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Nha Trang

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Nha Trang is Vietnam’s most famous seaside resort-town. It's more lively and urban in character than other beach destinations like Mui Ne and Phu Quoc. It's also the scuba diving center of Vietnam.

Understand

Traces of human settlement in Nha Trang date back to the Cham Empire, though in times of Vietnamese rule, there wasn’t much more than small fishing villages. The French recognized that this beautiful bay, with its islands and white sand beaches, made for a perfect bathing spot, and began the transformation into a resort town. American soldiers agreed, and Nha Trang became a favorite vacation stop during the war.

The monsoon season is from October to mid December. Sea winds can be heavy, and sometimes the weather can get pretty chilly. Summer, naturally, brings many vacation goers into town and hotel rooms get somewhat more difficult to find.

Get in

By plane

Cam Ranh Airport (CXR), built on the grounds of an old American airbase in 2004, is located 30km from the city and serves only domestic destinations. Taxi fare from the airport to downtown locations is a fixed rate of 260,000 VND (with Nha Trang Taxi Company - maroon color taxi) though many hotels have their own buses. Do not offer to go by the meter here as it is about 100,000 VND more expensive than the fixed rate. A cheaper option is to take the airport bus at 40,000 VND to the old Nha Trang Airport.

By train

Nha Trang is a stop on the main railway-line connecting Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC or Saigon). The railway station is close to the cathedral in the northern part of town. If you want a soft-sleeper (the highest class available on Vietnamese trains), book your train ticket directly at the train station as far in advance as you are able. Having a private travel agent book this ticket will quite often result in you paying the agent for a soft-sleeper — the agent will book a hard-sleeper and you will not know until you board the train and it is too late to make changes. This is one of the most common scams in Vietnam!

The journey to Nha Trang only takes between 6-7 hours so a sleeper is not really necessary, a cushioned seat in the AC car costs 190,000 VND.

A new sleeper train is available from HCMC to NhaTrang and on to Hanoi. For 535,000 VND (HCMC to Nha Trang Jan. 2009) book a soft sleeper on the Blue Train - much nicer and cleaner.

By bus

Most open tour buses arrive from Ho Chi Minh City in the south (10-12 hours) and Hoi An to the north (10 hours). They drop their passengers in the main tourist area around Bien Thu, while the public bus station is at 58, 23 Thang 10, about a 10 minute walk west of the center.

By car

Private car rental with a driver are usually modern air-con cars and can be rented for ~1,000,000 VND per day.

Car rental prices (as mostly anything in Vietnam) usually increase during holiday seasons especially around Tet (Vietnamese’s New Year). Make sure to avoid high prices by booking it beforehand with the car rental services.

Get around

Today, most of the tourist infrastructure is in the southern part of town around Biet Thu, whereas most of the locals live around the Cho Dam in the northern quarters. Cho Dam Market is a popular destination for visitors as well, though.

Tran Phu is the backbone of the city, accompanied by a pleasant waterfront promenade, palm trees and the nearly 6km of beach.

Nha Trang has a reliable and easy to navigate public bus system, where the ticket fare does not exceed 3000 dong for a ride on a modern, air-conditioned bus with Vietnamese music. You will find buses nr. 3 and 2 the most useful, since they pass through the southern quarters. Alternatively, you'll find the usual selection of taxis, cyclos and motorbikes.

There is no destination in Downtown Nha Trang that justifies a fare higher than 20,000 dong/person. Taxis are a good option, but be sure they turn on the meter to get the cheapest price.

A wonderful option for seeing the sites is to hire a cyclo-driver for the day. I agreed upon a price for the entire day (Jan. 2009-USD$10 + tip) and my driver took me to all the in-town highlights, the post office, and my choice of restaurants from 8AM-7PM. While English skills were basic, we were able to communicate. He also kept many of the touts away--a real bonus!

See

The beach is the main draw here. While not up to the standard of Thailand's white-sand finest, it's certainly pleasant. You will likely see many women vendors walking along the beach selling fruit and hot, steamed seafood.

Make sure that you visit in the right season, though. The beach can be disappointing when the weather is grey and the waves choppy. The experience is then one of murky sandy waters, a strip of standard brown sand with a multitude of empty beach chairs and no one to be seen.

The sites below can be toured in one day.

Local fishermen families sell and prepare seafood which they will cook for you on the beach for a very reasonable price.

Do

Diving & snorkeling

Close off-shore from Nha Trang sit a series of islands that offer decent diving and snorkeling, easily accessible by day trip. The city has about two dozen dive shops, making for fierce competition and great value. For certification training, Nha Trang offers perhaps the best value in the world, with PADI open water courses available with full equipment rental for as little as US$200. A two-dive boat trip with equipment rental and modest lunch can be had for as little as US$25, also a phenomenal value.

Coastal and undersea construction has stirred up a lot of sediment in the area, so under-water visibility is sometimes not great. The area is heavily fished, so fish life is also limited. You wouldn't cross the world just to dive at Nha Trang. But if you always dreamed of getting a scuba certification, Nha Trang is a great place to do it, and any diver passing through would enjoy a couple of dips. The shops generally offer good-quality equipment and experienced, certified dive-masters. Diving goes on year-around, but in the October-December windy season, the boat ride can be a bit rough and diving is limited to a few sites in the lee of the islands.

Organization of the Nha Trang dive industry is sometimes complex. If you sign up for a trip with shop A, you might find yourself joined with a group and dive-master from shop B, which shares a boat with another group and dive-master from shop C, the boat itself being independently owned. Consolidation is especially active in the off-season, when few if any shops can fill a boat on their own. It's a good illustration of Vietnamese culture, which does not stand on ceremony, and loves a bargain, and is very skilled at making maximum use of resources. The local dive-masters are mostly great, friendly guys with lots of stories to tell.

Work

Buy

As mentioned above, make sure you bargain with these vendors.

Eat

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Drink

Nha Trang at night offers plenty of clubs, music, and people.

Cafés

These 4 places are an alcohol-free zone. If you are not into the bar atmosphere, head here for some relaxation and a cup of coffee.

There are a number of cafés in Nha Trang, and you should check them out by seeing them directly. A few are listed below.

Sleep

Staying in Nha Trang can range from luxury suites in five-star hotels and spa resorts to motels. There are quiet numerous options offered for everyone depending on the size of their pockets.

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Stay safe

Nha Trang generally has a low crime-rate, though the risk of petty crime especially late at night is high compared to most other places in Asia. The most common crime is pickpocketing after midnight on the beach near the Sailing Club. During the day, it is relatively safe. Still, staying cautious at all time is best. Do not wear too much jewelry, and keep an eye on your belongings. It would be smart to travel in groups when you are out roaming the streets at night. Also, people coming home from the clubs should take a taxi.

Motorcycle robbery is fairly common in Nha Trang - banknotes and wallets have been snatched from tourists' hands. Be very wary when leaving bars and nightclubs - male tourists receiving a lot of attention from young Vietnamese women have later discovered that their valuables have been taken from their pockets.

Contact

Internet access can be found in many hotels and through cheap internet cafes all over town. The farther away from Bien Thu, the cheaper the rates — 6000 dong/hour is the going rate at most places, although even cheaper can be found. When using the telephone at a hotel be sure to check what service provider they use. A Skype phone will cost a few dollars US for a lengthy phone call whereas a land line charges US$1 per minute. Be wary.

Contact the Nha Trang Tourist information center at (84) 90.714.3404. It is a privately own business that provide free information to tourist and travels. They give away free city maps and allow people to use their wireless internet connect. the Nha Trang Information center can also be reached by search for NhaTrangLive on any major search engine. Pls visit: www.hontamresort.vn

Get out

There are several other beaches in the vicinity of Nha Trang. About 30 km north of Nha Trang, just when past the village of Ninh Hoa, a peninsula juts out into the South Chinese Sea, and on its northern coast rides its tinier brother, Hon Khoi. Several resorts are located on the eastern beach of Hon Khoi, where you find palm-trees, white sand and turquoise waters. To get there, follow the highway north past the turnoff to Dac Lac Province/Buon Ma Thuot. Then look out for a sign reading "Doc Let-Resort", close to a filling station. A taxi will take 2 persons for about 200,000 dong, while a Xe Om should not be more expensive than 100,000 dong. Or catch a through-bus plying highway Nr.1 and jump off at the turn off. There will always be some motorbike-drivers waiting to take you. Whatever place you choose to go, be sure to reserve a bungalow in advance.

Resorts

Related Information




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