The ultimate guide to Nha Trang

Thatched beach huts on a pristine beach in Nha Trang, Vietnam

Zoe Macfarlane

Posted August 08, 2023

If you’re looking for a relaxing destination with the perfect mix of natural attractions, intriguing cultural landmarks, and energy like no other in Vietnam, look no further than Nha Trang.

The postcard-perfect vistas of Nha Trang’s crescent moon-shaped bay, framed by the city’s hinterland mountains and idyllic islands are just part of the appeal. A good time is assured, be it aboard an island-hopping boat trip, touring historic sites, rejuvenating in mineral-rich waters, or sampling the city’s best culinary treats. Use this handy guide to plan an idyllic Nha Trang stop on your Vietnam itinerary.


Discover Nha Trang’s historical and cultural gems 

Located in Vietnam’s Khánh Hòa Province, 435 kilometres north of Ho Chi Minh City, Nha Trang has something for every kind of traveller. Whether you’re seeking relaxation, adventure, or something in-between, complement your experiences with the city’s best historical and cultural sites.

While Nha Trang only received its name in 1924, the city’s origins trace back to the Champa civilisation, which ruled the region between the 2nd and 15th centuries. Kauthara, as it was then known, was an important trading hub, and it was during this time the Cham built the impressive Po Nagar Cham Towers. Discover the tower’s Hindu influence as you explore these exceptional architectural ruins, still used as a religious site today.

Under the Nguyen Dynasty from the 17th century, Nha Trang became a thriving fishing village. In the late 19th century, French colonialists ruled, calling it the ‘Nice of the East'. 

Today, visit the two best landmarks from the French-colonial period: Long Son Pagoda and Nha Trang Cathedral. While 152 steps to reach Long Son Pagoda and its iconic towering white Buddha statue may not seem appealing, the views across the city, mountains, islands, and sea will. The striking French-Gothic architecture at the Christ the King Cathedral is worth your time, too. 



A man plays a pipe outside the Po Nagar Cham Towers in Nha Trang, Vietnam

Discover Nha Trang's Champa past at the historic Po Nagar complex. Image: Adobe Stock.

Nha Trang’s natural wonders

In a destination praised for its picturesque beaches, azure waters, and fertile mountains, it’s no surprise that getting out in nature is highly recommended. 

Experience one of Nha Trang’s most pristine beaches at Ninh Van Bay. Home to several luxury resorts, this is the perfect base for travellers who appreciate a serene hideaway between sightseeing excursions.

Escape the bustle of Nha Trang on an excursion to Hon Ba Nature Reserve. Sixty kilometres out of the city, the journey there is as enjoyable as the reserve itself; pass tiny villages, rice paddy fields, and grazing water buffalo. At Hon Ba, trails lead to stunning lookouts, verdant forests, and cascading falls. Hike to Hon Ba’s summit, swim in the gorgeous Suoi Nguon waterfall, and visit the former home of the Swiss-French doctor who set up Hon Ba’s research centre in 1915. 

For a closer nature escape, Ban Ho waterfalls await, with three scenic swimming holes for a refreshing dip amid the lush vegetation and giant boulders. The hike to the first pool is only 1.2 kilometres, though it’s a rock scramble to the other (quieter) pools, so wear appropriate footwear. You can also rent a bicycle and reach Ban Ho waterfalls in 45 minutes.

Soak in nature (literally) at the nearby mineral-rich hot waters and mud pools. Thap Ba, the region’s original centre, offer mud and mineral baths, plus hot and cold pools. For a modern setting, consider I-Resort, and for the quirkiest mud bath you’ll likely ever have, experience the egg-themed 100 Egg Mud Bath, where you can soak in a giant egg!


Cable car over Nha Trang Bay, Vietnam

The beautiful waters of Nha Trang make it a must for anyone looking to snorkel, swim, scuba dive or cruise. Image: Shutterstock.

On the water around Nha Trang Bay

While Nha Trang’s golden-sand beach and azure waters make for a fun place to sunbake, swim, and enjoy water sports, it’s adventures on and in Nha Trang Bay that impress. 

Explore the bay on all manner of boat trips, from the lively long-running Mama Han’s Green Boat Tour to private yacht charters. Island-hopping trips offer great value to see some of Nha Trang’s nearby islands, with opportunities to swim, snorkel, and even kayak. To add romance, take a sunset cruise; many have music, dinner and drinks. 

If you’re out at sea from April to July, keep an eye out for whales. Vietnamese fisherfolk consider whales sacred with legends regaling tales of whales rescuing boats and lives.

For snorkellers and scuba divers, Hon Mun Island’s diverse marine life appeals. Besides colourful coral reefs and tropical fish, you may also see reef sharks, turtles, and rays. If you’re an experienced diver, it’s fun to swim amid the (intentionally sunk) ‘Hoi An’ shipwreck.

Prefer a more leisurely cruise? Sail the Cai River, watching life and traditional villages pass by, usually with stops at local cottage industries.


An aerial view of the beach in Nha Trang, Vietnam

Nha Trang's stunning beaches are just the tip of the iceberg, with culinary delights and a thriving entertainment scene to enjoy. Image: Adobe Stock.

Nha Trang’s culinary treats

As you may expect in coastal Nha Trang, seafood features heavily on restaurant menus. Dip grilled prawns and squid in flavourful sauces, or enjoy steamed clams and squid cooked to perfection.

For a traditional Nha Trang dish, try bun ca sua, a vermicelli noodles and jellyfish dish served in a mackerel broth. Nha Trang also has its own take on the traditional Vietnamese grilled pork dish, nem nuong; using rice paper for a taste sensation. Lac Canh Grilled Beef is a popular Nha Trang eatery, thanks to its tender marinated beef dishes. 

As with many vibrant cities, Nha Trang’s fusion fine dining restaurant scene has taken off. The Asian and Western flavours at the Sailing Club Restaurant complement the seaside locale, and Lantern’s Restaurant (at Mia Resort) presents innovative Vietnamese-Mediterranean dishes in an elegant setting. 

For a local street food treat, sample banh can. This coconut milk rice cake has a delectably crispy shell and a soft inner, served with a sweet-and-savoury dipping sauce.

Let your hair down in Nha Trang

Nha Trang is a lively party town with plenty of fun bars and nightclubs to enjoy, should you so choose. For a stylish rooftop drink, head to Altitude Rooftop Lounge, atop the Intercontinental. To dial things up a notch, Skylight is a well-known bar and nightclub with panoramic views from the 45th floor. 

If hand-brewed beers are more to your taste, Louisiane Brewhouse is a fab beachfront brewery with craft ales, cocktails, bar food, and an entertaining rotation of live music. 


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