To those who have not been to Vietnam, Nha Trang is a province located approximately 400+ km up north of Ho Chi Minh. It is well known for its amazing beach. I am not really a beach person but I do love the sight of it. I was travelling in Da Nang, Hue and Hoi An and decided to stop by Nha Trang before heading down to Ho Chi Minh (Saigon).
Prior to my arrival, I heard mixed reviews of the place. Some travellers seem to enjoy Nha Trang while some do not really like it. But I am still going to check it out anyway. I bought a 12 hours overnight sleeper bus ticket from Hoi An to Nha Trang and decided to explore a little.
I am not going to make a statement on whether I love it here or not. Just a quick thoughts of what I think about this place. This article would be my mixed thoughts of Nha Trang along with a quick guide on what you can do there. Read along.
Russians are everywhere! The ratio of Russian tourists to other foreign tourists is 10:2. I am not kidding! This is the first stop where I do not see as much Chinese or European Tourists as compared to the Russian tourists. This is to the extent that signboards, menus and etc. have a Russian translation. Most restaurants and tour agency have Russian workers helping to promote and communicate with other Russian tourists.
I would admit that it is a pretty interesting sight! Restaurant and bars are filled by Russian people as well. To be honest, there are times that you forget that you are in Vietnam. So I did some research (more like googling) on why Russians are everywhere here.
Nha Trang was well known by Russians when the Navy began using Cam Ranh port as their biggest territory base out of Russia. But this had ceased and now the port is turned into a civil port by Vietnamese. The huge Russian influence here attracts lots of Russian tourist and expats to move and travel here. You can read more here.
Having said that, I find it rather interesting as it is not every day you see a place filled with Russians. Of course you do if you travel to Russia.
Amazing Stretch of Beach
There is nothing much to do in Nha Trang City except visiting some of the attractions nearby. The place is popular for the beaches so most tourists are there for that! There are lots of islands nearby which are another plus for those that would want to island hop and snorkelling. All that can be easily arranged through tour booking.
If you have been wanting to take up scuba diving, there are plenty diving company to choose from which you can get your PADI open diving certificate. I am not sure about the pricing of the course but here is one I randomly stumbled upon online. The pricing should be ranging around this. Koh Tao, Thailand would still be the cheapest place to get certified I suppose.
Party Town And Crazy Nightlife
Apart from the beach, Nha Trang is a place where people party hard! There are beach clubs and parties almost every night. This again is populated by Russian tourist as well as other locals and foreign tourist. If you love to party, this is definitely a place you will love. Chilling on the beach in the morning and party on the beach at night.
But if you are someone that does not really fancy partying, you can always opt to chill by the beach stargazing! Here’s two party area by the beach. I do not know any further details as I did not go there. Just a quick walk by.
Expensive and Extremely Touristy
The one thing I dislike about Nha Trang is the fact that the place has become extremely touristy. This is predominantly contributed by the huge amount of Russian tourist flooding the place. In that sense, everything is expensive! I was in Hoi An before travelling over to Nha Trang. I thought the food in Hoi An was expensive but that was before I seen the price of things here in Nha Trang.
To put things into perspective, a bowl of noodles in Da Nang is approximately VND 20,000 (cheapest I found) but the food here in Nha Trang is above VND40,000. There is cheap food too but you will need to travel away from the beach area which is only possible if you rent a scooter or walk.
Alternatively, you can stay away from the beach (touristy spot) and things may be cheaper but it will be inconvenient to go to the beach.
Night Market and Street Food Turn down
I love visiting night market and eating street food as I always find street food the best food compared to overpriced restaurant food. If you visit Hanoi or any parts of Vietnam, they do have a stretch of night market. Similar to Nha Trang, they do have their night market but you can literally finish walking down the market in less than 5 minutes. The fact that there are lots of Russian tourists here, the 70 metres length night market is opened just to serve the Russian tourist (based on reviews on Trip Advisor)
But chances are, you will still visit it as there is nothing much you can do anyway! Food, on the other hand, is everywhere but good street food is hard to come by. I walked up and down searching for some street food but I do not see any. What you will find is lots of restaurant selling overpriced Vietnamese food. The cheapest bowl of Pho I see is VND40,000 and that itself is rare to come by.
However, if you are here for some good seafood, you will not be delighted as there are seafood restaurant everywhere. I even stumbled upon a seafood buffet restaurant that serves snakes and crocodile meat.
Attractions you can visit in Nha Trang
Waterfalls – There are a number of waterfalls nearby but the popular one is Ba Ho Waterfall. It is also well known for its cliff jumping activity. You certainly can’t get there by foot. The best way to get there is by scooter. Alternatively, you can arrange for a tour there.
Alexandre Yersin Museum- A place museum lovers would appreciate. You can read more on the museum on Lonely Planet. But in short, this is a museum that showcases Dr. Alexandre Yersin’s work in which he founded Nha Trang’s Pasteur Institute in 1895 and introduced rubber and quinine-producing trees to Vietnam.
Snorkelling- There are lots of islands nearby in which you can go for snorkelling and diving. One of the activities popular over here in Nha Trang. Most of the activities can be arranged through daily tours. Keep a look out if it is the right timing for these activities.
Party and chill at the lounge– There are a number of beach lounges and clubs along the beach you can head over. But expect to pay a lot more. Nha Trang is one of the places that has a crazy party nightlife.
Shop around– There are a few places you can choose from. I do not find it that interesting but still a place you want to check out if you have the time. You can explore Dam Market, Nha Trang centre (shopping mall) and their night market.
Head over to Yang Bay– Over in Yang Bay, there are 3 different sets of falls; Yang Bay, Yang Khang, and Ho Cho. A place you can consider getting to when you are tired of the beach. It is located away from the beach, approximately 40+km away. Thus, the best way to get there is by tour or scooter riding.
Visit Long Son Pagoda– If you love visiting pagodas, then this is a place you can visit. It is located nearby the beach in which you can reach by foot. Over here, you can witness the White Buddha.
Laze on the beach and stargaze at night– Nha Trang is famous for its beaches. If you love the beach, you can even spend the entire day on the beach. Chilling, sunbathing, swimming during the day and lying on the beach stargazing at night.
Places to stay in Nha Trang
There a number of options to choose from depending on your budget. A few considerations you need to think through before making your reservation. Hostels which are close to the beach are more expensive than those which are located further away from the beach. You can always choose to book the one further away but you will need to travel quite a distance to the beach.
I stayed in iFriends as the other was fully booked but I do not recommend as it is pretty dirty. Here are some backpacker hostels which are cheap and close to the beach (with good reviews).
To say that Nha Trang is an amazing place would not be right and to say that it is a place not worth visiting is not exactly true as well. I am not really sure if I actually like this place but I am glad I stopped by.
Have you been to Nha Trang?
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