- Coastline Mountain-backed bays
- Coast life Fluttering ao dais, spluttering cyclos
There’s more to Vietnam’s leading seaside resort than a sweeping stretch of sand. Nha Trang, on the south-central coast, is a buzzing town that offers a compact window on the country for those overwhelmed by the scale of nearby Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi.
Boasting a beautiful backdrop, hemmed in by jagged peaks and ringed by tropical islands, it is also one of Vietnam’s top dive destinations. Some fear that Nha Trang is on its way to becoming the next Pattaya. There are several high-rise hotels springing up along the beachfront and the nightlife is more raucous than Hoi An or Hué, but it still retains a unique individual charm. It’s not hard to escape by boat to a secluded bay if it all gets too much.
Do go/Don’t go
Nha Trang has some of the best weather to be found along Vietnam’s coastline. Officially the rains dampen the party from October to December, but in recent years they have been fairly light.
Planes Cam Ranh International Airport, 35km to the south, is the jumping-off point for Nha Trang with connections from major hubs in Vietnam, including
Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and Danang. With its newfound international status, direct flights are being planned for travel to and from neighbouring capitals, but for the time being there are only domestic links.
Trains The Reunification Express (www.vr.com.vn) connects the north and south of the country with Nha Trang en route. Nightly sleeper berths are available to and from Ho Chi Minh City, Danang and Hanoi – first class with air-con is really the only way to go.
Automobiles Witnessing the traffic on the coastal highway, you’ll be relieved that self-drive is unavailable for visitors. Organising a car with a driver through your hotel or travel company from Ho Chi Minh City is a more relaxing option (stop off at surfing village Mui Ne, famous for its enormous red and white sand dunes, or at the ancient Cham Towers of Phan Rang).
- Taxis From the airport taxis cost about US$16, although it’s less than US$10 in the other direction. Once in Nha Trang they, along with cyclos (three-wheeled pedicabs) and xe oms (motorbike taxis) are plentiful, but ask the driver to turn on the meter or at least negotiate the fare before you head off.