Complete Guide to NHA TRANG

(Updated October 2018)

I’d heard bad things about Nha Trang – mainly that it’s the cradle of nasty mass tourism. But I wanted a couple of beach days on my route up North so I bit the bullet. And what can I say – it was not so bad after all.

 

Lobster Lady in Nha Trang
Comfortable tourist life: This lovely lady brings fresh cooked lobster and shrimps to the beach – melts in your mouth!

Yes, it’s very…developed, i. e. there are many big – probably all inclusive – hotels inhabited mainly by many big Russian tourists, who quietly hang out on the beach, so that’s fine. There is the classic touristy infrastructure with cafés and restaurants and souvenir shops. But everything is set up really nicely and it’s very well-tended. Along the fine beach runs a promenade with sculptures on trimmed lawns – if you’ve ever been to a touristy beach, you get the picture.

But compared to Mui Ne I liked it much better: It’s a standard, developed touristy beach destination. Period. Mui Ne is rather a dump – it’s not really deserted, it’s not really developed, it’s not very pretty; so if you just want a couple of days on the beach and for what reason ever cannot go South to e. g. Phu Quoc, Nha Trang is the better deal.

The beach is nice, but the waves are high and the current is wicked’n’wild.

Nope, I would not spend a three weeks holiday here. Yes, for three days it was absolutely fine.
I did stay at a cute little guest house in a back alley and did spend the days mostly on a rented beach bed on the beach. That’s the thing with this part of Viet Nam: the ocean is quite rough and there are big waves, so you have to be really careful.

 

Back Alley in Nha Trang
A back alley in Nha Trang – they sure have electricity here.

There is a city to be visited which is actually quite nice, but since cities were on my agenda everywhere else, I just went one afternoon. There is a lot of Vietnamese everyday life to be observed and a couple of sights like the Long-Sơn-Pagoda to be visited.

At the Eastern end of the city beach is Po Nagar. I walked there for about an hour along the beach; it was ok, but you don’t miss out on much if you take a cab.

 

Sleeping man in Nha Trang
Observation No. 1: Vietnamese are a very serene people and do sleep everywhere.

Lady working out in Nha Trang
Observation No. 2: Vietnamese are a highly sporty people. Everywhere you go, you see them working out. Here on the way to Po Nagar along the beach promenade.

The temple complex itself is nice and uphill so you have a good view. Talking about views, obviously, Viet Nam’s cities mainly developed after the end of the war in the 70s, hence this shows on the architecture: big, socialist, charmless concrete buildings that now destroy the silhouette on our holiday pics.

 

Not that any one of the sun worshipers cares, but Swiss-born Alexandre Yersin, who worked with Louis Pasteur, developed i. a. an anti-plague-serum that he manufactured in Nha Trang. He died in the city in 1943 – and according to this monument, he still is remembered by someone.

Back to old architecture: Po Nagar is an ancient Hindu temple complex from the Cham empire, installed in the 8th century and extended in the 9th. The main temple, the ‘Kalan’, from the 11th century, is the last great structure from the Cham architecture.

 

Cham Musicians at Po Nagar
Cham musicians at Po Nagar.

It’s also totally worth it leaving the beach area and stroll along the streets of Nha Trang to see what life is like. Make sure to climb up the hill to the Long Sơn Pagoda on Hai Mươi Ba Tháng Mười, Nha Trang most important place of worship.

 

The reclining Buddha at the Long Sơn Pagoda seems to be very happy….

 

….with the fancy pedicure he got.

Since I had only three weeks for my trip, instead of taking the bus, I chose to fly from Nha Trang to Hoi An – respectively Da Nang which is the closest airport to Hoi An.

 

Do you want to read about all the other beautiful places I’ve visited in Viet Nam? 
Then go to the main post and take your pick!


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