Nha Trang is not all about beach. In fact, it has a little bit of everything, so it makes for a great pit-stop on your South-East Asia travels to just relax for a while and take a break. Yes, sometimes you need a break from travelling. Here is a list of perfect activities in this gorgeous coastal city.
Spending some time at the beach is an absolute must when in Nha Trang. How could you not? If your hotel is down Tran Phu street, just cross the road and voila, beach! This central Nha Trang beach strip is extremely lively and very popular for the sunrise. Locals come as early as 05:00 a.m. to meditate on the sand as they wait for the sun to peek through their butts. If being surrounded by lots of people is not your thing, try your luck at one (or more) of these: Bai Duong beach, Bai Dai beach, Dai Lanh beach, or Doc Let beach. These however, will take some time to get to. There are also a bunch of islands you can visit, scattered around the bay.
Being a coastal city (and also the diving capital of Vietnam), Nha Trang has an abundance of water related activities you can partake in. From snorkeling and diving to surfing, parasailing, wakeboarding and more, there are plenty of dive shops and tourist offices offering not only the experience, but also courses for those keen to learn. Nha Trang is also a popular destination for travelers to acquire their PADI diving certification, and finding a course to suit your needs will not be tricky. Hit up The Nha Trang Sailing Club, one of Nha Trang’s most famous spots, and get this, it’s not only a water sport venue but also a dining and party venue right by the beach. There are also about two dozen dive shops around the city, which not only means that it’s easy to find a course, but the competition means great value. Some courses are available with full equipment rental for as little as $250.00.
Nha Trang offers travelers an all-round shopping experience. From markets, street-side vendors, mom and pop shops, to boutique stores and upscale shopping centers with luxury brands, you will find everything. For a more local experience, hit up any of the markets. Dam Market and Nha Trang Night Market are the two most popular and great for souvenirs, but if you want something a little more authentic, it is Xom Moi and Vinh Hai Markets that you should visit. If you’re looking to buy yourself a new Coach clutch or a pair of Charles & Keith heels, then hit up Nha Trang Center, a modern shopping complex with luxury brands, entertainment centers and restaurants spread around its four floors.
Learn some history
The city of Nha Trang has many museums, churches, temples and pagodas, so if you are tired of constant beach and cocktails, these make for great alternatives. The most popular of all is Po Nagar temple, similar to Angkor Wat of Cambodia, however much, much smaller in size. It was built in 781 A.D. by the Cham people who once resided in Vietnam, and is definitely worth a slot in your itinerary. Other venues worth mentioning are Long Son Pagoda, the Nha Trang Cathedral and the National Oceanographic Museum of Vietnam. The Impressions Museum will make for a fun excursion, but it is more of a 3D art gallery than a museum. Make sure you don’t go alone as you’ll need someone to take your pictures!
Co Tien (Fairy Mountain) and Hon Ba Mountain are the two most popular hiking trails in Nha Trang. Co Tien is near Bai Duong beach so you can wash off all that sweat after the two hour hike, and Hon Ba, further away, is a little more strenuous, the peak being at an altitude of 4921 ft (1500 meters). If you prefer a shorter hike, opt for Ba Ho waterfall. To get there you’ll take a beautiful coastal journey, and then a quick hike, but a refreshing end to the day awaits. Make sure to wear proper footwear for these hikes!
Take a bath… in mud!
Nha Trang is known to be a mud bath and hot spring haven! Going for a massage and taking a dip in all-natural mud is a great way to end your day after a hard hike. It’s also a widespread belief that mud has healing properties and helps to relieve stress and fatigue. The three best options are Thap Ba Hot Springs, 100 Eggs Mudbath or I-Resort, the latter being a little more upscale. The good thing is, you can take a mud bath for as little as $6.00 in each of these, however that is for a shared tub of mud. To have one to yourself and to also have access to other services such as hot stone massages, jacuzzi time, swimming pools and saunas, you will have to pay more. It is totally worth it to pamper yourself, and where better to do it than in a beautiful coastal city of exotic Vietnam?
Indulge in sea food or how about a cooking class?
Seafood is a must try in Nha Trang, and you can find it virtually anywhere in the city – from tiny salt fish snacks on the side of the street to huge lobsters and crabs at fine dining venues. The three specialties of the city 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). Cooking classes are available too for those who want to spice things up a little. Most courses include a trip to the local market where you can buy the ingredients you will later be using in your recipe for the day. Lanterns Vietnamese Restaurant is known to have the best course of all.
There are plenty of beach-side bars and rooftop clubs for you to venture into and not leave until the sun comes up the next day. Popular venues include The Nha Trang Sailing Club, Altitude Bar, and Louisiane Brewhouse. While these are a little fancy (some even have pools), there are cheaper options such as Nha Trang Booze Cruise Bar & Grill and Crazy Kim’s. To party local style, just hit up one of the local Bia Hoi joints. You will find many of these scattered down popular streets, and they will most likely entail a tiny venue with lots of plastic stool seating outside. They are really hard to miss.