Nha Trang is pitched as the top beach resort town in Vietnam. It’s a 50 minute flight from Saigon and we decided to give it a try. Unfortunately, we never had beach weather the entire time we were there but I found this laid back town so charming that I could easily have spent another week there waiting for the sky to turn blue. While the beach may not be the kind of pristine white sand that you’d find in Boracay, it’s very well maintained, including a narrow strip of park that runs along the entire length, several kilometers of outdoor art, sculpted trees and bushes, peaceful places to sit.
The tourist section of the town stretches back for two blocks from the beach and is filled with travel agents, salons, t-shirt shops, restaurants and bars that are clearly aimed at a foreign crowd. Aside from the selection of western restaurants, all of the Vietnamese ones had large sections of western food on their menus. There’s a very small night market and a lot of outdoor coffee shops as well. Russians clearly make up a large percentage of tourists here and you’ll see signs and menus in Russian as well as encountering plenty of Vietnamese who appear to be fluent in Russian. There are some islands right off the shore including one that has a resort and theme park called Vinpearl which can be reached by boat or by cable car. I decided to give it a pass.
Our first day and night was spent walking around this touristy part of town. For our second day, with the skies still gray, we did a spa day. There’s a famous spa just outside of town. We decided to live it up so we went for a VIP package for two. This included a private room (with bed, double-sized jacuzzi, TV and other amenities), a swim in their hot springs pool, mud baths, herbal jacuzzi, 90 minutes massage, a host of salon options, lunch, transport to and from the hotel – all of which came out to about US$150 for the two of us and we were there for about 6 hours.
The drive to and from the spa gave us an idea of the rest of the town and on the third day we decided to explore some of that area. We started with the Po Nagar Towers, which date back to the 8th century. If you’ve been to Angkor Wat, this ain’t much – but it’s okay enough I suppose.
You do get a great view of the city from here.
We went walking in search of food, preferably banh mi, but we came to this corner place selling Banh Xeo – Vietnamese crepes or pancakes, in this case stuffed with fresh squid and veggies, with lots of greens served on the side of course.
Walking a bit more, we came upon a place where they were charcoal grilling pork chops in the street. They smelled so good, we couldn’t resist.
A bit more walking and we came upon two small temples, side by side. I went into the courtyard of each to take pictures. At the second one, they motioned for me to wait while someone ran around to the back and opened up the temple so I could see inside.
Meanwhile my gf found this cart where a woman was putting pieces of banana into sticky rice, wrapping the whole thing up in banana leaves, grilling it and serving the result with condensed milk. Yum.
Just US$1 and seriously nice. After that, we went to one of the town’s two main markets, Dam Market.
Some shopping and, yeah, some more eating, at this very tourist-friendly banh mi cart that let you mix and match from more than a dozen different kinds of meat and sausage:
Dinner (yes, we had room for more food!) our last night in town was around this area:
I really enjoyed Nha Trang and would gladly return. I’ll leave you with some photos of some of the people we encountered there: