10 Dec

“Nha Trang –Everything you should KNOW”

“Nha Trang –Everything you should KNOW”

“Nha Trang –Everything you should KNOW”

“Nha Trang –Everything you should KNOW”
Nha Trang Beach is the city's trump card and is popular with both local and foreign tourist
Nha Trang Beach is the city’s trump card and is popular with both local and foreign tourist (Things to do in Nha Trang)
For first-time visitors to Vietnam, Nha Trang typically isn’t the first Vietnamese city one would consider visiting. However, in spite of its limited international fanfare, Nha Trang is actually very popular amongst locals and Russians (huh?).
Located on the south-central coast of Vietnam, Nha Trang is famed for its gorgeous beaches, thriving coral reefs and plentiful water sports. Nha Trang Bay is also considered by some as amongst the world’s most beautiful bays.
Based upon our Feb-2018 visit to this coastal playground, let us share with you the top things to do in Nha Trang! Plus, we’ll even throw in the Nha Trang specific travel tips we’ve picked up along the way. Go ahead and share this with your travel BFFs!
Why are there so many Russians in Nha Trang?
Before we get into the list of things to do in Nha Trang, we must talk about a very interesting topic; why are there so many Russians in Nha Trang?
For those whom are not in the know, Nha Trang is well-known for having a usually high number of Russian tourist. The number of Russian tourist here easily outnumbers all other nationalities combined. And this phenomenon is only seen in Nha Trang, not in other Vietnamese cities.
The reason can be traced to the cold war days when Nha Trang was the site of Russia’s biggest naval base outside its own territory. But things have changed since with the closure of the naval base. However, Russians continue to have numerous commercial interests in Nha Trang via a shipyard and other facilities. Which explains the number of Russian tourist.
Interestingly but unsurprisingly, Nha Trang has also seen an influx of Chinese (PRC) tourist in recent years. As with many popular tourist destinations worldwide, Chinese tourists are growing into a formidable force. It’s just a matter of time before Chinese tourist numbers overtake those of the Russians in Nha Trang.
Things to do in Nha Trang
Below is the list of things to do in Nha Trang. Listed in random order.
Getting around Nha Trang: As with other Vietnamese cities, the easiest and cheapest way of getting around Nha Trang is via renting motorbikes. Typical cost of renting from hotels is around 120,000 Dong/day. However, do note that foreign motorbike licenses are not recognized in Vietnam. Having said, enforcement is lax and most tourist just flout the rules. But you will be at the losing end if accident occurs.
#1: Nha Trang Beach
Nha Trang’s trump card is surely its 6km-long beach. Most visitors are drawn to it for the long and wide shoreline with golden sands. However, note that seasons/weather systems are significant factors in determining the condition of the beach.
When we visited Nha Trang in early Feb (2018), the wave was huge and it was impossible to swim. The surf kept pushing us back towards shore and tripped us on a number of occasions. Having said, it was fun trying to walk head-on into the smashing waves.
Even in that state, the beach was still relatively crowded with tourist. Most of whom were more happy to bask in the sun than to challenge the overpowering waves. If you’re not into braving the waves or sun tanning, Nha Trang’s beach still offers a nice stroll, especially in the evenings.
We later learnt from the locals that the sea does become calmer during the summer months. Thus, it’s probably our fault for not choosing the right time to visit. Nevertheless, having visited Da Nang’s My Khe Beach (Vietnam’s other famous beach) in recent years, we must profess that My Khe Beach is more enjoyable and equally (if not more) scenic.
Important Tip: Learn from our mistake. Do not get rip-off by beach chair vendors. Most travellers report that they were able to get a beach chair for 35,000-40,000 Dong. However, we didn’t do our homework and instead paid 80,000 Dong for it. Sigh.
#2: Ba Ho Waterfall
In our opinion, Ba Ho Waterfall is without doubt the most worthwhile land-based activity in Nha Trang. It is located 24km north of Nha Trang city centre. Ba Ho Waterfall is a collective trio of waterfalls and natural rock pools nested amongst lush rainforest. Visitors are drawn to it for the opportunity to swim and do cliff jumping in its rock pools. Definitely one of the mainstay for the things to do in Nha Trang!
Motorbike ride to Ba Ho Waterfall
To reach it, most visitors rent a motorbike in downtown Nha Trang and make the 40 minutes’ ride north (same route as to Hanoi). The ride is straightforward and on well-paved roads, even when outside the city limits.
The road north is a dual 2-lane highway, passing by charming stretches of coastline and paddy field. Traffic was relatively light during our journey on a weekday morning. Petrol stations are aplenty along the way.
To guide visitors, there is a big blue-coloured signpost proclaiming “Ba Ho. Tourist” along the highway at the junction whereby visitors are supposed to make a turn. Once off the highway, you will be riding thru a village (paved road). From here, there are strategically placed signage pointing you all the way to Ba Ho Waterfall’s entrance.
Arriving at Ba Ho Waterfall
The entrance to the waterfall is a simple ticket booth with a spacious parking area beside the river. Parking is free. A short walk past the ticket booth, there is a small restaurant (reasonable pricing) and some locker facilities.

The waterfall ticket used to cost 20,000 Dong. However, during our Feb-2018 visit, we discovered it had been raised to 50,000 Dong.
Tip: Do bring along your own food and water.
From the ticket booth, it is a 1.2km (20 minutes) hike to waterfall #1.
The initial section of this 1.2km is easy hiking on relatively flat forest trail. Towards the end, you will come to a stream with a small wooden bridge over it. Once over the bridge, you will be doing some simple climbing over huge rocks by the riverside.
Waterfall #1 and its rock pool is just a short distance after the bridge. You can identify waterfall #1 (and similarly waterfall #2/#3) via the huge red number painted on the rocks.
The rock pool at waterfall #1 doesn’t seem as wide as those in #2/#3. But we did saw some visitors doing cliff jumping here. We didn’t stop to rest, as we were eager to get on with the climb to waterfall #3.
We will later realize that the rock pool at waterfall #1 is the most crowded, probably due to its accessibility.
From waterfall #1, follow the red arrows painted on rocks to reach #2. This climb is more challenging than the previous, though we’ll still consider it only slight in difficulty. The climb is short and you will reach waterfall #2 in 5-10 minutes.
The rock pool at waterfall #2 appears less interesting than #1/#3. This probably explain why we see the least visitors here out of the three rock pools.
If you managed to reach waterfall #2, you’re better off making the final climb to waterfall #3, which is just another 10 minutes away.
Again, following the arrows painted on rocks, you’ll now need to do some steep climbing. The climb here is near vertical and involves making use of a few steel steps which were driven into the steep rock face. Luckily, this section is short and you should overcome the near vertical rock face in under 10 minutes.
After scaling the near-vertical rock face, you will come to a rock pool with waterfall #3 feeding into it at the far end.
If you want to get to the top of waterfall #3, you’ll need to waddle into the rock pool and make it across to the opposite side of the river. This particular section of the rock pool is less than waist deep. Thus, only your legs will be wet. This is the only part of the entire hike that requires you to get into water.
Once across the river, make a quick climb over the rocks and you should reach the top of waterfall #3 within a minute.
Tip: Wear covered shoes with flexible rubber soles. Shoes with thick soles (e.g. hiking boots) isn’t suitable for climbing rocks. Sandals or flip-flops unsurprisingly doesn’t make the cut here.
Where to swim
Most hikers choose to swim in the rock pools at waterfall #3 or #1. Both pools offer opportunities for cliff jumping. However, do be cautious and verify that the pool is indeed deep enough. If in doubt, do not attempt jumping.
Tip: There are no amenities at the waterfalls/rock pools. Bring along everything that you’ll need.
Cross this rock pool to reach Ba Ho Waterfall #3. Notice the "3" painted on the rock (pic left). Nha Trang, Vietnam.
Cross this rock pool to reach Ba Ho Waterfall #3. Notice the “3” painted on the rock (pic left). Nha Trang, Vietnam. (Things to do in Nha Trang)
#3: Skylight Nha Trang (360˚ Skydeck)
If you want to take the aerial photograph of Nha Trang’s beautiful stretch of esplanade, you could do so via a drone. Or you could visit Skylight, the restaurant cum bar on the rooftop (43rd floor) of Havana Hotel, which is strategically located along Nha Trang’s esplanade.
Of all the rooftop bars/restaurants in Nha Trang, Skylight offers the best bird’s-eye view of the city’s esplanade. Period. On a clear day, you could see the skyline of the entire city and even as far as Vinpearl Resort, which is located on an island just off Nha Trang’s coast.
Skylight consists of a restaurant, a rooftop bar (Beach Club) and a 360-degree viewing platform (360˚ Skydeck). The restaurant and rooftop bar is located on the same level, and both comprises of indoor and open-air sections. Whereas the 360-degree Skydeck viewing platform is located one level above them, and is unsheltered.
Tickets to Skylight (daytime)
The restaurant and rooftop bar is closed during the day. However, you can still access the Skydeck viewing platform between 9am and 2pm (daily) for a fee of 50,000 Dong*.
Tickets to Skylight (late afternoon/evening)
During late afternoons/evenings, visitors can access Skylight (including Skydeck) via patronizing the restaurant or the rooftop bar.
For those dining at the restaurant, a deposit for the reservation is required at the ticket office. The deposit will be deducted from the final bill.
For those going to the rooftop bar, they will need to purchase a ticket, which includes one complimentary drink. The ticket prices vary depending on the time/day of visit.
Price:
4.30pm to 8pm (daily): 150,000 Dong*
8pm to midnight (Monday to Thursday): 200,000 Dong*
8pm to midnight (Friday to Sunday): 250,000 Dong*
Tips for visiting Skylight
If you’re visiting Skylight solely for the view and taking photographs, we recommend visiting at around 5pm and staying till after dark. This is so that you’ll be able to capture day time, golden hour and night-time photographs of Nha Trang’s city and esplanade.
In addition, arriving this early means that you could temporarily occupy “strategic” seats at the rooftop bar until the reservation customers show up for the night.
Finally, bring along a jacket. It can get rather chilly on the rooftop.
Note: As a security measure, backpacks and tripods (camera) are not allowed into Skylight. You can leave the prohibited items with the ticket counter before taking the lift to Skylight. For those planning for night photography or long exposure shots, you have to think of alternative ways to stabilize your camera.
#4: Long Son Pagoda
Long Son Pagoda is situated in Nha Trang city centre and approximately 2km away from the beach.
Originally built in 1886 at another location, Long Son Pagoda was moved to the current hill in 1900 after being destroyed by a cyclone. The Buddhist temple is most famous for its 24 metres tall white Buddha statue, which was built in 1964 and sits at the top of the hill.
From the main temple hall, there is a stairway on the right (of the hall) which leads up to the Buddha statue. The easy climb is 32 metres in elevation and involves 152 steps. From the base of the Buddha statue, visitors have a view overlooking Nha Trang city.
Entry to Long Son Pagoda is free.
Opening hours (main temple hall): 7am to 11am. 2pm to 5pm**
Tip for visiting Long Son Pagoda
Although temple entry is free, the security guards do charge a high of 10,000 Dong for motorbike parking in the temple grounds. Avoid paying for this by simply parking your motorbike outside the temple and make the short walk in. You could always make a voluntary donation at the donation boxes within the temple if you want to contribute.
Built between the 7th and 12th centuries, Po Nagar Tower is used for worship by Chinese and Vietnamese Buddhists.
Built between the 7th and 12th centuries, Po Nagar Tower is used for worship by Chinese and Vietnamese Buddhists. (Things to do in Nha Trang)
#5: Po Nagar Tower (Ponagar Tower)
Po Nagar Tower is an ancient religious site that is important to Vietnamese and Chinese Buddhist. Till date, locals still actively use it for worshipping.
First built around the 7th century, these towers were constructed by the Champa Kingdom, whom ruled parts of present-day Vietnam for 10 centuries. The original complex used to house up to eight towers, however, only four currently remains.
The small complex is located on a hill along the banks of Cai River. And is a short distance from the river’s mouth into South China Sea. The top of the complex offers good view of the surrounding river and the two bridges across it.
Nowadays, Po Nagar Tower is flooded with Chinese tourist throughout the day. It might be worth visiting the complex nearer to either the opening or closing time to avoid the horde of selfie-obsessed tour groups whom arrives by busloads.
Opening hours: 6am to 6pm
Entry fee: 22,000 Dong
Note: This is a religious site for locals. Do dress/behave appropriately and show respect for others’ religion.
Tip for visiting Po Nagar Tower
The main parking area (for buses and motorbikes) is across the road from Po Nagar’s entrance. However, the parking warden would typically demand an overkill parking fee of 10,000 Dong. Avoid paying this unreasonable rate by simply parking your motorbike further away from the main parking area.
#6: Hon Chong Promontory .
Hon Chong Promontory is a small and narrow granite outcrop jutting off Nha Trang’s coastline. It is situated approximately 2-3km north of Nha Trang beach.
What appears to be an ordinary coastline, complete with a small and average looking promontory is surely nothing worth shouting out for. To make matters worse, the tiny area is fenced up into a paying attraction and overcrowded with over-zealous Chinese tourist. This is an attraction that is surely over-rated.
Coastal features way more fascinating than those at Hon Chong Promontory are commonplace in many locations. And most, if not all, of those that we’ve visited are open to public for free. Had Hon Chong Promontory be left open for free visits, we would consider classifying it as “good-to-visit”. However, with the imposed fee (though small) and over-crowding, we recommend visiting it only if you’ve plenty of time on your hands.
Opening hours: 6.30am to 6pm
Entry fee: 22,000 Dong
Getting from Nha Trang city to Cam Ranh International Airport
The main airport serving Nha Trang is Cam Ranh International Airport (CXR). It is 36km away and the journey typically takes 40 minutes (by car).
Due to the distance and relatively cheap cost of taxi, most travellers find it more convenient and cost-effective to take a taxi for the incoming trip from Cam Ranh Airport to Nha Trang city. However, it is advisable to do some online research for the expected cost before your trip. We couldn’t advise on this particular trip as we had arranged for a free airport transfer using our frequent flyer program.
For the return trip from Nha Trang city to airport, one could either get a regular taxi or get your hotel to arrange for an airport transfer. If you’re flagging a taxi off the road, note that you should be able to negotiate for a lower fixed price, as the expected metered fare will be around 400,000 Dong. In contrast, most hotels can do a private airport transfer for just 300,000 Dong. Which is what we choose for the return trip.


 
 

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