A Swiss-French scientist who travelled to Southeast Asia in 1889 as a ship’s doctor, Alexandre Yersin developed a great love for Vietnam and learned to speak Vietnamese fluently. He was responsible for the founding of Da Lat (he recognized the beneficial effects of the climate there for Europeans), and settled in Nha Trang in 1893. By the time of his death in 1943, Yersin had become a local hero, thanks not to his greatest achievement – the discovery of a plague bacillus in Hong Kong in 1894 – but rather to his educational work in sanitation and agriculture, and to his ability to predict typhoons and thus save the lives of fishermen. Significantly, his name is still given to streets, not only in Nha Trang but around the country, sharing an honour generally only granted to Vietnamese heroes.
There’s a museum (Mon–Fri 7.30–11am & 2–4.30pm; 26,000đ) in the centre of Nha Trang, and it’s worth visiting, stuffed as it is with books and other paraphernalia formerly belonging to Yersin.