Fun-filled Nha Trang

This city in southern Vietnam is often overshadowed by more famous coastal resorts like Phu Quoc or Danang, but Nha Trang has more than enough on offer to be considered a top destination.

With its perennially warm climate and curvaceous sandy beaches, it’s no wonder Nha Trang is sometimes referred to as the “Riviera of the South China Sea”. The waters surrounding the city are clean, clear, and teeming with marine life. As such, diving and snorkelling are among the most popular activities undertaken by travellers here.

The city also offers a plethora of sightseeing and recreational activities. From exploring ancient temples to hunting down the best of Vietnamese street food, Nha Trang tantalises and excites at every turn.

Read on to find out the best things in the city to eat, drink, see, buy, and do.

 

EAT

Vietnam is well known for its street-food culture, and Nha Trang is no different. Across the city, there are pockets of local food stalls serving a wide variety of tasty grub. Bo kho is a dish of beef brisket stewed in romatic spices, then served with carrots and potatoes in a hearty stew, which you can eat either with noodles or a banh mi (Vietnamese-style baguette). Another must-try local dish is the banh xeo pancakes made with rice flour, water, and turmeric. The batter is pan-fried on a griddle and stuffed with fillings of your choice.

If you prefer dining at restaurants, Yen’s Restaurant is a hot favourite among locals and tourists alike. Its wide variety of Vietnamese dishes includes shrimp spring rolls, beef rice noodle soup, and grilled pork ribs served with a moreish sweet and sour sauce. Another crowd-puller is Lanterns, which serves both local and international dishes in a casual, laid-back space. Lanterns also works with the community, and once a week, the restaurant provides free lunches to locals and those in need.

Need a break from Viet fare? Head over to Le Petit Bistro, which serves traditional French and Italian home cooking at prices that won’t break the bank.

 

DRINK

You can’t leave Vietnam without having a swig of bia hoi, a type of draft beer easily found in small bars and street corners. One of the best places to enjoy a cold, frothy mug of ale is Nghia Bia Hoi, a local joint that serves a light lager and a darker brown beer.

Mass-produced lager not for you? You’ll be pleased to discover that the craft beer movement in Nha Trang is burgeoning, with several microbreweries emerging on the scene. Leading the way is Louisiane Brewhouse, which serves unique brews such as the Louisiane Pilsner, a crisp and refreshing lager that is a perfect accompaniment to spicy dishes; and the Red Ale, a robust and fruity beer with surprising floral notes. Head up to the rooftop bar at Skylight Nha Trang, where you can enjoy speciality cocktails and a panoramic view of the city skyline.

Teetotallers, fret not – Nha Trang has plenty of great café options for you to get your caffeine fix. Alpaca Homestyle Café offers a cute and cosy nook to sip on aromatic coffee, sourced from Dalat, the capital of southern Vietnam’s Central Highlands. Another popular spot to enjoy a cup of joe is the An Café, an eco-friendly coffee shop constructed entirely out of wood and decorated with vintage images of yesteryear Vietnam.

 

SEE

When you’re ready for some sightseeing, Nha Trang has several historical sites worth visiting. Long Son Pagoda, which was built in the late 19th century, features an impressive 79 feet-tall Buddha as well as sweeping views of the entire city; Po Nagar is a Cham-era temple tower that dates back to 781 AD and is an archaeological wonder you shouldn’t miss.

When it comes to natural wonders, Ba Ho Waterfalls is a top choice. Located about 40 minutes away by car, Ba Ho is made up of three natural waterfalls and a pristine lake surrounded by thick, lush rainforest, offering an ideal spot for trekking and swimming.

For a quintessential Nha Trang experience, you need to try a mud bath. While this treatment is now available across Vietnam, Nha Trang offers the most sophisticated facilities in the country. Located about 40 minutes away by car, Ba Ho is made up of three natural waterfalls and a pristine lake surrounded by thick, lush rainforest. The spa also offers other facilities such as the mineral waterfall, hydrotherapy wall, and swimming pool.

 

SHOP

Before you leave Nha Trang, be sure to stock up on some souvenirs. Dam Market is the biggest in the city and stocks everything you could possibly imagine under one roof – from food and souvenirs to apparel and electronics. Another market to visit is the Nha Trang Night Market, an atmospheric bazaar where you can put your bargaining skills to the test.

If you’ll like to pick up some locally made clothing, Bambou Company hawks a wide variety of apparel made with organic and natural fibres such as bamboo, eucalyptus, beech tree, soybean, and coffee. Over at LIVINcollective, you can experience unique concept that combines a BBQ restaurant with a retail concept store and a co-working creative space. Locals and expats alike wander in here to enjoy the American-style BBQ and poke around the local brands featured in the boutique.

With its paradisiacal scenery coupled with a buzzing, cosmopolitan vibe, Nha Trang is becoming one of Vietnam's most visited cities.

 

DO

The South China Sea is omnipresent – you see, smell, and hear it everywhere you go. Hon Mun Island Marine Park, in Nha Trang Bay, is a governmentprotected area of water where scuba divers and snorkellers are treated to an abundance of marine life – both macro and micro.

If you prefer staying above water, there are plenty of beaches in and around the city to choose from. While Nha Trang Beach is undoubtedly the most happening strip of coastline, those looking for some peace and quiet should visit Bai Duong Beach, just a 10-minute drive north of downtown Nha Trang. With far fewer tourists – and touts – this serene spot offers a respite from the madding crowd.