Big enough to bustle, yet small enough to retain its relaxed air, the delightful city of NHA TRANG has, despite increasingly stiff competition, earned its place as Vietnam’s top beach destination. A grand 6km scythe of soft yellow sand is lapped by rolling waves on one side and fringed on the other by cafés, restaurants, hotels and some unusual modern sculptures. Hawkers are on hand to supply paperbacks, fresh pineapple and massages, while scuba-diving classes and all kinds of watersports are available. Local companies also offer popular day-trips to Nha Trang’s outlying islands, combining hiking, snorkelling and an onboard feast of seafood. Bear in mind that the rainy season, around November and December, sees the sea get choppy and the beach loses much of its appeal.
There’s far more to Nha Trang than sea and sand. The culinary scene is noteworthy, as is the range of accommodation amongst some stylish boutiques and bars. Then there are a few sights, both in and around the city, with the intriguing Po Nagar Cham towers of greatest appeal – by the time Nguyen lords wrested this patch of the country from Champa in the mid-seventeenth century, the towers had already stood here for over seven hundred years. Beyond the centre, you’ll find hot springs in which you can wallow in mud, the world’s longest cross-sea cable-car ride, and more besides. Last, but not least, is the city’s huge and hugely photogenic fishing fleet, which moors just north of the centre – a place of salty, local appeal in a city that has been embracing change for decades.
Beach-bumming certainly takes precedence over sightseeing in Nha Trang, but there are a clutch of worthwhile places to visit in the city itself, including the Alexandre Yersin museum, and a beautiful pair of religious buildings.