Though I haven’t experienced too much of Asia (yet), Nha Trang has already reserved a special part in my heart. I’m really glad I came here first on my Asia trip so that I could ease my way into Asian life, as there’s something about this place that makes me feel comfortable. Maybe it’s the thousand of smiling faces surrounding me daily? Maybe it’s the excitement of being thrown into a little bit of chaos but knowing it’s organized chaos? There’s no doubt Nha Trang could be seen as a hectic town, with the constant honking and lack of any traffic rules, but I find myself trusting the drivers on the street even more than I do in America.
Nha Trang has more touristy areas, and then like any other town, many rural and less-known villages. I experienced a mixture of both while I stayed here during my two week stay, and I don’t think either one was better than the other. I am glad I visited the more touristy spots like the temples and towers, because there is some real juicy history to be seen in those spots, but there’s also the simple beauty behind a fishing harbor or a house filled with women making artistic asian mats.
If you’re planning a trip to Vietnam and want to venture around different areas, check out my Nha Trang Travel Guide for tons of places to see, things to do, places to eat and stay:
My second day in Nha Trang was spent walking up and down the beach, getting a SIM card, growing accustomed to the strange currency and trying some of the food. I quickly got used to people approaching us aggressively offering taxi services, or asking us to buy cigarettes or sunglasses, so I was getting the hang of saying a firm no when need be. At one point, we were approached by a man offering us a motorbike tour throughout Nha Trang. Normally, this would be something I would wave off and say no thank you, but we listened to what we had to say (for a full hour) and after reading his testimonials, reading off the raving reviews on TripAdvisor, and flipping through his photo album, we decided to say yes to a single day trip.
There were three of us on the tour, with three tour guides, and I must say, it was a wonderful experience. They offer tours up to six days but we went with a one-day tour (I did a second one-day tour later) because we wanted to have enough time to venture out on our own too, and committing to six days in a row seemed a little much.
The drivers on the first tour were extremely safe and very slow. The only struggle I had was understanding what my guide was saying. He had good English but since it was only my third day in Vietnam, I hadn’t grown accustomed to the accent enough to catch everything he was saying at our different stops.
We went to a lot of different places on the first tour, including a temple, a waterfall, two villages, a place where they make sea salt, a fishing harbor, and into some people’s homes to help them make rice/peanut mash in banana leaves. It was a wonderful introduction to Nha Trang!
I went on another tour my second to last day in Nha Trang, this time with a man known as Mr. Hiep. It was just me on the tour, which made me a little nervous at first, but he was very good at making me feel safe and comfortable. During this tour, we went way out into the country side, where I saw how rice paper is made, how villagers make beautiful, hand-crafted tables out of trees, and how sugar cane is grown. We also saw another waterfall, and went to the top of several mountains on the bike, with stunning views. Mr. Hiep and I had lunch together, and then headed back for a few more picturesque stops, and to have a glass of sugar cane water (best drink I’ve ever had) before he dropped me back off.
We didn’t actually get to go to Vinpearl, but this was something I was really excited about before I even arrived in Vietnam. The reason we didn’t go was because half of the park was closed for reconstruction, and most all reviews on TripAdvisor said it’s not worth going to until the full thing opened back up.
Vinpearl is basically the Disney World of Nha Trang, with rides, games, characters, food and all those amusement-park type things. Another cool thing about it that I was looking forward to is the lift you take over the ocean to get to the island. It’s similar to a ski lift, but it’s over the ocean. Sounds a little terrifying, but quite an experience.
This is another thing we didn’t get to do, but it sounded fun. We chose to go to the I-Resort, which you can see below, but the 100 Egg Mud Bath is another big attraction in Nha Trang for people that want to relax and see a bunch of egg art.
This was a really great experience, and I believe it deserves its high rank on TripAdvisor. The I-Resort has many different packages you can choose from, some of them including massages, VIP rooms, and luxury mineral and herb baths. We decided to do one of the more standard packages, with a mud bath and access to a waterfall and swimming pool. We’re in Vietnam in one of the hottest times, so the heated pool was a little intense for me, but a lot of people were enjoying it.
Bring a book here, and get ready to relax. They have an extensive menu at the restaurant, too, with some of the best fruit I have ever had in my life. I ordered the seafood curry which was one of the freshest curries I’ve ever had.
If you’re craving a workout, NT Fitness is a nice gym located downtown. They have super fun classes including pole dancing, dance, HIIT, and they even told us they were working on creating a class called “club-ercise” where you dance in the dark with glow sticks. Why is that not a thing in America yet?!
On top of going to the gym once, I also did yoga in my room, and went for runs up and down the beach a couple times. I’m normally not a runner but it’s easy to enjoy a run here when you have a gorgeous beach next to you, and you’re also able to soak up some culture along the way. And it’s free!
We saw this on our Easy Riders tour but if you don’t do the tour, you should make it a point to go to the waterfall. It’s a bit of a hike to get to the waterfall we went to, but there are red arrows painted on the rocks showing you the way, which makes it super simple for a solo traveler or inexperienced hikers. Once you get to the waterfall, you can jump off a pretty small “cliff” and into the water. I’m chicken, so I jumped off the smallest rock but it was still fun, and a great place to meet other travelers or locals.
Po Nagar is a popular tourist spot, but one that I think is well worth the trip. If you’re staying in Nha Trang, you can hop in a taxi to get here but it’s close enough to walk to if you’re feeling up to it. Po Nagar, according to Wikipedia, is a “Cham temple tour founded before 781 and located in the medieval principality of Kauthar. It is dedicated to Yan Po Nagar, the goddess of the country, who came to be identified with the Hindu goddesses Bhagavti and Mahishasuramardini.”
History like this is what makes me love travel. Being in the presence of history, art and culture that means so much to other people is a magical experience. You can walk around the temple and go inside of them probably within 30 minutes, so it’s something you can fit in quickly between other activities.
This is something we saw on our Easy Riders tour. You can read the history of the Buddha in the link above, but essentially it’s a huge Buddha sitting on top of a hill with one of the best views of Nha Trang that I saw during my trip. There is some beautiful art leading up to the Buddha, including a dragon mosaic built from glass and tiles, as well.
This is something I recommend you visit on a daily basis if possible. I was fortunate to be staying in an apartment right on top of the beach, so my view out of the window was the vast, endless ocean every single day. There are tons of restaurants on the beach too, so you can play in the ocean for awhile and then head up to a cafe to do some work, people watch, eat and then head back out for some more play time. The ocean is very clean and crystal clear.
One thing I will mention is that Vietnam has a ton of Russian tourists. I probably heard English being spoken five times in total during my stay in Nha Trang, so being on the beach is a surreal experience knowing that you are quite the minority (assuming you are from the US or Canada).
You may want to look into some snorkeling adventures or a scuba diving certification because they are everywhere. I didn’t do either this time since I just went snorkeling in Krabi a couple months ago, but I plan on doing it when we head to Bali or another time during our adventures in Asia.
I’d also recommend you come to the beach for sunrise at least once. The sun rose around 5:20 AM so I only went out to see it once because I like to sleep in a little later than that, but it was totally worth it.
I don’t have a whole lot to say about places to stay in Nha Trang because I stayed here the whole time. My friend Todd has been in Vietnam for the past 3 months, so I crashed at his place once I arrived in Nha Trang, located at the top of the Muong Thanh Center. The bottom half of the building is a hotel, and the top portion has apartments. The price of the apartment was $500/month with a full kitchen, a huge comfortable bed, a TV, and the best view of the ocean in all of Nha Trang. If you were following me on Snapchat during my stay, you know this to be true.
There are plenty of places to stay in Nha Trang besides this one, so I would just spend some time searching hostels or hotels. Either way, I know you will be able to find something within your budget. I can’t say this enough: Asia is very affordable. This same place located in Boulder would probably be $3,000/month.
Eat and Drink
The Sailing Club is one of the best beach cafes that I went to while I was in Nha Trang. It was conveniently located across the street from our apartment, but it was also directly on the beach. They served all types of food which made it easy if you were in a salad mood one day, and a burger mood the next. At the front of the Sailing Club there are large beds you can relax on while drinking a coconut, and towards the back there are tables and bar areas. The entire restaurant is open so you’re constantly feeling the ocean breeze.
Another tidbit: head here on a Saturday night to experience a party on the beach. They set up a stage and have a DJ play music late into the night; it’s one of the most popular things to do on a Saturday night in Nha Trang if you want to drink, dance and meet people.
This is a nice little spot if you want to get some work done (I’m currently here as I write this blog post) and drink one of the strongest coffees of your life.
Tip- if you don’t want sugar in your coffee you have to tell them when you order it or else they will automatically add sugar. I’m pretty sure this rule applies to most everywhere in Asia.
This place has amazing Greek food, and to make it even better, they greet you at the door with a handshake.
Some of the best chicken I’ve ever eaten.
They have an extensive menu, like most places, but I really enjoy this spot at lunch time because at the time I went it wasn’t crazy packed and I could sit right in front of the AC as I people watched.
Ahhhh the fruit stands. There are probably 10 of these on every street, so I recommend you definitely take advantage of them as much as you can. Some of the vendors closer to hotels will try to rip you off because they know they can charge more for the convenience factor, but if you walk past them to the next street, you will stumble upon another one that charges less. Some of our staples were bananas, mangos, passionfruit, papaya, pineapple, and dragonfruit. There are SO many different types of fruits, so try as many as you can while you’re here.
Tuesday night is ladies night, whoop whoop! Though I came here for breakfast, it was still delicious and the view was incredible. This is a nice little spot to get away from the hustle and bustle of the street vendors if you’re looking for something a little quieter. Plus you can go through a mall to get up to the fourth floor where the bar is, and it’s a fun experience to be in a different country’s mall. I mean, it’s not that different from any other mall, but it’s something to check off your list.
The amount of adventures you can have in Nha Trang are endless! All you need is an open mind, a little bit of fearlessness (for crossing the street) and an appetite for learning. There is a lot of history in this beautiful city, so have fun learning as much as you can.
Have you been to Nha Trang, Vietnam or somewhere similar? What did you enjoy doing there? And if not, what are you most excited to do from this list?