Nha Trang – Vietnam’s Coastal Jewel

Nha Trang - Vietnam's Coastal Jewel

practicing Tai Chi on the beach of Nha Trang

Beach Essentials

When: August – when its cool and dry
Happenings: learn Tai Chi, villa retreats and sea cruises
Remember to bring: A map for Tai Chi – saves getting sand in your face.

Where It’s At

Vietnam has 2,000 miles of coastline, much of it underdeveloped in the way of tourism, though heavily populated with traditional fishing villages and towns. Nha Trang, on the south-central coast, is the exception, and since the 1960′s has emerged as the country’s top tourist resort.

image: nha trang map

If youre looking for out of the way relaxation, this is not the place to come; 5 star hotels and resorts are popping up along the main beach area, and the vendors could win awards for being among the world’s most persistent. But the seafood here is marvellous, and all along the main street, Tran Phu, are seafood restaurants serving abalone, scallops, chilli crabs, broiled fish and deepfried prawns, for just a few US dollars a dish.

The town’s beach itself is pleasant, and is an interesting place to come in the early morning, watching the locals wake up and greet the day with badminton games, tai chi exercises, and martial arts classes. Vendors sell baugettes on which to snack and coffee, served hot and sweet is cheap and easily available.
To get away from Nha Trang, head north to Doc Let Beach, a 30 mile journey up Highway 1. Theres a nicer beach here, less touristy though the touts are quite persistent as well. Fresh crabs are kept alive in the surf for laid back barbeques in the sand.

Climate

Note that the dry season in Nha Trang is different from Ho Chi Minh City – June to October are the summer months, though it does get cool in the evenings.

Highlights

Tai Chi on the Beach
Join the locals practising the martial art on the beach at dawn.

Stay at Bao Dai’s Villas
Until his abdication in 1945, these villas were the coastal retreat of the last Emperor of Vietnam. The villas boast surrounding views across the South China Sea, Nha Trang Bay and Cau Da Dock.

Cruise the neighbouring islands
Join a day-cruise to the islands nearby, and at the same time sample local delicacies prepared by the crew. Though some coral has been damaged by anchors, there are still areas where you can swim with the fishes.

Cham Towers
Before the Vietnamese inhabited the area, Nha Trang was part of the Cham Empire, an Indianized kindgom that stretched from Da Nang to the Mekong Delta. All that remains are several towers in the north of NhaTrang which can be visited easily on a motorbike.

By Jess Halliday