Hosting one of the most popular municipal beaches in all of Vietnam, this capital of Khanh Hoa province is indisputably beautiful, bordered by mountains, with the beach tracing an impressive long swoop along a bay dotted with islands. Topiary and modern sculpture dot the immaculately manicured foreshore. Nha Trang is an ideal place to come and party with incredible massage, beauty treatments, luscious seafood and cold beer.
Things to do in Nha Trang:
Where to go in Nha Trang:
Alexandre Yersin Museum Here you can get a grip of the work of one of Vietnam's greatest heroes. Swiss doctor Yersin founded Da Lat, isolated an important plague-causing bacterium, and researched agricultural methods and meteorological forecasting, all to the great benefit of the locals. Yersin arrived in Nha Trang in 1891 and dedicated the better part of his life to scientific discovery from his busy laboratory here, until his passing in 1943. He founded the Pasteur Institute in 1895.
Cam Ranh Bay Adjacent to the new airport, you can't miss this stunning sweep of sand if you're on your way to or from a flight. The high, winding road offers stunning views. Cam Ranh is 30km south of Nha Trang and can be reached by car for about $10 each way (same as the airport), or by motorbike taxi for about $5 round-trip.
Doc Let Beach 45km north of Nha Trang and more or less targeted at regional tourists with chairs and tables lining the surf instead of beach loungers, and affordable guesthouses are nearby instead of pricey resorts, Doc Let makes a good day trip to meet locals and get away from the backpacker area.
Long Son Pagoda The main attraction at this pagoda is the huge white Buddha on the hillside behind the main compound; the 24m-high statue is an important symbol of Nha Trang. Around the base of the Buddha are portraits of monks who immolated themselves to protest against the corrupt Diem regime; each monk's portrait, which is carved in relief on a paneled side of the statue, is framed in flames. After climbing the numerous stairs, you'll also be rewarded with a bird's-eye view of Nha Trang.
National Oceanographic Museum of Vietnam Established on 14 September 1922, the Oceanographic Center south of Nha Trang is a fun visit for kids, and popular with large groups of domestic tourists. There is an exacting collection of the kinds of fish you would find in the sea near Nha Trang, and all are labeled in English. The best are the smaller aquariums in the back. Find reef sharks, turtles, living coral, anemones, puffers, lionfish, clownfish, sea horses, and a whole array of colorful reef species, some quite rare. The museum area holds 20,000 specimens collected over its long history, some full skeletons and others preserved in formaldehyde solution. The institute sponsors ongoing research and community projects, ranging from monitoring aquatic life to developing captive breeding programs and encouraging preservation and regeneration of local coral reefs.
Po Ngar Cham Towers Built in the 8th century by the Cham people, an early Hindu empire in central Vietnam to honor Yang Ino Po Ngar, the towers set on the site of an earlier wooden temple burned by the Japanese in A.D. 774. The main tower, or Po Ngar Kalan, is one of the tallest Cham structures anywhere, and its square tower and three-story cone roof are exemplary of Cham style. The towers of Po Ngar have retained structural integrity, giving you a good idea of how it might have looked in all its glory. Two pillars of carved epitaphs of Cham kings are in the vestibule, and two original carved doors are in the sanctuary. The statue inside is of the goddess Bharagati, aka Po Ngar, on her lotus throne.
Nha Trang Cathedral Built between 1928 and 1933 in the French Gothic style, complete with stained glass windows, Nha Trang Cathedral stands on a small hill overlooking the train station. It's a surprisingly elegant building, given that it was constructed of simple cement blocks. A particularly colorful Vietnamese touch is the red neon outlining the crucifix, the pink back-lighting on the tabernacle and the blue neon arch and white neon halo over the statue of St Mary.
Thap Ba Hot Spring Center is one of the most fun experiences on offer here. For around $10 you can sit in a wooden bathtub full of hot thermal mud, or for around ₫4 per person you can slop around with a group of friends in a larger pool. The centre also has private mineral baths and a large outdoor heated swimming pool complete with thermal waterfalls.
How to get to Nha Trang:
Flights: Nha Trang is 1,350km from Hanoi and 450km from Saigon. Vietnam Airlines makes daily connections with Vietnam's urban centers and nearby Da Lat. The Vietnam Airlines Office in Nha Trang is at 91 Nguyen Thien Thuat St. The Nha Trang airport, once in the center of town, has traded places with a larger military facility and is now called Cam Ranh Airport and is 35km south of town. The 30-minute ride costs about $11 for a taxi, $13for a minivan.
Trains: Nha Trang is a stop on the Reunification Express and is 12 hours from Ho Chi Minh City on a soft sleeper for about $18, and 20 hours to Hanoi for $67. Though tickets can be purchased 1 day in advance (depending on travel season), we strongly recommend you to buy your ticket as soon as possible. The overnight connection with Ho Chi Minh City is the most convenient route.
Cars: If you choose to drive from Hoi An to Nha Trang, it's a 10-hour trip and will cost you about $120 by car.
Buses: Open buses are available for the connection from Hoi An (everyday at 7am or 7pm) or Ho Chi Minh City (everyday at 7:30am and 8pm) for about $8. The overnight schedules to Ho Chi Minh City and Hoi An are long and tiring rides, but a good option if you're short on time and don't want to waste your precious daylight hours looking out the window of a tour coach.
Unlike that of Ho Chi Minh City, the dry season in Nha Trang runs from June to October. The warmest months are October and November, but rains may be witnessed at night and in the morning. In general, Nha Trang is beautiful all the year round but at its best during the months of January to late October.
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