With a population of 300,000, Nha
Trang is the closest thing to a European resort centre in Vietnam, but still retains its Vietnamese culture and its
small town atmosphere. The city is flanked by nearly ten
kilometres of prime beach and benefits from an all-year-round
warm climate and an attractive archipelago of offshore islands.
Further out in the East Sea are the Spratly islands,
mostly occupied by Vietnam but claimed by several south-east
Asian countries including China.
city is well-served by transport links. Both the railway and
Highway 1 runs past, and a new international airport has just
opened on the site of a wartime US airstrip at nearby Cam
beach is mostly backed by palms and firs, and a row of restaurants
and cafes fronting on to a seafront road that runs the length
of the city. Most of Nha Trang's hotels are on the landward
side of the road and further back in the city. Notable exceptions
are two up-market resort hotels, one a small establishment
located on the seaward side of the beach road at its southern
extremity, and the other much larger, hidden from view in
a secluded bay on the far side of Hon Tre Island.
sea is Nha Trang's main attraction. Warm and clear for most
of the year, with sandy beaches and rocky islands with coral
reefs, it has become the most popular destination in Vietnam
for scuba diving, snorkelling, water sports and sunbathing.
trips around the bay and up the Cai River are also popular.
plenty of choice for places to eat – Vietnamese, Asian and
international, and prices are good. The Louisiana Café does
excellent pastries and has a good swimming pool free for customers.
The Italian and Indian restaurants next to the Nha Trang Sailing
Club are worth a visit.
Nagar Cham Towers are an impressive sight. Built between
the 7th and 12th centuries on a site overlooking the Cai River,
it was used by Cham Hindus.
far from the Po Nagar Towers is the excellent Thap Ba Spa.
Natural hot mineral water and mud is pumped up to feed a series
of open-air mud baths and mineral showers on terraces on the
mountainside. The baths and showers are a treat – unless you
have a thing about privacy, the communal baths are the best
deal by far. You don't need equipment: a towel and a baggy
swimming costume comes as part of the package.
you've finished wallowing, there's a splendid hot mineral
water pool to lounge in as long as you wish. Massage and body
treatments are also available. All this is located in a gorgeous
garden of paper trees and hibiscus. Not to be missed!
Dai’s Villa sounds an interesting place to stay, but the reality
is a disappointment. The state rooms would have has a tremendous
view in the Emperor’s day, but now they look out at an ugly
aluminium and glass restaurant.
Long Son Pagoda is impressive inside and out. Above the pagoda
on the top of a hill is. a giant seated Buddha that dominates
the city. The 152 steps are worth the effort because the views
around Nha Trang are references to the Dr.
Alexandre Yersin, a Swiss-French microbiologist who lived
much of his life in Nha Trang and is famous as the person
who first identified the plague bacillus in 1894. The Pasteur
Institute he founded is still active, and his library and
office on the second floor is a museum.