Updated December 22nd, 2017.
The rumours that you have heard about Nha Trang are probably true. Yes, there are loads of Russian people here. Yes, there are new hotels popping up everywhere. Yes, the tour buses are taking over. But, even though it has changed a lot during the last three years, it’s still an amazing place to visit!
Nha Trang’s 6km-long white sandy beach is widely regarded as the best in Vietnam and is the destination’s biggest draw for many backpackers in need of some ‘beach R & R’ after exploring the country’s busy towns and cities. It’s the nearest you’ll get to your stereotypical ‘beach holiday’ in Vietnam!
After a few days sunbathing on the beach, many backpackers take boat cruises for the day to explore the surrounding coastline and go swimming, snorkelling or diving in the crystal clear waters. For scuba divers, Nha Trang is the number one place to dive in Vietnam.
So, whether you are looking for an adventure, relaxation or cultural experience, we would definitely recommend making Nha Trang part of your travel plans!
Things to do in Nha Trang
Hit the Beach!
Nha Trang has a tropical climate and, with over 300 days of sunshine per year, you really don’t need any winter clothes when you visit. It is the perfect beach destination!
The most popular beach in Nha Trang is Tran Phu Beach. There is a lovely promenade for strolling around and if you go early enough, you will see the beautiful sunrise over Vinpearl island. This beach is very touristy and kitted out with deck chairs and umbrellas for daily rental. This is the main beach so it’s easy to get here.
Four kilometres north of the tourist hub is Hon Chong Rocks. This is a quiet beach with a more local feel. The beach is free to enter but for 22,000 VND, you can visit the famous Boulders of Hon Chong. Go early as it can get busy during the afternoon!
How to get there: The easiest and cheapest way to get here is to take the blue number 4 bus or rent a scooter.
Our favourite place to visit is Bai Dai beach (Long Beach). There are beach shacks where you can order food, beers, listen to music or even rent a surfboard for the day. It’s got a whole “backpacker” vibe that is far away from the main hustle and bustle of the city. Bai Dai is located about 20 km’s south of Nha Trang.
How to get there: The road to the beach is beautiful so if you can, it’s best to rent a motorbike for the day. You can also take the airport bus or rent a taxi.
Snorkeling, Scuba Diving and Boat Trips
Snorkeling and diving are probably the most popular things to do in Nha Trang!
The most famous islands to visit are Mun and Mot Island. These islands are home to beautiful corals and fish species. It was estimated that Mun island has up to 1500 types of coral and marine animals! Book either a half-day ‘fun dive’ with a local dive operator or you can take a 3-day PADI or SSI dive course to gain a certificate which enables you to dive up to 18 metres anywhere in the world.
If fully-fledged diving isn’t for you, take a walk on the bottom of the ocean by visiting Seawalker Nha Trang. The boat trip itself is stunning and your tour will usually include a lovely seafood lunch on the boat or at one of the islands.
Take a day’s Boat Trip:
These can be found everywhere you go in Nha Trang, so look around to spot the deals which include lunch and have the best itineraries. Expect to pay around $10 USD for an island hopping trip. Some even provide onboard entertainment in the form of a coconut-bra clad band!
Tours, Courses & Trips in Nha Trang…
There are some beautiful places to visit in and around Nha Trang and, if you are adventurous enough, you can rent a motorbike for the day and go off the beaten path. The places below are some of the places that we have visited and highly recommend!
The Ponogar towers are located on the edge of the Cai River. These towers were built by the Cham people before 781 AD. The Cham civilization was very influential in South East Asia, especially Vietnam and Cambodia. No wonder there are some similarities between these towers and Angkor Wat. Even though the area is very small, it’s definitely worth a visit. The entrance fee is 22,000 VND and you might also see some traditional dances by the Cham people.
How to get there: You can take the blue Number 4 bus to Ponogar towers.
Long Son Pagoda:
Long Son Pagoda was founded in the late 19th century. As you enter, there is a beautiful temple where you might see a ceremony. To the right of the temple are stairs that will take you to the top of the hill. When you reach the top you will see the 79ft tall white Buddha. From here, you will also be able to see some beautiful views of the city.
You can also take the stairs to the left of the temple. (Not many tourists go this way as they only want to see the Buddha). I love this area of the temple grounds. It is very quiet and as you walk among the graves that are dedicated to previous masters, you might hear some chanting coming from small speaker boxes. There are also some huge statues!
The pagoda is free to enter but make sure to go before/after lunchtime as the main temple hall will be closed during lunchtime.
How to get there: By motorbike or taxi.
Suoi Do Pagoda:
Sui Do pagoda is about a 30-minute drive from Nha Trang. It’s a 50-year-old Buddhist temple situated on top of a mountain. You can visit the pagoda on a tour but do note that It is not on the main tourist path. The pagoda is very tranquil and you will get breathtaking views of the surrounding rice fields and lush green mountains. At the top is a small stream where a young girl was believed to have seen the goddess Quan Am. This is the reason why the pagoda was built here and why many locals visit.
How to get there: By motorbike or tour guide.
Take the Cable Car to Vinpearl Land:
For a different day in Vietnam, this Westernised island hosts Underwater World Aquarium, a Water Park, a roller coaster filled Amusement Park and many small restaurants!
Getting out of the city
If you know how to drive a motorbike, it’s very easy to explore the surrounding areas. Otherwise, you can opt for a motorbike trip with an EasyRider. (They make the best tour guides!) Read more about Easy Riders here.
Hon Ba Nature Reserve:
Hon Ba is a great place to visit for the day! The best way is to rent motorbikes and drive there using Google Maps. There is a road leading to the top of the nature reserve. Here you can stop for a coffee or go for a swim among the rock pools. Make sure to pack lots of water and some food! There aren’t many shops around so it might be difficult to buy something. It’s usually not packed with tourists but locals do like to spend the day here.
Swim in the Waterfalls:
Just a short drive from the city there are a number of beautiful waterfalls, perfect for cooling off in or to get a free ‘Fish Foot Spa’ from the toe-nibbling creatures living in the turquoise pools. The Ba Ho Waterfalls are 20km north of Nha Trang, while the Yang Bay Waterfalls are 40km west… Grab a taxi from town or hire a motorbike as the scenic rides to either make for a good mini-adventure.
A beautiful drive is a day trip to Vinh Hy. It’s a lovely fishing village and you will be amazed by the breathtaking views of the coastal road. Although you need to get onto the main highway at first, the coastal road is very quiet and peaceful. I have even heard that some people call this area the “Maldives” of Vietnam. If you feel up to it, you can also stay over in Vinh Hy for one night before heading back to Nha Trang.
Wallow in Mud:
Just outside of town, you can visit Nha Trang’s famous ‘mineral mud baths,’ which are a popular day’s getaway for backpackers. Thap Ba Hot Springs and Mud Baths charge around 50,000 VND for entry and use of their swimming pools and waterfall, while the mud comes at an extra cost of around 100,000. Look out for packages which include a massage too and really spoil yourself…
Explore the countryside by yourself:
We also love driving around the countryside for the day. You really get to experience the “real Vietnam” as you drive among the rice fields and mango trees. Take the road towards Dak Lak or go to Dalat for a night. It’s really easy to get around if you can drive a motorbike and have Google Maps! Just be adventurous and don’t be scared to ask the locals for help.
Shopping at Dam Market:
You can buy fresh produce at any of the local markets. This is where you will get the best deals on fresh fruit, vegetables and meat. You can visit any of the local markets but the most popular is Xom Moi market and Dam market.
Dam market is the most popular market to visit among tourists. Here you can find anything from dried fruit, fresh vegetables, clothes and souvenirs. It is always buzzing with people so we do recommend that you go early. There is no set price for anything so you can bargain with the locals to give you a better price.
How to get there: Take the blue number 4 bus or taxi.
Take a cooking class with Lanterns Restaurant:
I loved learning more about the local cuisine on this cooking tour! The guides are very professional and will also show you where you can buy fresh produce. At first, we were very scared to buy food at the local markets but now we shop here all the time! If you want to know what is wrapped inside that banana leaf, don’t be scared to ask! They will make sure to tell you or even better, buy one for you to try! During our cooking class, we made three dishes. A starter, main and dessert. It was loads of fun and we met some people from all around the world. Not only is this a great way to meet new people and learn more about the culture, but Lanterns Restaurant are also passionate about giving back to the community. For more information contact Lanterns Restaurant.
For the Digital Nomads and Freelancers:
If you are travelling to Vietnam and looking for a coworking space, the friendly folks at CoLab would love to welcome you! This recently opened space is specifically designed for people looking for a place to work while travelling. The space is fully equipped with all necessities including fibre-optic internet as well as printing and scanning facilities. Daily rates are as low as $3 USD. They say…
“We don’t like to call ourselves an office, but rather a home where you can meet new people and share ideas. We are here to help you with anything you need. Since we are also very passionate about community work, we can also arrange some volunteering with local enterprises.”
Nightlife in Nha Trang
Nha Trang has a very lively night scene for backpackers and tourists alike! There are a huge number of bars and restaurants providing free live music to pass away your evenings… Ask around and pick the genre for you, from Mexican or traditional Vietnamese, to open mic nights. Take along your dancing shoes!
What to eat in Nha Trang?
There are so many options for street food and restaurants to visit! From vegetarian dishes to pizzas, there really is something for everyone! You can’t visit Vietnam without trying some of the famous street food!
Head to Da Tuong Street (Close to main Tran Phu street): This street is usually filled with banh mi and sugarcane stands during the day. Come evening time you will see the stalls change selling anything from Bo Ne, Com Suon (rice with meat), Com Ga (Rice with chicken) and plenty more. The small “restaurants” have plastic chairs and is usually buzzing with locals. We love walking down this street and seeing all the different options of food available. Here are some more things to try:
Phở: This is a famous Vietnamese noodle soup with noodles, fresh herbs and meat. Don’t get a fright if the meat is raw, it is usually cooked in the soup.
Xôi: This is a Vietnamese dish that can be sweet or savoury. It is usually made from rice and beans. Sometimes they add coconut shavings and pieces of cold meat. (It all depends on the vendor). I love having this for breakfast! You can usually buy it at the local markets.
Bahn Mi: Bahn Mi carts are everywhere in Nha Trang! For around 15,000 VND you can buy a fresh french baguette with cucumber, salad, cold meats and hot sauce! Order Bahn Mi Opla for breakfast that includes an egg on top.
Banh Xeo (Vietnamese pancake): These are sold on the streets. It’s a savoury pancake made with rice flour. There is usually a variety of fillings such as pork and shrimp. Herbs are also added and it is served with a dipping sauce.
Bo Ne: Bo Ne is Vietnam’s version of steak and eggs and one of our favourite dishes! Even though the Vietnamese say that you should eat this for breakfast, it also makes for a great dinner! It’s usually served with bread (banh mi) and a super yummy sauce!
Seafood (Hai San): If you love seafood you will be happy to know that Nha Trang boasts plenty of seafood restaurants. From local to western cuisine, you will find anything you need. Thap ba street has some of the best seafood restaurants.
Sugarcane juice (nuoc mia): Sugarcane juice is very refreshing on a hot summer’s day! It is freshly made and usually, they will also add some lime to it. You can find these stalls everywhere and it’s usually around 8,000 VND for one.
Where to Stay in Nha Trang?
Nha Trang has plenty of accommodation options for you to chose from. Personally, booking through Airbnb will give you a much more local experience than staying in one of the hotels in the tourist area. It all depends on your budget.
“Mini-hotel alley” at 64 Tran Phu: Tucked down an alleyway not far from the beach and the nightlife, this is where you’ll find a number of cheap guesthouses and hostels. Most rooms here are less than $15 USD a night and have en-suite bathrooms and air conditioning.
Sun House: When we first arrived in Nha Trang, we stayed at Sun House. We found them on facebook and really loved our time here. The room is very private with your own bathroom. You will also get to spend time with the local family. They will show you around the area and also make sure that you have everything you need. There are plenty of local restaurants to check out and it’s very close to the beach.
Other options include: (Please note that we have not stayed at any of these places)
- Ccasa Hostel: A trendy looking hostel that has been built using old shipping containers. Dorm rooms start at around $7 USD per night.
- Bayview Boutique Hostel: A new funky hotel in the North of Nha Trang. This is a great location as it is close to the local bus stop and opposite the beach.
Where to go next?
From Nha Trang, it is very easy to travel North or South. We have an international airport for a quick flight to Ho Chi Minh City, or you can take the train up to Danang. It’s really up to you!
Mui Ne: Looking for more beach time in Vietnam? Head to the 10km stretch of sands at Mui Ne heading south towards Ho Chi Minh City.
Ho Chi Minh City: The biggest, busiest and most modern city in Vietnam is buzzing with life – and the sound of millions of motorbikes!
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