Asia,  TDM,  Travel Journal,  Vietnam

Nha Trang (Vietnam): a big seaside resort

Nha Trang is one of the most awaited destinations of our world tour, I went there twice, years ago, and I kept excellent memories of it. The return to Nha Trang this time is like a slap in the face as the city has changed so much and has become a tourist destination

Part 1: Travel Diary
Part 2: Practical Tips

Part 1: Travel Diary

We left Mui Ne at 8am by bus to arrive around 1pm in Nha Trang (bus with couchettes please)


It rains for part of the trip. There are storms in progress and planned for a week, not in Nha Trang but in Central Vietnam. On arrival, not a single drop, and we are told that it rained the day before non-stop, some streets were flooded

I no longer recognize Nha Trang, the Nha Trang of my memories has disappeared, replaced by an ultra touristic city, full of Russians and Chinese. The city even has a skyline now, because of the construction of hotels along the beach. And the beach is 12km long! That’s a lot of hotels! The peculiarity of Nha Trang is that the city preserves to the maximum this beach by prohibiting the construction of resorts with private beaches, so everyone must cross the street to access the beach (unlike Mui Ne where you can access the beach between two resorts).

Photo: The skyline of Nha Trang

We are staying at the Ha Thu Hotel, 1 star – hidden in a footbridge near the main street – but with the service of a 4 star hotel. The linen, dry and folded, is deposited directly in our room. At the reception, they serve a delicious flower tea 24 hours a day, and they are always smiling and helpful. That’s what I like about South Vietnamese people. They are much more festive, smiling and carefree than the North and Central Vietnamese (who are poorer and therefore seem more distant and reserved)

The hotel does not serve breakfast, every morning we eat either bui-bui (vermicelli soup with fish sausage bun cha ca, the local specialty) or omelet sandwiches(banh mi op la)

The main beach is as beautiful as ever, 12km of fine white sand, with deckchairs to rent every 5m. The water is less transparent than usual because of the rain and storms at the moment. But normally the water is transparent and you can see your feet. The water is deep (we go 2m away and the water already reaches our chests), that’s why families with children prefer to swim at another beach, 30km away from Nha Trang, called Bai Dai

Day 2 : Tour of the 4 islands

This is the most popular boat tour. Every day, dozens of boats each bring about thirty tourists to tour the 4 islands next to Nha Trang. There are 19 islands in all around Nha Trang but for ecological reasons, only 7 islands can be exploited for tourism


The snorkelling on Hon Mun Island is a bit disappointing compared to what we saw in the Philippines (even if we saw a lot of fish and the water is transparent). The problem when we go around the world is that we see so many extraordinary things that the comparisons are totally unfair. Whereas if the trips were spaced out, we would have been less inclined to compare

At one point, I turn around and I see a huge jellyfish 20cm in diameter next to me, floating like a ghost. It’s not the kind of ultra toxic jellyfish like in “The World of Nemo” but I reacted in a very logical way: I panicked, I screamed and I got back on the boat shouting “jellyfish!!” in Vietnamese 🙂

We stop at the village of seafood breeders, in the open sea, to eat. Those who wish to complete their meal (included in the ticket price) can buy seafood directly from the breeders (very correct price). All you have to do is point a finger at a fish, the farmer will take it out of the water, weigh it and prepare it

Then follows a musical show given by the members of the boat, I don’t know why they continue to do that, this show is a flop with the Vietnamese tourists. I think it’s just to pass the time, between lunch and the next swim

We stop again in the open sea to drink a cocktail, sitting comfortably, each on his buoy. The water is very deep, JB takes advantage of it to make several dives

We arrive then on a splendid beach, where we spend 1h30 to bathe and sip a fresh coconut. The water is transparent and not too deep. Several activities are proposed: parasailing, jetski or banana boat

Before coming back to Nha Trang, we stop on an island. This stop has no interest for us, it is surely a commercial stop for the boat

In short, the tour is so inexpensive (8€/person) that despite the mass tourism side, in the end it’s worth it

Day 3, 4 & 5: VinPearl and its amusement park

VinPearl Nha Trang Resort is the first hotel that made such a strong impression on me that I wanted to go back 10 years later. Of course, it is a 5-star hotel, but its concept is also avant-garde

Already, the owner, let’s talk about him! We owe him the presence of many Russian tourists here. He is a very rich man who made his fortune in Russia and who decided to return to Vietnam and contribute to enrich his country.

This hotel has several particularities: the owner bought an island (Hon Tre) and built his hotel on this island, connected by cable car (in 15 minutes). And to make the stay even more comfortable, the hotel offers rooms with full board and unlimited access to the amusement park owned by the hotel!
From Nha Trang, you can see “Vinpearl” marked like “Hollywood” on Hon Tre Island. Photo taken from the cable car

We booked 2 nights in this hotel, because I wanted to go back there absolutely. Of course, when we have too much waiting, we are often disappointed. I was disappointed by the beach of the hotel which was soiled by many constructions in the surroundings. Yes, because the owner in question is ambitious. His hotel is now part of one of the biggest groups in Vietnam, owning many buildings, hotels and supermarkets. In the race for profitability, and facing the mass tourism of Nha Trang, they had to build two new (huge) hotels on the same island (which I don’t recommend).

However, I was not disappointed by the exclusive package of the hotel, namely 3 meals in all-you-can-eat buffets, and the amusement park next door. It looks like Luna Park and Disneyland together, but almost empty (so no waiting time) and the attractions are free. Not to mention the swimming pool of the hotel which is sublime and offers many ‘water sports’ (volleyball, basketball, buoy in idleness mode)

We spent a lot of time at the amusement park to enjoy the bumper cars, slides, tsunami, 4D movie theater, water and light show, thrill rides… If we don’t stay at the hotel, we can access the park by paying 650 000VND per person (26€)

The buffets are superb! Sorry I didn’t take pictures of the buffet itself, I was too busy eating. At each meal, we have the choice between 4 main courses, served to order; and about 30 dishes already prepared. For those who don’t like Vietnamese food, a “world cuisine” corner serves bread, cheese, sausage, ham, sushi, kimchi… in abundance. Two Barbecue corners serve skewers and grilled seafood. A waiter goes from one table to the other to propose the dish of the day (ostrich meat, glazed duck…)




Water and light show

I put a video here because I forgot to take pictures of the park

The room costs 180€/night with full board. If you don’t take a buffet, the room costs 140€/night, so you might as well eat at the hotel

Compared to my experience of 10 years ago, the quality has gone down a lot and I have made many returns (they came to ask my opinion several times, I don’t know why). However, I admit not to be disappointed because I come here for its unique concept (buffets + amusement park and the huge swimming pool), not for the beach. If you expect to have a dream beach, forget about this hotel!

Day 6: Doc Let

The bus n°3, stopping on the sidewalk in front of number 86 Tran Phu street, brings us in 1h30 in front of Doc Let beach, 60km from Nha Trang, for 24 000VND (1€). Apparently, it is a good plan more and more shared by tourists because this bus is full of Russian tourists

Doc Let, in Vietnamese, means “crawling hill”. Before, the dunes were as long and high as those of Mui Ne. To get to the beach, you had to climb the dunes. Now, there is still a lot of sand (white and fine sand as I like it) but no more need to climb

img_4308.jpg img_4309.jpg

The bus terminal is located in front of a restaurant that has access to the beach. To avoid this tourist attraction, we go along the beach for a long time looking for a better plan but no, the best plan is to stay there, rent deckchairs and eat at this restaurant

As everywhere else, we showed the spider crabs that we want to eat (the poor), weigh them and cook them. Given the ridiculously low price, JB is entitled to a huge plate of gambasses, probably the biggest of his life


I like this beach very much but I deplore the garbage floating in the water. The locals tell me that it comes from the storm, normally it’s cleaner. On the side of the fishing village (very far from the main beach), garbage is everywhere, it pinches my heart to see the beauty of this beach spoiled by so much garbage

After a day of sunbathing in spite of us, we take the bus back to Nha Trang at 4 pm. Massages and facials are cheap compared to Ho Chi Minh City, we take the opportunity to do one treatment a day: shampoo at the hairdresser, facial or massage. It is always very noisy in the spas, the tourists speak loudly, the masseurs speak loudly, but if we manage to get past this inconvenience, we take advantage of the massage at 5€ per 45mn.
JB tells me that I still haven’t found him a replacement Kindle (his Kindle died during the world tour). A little Google search and a text message later, we had an appointment with a salesman the same evening. He shows us 2 old models of Kindle and JB leaves with a Kindle he likes very much at 35€. The Kindle were imported from the US. That’s what Vietnamese e-commerce is all about, like Le Bon Coin but faster.

Day 7: Binh Lap

Binh Lap is one of the most popular destinations. Previously known only to Vietnamese backpackers, the presence of a few resorts is attracting more and more Vietnamese executives seeking to flee the mass tourism in Nha Trang

There are 4 places starting with “Binh” in the area, including 2 islands. Only Binh Lap is easily accessible to foreigners. Binh Ba Island, very famous for its snorkelling spots, is forbidden to foreigners because it is a military zone

We bought this tour in a Vietnamese travel agency, so we travel with 4 other Vietnamese people and the guide doesn’t speak English. I have to act as a translator for JB

We visit the Ngoc Suong resort, where two very famous (but very bad) Vietnamese movies were shot. The beaches are rather clean but the water isn’t super transparent. The pictures look great, so good that many future brides and grooms come here for their wedding pictures. You can see bands of small fish swimming from the planton. Swimming away from the beach, JB saw fish jumping in front of his eyes

img_4330.jpg img_4336.jpg

img_4327.jpg img_4323.jpg

We then have lunch 2km away, in a hostel overlooking a wild and sublime beach. The water is transparent, you can see your feet. The sand is white and fine, it is really a dream setting



However, the water is full of garbage: Binh Lap is a peninsula, near Cam Ranh Bay. Because of the tide, garbage is often sent back to this area, especially when there are storms offshore like now

In any case, with the massive arrival of tourists and the lack of an infrastructure capable of managing such a large amount of waste, the entire Khanh Hoa region is facing this problem. I hope that the region’s request to build a waste treatment center in Khanh Hoa will be accepted soon

I see lightning striking on the horizon, followed by lightning and thunder. We get out of the water and 30mn later, it rains ropes. We hurry back to Nha Trang, it rains so much that at one point, we can’t see anything in front of us. The lightning continues to strike, we aren’t hyper reassured. Fortunately, at the approach of Nha Trang, the rain decreases to stop completely. We are saved!

Day 8: return to HCM city

We leave at 8 am for 10 hours by bus to Ho Chi Minh City. We would have paid the same price to return by plane, but as we have nothing to do in Ho Chi Minh city anyway, and the view is nice (we pass by Mui Ne again), I preferred to take the bus

We have just returned to the hotel when my beef jerky delivery man calls me already. Hihihhi, I love the vietnamese service, one text message and everything is delivered to the hotel for 10000VND (0,3€)

Once again we choose the “strangers’ corner” to accommodate us. JB takes advantage of Burger King while I bring down my stock of “nem chua Ninh Hoa”, a speciality of Khanh Hoa, but 100% incompatible to foreigners (it is marinated raw pork)

We learn that three villages in Central Vietnam are completely flooded because of the heavy rain (like every year). And like every year, the whole country is mobilizing to send food to the unfortunate. Nature is more and more cruel, the storms are stronger every year, and the countries are still as poor as ever


Nha Trang that I knew has completely disappeared, which saddens me enormously. Even though we didn’t have much rain, the storms offshore during our stay made the beaches less paradisiacal, bringing in garbage and disturbing the water. However, I am glad that tourism brings money to Vietnam because the tourists I saw are rather rich. Unfortunately, for tourists looking for a bit of tranquility, you will have to take refuge in less known places like Doc Let, Diep Son, Binh Ba… Culinary level, I am 100% satisfied, seafood is too good and cheap. In Nha Trang, I found local restaurants reminding me of Nha Trang 10 years ago


Part 2: Practical Tips

How to get there

From Ha Noi: Plane to Cam Ranh and cab to Nha Trang (about 280 000VND)
From Ho Chi Minh City: either plane to Cam Ranh and then Taxi, or bus 10h
From Mui Ne: 5h bus, departure 2 times/day


  • Hotel : 9€/night for a double room
  • 5 star hotel: 180€/night double room with full board at Vinpearl Nha Trang Resort
  • Restaurant

    • 500 000VND/meal for two with seafood only
    • 60 000VND/meal in a bui bui
    • 150,000VND/meal in a local restaurant, without seafood
    • 20 000VND the omelette sandwich, 30 000VND a bun cha ca
    • Lobster: 1 400 000VND/kg
    • Spider crab: between 350 000VND/kg and 400 000VND/kg
    • Gambasses: 380,000VND/kg

  • Care

    • 120 000VND the 45mn foot massage
    • 40 000VND the shampoo at the hairdresser’s
    • 200 000VND for standard facial care, it can go up to 1200000VND if we use light therapy

  • Cabs : between 7000VND and 11500VND per km
  • Bus

    • Nha Trang – Doc Let: 24,000VND/person
    • Mui Ne – Nha Trang: 140,000VND/person (bunk)
    • Nha Trang – HCM City: 210,000VND/person (bunk)

  • Tours

    • 4 islands: 200 000VND/person + 50 000VND/person for private beach entrances
    • Binh Lap (with guide): 580 000VND/person
    • Diep Son, Doc Let (with guide): 650,000VND/person
    • VinPearl Land Park: 650 000VND/person

  • Linen: 30 000VND/kg


  • Addresses

    • Seafood restaurant : avoid the all-you-can-eat buffets in Nha Trang (except if you are in VinPearl), prefer the Cây Me restaurant (near i-resort) where you can buy seafood by the kg
    • Vietnamese restaurant: full of Vietnamese dishes at soft prices: Nhà Hàng Đèn Lồng Đỏ, Hoàng Văn
    • The hotel we recommend: Ha Thu Hotel, 64 street Trần Phú
    • The VinPearl Hotel we recommend: VinPearl Nha Trang Resort (choose the room with full board)

  • To go to Doc Let, take the bus n°3 on the sidewalk along the sea, in front of 86 Tran Phu street (be careful to follow the numbers, not Google maps). When you get on the bus, sit down and a woman will come and ask you where you are going and ask you to pay
  • Excursions that I recommend

    • Diep Son – Doc Let (1 day). Diep Son is a set of 3 islands connected to each other by a strip of sand. If you accept to pay a little more, take this tour instead of taking the local bus -> 650 000VND/person
    • Tour of the 4 islands (1 day) : the tour you can’t miss, there are a lot of tourists but it’s still nice
    • Super nice tour: diving to look for an oyster and to possess the pearl it contains (1/2 day) (we couldn’t do it because the sea was too rough)
    • Tour to visit an island with a nice strip of sand, its “twin beach” and bird nests perched in the cliffs (1 day) -> tour to Hon Noi organized only by Sanest from March to September ( we didn’t do it because we went there in October)
    • Mud bath and hot spring at i-resort (no time to do it)
    • If you don’t stay at VinPearl: buy a ticket for its amusement park, take your swimsuit and some money for food and locker

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *