Beyond the Beach in Nha Trang
Nha Trang is the coastal jewel of Vietnam, with some of the best white sand beaches, luxury resorts and natural beauty that the country has to offer. But there’s much more to it then just the shore, take a look at what’s beyond the beach!
Located only 450 kilometres from Ho Chi Minh City, Nha Trang is known for being one of the most bustling beach cities in Vietnam, offering visitors more than just a sleepy oceanside town. Although the stunning turquoise water and stretches of pristine coastline is what makes Nha Trang a top destination in Vietnam, the city has much more to offer than sun and sand.
Into the Blue
While most travelers don’t venture too far beyond the sunny comfort of the beach, there is so much more to see once you go past the shore. Since Nha Trang’s water is still some of the clearest in Vietnam‘s stretching coastline, there is hardly a better place to take in the beauty under the water’s surface than here.
The marine ecological park around Hon Mun Island allows divers and snorkelers to see some of Nha Trang’s underwater life up close and in an area that is protected from destruction. The marine park’s close proximity to the city — a boat ride there will only take around 40 minutes — has established Nha Trang as one of the top diving destinations in Vietnam and arguably Southeast Asia.
Monuments of History
Before it became a major tourist destination, Nha Trang was populated by the ancient Cham people, whose empire spanned a majority of south-central Vietnam and into parts of Cambodia and Laos. Consequently, ancient ruins of the Cham temples still stand in parts of Vietnam, including the Po Nagar Temple in Nha Trang.
As one of the most beautifully restored Cham temples in Vietnam, the Po Nagar temple resides on its own ‘island’ and overlooks the city’s skyline beyond the Xom Bong Bridge. Many still pray at the location, and incense is always burning in large bowls in front of the temple entrances, called bat huong.
Places of Faith
More modern testaments to the faith and history of the locals in Nha Trang are only just outside of the city centre, including the Kito Cathedral, or Nha tho Nui. Locally known as the Mountain Church, Kito Cathedral sits atop a small hill and is surrounded by a steep driveway that winds up to its entrance.
Built in the early 1900s, the church is still a place of worship for Nha Trang’s large catholic population, and a beautiful testament to French and Western architectural influences in the city.
Only a few kilometres stands yet another religious icon in Nha Trang, at Long Son Pagoda. Long Son Pagoda is also perched along a mountain, and its many spots for prayer connected by steep stairways and stone walkways.
Long Son is home to some of the largest buddha statues and monuments in the country, with a collection of “sleeping buddhas” and an enormous sitting buddha statue standing almost 24 metres high at the top of the hill. The vantage point from where this magnificent statue stands offers one of the best views of Nha Trang city in the surrounding area, and is well worth the climb for the photo opportunity alone.
After the sun goes down in Nha Trang, an entirely new side of the city opens its doors. Nha Trang has one of the most vibrant night life scenes outside of Ho Chi Minh City, with many bars staying open well past sundown. The most famous late night bar is The Sailing Club, which remains one of the few bars in the city whose bedtime is well past midnight, and is popular with both visitors and locals alike.
Lovers of food will not be disappointed in Nha Trang either, which boasts seafood that hardly travelers a kilometre from net to plate. Most of the city’s best seafood restaurants are along Tran Phu street, which runs along the coast and operates as the cultural backbone of the city.
Yet, some dining establishments take the dinner experience right to the source, with makeshift food stands set up along the beach even after sundown. Taking a stroll down the sand just before sunset will have you stumbling across some of the best local food in the city.
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