senses brand, so quality is ensured. Located on the bustling Tran Phu street, Evason Ana Mandara is the only resort in Nha Trang that faces the beach. Other than its prime location, guests can also enjoy a luxurious stay from the resort’s modern design that utilizes traditional touches and the many available entertainment activities. It has a total of 74 rooms, many of which overlook the magnificent Nha Trang beach. If you require a different view, fear not because they have garden view suites as well. Interestingly, unlike many fancy resorts in Vietnam, these rooms have unique traditional architecture. Still luxurious as it is, this design adds an amazing highlight to the resort.
Evason Ana Mandara’s dining options are very impressive. You can choose from local to international cuisine spread among three restaurants and bars with lots of other dining services. They also have a spa, sports center, and even water activities. To make the experience more diverse, they offer a wide range of tours and cooking classes for guests. You may not have to leave this resort.
Address: Beachside Tran Phu Boulevard, Nha Trang
Website: Evason Ana Mandara Nha Trang
Contact: +84 258 3522 222
Price range: from 210 USD to 250 USD
Mojzo Dorm is a budget hostel with a friendly and welcoming staff who will help you with anything during your stay. They have sufficient amenities and room services for you to experience a comfortable stay. Mojzo offers accommodations as comfy dorms and many communal spaces. There’s a shared kitchen, lounge, and rooftop area where you can spend time with the local staff and other guests in the house. Social exchange is the highlight of this lovely dorm!
Even though Mojzo is not located next to the beach, it’s only a few minutes away from it. You just have to walk 700 meters and you’ll meet the sleepless Tran Phu Street and the beautiful sandy beach behind it. A lot of water tours such as snorkeling, diving, and river cruises are also offered with cheap prices.
Address: 76 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Nha Trang
Website: Mojzo Dorm Facebook
Contact: +84 258 625 6568
Price range: from 7 USD to 10 USD
Christina’s Nha Trang
If you want a combination of both, a high-quality stay and a social atmosphere, stay at Christina’s Nha Trang. At Christina’s, we encourage social connections for guests through our lovely and kind-hearted hosts. Staying with us will favorably add to our guests’ travel experience with great properties and amazing convenient spots right at your doorstep.
You can book from studios all the way to whole houses, fully-furnished and with modern decor. You’ll have plenty of dining and drinking, seafood hotspots, and spa options in the neighborhood as well. Comfortable rooms, effortless commute to places, friendly hosts, and a gorgeous beach just nearby! What are you waiting for?
Address: 32-34 Tran Phu, Nha Trang
Website: Christina’s The Costa Nha Trang
Price range: from 85 USD to 140 USD
Half an hour from the airport, you will discover the tranquility of the coastal city of Nha Trang. Don’t let unexpected situations negatively impact your travel! If you’re the type of person who likes to have everything figured out before your departure, book your airport transfer with Muvv! Muuv is part of the Christina’s ecosystem which ensures that your experience will be a good one.
As you can see, there’s a lot more to this city than just beach. To fully enjoy all that it has to offer, you’re going to need some time. Spread out your activities over a few days and you will have a great adventure. And it really doesn’t matter if you’re on a tight backpacker budget, or looking to take a luxury vacation with your loved one. There is something for everyone. Let us know how your time in Nha Trang goes in the comments below!
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