Things to Do in Nha Trang
Nha Trang is the most famous beachside resort-town in Vietnam. Clean beaches, beautifully landscaped and peaceful foreshores, sunny skies, a bustling city full of life and culture, delicious food and the most delightful and welcoming people. Nha Trang has a lot to offer everyone.
As a solo female traveller, it is delightful when you arrive at a destination and immediately feel comfortable, welcomed, safe, and excited. Nha Trang certainly ticked all the boxes.
Nha Trang is full of life, with very friendly tuk-tuk drivers, the pleasant characters full of information riding the cyclos around the roads showing travellers the ins and out of the city, to the many book shop owners, market stall vendors and the fresh sea breeze and sparkling waves. The night markets, shopping malls, and supermarkets are also worth a visit and you will definitely not be left hungry with the scrumptious and varying food that Nha Trang offers.
Tran Phu is the heart of the city for travellers, with its pleasant waterfront promenade (and did I mention extremely clean, perfectly maintained and beautifully landscaped). Palm trees stretch right along the 6km stretch of beach. The road along the promenade is quite busy, and restaurants, bars, night markets and resorts line the popular night strip.
Nha Trang has plenty of budget hotels ranging from $8 simple rooms, $20 rooms with en-suites, TVs, wifi as well as high range hotels and resorts with spas, pools and buffet breakfasts. You can quite easily find accommodation to suit your budget and needs. Be aware when arriving, if you have not pre-booked any accommodation that most tuk-tuk, taxi and cyclo drivers are commissioned to take you to certain hotels, so do not feel pressured to stay at a hotel that does not suit your needs. It is quite easy to walk around the condensed main area of hotels and look and bargain with prices.
Diving, Surfing, Biking, Rafting, Sailing
Diving is excellent around the many islands off the shore of Nha Trang. And I should mention it is quite affordable if you are wanting to learn, looking for a divers certification or are an experienced diver – you will have no problem finding many reliable diving companies to suit your needs.
Surfing lessons are available in Nha Trang, with many surf schools set up at Bai Dai beach (approximately 20 kilometres from Nha Trang centre). Sailing is also popular and very cheap to do in Nha Trang (compared to the same type of sailing packages in other countries!). Nha Trang Sailing Club is the place to head to.
Vinpearl is an island just off the coast of Nha Trang. It is recommended to take a cable car over the water to the island, where Vinpearl Resort and Vinpearl land is located. They have restaurants and water attractions including Underwater World Aquarium, a Water Park complete with water slides, wave pools as well as an Amusement Park that has roller coasters, bumper cars, cinema and many other exciting attractions for the kids.
Nha Trang Cathedral
Nha Trang Cathedral is located a few minutes from the train station, in the north of the city, and represents the influence of French Catholicism. It’s quiet, peaceful and free to enter.
Cooking classes are a great way of experiencing the markets, culture and learning something new. Nha Trang has some really good cooking classes on offer, including cyclo trips around markets, guided tours of marketplaces and information about the produce, where it came from as well as information about the market sellers, and then return to the restaurant where you can expect to learn and prepare around 3 – 4 dishes of your choice. The cooking classes in Nha Trang are some of the cheapest, starting at around US$24 per person, and you get to eat your cooking!
There is a cinema at Nha Trang Centre, about the supermarket and shopping mall. Movies are shown in English and ticket prices are a lot cheaper than cinema prices in other South East Asian Countries. This could be a cheap whole family activity one night, and there is also 10 pin bowling in this same centre.
So if you are looking for a beach holiday somewhere in Asia, whether on a backpacking budget or a family resort holiday, then Nha Trang is an option worth considering. With inexpensive transport to the city, and a large range of activities on offer, Nha Trang just might be your next beach holiday destination.
How to Get to Nha Trang
Catching a bus from Ho Chi Minh City is a breeze, with most open tour buses taking around 10 hours to arrive in Nha Trang. If coming from the north, a bus trip from the historical Hoi An will take you 16 hours. These trips can be done either morning, during the day, or through the night as a sleepover trip (backpackers think a free night accommodation).
When booking bus tickets, I would personally avoid the company ‘TM Brothers’ – they have a horrible reputation, and their buses are among the oldest buses, often with broken toilets and seats. The bus station is only a 10-minute walk west from the heart of the city, and tuk-tuk drivers and cyclo taxis are plentiful and are able to take you into the centre if you have a lot of luggage.
If buses are not your thing and you do not mind paying to a flight, then Nha Trang can be accessed through the Cam Ranh Airport (CXR). This airport is built on the old American airbase and is located 30 km from Nha Trang. It is important to note that this airport ONLY SERVES DOMESTIC flights and flights from Russia. So if you are coming from another country you would need to purchase a connecting flight from your destination to Ho Chi Minh city and then on to Nha Trang. There are taxis available at the airport to take you into Nha Trang operating at a fixed rate. If you are staying at a more expensive resort or large hotel then it would be worth asking prior if they provide complimentary airport pick up.
Nha Trang is also connected via train and is one of the many stops along the main railway line connecting Ho Chi Minh City in the South to Hanoi in the North. The railway station is close to the cathedral in the northern part of the city. The journey from Ho Chi Minh City will take between 6-8 hours on a daytime train, although if taking an overnight sleeper train, expect your journey to be around 9 hours.
It is important to consider, when travelling by train, and depending on what time your journey is, that you choose an appropriate seat. If taking the journey as a day trip, then you are only going to need a cushioned air con seat. Overnight you will want to choose a sleeper seat, and these come in various different classes (such as soft seating, hard seating etc), and there is also the choice between either a 4 berth room or 6 berth rooms. Consider your options, ask questions, research online for pictures, to ensure your trip is as enjoyable as it should be (if you are tall and get a top sleeper in a 6 berth room you might not have much fun!).