Nha Trang is Vietnam’s premier beach destination. Generally, I’m not all that interested in places like this, but after a couple of weeks of active travel in the country, I was glad to get some relaxing beach time. I was also surprised to find that there is more to Nha Trang than just lazing on the beach; not that there’s anything wrong with doing just that.
Things to do in Nha Trang
Obviously, most people come to Nha Trang for the beaches, but there are a few more things to do around town if you get bored.
Hit the beach
The main beach in Nha Trang is pretty popular, and rightly so, but it is also a nice long stretch of sand, so it’s not too hard to get some space to yourself. The beach drops off pretty quickly so it’s great for swimming! As expected, there are lots of beach chairs and restaurants along the beach. I asked around at a few different places and they all charged 50,000 Dong ($2.50) for a beach chair for the day. Most also have umbrellas so that you can move your chair in and out of the sun, and you can always get drinks delivered straight to you.
If you want to get away from the crowds, head to the south of the main beach, or head to the small beach north of Hon Chong Promontory.
Po Nagar Cham Towers
Located a couple of kilometres north of central Nha Trang, Po Nagar is a set of four ancient Cham Towers, built between the 7th and 12th centuries. They sit on top of a hill overlooking the harbour and are in excellent condition. The view of the harbour is well worth visiting even if you aren’t interested in the towers.
Entrance to Po Nagar costs 20,000 Dong ($1) and if you go by bicycle like I did, it costs 1000 Dong to park your bike.
Hon Chong Promontory
This rocky headland separates the main beach in Nha Trang and the smaller northern beach. It’s a scenic spot that provides great views of the coconut palm fringed beaches and the islands out to sea. It’s located not far from Po Nagar, so you could easily visit Po Nagar and then head to Hon Chong and the nearby beaches.
Long Son Pagoda
It was a bit of a scary bicycle ride through the busy Nha Trang traffic, but it was worth it to visit Long Son. The pagoda itself is interesting with it’s impressive artwork, but I found the best part was the huge white Buddha located on the hill behind the pagoda. It’s a bit of a climb up lots of stairs, but worth it for the Buddha and the views of the city.
Visiting Long Son Pagoda is free, but you will be hassled to buy postcards from people who claim to be students. You don’t have to do this, so don’t feel too pressured to do so. It cost me 5000 Dong ($0.25) to park my bicycle.
Where to stay in Nha Trang
There is no shortage of budget accommodation in Nha Trang, so even if you don’t book ahead, you won’t have trouble finding somewhere to stay. Just head along Hung Vuong and the alleys that run off it.
Saint Paul Hotel
We booked this hotel before we arrived and were glad that we did. For $12 per night we got a large room with a king sized bed, private bathroom, hot water, air con and a window. Breakfast was also included in the price and served up on the rooftop terrace. The staff were friendly and went out of their way to find a bicycle for me to rent. They didn’t hassle us at all to book tours/tickets through them, which is a fairly rare in Vietnam. Highly recommend this place!
To find it, head towards the south end of Hung Vuong. Saint Paul Hotel (and a few others) are located in a large alley just off the left side. There are usually a few baguette/drink stalls set up at the entrance to the alley.
Where to eat in Nha Trang
As expected from a popular beach destination, I found that there are quite a lot of expensive restaurants in Nha Trang, but if you don’t want to eat baguettes every day, there are a few cheap places to check out.
Cafe Des Amis
Located at the end of Trang Quang Khai (where it turns a corner to become a separate street), Cafe Des Amis has plenty of cheap and tasty food, with lots of vegetarian options.
Kirin is located at the beach end of Biet Thu and has plenty of options for fairly decent prices compared to other restaurants in the area.
Baguettes are the real backpacker food in Vietnam, and they are very cheap and tasty. They set up all over the place in Nha Trang and they make a great lunch. There is a lady who sells really tasty vegetarian baguettes all day long near the end of Hung Vuong (just down the road from Saint Paul Hotel) for 10,000 Dong ($0.50).
Coffee and Drinks Stalls
If you’re a coffee nut like me, then you’ll be happy to find heaps of street side coffee and drinks stalls in Nha Trang. There is a lady across the road from the alley where Saint Paul Hotel is located that does great iced coffees (ca phe sua da) for 10,000 Dong ($0.50), amongst plenty of other beverages. I also saw people ordering eggs and baguettes from her.
Getting to and around Nha Trang
We got to Nha Trang by taking a sleeper bus from Hoi An which cost 300,000 Dong ($15) and took about 11 hours, arriving at 6am. You can get buses to/from Nha Trang from most major destinations in Vietnam. Nha Trang also has a train station which is connected to the main railway line, and if you have the money and want to save time, the airport is about 30km outside of town, providing flights to major cities in Vietnam.
If you’re in Nha Trang just to go to the beach, then walking is the best way to get around. If you want to venture to some of the other sites, you can easily find taxis (Mai Linh Taxi) and xe oms (motorbike taxis), and you can also rent bicycles and motorbikes/scooters. Nha Trang is a busy place with lots of traffic, so only rent a motorbike if you really know what you are doing. I rented a bicycle for 40,000 Dong ($2) for the day from my hotel.