There are a lot of mixed feelings about Nha Trang, considered to be one of Vietnam’s most luxurious getaways for the upper class locals. For some, the ‘too tourist-y’ destination is a problem.
For me, it was not – I had a blast!
Why Nha Trang
Mainland Nha Trang is a hot spot for tourist with its rows of modern-styled hotels offering accommodation you can book through sites like Expedia ranging from 2-5 stars, restaurants serving fresh seafood dishes (cooked in soup, fried, steamed, eaten raw) and that all alluring beachfront (good for an early morning walk, jog or run). If you think of Nha Trang as a vacation whilst already on vacation, everything you do will be amazing!
Having visited Saigon beforehand, I was already able to enrich myself in the culture, bath in traditional Vietnamese culinary delights and haggle with locals over inflated prices for goods and souvenirs, so for me Nha Trang was my vacation on my vacation.
So often overlooked by eager travellers, Nha Trang has more to offer then its tourist-y aesthetics. For Federico, it was a stopover on his way to Hanoi, but for me, it was an adventurous 4 days spent participating in more water activities then I thought possible led by the most humble locals I had ever met. I island-hopped and sun bathed on 3 different islands, went snorkelling and scuba diving at the beautiful and colourful Mun Island (which was a scary first experience, the sea is so vast).
Really, the Aquarium! I’ve never been a fan of visiting aquariums but upon seeing the shipwreck structure of the island, I urged our driver (boater?) to stopover Mieu Island so that I could see Vietnam’s biggest aquarium – Tri Nguyen’s Aquarium. A fellow traveller was wild animal-anomaly fanatic; he posed cheerily amongst fish that had heads bigger half his body!
After watching Rise of the Planet of the Apes on the plane, I guess I was more than apprehensive visiting Lao Island, better known to tourists as Monkey Island. Our tour guide on the day told us that there are well over 1,500 monkeys on the island and as soon as you step off the boat, you can an overwhelming sense of their numbers – you’re on their turf now!
We were given black bags to put all out lunches in because the monkeys were prone to swing by and just take it – no joke, this happened to a little four year old boy who had his cashew nuts taken off him and then cried for the rest of the monkey walk, possibly scarred for life! One experience I’ll remember for a long time to come would be when I was apprehensively approaching a baby monkey, palms open, about to offer it some nuts. Before I knew it, he had yanked at my denim jeans, scoured up the length of my body and sat on my shoulder. When this happened, the other travellers had a field day with the camera!
My last day in Nha Trang was spent relaxing at what is arguably an indulging spa experience worth every penny. At first, I was reluctant to go to Thap Ba Hot Springs, I mean really, I had a choice between re-living the childhood dreams of taking an amusement park by storm (Vin Pearl Land) or soaking in mud for an entire day. Opting for the experience, I decided to visit the mud baths and boy, were they worth it.
The mineral mud baths at Thap Ba have been filtered to their most raw form and natural, organic ingredients have been added to the mix for a treatment you never knew your skin needed. You go from soaking in the mud baths for over an hour straight to needle sharp showers that give a satisfying wash-down. Then you spend the rest of the day enjoying downtime in their spa and pool facilities. The locals love it and every tourist I spoke to on the day told me that they’d be coming back. My advice? Don’t just stay for a couple of hours, make a day of it – your mind and body will thank you for it!
William Susetyo is the Editor-in-Chief of Accommodation.com. He was born in China and raised in Australia. Bitten by the travel bug, he has traveled extensively through Asia and Europe. Currently based in Sydney, he is a keen food enthusiast, hip hop dancer, dog lover, and jazz listener.
Have you visited Nha Trang? Did you enjoy it as much as William or, like I did, found the city a bit too noisy and overwhelming? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below and this post too if you liked it!