Ask for a window seat for the one hour flight from Saigon to Nha Trang. As you approach to land over the sea, the views of Nha Trang’s islet-studded bay are truly marvelous. The number of small boats plying the waters below you is astounding. Many are fishing, but most are carrying goods and passengers to places you can only dream of. Up ahead, the city seems as a narrow ribbon completely dwarfed by mountains so steep and so green that they appear electrified by the morning sun.
Nha Trang is a favorite vacation spot for well-off Vietnamese. The leisurely pace here is a refreshing change from bustling Ho Chi Minh City, and the scene is idyllic. A wide palm-lined boulevard separates elegant Mediterranean villas and modern hotels from one of Vietnam’s loveliest beaches. Like beachscapes almost else in the world, there are rusting carnival rides, children running barefoot in the sand, and push carts selling an enticing selection of cold drinks and food on a stick. The air from the sea is very soft and as you unpack you notice that you immediately relax.
Tour buses of any kind are conspicuously absent, and you will have to peel back the layers of Nha Trang by yourself. This is a terrific place to rent a motorbike (most hotels can make arrangements) and explore at your own pace. Driving is much less perilous than traffic-choked Saigon. Begin by following Tran Phu Street (the wide boulevard along the beach) southward to Bao Dai’s Villa, the seaside refuge of Vietnam’s last emperor. It’s now a run-down government hotel that gets no guests. But the commanding view of the city and the beach below are well worth the trip.
Although the large public beach along Tran Phu is inviting, better beaches are north of the city and on some of the islands in the bay. Only about ten minutes from the center of town, Hon Chong Beach is especially lovely and easliy reached by motorbike, cyclo or taxi. Along the way you will pass Nha Trang’s busy harbor with its fleet of fishing boats, all painted bright blue. If you are here for an extended period, you might also want to spend a day at Dai Lanh Beach, about one hour north of the city. Nearby Cham ruins of Ponagar make an interesting picnic stop.
For a day of fun on the bay try Mama Hahn’s Bay Cruise (a.k.a. “Mama Hahn’s Booze Cruise”). Two boats, which the leathery, potty-mouthed Mama Hahn has dubbed the “lazy boat” and the “party boat,” visit three different islands for swimming. Regardless of which boat you are on be prepared for plenty of loud music and cold beer (which costs one dollar). At the final stop the party moves into the water, where mulberry wine flows from a floating bar. Don’t be surprised if a joint gets passed your way! The entire day costs a mere five dollars and includes a lavish seafood lunch. Tickets can be arranged through most hotels and several of the larger shops and restaurants along the beach.
Nha Trang has some of the country’s best seafood. Try any of the string of restaurants overlooking the north end of the beach (aim for the Post & Telephone radio tower). These places cater to tourists so prices are higher than most other local restaurants, but still reasonable. Several have “rooftop” dining areas that are quite pleasant in the evening.
There are quite a few people of Indian descent in Nha Trang, and a number of excellent Indian restaurants. The best of them is Bombay at 15 Biet Thu Street near the Khatoko Hotel. The decor is simple, the service is unhurried, and the food is exceptionally delicious and reasonably priced. Ttry the samosas and the Chicken Tikka. There are also many vegetarian choices on the menu.
Unless you arrive during a holiday period or summer weekend, shop for a hotel once you arrive. Most people stay only two nights, but prices are significantly lower if you can stay for three if you haggle.
source : Nha Trang Travel