I was told by pretty much everyone that I encountered that I could just skip Nha Trang during my trip from north to south in Vietnam. It is said to be full of Russian tourists, tacky bars, and mediocre food. But I wanted to break up the journey from Bai Xep to Da Lat, and I also wanted to experience taking a train in Vietnam—Nha Trang has a train station, but Da Lat does not. I also had a great time in Bai Xep with some fellow backpackers who were also on their way to Nha Trang. So that settled it: the four of us decided to take a train to Nha Trang and spend a few nights there before moving on to Da Lat.
My verdict? I was pleasantly surprised with Nha Trang, probably because I only spent a day and a half there and spent most of it in and around the water.
On the first day, we just bummed around on the beach. Then on our second day, we woke up early for a snorkeling trip with Vietnam Active. We met at the office at 7:30, snorkeled for a few hours in different spots around an island 45 minutes away, and were back in town around 1:30 pm, perfect timing for me to catch the afternoon bus to Da Lat.
Snorkeling was a good choice; the water was crystal clear with perfect visibility, and the reef was filled with beautiful tropical fish and coral. I haven’t snorkeled much so I can't say how this compares to other places, but this was by far the best experience I’ve had yet.
So, should you go to Nha Trang? Sure, if you have time to stay for a couple nights and aren’t expecting a very cultural Vietnamese experience, it’s fine for a short stay. Do a snorkeling or diving trip and you'll be very happy you stopped here.
If you go…
- I stayed at Mojzo Inn, which had adorably friendly staff, free beer from 5-6 pm, and a better-than-average complementary breakfast. The rooms seem to vary a bit; the one I stayed in (402) had an uncomfortable mattress and no windows, but my friends stayed in another one with comfy beds and windows. So if you stay here, ask for an updated room, or try to see the room first if you can.
- I would recommend taking a train to Nha Trang from either the south or the north. It can be a long journey, but in my opinion it’s better than a bus because you can walk around and eat in the dining car. The station is fairly central and you can take a metered taxi from there to your hotel or dorm.
- We ended up eating Western food because that’s what was located around our hostel. Olivia Restaurant had very delicious Italian food, and a place called Snack Bar had decent burgers.