Must-Visit Attractions in Nha Trang, Vietnam

The giant Buddha at Long Son Pagoda was built in 1964
The giant Buddha at Long Son Pagoda was built in 1964 | © Robert Harding / Alamy Stock Photo
Alex Robinson

Sandy beaches that stretch for miles, cool waterfalls, untouched mountain ranges, a unique culture… Nha Trang is fast becoming a top destination in Vietnam for all these reasons and more. Here are the attractions you can’t miss as you explore this east-coast idyll.

1. Tran Phu Beach

Natural Feature

Asia, Vietnam, Nha Trang. The Resort Ana Mandara bar at Nha Trangs beach promenade Tran Phu....
© TRV/imagerover.com / Alamy Stock Photo
The main beach of Nha Trang is a 6km (4mi) crescent of crumbly white sand, backed by a long boulevard of high-end resorts. It’s the best base if you’re the type who wants beach, restaurants and nightlife just a stroll from your bedroom. (If you’re after undeveloped natural surroundings, head south). Watersports – from surfing to snorkelling to jet skiing – are easy to organise through hotels. If it’s pampering you’re after, there are scores of day spas along the length of the beach.

2. Dam Market

Market, Food Court, Vietnamese

This dawn-to-dusk market is a hubbub of food stalls, street action, rushing vendors and bustling little shops. Surprises are plentiful; mangosteens, star apples, beach wraps, leather belts, dried squid and even pickled snakes can all be found. If you’re after souvenirs, the best spot is the mezzanine in the centre. For post-shop eating, the food court serves good-value seafood, noodle soups and baguettes.

3. Thap Po Nagar

Ruins

NHA TRANG, VIETNAM - MARCH 15, 2018: Ponagar or Thap Ba Po Nagar is a Cham temple tower near Nha Trang city in Vietnam
© Andrey Khrobostov / Alamy Stock Photo
Po Nagar was built between the 7th and 12th centuries by the Cham people, who governed Nha Trang – as well as much of central and southern Vietnam – and made the region an integral part of the Asian spice trade. Today, these ruins are one of the few remainders of their legacy: four towering, red-brick temples along with a statue of goddess Yan Po Nagar. In the tranquil heat of the day, the peace you will find here is extraordinary.

4. Long Son Pagoda

Buddhist Temple

This Buddhist temple of dragon-topped pagodas climbs over forested hills to a huge statue of Sakyamuni Buddha, sitting serene in a lotus leaf. By Vietnamese standards, it’s modern; it was constructed in the late 19th century, before being destroyed by a cyclone in 1900 and renovated in the 1940s. Today, the temple is the regional headquarters of the Buddhist Association.

5. Nha Trang Cathedral

Cathedral, Church

Nha Trang Cathedral or the Christ the King Cathedral is the mother church of the Catholic Diocese of Nha Trang in Vietnam
© Andrey Khrobostov / Alamy Stock Photo
This 19th-century Catholic cathedral is a bit architecturally confused. It’s got an Italianate clock tower, neo-gothic faux flying buttresses and castellated walls. However, it’s a potent reminder of the French presence in Vietnam from 1887 to 1954. Come on a Sunday morning for a window onto contemporary Vietnamese life, as the bells, which were cast in France in the 1700s, ring across the surrounding gardens and hundreds of smartly dressed locals gather to chat over snacks after Mass.

6. National Oceanographic Museum

Building, Museum

The National Oceanographic Museum is part natural history museum – with a large collection of preserved specimens, including a huge whale skeleton – and part aquarium. It’s housed in imposing French-era buildings and set over a small beach just a few hundred metres north of the city port. The collection looks a little dusty today, but it delivers an interesting glimpse of the marine life often still thriving in Vietnamese waters, from reef sharks to puffer fish.

7. Ba Ho Waterfall

Natural Feature

Ba Ho Waterfall, Nha Trang, Vietnam, Asia, South East Asia
© Andreas Rose / Alamy Stock Photo
More a series of rapids than a single cascade, Ba Ho, in the forested hills behind Nha Trang, drops over boulders into clear pools big enough for a swim. The water is powerful at the end of the rainy season, but recedes to a trickle in the summer. To avoid the crowds, avoid signing up for a booked tour; instead arrive alone, by bike or cab. It’s only a 45-minute drive from central Nha Trang. To reach the best pools, you’ll need to scramble up the river some way, but it’s worth the effort.

8. Hon Ba Mountain

Natural Feature

It’s a long and winding two-hour drive on switchback bends to the top of Hon Ban Mountain, but the view makes it worthwhile. If you can, go at dawn, when the morning cloud rises off Nha Trang and you can see for miles and miles in the clear air. The best views are from the little wooden cottage on the summit, built in 1915 by French doctor Alexandre Yersin. Walking trails from the peak lead into the forest, a deep-green and profoundly atmospheric experience.

9. Bai Dai Beach

Natural Feature

Powdery white sand, transparent waters, resorts, seafood shacks and palm-fronds swishing in the gentle breeze… welcome to Bai Dai, around 25km (16mi) south of Nha Trang city, near the airport. This beach is the antithesis of busy Tran Phu; the sea is gentle enough for paddling in the shallows, and there’s a break suitable for beginner surfers. You can rent boards locally.

10. Jungle Beach

Resort

A 60km (37mi) drive from Nha Trang city, this backpacker-friendly beach resort is a popular place to unwind, thanks to the palm-thatched cabins, white sand and aquamarine ocean. Other than shrimp farms and a tiny village, there’s little to detract from the natural beauty, and little to do other than surf, snorkel and eat masses of seafood. There are only two small resorts, Jungle Beach and Wild Beach, a few hundred metres further south. This is rest and relaxation with a capital R&R.

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