- Top Things To Do in Nha Trang
- 1. Best Thing To Do in Nha Trang – Scuba Diving and Snorkeling
- 2. Ancient Champa at Ponagar Tower
- 3. Trek Through the Ba Ho Waterfalls
- 4. Take a Sea Gondola to Vinpearl Land Amusement Park
- 5. Get Your Dirty On at The Mud Baths
- 6. View the City from Long Son Pagoda
- 7. Cycling and Bicycle Tours
- 8. Orchid Island For a Day of Innocent Fun
- 9. Stir Up Mischief on Monkey Island
- 10. Shopping at Cho Dam
- 11. Swank Your Wardrobe with Silks and Pearls
- 12. Sea Creatures of The Institute of Oceanography
- 13. Find Your Idyllic Nha Trang Beach
- 14. Onboard Fishing and Yacht Cruising
- 15. Ocean Getaway to Swallow Island
- 16. A Perfect Beach Day on Tam Island
- 17. A Quiet Day of Watersports on Bai Tranh Beach
- 18. Explore the Past In a Living Ancient Village
- 19. Be Willy Wonka at The Chocolate Factory
- 20. Nourish Yourself on Local Delicacies
- 21. Dawn Escapade to Hon Khoi Salt Fields
- 22. Tu Van Pagoda to Nui Chua National Park
- 23. Finish the Day With A Dinner Sunset Cruise
- 24. Nha Trang Night Market
- 25. Boogie On Down the Night
- Best Time for Scuba Diving in Nha Trang
- Best Times to Visit Nha Trang
- Getting Around Nha Trang
Nha Trang (Vietnamese spelling) is a small city of around half a million people along the southern central coast some 400 kilometers north of Ho Chi Minh City. It’s served by Cam Ranh International Airport, which also connects to the developing city of Cam Ranh.
Often referred to as Vietnam’s Riviera, Nha Trang was a small unknown town until its potential was recognized by the French. Some of the best things to do in Nha Trang are scuba diving and snorkeling, and there are plenty of fun activities for children as you venture to islands or inland to explore the natural scenery.
Top Things To Do in Nha Trang
Nha Trang has some of the most idyllic coastlines in all of Vietnam. With tranquil islands scattered around its bays, it’s a haven for scuba diving, snorkeling, and boating. One of the best things to do in Nha Trang is to spend a day on the beach, but there are other activities besides the sea.
You can trek inland to waterfalls, go cycling into the countryside, enjoy a family day at a theme park, activities with animals, or relax in a mud spa. Some unique things to do in Nha Trang is visit its ancient Champa Temples, or chase down the sunrise to one of the largest salt fields in Vietnam.
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1. Best Thing To Do in Nha Trang – Scuba Diving and Snorkeling
One of the best things to do in Nha Trang is to plunge into its turquoise waters and explore the world below. Afterall, Nha Trang has the best diving in all of Vietnam. There are five main islands and three are key diving locations.
The best is Mun Island (hòn Mun) which was the first marine reserve to be established in Vietnam. It has over 350 species of coral and pinnacles up to 50 meters deep, water caves and grottoes.
The reef is rated in good condition, although in recent years overfishing has led to a depletion in large fish species. Some tours have glass-bottomed boats and may include stop-offs and barbeque lunch on some of the most beautiful beaches in Vietnam.
There are a number of excellent diving schools in Nha Trang with licensed and experienced divers— both Vietnamese and expats. Basic explore-and-try scuba diving packages are available, or you can just enjoy snorkeling.
2. Ancient Champa at Ponagar Tower
Of all the things to do in Nha Trang, don’t miss the Po Nagar temple complex. This unique attraction is one of the best and most beautifully preserved Champa sites in Vietnam. Parts of these temples date back to the 8th century, and remain a vibrant and active religious site to this day.
Po Nagar is on a hill just outside the city over the Cai River (sông Cái) where you can enjoy some panoramic views of the city. If you get there early before the crowds, you can have yourself some excellent vacation shots.
You can go inside the narrow interiors and pay respects to the gods including the elephant god Ganesha, and ancient Shiva Lingam. The main temple is dedicated to the Goddess of the Land, Yon Po Nagar, also known in Vietnamese as Thiên Y Thánh Mẫu. There are souvenir shops in the complex, and stalls selling touristy stuff outside. The entrance ticket is 22 000 VND.
Protip: If you cycle here on a rental bike, the Chon Promontory is only a short ride away or 2 km on foot. There are many nice tours that include Po Nagar such as boat trips up the Cai River to handicraft workshops and Phu Vinh ancient village.
3. Trek Through the Ba Ho Waterfalls
A trip to Ba Ho Waterfalls is a great thing to do in Nha Trang, especially to escape the city on a hot day. It’s about 20 km north of the city or 45 minutes by motorbike, or you can book a half or full-day tour.
The trek up takes you through three river lakes. The first lake is at its best before April and the start of the dry season. You can enjoy some rock jumping here into the waters. The second lake is more tranquil and surrounded by boulders. If you’re up for some rock climbing, you may want to make it to the third lake.
There are arrows painted on the rocks to show the way, and embedded iron bars and ropes in tougher areas making it easy for older children. You’ll also find water swings, picnic tables, and treehouses.
In the lower river reaches you can rent a kayak, paddleboat, or rubber dingy. Tickets are VND 50 000, and there’s a restaurant, fast food, coffee shop, and swimming pool down below.
4. Take a Sea Gondola to Vinpearl Land Amusement Park
Vinpearl Land is across the water on the main island Hon Tre. The best way there is the LandMark Cableway about 6 km south of the main city, and a number 4 city bus will stop there. This sea gondola is some 3.3 km and there’s no better way to really appreciate the spectacular beauty of the ocean.
There’s an all-inclusive ticket for the amusement park, so you don’t pay extra for rides and attractions. It costs VND 880 000 per adult and VND 700 00 per child. Food is not allowed and they will check your bags. You can buy food at the numerous restaurants and diners and prices are basically reasonable.
Take your swimwear to enjoy rides in the aqua park or the wave pool. There’s a wonderful cove beach too, and towels and lockers are available for rent. A main attraction is the water zip-line, but if you don’t get there early, you could be disappointed with the time spent in lines— especially on weekends or holidays.
5. Get Your Dirty On at The Mud Baths
A favorite thing to do in Nha Trang is to sooth up the minerals in its natural mud spas. Thap Ba is the most popular and not far from Po Nagar Tower. The Galina Spa is situated downtown.
Thap Ba Hotspring (Tắm bùn Tháp Bà) includes mud baths, mineral spas, and a swimming pool. The price varies according to the time option, but the pool is for as long as you want. They have a shuttle bus to hotels or the downtown tourist office.
I-Resort Mineral Spa is quite a modern and premium resort spa. There are various mud spas, massage and spa treatments, and a VIP room. Other options are the large hot water mineral pool, an amusement water slide pool, special services for seniors, and a restaurant.
Tram Trung Egg Park (Khu du lịch Trăm Trứng) is about 20 km due south of the city. Egg-shaped mud pods are a key attraction, and there are swimming pools, jacuzzis, and a waterfall. You can also stay overnight in an egg bungalow.
Galina Hotel Spa is in the city and its spa facilities are open to the public. Treat yourself to hydrotherapy and a massage, or relax in the sauna, steam bath, swimming pool, and jacuzzi. It’s best to make an appointment before going.
6. View the City from Long Son Pagoda
Apart from Ponagar Tower, the other popular religious site in Nha Trang is Long Son Pagoda (chùa Long Sơn). It’s not far from the city center on Trai Thuy mountain, but there are no other major attractions nearby so it’s a little out of the way.
If you like visiting temples, it’s well worth it, and so too is the walk up to giant sitting Buddha. From the bell tower there are great views of Nha Trang bay, and at the bottom there’s a vegetarian restaurant and a really nice gift shop next door. The buildings are reconstructed in the Taoist tradition with ornate carvings, dragon motifs, and bonsai gardens.
Make sure to dress appropriately when visiting this pagoda otherwise they may not let you in. That means no short pants or bare shoulders. It’s not uncommon to be hassled here by incense or postcard sellers, but just politely wave them by and go inside.
7. Cycling and Bicycle Tours
Nha Trang, like most large towns and cities in Vietnam, is quite bustling with motorbikes and street vendors. At the same time, it’s also laid back, but you do need to take care when cycling, especially in the city center or around major sites.
It’s easy to visit most of the key sites in Nha Trang by bicycle, and for the more adventurous, you can also cycle 34 km to Ba Ho Waterfalls (thác Ba Hồ).
Bicycle tours outside the city can cost up to 70 USD or more. Some tours will stop at local hamlets where you can learn about rice planting or handicrafts. Others are drop off cycle tours to scenic locations which can also include river rafting, and then you cycle back to Nha Trang.
Basket bikes are as cheap as 3 USD per day and a mountain bike can be 6 USD or more. Helmets are usually included, but not required by law in Vietnam.
8. Orchid Island For a Day of Innocent Fun
Orchid Island (đảo Hoa Lan) is one of two popular islands in Nha Phu Bay— the other being Monkey Island. The ferry port is about 20 km north of Nha Trang in Cat Loi Village (thôn Cát Lợi), and you can visit them either separately from the same terminal or together on a tour.
Orchid Island is probably the better of the two. The name comes from the beautiful orchid gardens and flower parks you can stroll through. There are many other attractions which makes it one of the best things in Nha Trang to do for young children.
You can pet and feed the deer, get in touch with snakes, or ride the only elephant there. Some bird activities include feeding flocks of budgies, cockatoo shows, and falcons. Alternatively, for the more audacious, you can try riding an ostrich.
There’s chalet accommodation for the night, or you can camp out on the beach. Water sports such as kayaking, parasailing, and jet skiing are also available.
Ferry tickets are 140 000 VND for adults or 70 000 VND per child. The number 3 bus from downtown to Doc Let beach will stop here.
9. Stir Up Mischief on Monkey Island
The boat to Monkey Island leaves from the same terminal as Orchid Island. Humans are the main attraction here to a colony of over 1 500 monkeys. The island was used to breed monkeys to send to the old Soviet Union, but now new enterprises have emerged.
There are various dog and monkey shows such as monkeys racing dogs, monkey swim races, or monkeys riding bikes, but some people may find the ethics of it all a bit concerning.
You can, though, enjoy one of the best swimming beaches in Nha Trang while being robbed by gangs of monkeys. There’s also a go-kart track on the island, paintball range, floating waterpark, kayaking, and scuba diving, but not much in the way of decent restaurants.
A ferry to the island including attractions is 120 000 VND and children are half price. You can reach the port on a No.3 bus from downtown to Doc Let beach.
Protip: You can combine Orchid and Monkey Islands in a tour, or opt for a tour that includes activities like diving, snorkeling, and just stop by to observe some monkey business.
10. Shopping at Cho Dam
If you’re looking to do some shopping, you can find some nice boutiques or touristy shops downtown, but Dam Market (chợ Đầm) pretty much has everything in one place. There are a lot of shops here geared towards tourists and many will speak English.
Cheap souvenirs abound, but a few stores sell silk and leather products. You can also pick up inexpensive clothes, electronics, sunglasses, and good looking rip-offs too. There’s a lot of interesting dried and sealed foodstuffs you can easily take home, teas, incense, and Vietnamese coffee.
Cho Dam is a big three-storied building and it can get crowded. You should, at all times, be careful of pickpockets. This is a comparatively pricey market, so you will have to bargain prices down at least 40 to 50%. Some stall owners get cranky if you ask for prices, but don’t buy anything.
11. Swank Your Wardrobe with Silks and Pearls
Two luxury items to purchase in Nha Trang, which are also key commercial products of Vietnam, are silk wear and pearls. A couple of reputable pearl dealers are Long Beach Pearl and the more downtown Hoang Gia Pearl.
If you’re interested in silk, go to the XQ Historical Village craft center where you will find a silk workshop which makes silk portraits and you can buy a wide range of high quality silk apparel items. You can also find silk items in Dam market, but best to compare price and quality with what you can get here.
12. Sea Creatures of The Institute of Oceanography
This museum is one of the more educational things to do in Nha Trang and a top favorite with locals too. The Oceanography Institute started in 1922 and now features an oceanarium with around 20 000 sea creatures.
You can see live coral, sea shrimp, scorpion fish, stingrays, moray eels, sharks, and more. There’s also a skeleton of a huge whale which is bound to impress young kids.
The museum also has a collection of historic photographs and old oceanography equipment. For the more gory at heart, the 2nd floor has hundreds of specimens bottled up in formaldehyde. Furthermore, you can learn about local ocean legends, institute research, and natural disasters.
The museum is open from 6 am to 6 pm and the fee is 30 000 VND. It’s 4.5 km south of the main town down near to the port. You take a number 4 bus to get there.
Protip: Bao Dai Villa (Dinh Bảo Đại) is a short 10-minute walk away. It was a holiday home of the last king of Vietnam. The view and beach are spectacular, there’s a museum inside, and it operates now as a state-run hotel.
13. Find Your Idyllic Nha Trang Beach
Central Beach of Nha Trang stretches for quite a few miles. There are beach showers, public toilets, and umbrellas to rent in the big hotel area.
Paragon Beach or South Beach is on the tip of the southern peninsula facing Mieu Island. It’s enclosed by a man-made water break so is perfectly safe and a good choice for young children. Umbrellas and deck chairs are managed by the Paragon Hotel.
Doc Let Beach (bãi biển Dốc Lết) is 50 km north of the city and you can easily get a public bus number 3 and return by the early evening. It’s a very wide and shady beach with safe swimming. You can rent deck chairs, kayaks, and there are a few restaurants. The shower, change, room, and toilet facilities cost 30 000 VND for an upkeep fee and half price for children.
Nhu Tien Beach (bãi biển Nhũ Tiên) is a private beach 25 km from Nha Trang managed by the Diamond Bay Spa Resort. You have to pay a 100 000 VND entrance fee, but there’s a free shuttle service to Nha Trang central. There are deck chairs, showers, toilets as well as kayak and jet ski rentals from the resort.
14. Onboard Fishing and Yacht Cruising
For a more laid back day of adventure, you can forgo scuba diving and try your hand at fishing. There are a number of tours that will take you out boat fishing with all equipment provided. Usually there is a stop to do some casual snorkeling, and even if you don’t catch any fish, you still get to enjoy a seafood BBQ on the boat.
The other alternative for a day on the water is a more luxurious yacht cruise (Cataramanvn.com). These also include snorkeling stop-offs, onboard fishing, lunch, and sometimes excursions to sea villages.
15. Ocean Getaway to Swallow Island
Visiting islands is one of the most popular things to do in Nha Trang. Swallow Island (đảo Yến) gets its name from the farming of swift nests on this island. The island is protected and managed by Khánh Hoà Salanganes Nest Company. It’s famous for its sandbar and double beach, with crystal clear blue waters on either side.
You can also climb up its 90 meter high Du Ha Mountain (núi Du Hạ). You have to book a tour ticket here at Cau Da Pier (bến tàu du lịch Cầu Đá) in Nha Trang— only available from March through September. The package includes breakfast, lunch, snacks and the usual price is 350 000 VND.
16. A Perfect Beach Day on Tam Island
Tam Island (Hòn Tằm) is a Southern Island only 20 minutes away from Hon Tam Pier in Nha Trang. Tam Island’s long exquisite beach is one of the best sand beaches you’ll come across and there’s excellent shallow snorkeling. Another activity here is to wander around the ancient village of Hoang Hoa Village, or you can go to the Merperle Resort.
Other things include watersports such as kayaking, canoeing, windsurfing, paragliding, golf, or just strolling along the shoreline. The high-speed boat costs 200 000 VND return and other fees can add up if you don’t buy a package ticket.
17. A Quiet Day of Watersports on Bai Tranh Beach
Bai Tranh Beach (Bãi Tranh) is on Mieu Island (Hòn Miễu) also known as Trí Nguyên or Bồng Nguyên Island. This island is the closest to the mainland, and Bai Tranh beach on the far side often doesn’t attract large numbers of people. There are a lot of watersports you can do here in a much more relaxing and quieter atmosphere than most other places.
You can also visit local fishing villages or there’s a weird kind of boat aquarium near the main terminal, but it’s rather run down. You can catch a boat from Cau Da dock to Tri Nguyen village and it costs as little as 20,000 VND per trip and only takes 15 minutes.
18. Explore the Past In a Living Ancient Village
About 7 km from Nha Trang center is the village hamlet of Phu Vinh (Phú Vinh). There are around 50 houses over 100 years old. The oldest standing house is the 200 hundred year old house of Mr. Nguyễn Xuân Hải.
These wood pillared houses are all built in the traditional architecture of central Vietnam. You can take a horse and cart ride around the village for 30 000 VND and see what’s going on, and some places still do traditional crafts like incense making.
There are guided tours that go here along the Cai River usually starting with Po Nagar Tower, and stops may include handicraft workshops, and end with a visit to Thap Ba mud baths or Dam Market.
Protip: If you rent a bike for the day, the way to Phu Vinh passes by Long Son Pagoda.
19. Be Willy Wonka at The Chocolate Factory
A little known gem of things to do in Nha Trang is the Fifty Fresh Farms chocolate factory. Vietnam not only grows its own coffee, but there are also coca tree plantations. Nha Trang’s premium chocolate maker is a foreign enterprise teamed up with local growers.
You have to book your visit in advance, and the factory farm is 30 km outside the city on the way up from the airport. The tour includes a look at a mini plantation, a tour of how the chocolate is made, and a hands on session making a few of your own custom treats.
Afterward, you can visit their shop for some really great quality chocolates, gift sets, and they sell a few cosmetics too.
20. Nourish Yourself on Local Delicacies
Street food is a must thing to do all over Vietnam. Nha Trang is no exception, and there are a few local specialties you should make sure to try on your way here and there.
- Banh can Nha Trang (bánh căn) is a small, round rice flour cake cooked with egg. This healthy, oil-less snack is eaten dipped into a light sauce.
- Banh xeo muc Nha Trang (bánh xèo mực) is the local version of this favorite Vietnamese savory pancake. Instead of using pork and shrimp, the main filler is squid and is just dipped in a watery sauce.
- Bun cha ca sua (bún chả cá sứa) is a typical noodle soup with a Nha Trang twist. It’s a fish cake noodle soup with the addition of a jellyfish or sua.
- Nem nuong Ninh Hoa (nem nướng Ninh Hòa) are fermented grilled pork skewers which is a delicacy of Nha Trang’s Ninh Hoa province. The meat is soft and sticky and marinated in spices.
- Hat Dac (hạt đác) is a kind of dessert made from the seeds of coconut or palm trees. It’s white with an elastic fatty texture with a unique taste. It’s served with bits of other fruits or treats.
21. Dawn Escapade to Hon Khoi Salt Fields
Hon Khoi (Hòn Khói) salt fields are situated about 4 km north for Doc Let Beach, and the ideal way to get there would be to rent a motorbike from Nha Trang. The salt fields provide some unique scenery for those interested in photography.
These are some of the largest salt fields in Vietnam and the months to visit are between January and July during the dry and hot season— although January can be a windy month.
Work is generally carried out between 4 to 9 am in the morning, so this would require some special motivation to get up early, and afterwards you can enjoy a day on Doc Let Beach.
22. Tu Van Pagoda to Nui Chua National Park
If you want to get out for the day on an interesting road trip, then head down south past Cam Ranh International Airport. Tu Van Pagoda (Chùa Từ Vân) in Cam Ranh city is a stop along the way. There’s a bus from downtown Nha Trang Central Bus Station to Cam Ranh city
The pagoda tower, Snail Tower (tháp Bảo Tích), was started in 1995 by monks who procured coral and seashells from the seashore nearby. It took four years to complete using no concrete filling.
In the courtyard you can wander through the 18 levels of hell in an intricately decorated dragon maze tunnel. It takes about 40 minutes to pass through, and it’s not for the spiritually feint-of-heart!
After spending some time here, if you have a motorbike, you can venture further south into the Nui Chua National Coastal Park (Vườn quốc gia Núi Chúa). The park has some amazing coastline and beaches. It’s one of the driest coastal zones and protected sea turtles also nest here.
23. Finish the Day With A Dinner Sunset Cruise
Nha Trang has an abundance of oceanic beauty, and a dinner cruise offshore gives you a perfect view of the sun as it sets west over the city skyline. You can choose various options such as a traditional sailing junk or a stylish catamaran, or just a small boat for two.
On some tours, you can get up to a five-course dinner including lobster, unlimited drinks, all soothed over with live music or traditional dancing. Just make sure to check what’s included, especially additional alcoholic drinks apart from the ‘welcoming drink’. Most tours will pick you up and drop you off at your hotel.
24. Nha Trang Night Market
Nha Trang night market is nothing big and fancy, and has many of the same things you’ll find at the Dam market. The market is conveniently situated across from the seafront promenade along Nguyen Thi street near to the lotus tower.
It’s worth the ambience of a night stroll or if you want to kick up a few clothing items, kids toys, trinkets, or souvenirs. There’s not much in the way of food stalls, but you can try the local restaurants nearby.
25. Boogie On Down the Night
Nha Trang is a premium vacation spot, so it’s not surprising that there are quite a lot of nightspots considering its relatively small size. Some of these are still going strong despite the pandemic turndown.
- Sky Light Nha Trang – Vietnam’s only rooftop beach club. It’s on the top floors of the Havana Hotel. They have a restaurant, bars, rooftop pool deck, and stage space. You can also make private reservations.
- Sailing Club – popular foreshore entertainment venu. It has a beach view restaurant during the day and the club opens in the evening.
- Louisiane Brewhouse – a beachfront craft beer brewer and restaurant serving up an array of quality international cuisine. They also have brewery tours and cooking classes.
Discover more about Sky Light Nha Trang and local night spots
Best Time for Scuba Diving in Nha Trang
Most of the best things to do in Nha Trang are centered around the beaches and the islands. If you want to enjoy scuba diving or snorkeling, then the perfect sunny weather needs to team up with perfect ocean visibility.
The best months for scuba diving or snorkeling in Nha Trang start from April with July to August being ideal. July and August are peak holiday season months and therefore diving tours and accommodations are much higher too.
September is not too bad, but with a significantly higher chance of rain, whereas January into mid March the ocean visibility is not so good. These months are good for getting your PADI diving licenses.
Months avoid coming to Nha Trang for scuba diving and snorkeling are the rainy and stormy season running from October through to mid January.
Best Times to Visit Nha Trang
February, March, and April: February is the driest month and tends to coincide with the long Lunar New Year break. March and April are relatively cool with maximum temperatures up to 27℃. March and April are not so crowded and the best time for cycling in Nha Trang as well as kayaking. There can be good days for diving too.
May, June, July, August and September: May can sometimes be 32℃ or more, but there’s still a bit of wind around. For June, July and August the average temperature is a little lower, but the heat can be intense with little wind, so you may want to avoid too much cycling.
Prices for tours and accommodations are also higher for July and August. September is the start of the rainy season, yet not a bad time to visit. There are many nice days, even good enough for diving.
October, November, December: October and November are the peak of the rainy season with only a few clear days each month. There may be a few good days for the beach if you go to a protected bay.
December and January: December temperatures can get as low as 21℃, but the rain is less— maybe every other day or so. January averages about as much rain as May and June. The temperatures are lower and it’s a great month for cycling, but still too windy and cold for kayaking.
Getting Around Nha Trang
Bus: One of the great things about Nha Trang is the easy to use bus to many beaches, ferry terminals, and other key sites. There are six key bus routes (check out the article on Vietnamchik.com) and an airport route in Nha Trang.
Bicycle: Some guest houses, hostels, and hotels may provide free bicycles. These are good for visiting sites in the city as long as you’re careful and it’s not too hot. The average bike rental is around 3 USD whereas more expensive mountain bikes can be up to 9 USD or more.
Motorbike: Motorbike rentals are a convenient way to get around, but the traffic may be daunting for some. A motorbike for the day can be as cheap as 80 000 VND 8 (3.5 USD), but you might want to budget more for a better bike. Usually you have to pay a refundable deposit or leave your passports as collateral. Bikes of 50cc do not require a license.
Taxis: Taxis are relatively affordable for short distances and the cost per kilometer is around 15 000 to 17 000 VND. Most major companies such as Vinasun, Mai Linh, Asia Taxi, and Quoc Te are metered and take credit cards. Vinasun and Mai Linh have English language apps. One thing to be careful of are clone taxis which have a similar name and color scheme to the main brands— so check your taxi via the article on Vietnamchik.com.
Rentals and Grab: If you’re planning to go far or visit many sights in one day, there’s always the option for a private car and driver, or a private tour. Grab Car and Grab Bike is a ride hailing service similar to Uber. They can often be cheaper than a taxi and Grab Bike is great for single-person trips around the city.