Nha Trang is Vietnam’s party town, where busloads of hedonists arrive every day looking for a good time. It is also the country’s premier beach resort, although these days it’s getting some stiff competition from places like Mui Ne and Phu Quoc Island. So if lazing on the beach all day and partying in the bars all night sounds like your cup of tea, get yourself to Nha Trang.
The beach in front of town is backed by a broad promenade and with its soft sand, inviting waters and thatched sunshades, it makes as pretty a municipal beach as you are likely to find anywhere. Vendors wander around selling all kinds of snacks, so it’s easy to settle in all day.
Nha Trang Attractions Around Town
Nha Trang has none of the historic feel of cities like Hoi An and Hue – in fact the downtown area is a clutter of unimaginative architecture that could be anywhere in the world. However, there are enough sights around town to keep visitors busy for a few days.
Watersports like parasailing are on offer for the active in Nha Trang. Apart from lounging on the beach, most visitors to Nha Trang also spend a day on a boat trip to the offshore islands, where conditions for diving and snorkelling are much better. Several companies organize such tours, which cost less than US$10 and include lunch and sometimes a ‘floating bar’.
The first stop should be the Po Nagar Cham Towers, located a couple of kilometres north of the city centre. Four red-brick towers exude an aura of great age; not surprising as they date back to the ninth century.
If you’re the type of person who enjoys wallowing in mud, then head for Thap Ba Hot Springs, located down a small lane next to the Cham towers. Here you’ll be able to pretend you’re a water buffalo and soak up the minerals while lying in a bath of mud. Prices vary according to treatments.
One of the city’s most imposing buildings is Nha Trang Cathedral, which sits on a small hill near the railway station. Built in the 1930s, it towers over the town and the vaulted interior is illuminated by coloured light from the stained-glass windows.
At opposite ends of the beach are two unusual museums that provide a good way to get out of the sun for a while. At the top of Tran Phu in the Pasteur Institute, the Alexandre Yersin Museum is worth a look to find out something about this dedicated scientist.
He arrived in Vietnam in 1889, fell in love with the place and did much to improve local sanitation and agricultural methods. These days he is revered as a hero, and his name can be seen on street signs throughout the country. The French-Swiss bacteriologist died in Nha Trang where he established a factory to manufacture an revolutionary anti-plague serum in an attempt to rid the world from preventable disease.
Around six kilometres south of town, beside the busy Cau Da Wharf, the National Oceanographic Institute has some wild exhibits, including whale skeletons, zebra sharks and sea horses, hinting at the treasures concealed beneath the South China Sea.