A USEFUL guide for touring the Vietnemese city on a budget
Nha Trang is the urban hub of Vietnam and the destination of choice for affluent Asian holidaymakers. It is difficult to believe that this bustling seaside city, located on the south-east coast, was once little more than a fishing village. It has multiple identities, as traditional Asian quirks collide with a cosmopolitan city vibe.
Tree-lined boulevards are filled with swarms of motorbikes, locals practise tai chi on the beach alongside tourists sunbathing on deckchairs, and restaurants serving Vietnamese cuisine sit next to western cafés and bars.
Discovered as an idyllic holiday destination by American soldiers during the Vietnam War, Nha Trang now has a population of over 300,000. Monsoon rain is common during the wet season so it it best to visit during the dry season, from January to August, when temperatures can reach highs of 30°C – perfect weather for exploring the picturesque bays, secluded islands and crystal-clear diving spots.
BEST FOR SUN WORSHIPPERS
THOUGH Nha Trang beach is undoubtedly beautiful and famous for its breathtaking sunrises, Bai Dai beach is a hidden treasure and well worth the 20-minute journey north. Boasting more than six miles of immaculate white sand curved around shallow sapphire waters, it is the perfect spot to relax and grab a cocktail or sample the watersports on offer – such as surfing and canoeing. It has authentic seafood restaurants built from bamboo and nearby forests to discover, so savvy holidaymakers can save a fortune on a day out by venturing away from the central tourist trap.
BEST FOR MASSAGE
Blind massage centres allow tourists to indulge in pampering while contributing to a good cause. Blind people are encouraged to learn massage to earn a stable living and integrate into the community. There is no shortage of people offering traditional Vietnamese massages but try to avoid being ripped off by steering clear of the numerous beach masseurs, who often have questionable training. Blind Massage Loc Tho is on Hung Vuong Street, near Nha Trang beach, and costs around £2 an hour.
BEST FOR REVITALISING
Thap Ba Hot Spring Center is the ideal place to relax after a hard day of sightseeing (www.in2vietnam.com/NhaTrangThapBaHotSpring Mudbath.aspx). This little oasis is only a 15-minute taxi journey from the centre of Nha Trang. Visitors can soak in a mud bath for 20 minutes before lying in the sun until the mud dries and revitalises their skin. After washing off the mud, a dip in a steamy hot spring relaxes muscles and relieves tension. Entry to the Hot Spring Center starts at around £3.
BEST FOR HISTORY
Po Ngam Cha Towers are religious temples built around 781 AD (www.vietnamonline.com/attraction/po-nagar-cham-towers.html), situated on the mountain Cu Lao, next to the Cai river. They are similar in design to the Cambodian temples of Angkor Wat, with the largest reaching 23m. The site is around two miles outside Nha Trang and is easily reached by car or motorbike. Entry fees start as low as 60p.
BEST FOR ACCOMODATION
Budget hotels are not as easy to come by in Nha Trang as the rest of Vietnam, and many are contained in the tourist resort area, which lacks character. However, with a little hunting, simple hostels and quaint hotels can be found. Kim Ngan hotel (www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/Kim-Ngan-Hotel/Nha-Trang/32600) is on Hoang Hoa Tham street, just minutes from Nha Trang beach. It is the perfect base for exploring, and with prices from £6 per person per night it is on budget too.
BEST FOR EXPLORING
The clear waters off Vietnam’s coast provide the perfect setting for scuba-divers to explore marine life. For those seeking seclution and peaceful sands, Whale Island is a diver’s paradise. With beach huts and traditional cuisine, it offers an escape from the bustle of the city for a few days while sampling some of the ocean scenery. Two dives cost around £48 with Rainbow Divers (www.divevietnam.com), which also offers PADI-accredited open-water diving courses.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Monday 20 May 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 21 C
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Temperature: 7 C to 17 C
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