14 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Nha Trang
The coastal city of Nha Trang in Vietnam has been attracting both local and international tourists for years. While Nha Trang is best known for its scuba diving and long stretches of beach, the city also has a strong historical and cultural heritage that's worth discovering.
For those wanting natural attractions, Nha Trang beaches offer a backdrop of towering rock cliffs and are stunningly beautiful–while the Long Son Pagoda and its dragon mosaics are a great stop if you want to combine a temple visit with a great view over the city.
For more ideas on the best places to visit in this ancient city, take a look at our list of top tourist attractions in Nha Trang.
1. Nha Trang Beaches
Nha Trang is home to several stunning soft white sand beaches offering everything from perfect sunbathing spots to plenty of recreational activities. The city's most popular beach is Tran Phu Beach, which attracts tons of tourists–this means lots of activity day and night, making the beach noisier but also full of amenities, including great restaurants and places to rent equipment for water sports.
If you want peace and quiet, Bai Dai Beach might be a better option–it's full of locals, which means the beach and its surroundings aren't as well developed. This can be good or bad, depending on your idea of a heavenly coastline–but the sand is still soft and the waters a clear blue if that's all that matters.
Hon Tre beach is one of the largest beaches in Nha Trang, and it's also where some of the biggest festivals in town are celebrated–including the colorful February festival Ba Chua Xuch to honor a Vietnamese prosperity goddess.
For the ultimate in luxury, the privately-owned Nhu Tien Beach cannot be beat–it offers a golf course with stunning views over the palm-fringed sands and lush mountains, yoga and snorkeling, and plenty of other things to do.
2. Ponagar Tower
The Po Nagar temple complex was built some time around the 7th century and dedicated to the worship of a number of deities, especially Lady Po Nagar, the Goddess who created and nurtures the Earth. The temple, with its soft stone towers and columns, is a beautiful marriage of Cham (an ethnic minority in Vietnam) architecture and Hinduism influences.
Of the eight original sandstone towers that were once part of the complex, only four still stand, just as magnificent as ever. The 28-meter-tall North Tower is not only the highest but also one of the most stunning–it has a terraced roof, a number of chiseled inscriptions around the doorway, and holds a 10-arm black statue of the goddess Uma inside. The other towers are dedicated to Hindu deities Cri Cambhu, Shiva, and Ganesh.
The complex–set on a hill on the banks of River Cai–also features a small museum showcasing stonework and sculptures of the time. Because the buildings here are still considered active religious shrines, you're expected to remove your shoes and dress respectfully (shoulders and legs covered) when visiting.
3. Long Son Pagoda
Although it was founded long before that, Long Son pagoda was moved to its current location at the foot of Trai Thuy mountain after it was partially destroyed by a cyclone in the year 1900. Today, this is one of the most visited pagodas in town and a beloved stop for both locals and tourists. Beautiful dragon mosaics and intrinsically decorated ceramic tiles cover the temple's entrance and part of the roof and the altar inside.
Perhaps the most commonly associated image with Long Son pagoda is the 24-meter-tall white Buddha statue, even though the concrete statue isn't technically part of Long Son. Instead, the statue sits slightly higher up the hill, on the grounds of Hai Duc Pagoda, and it's one of the most famous sights in Nha Trang.
4. Vinpearl Cable Car
A ride on the Vinpearl Cable Car is one of the top things to do in Nha Trang. Connecting Nha Trang with Vinpearl Island, this gondola ride is over 3,000 meters long and takes 15 minutes to reach its destination. It took over a year to build the cable car, as it needed to be made not only earthquake resistant but also able to withstand strong winds and monsoon rains.
The ride is actually the longest overwater cable car in the world and offers beautiful views over the sea and the Disney-like Vinpearl park that occupies center stage on the island.
The towers that sustain the cables are designed to look like miniature Eiffel towers and are completely illuminated at night, making for a beautiful sight.
5. Vinpearl Land
Vietnam's own version of Disneyland is right here, on Vinpearl Island. This combination of amusement park and water park offers rides and thrills for all ages, as well as plenty of opportunities to meet unique cartoon characters and even see a few wild animals.
The Vinpearl water park occupies a major section of the complex and offers lazy rivers, adrenaline-filled slides, a water obstacle course, and even a beach with sun loungers where you can rest and cool down for a while.
The amusement part of the park offers a massive arcade area, rides, Disney-like castles, a 3D-movie theater, and live performances by dancers and acrobats.
Right next to the ocean you'll also find the Vinpearl sky wheel, one of the tallest Ferris wheels in the world at 120 meters. A full circle on the wheel takes about 15 minutes and offers stunning views of the bay, especially at night.
6. Hon Mun
Of all the islands dotting the waters around Nha Trang, none are more beautiful and full of things to discover than Hon Mun. The limestone cliffs, caves, and stunning black rocks cover the coastline, offering beautiful photo opportunities, as well as climbing and hiking. A slow stroll on the beach will also reveal ebony-black caves hiding in the rock.
Above everything, however, Hon Mun's main attractions are found underwater. The island's coral reefs attract scuba divers and snorkelers from all over the world–they come here to discover the colorful biodiversity of fish, sea turtles, and crabs.
The water is so clear around the island that even those who don't want to jump into the water will get to enjoy the marine life–boats with clear bottoms allow a direct view deep into the ocean. If you have your heart set on exploring, it's also possible to book island-hopping tours that will allow you to visit not only Hon Mun but also other nearby islands.
7. XQ Historical Village
A large complex of buildings designed to look older than it really is, the XQ Historical Village was founded by a pair of artists in the 1990s. The original idea was to create a place to showcase the Vietnamese arts of painting silk and embroidery and to empower women to focus on these "almost lost arts" as a means of starting their own businesses and continuing local traditions.
Today, more than 3,500 women–dressed in Áo Dài or Vietnamese traditional dress–work and sell their products at this village and others like it around the country.
XQ is a unique mix of working space, art galleries, and shops. Visitors can simply walk around admiring works in progress, choose to buy an impressive wall hanging or a small scarf, or sit in the gardens for a cup of tea while listening to soft music.
8. Dam Market
There are plenty of markets in Nha Trang to fulfill your every need, but none of them are more authentic, busier, or more varied than Dam Market. Housed in a circular two-story building, the market is open from 4am, when it attracts mostly locals who arrive here for their daily shopping.
Despite the apparent disarray of the place, there's some logic to how the stalls are set inside the market, so you can walk around to discover areas for food, clothing and handbags, handicrafts and souvenirs, designer knockoffs, and a large section for fresh seafood and produce in the back.
There are other markets in Nha Trang–including the food-focused Xoi Moi Market and the Nha Trang Night Market for souvenirs–but Dam Market is an experience in itself. Just walking through the massive open space is an adventure for the senses, but you can push it a step further by trying some street food from some of the stalls set around the indoor fountain.
9. Street Food
While you can find quick things to eat almost anywhere in Nha Trang, there are a few particular dishes you should be trying when visiting the city. Even better, most of these dishes are easily available from street vendors, so you'll not only get a chance to taste something good, but also have the experience of trying real Vietnamese cuisine from local vendors.
Two common dishes you will find street food carts selling are nurong la lot (grilled beef wrapped in leaves) and banh can, a local delicacy made of mini rice flour pancakes topped with meat and eggs and cooked over coals.
Nha Trang has a huge seafood culture, and many of its local markets, especially Xoi Moi Market, sell seafood by the bucket (literally, fresh food is placed in a bucket and weighed for sale).
For those willing to "get their hands dirty," Nha Trang is also famous for its cooking classes, offered through hotels and private companies or as part of city tours.
10. National Oceanographic Museum of Vietnam
The Nha Trang Oceanography Institute dates back to the early 20th century, and it's one of the oldest scientific research institutes in Vietnam. It's also the biggest Vietnamese research center focused on marine biodiversity and ecology.
Housed in a beautiful French-colonial building, the museum section of the institute houses thousands of marine and bird specimens, as well as displays and exhibits meant to educate the public on marine conservation and the life of aquatic species.
Some of the highlights of the museum include the 18-meter-long skeleton of a humpback whale found underground, glass tanks holding puffers and turtles, and even examples of local boats.
Visitors are free to wander around the museum, which offers exhibits in English explaining sacred sea-related legends, showing the devastating power of tsunamis, and exploring the fishing culture of the country.
11. Ba Ho Waterfalls
The Ba Ho Waterfalls are a picturesque 40-minute ride away from the city, reached after driving alongside the turquoise coastal waters and the soft rocking of paddy fields.
Of the three waterfalls that make up the group, the bottom one is the most crowded but also the easiest to reach–but even it is still a half-hour trek through the bright green jungle to get there and be able to dip your toes in the cool water pool.
Waterfalls 2 and 3 require a harder climb using stone steps and large boulders and pushing through thicker forest. Wear proper hiking shoes, as the rocks can get slippery, especially during the rainy season. There are painted arrows pointing the way, but you can just as easily follow other climbers up.
All three waterfalls are popular cliff-jumping areas, with jumps as high as 11 meters from the rocks to the refreshing pools below.
12. Alexandre Yersin Museum
A museum dedicated to the French-Swiss bacteriologist who co-discovered the bacteria that causes bubonic plague might seem out of place in Nha Trang, but Yersin had strong ties to the country and did much of his groundbreaking work while living in Vietnam.
The museum, housed in Yersin's former home in Nha Trang, features a large collection of original equipment and furniture (including his desk and bed), letters, and documents. There's also a large collection of photographs Yersin took of Vietnam's ethnic groups during his travels around the country.
While Yersin is best known for his contributions to science and technology, he also worked in other fields while in Vietnam. He's actually responsible for the import and cultivation of rubber trees into Southeast Asia and also for starting a project to acclimatize the quinine tree (used to create a remedy against malaria) to Vietnam. The exhibits, which are in English and Vietnamese, also include short films.
`13. Traditional Fishing Villages
With over 3,000 kilometers of coastline, it's not surprising that Vietnam has developed an intimate relationship with the sea. Fishing villages have been around for hundreds of years and have become part of the cultural heritage of the country. Here, people not only fish for a living, but have shaped their lives around the water.
Nha Trang has five important fishing villages around it, with Bich Dam being one of the quietest and most remote. Visitors can come here to explore its idyllic beauty, see traditional basket boats, and enjoy some time on the beach.
Van Gia is the most famous of all the fishing villages because of its proximity to Nha Trang city center. There's a beach with soft golden sands nearby, and places to try traditional local dishes, plus plenty to explore and even the chance to get some fishing lessons from the locals.
There's also Dam Mon (home to the ethnic minority group Dang Ha); the remote and hard-to-find Khai Luong; and Ninh Thuy, which is over 200 years old and has homes built using coral pressed mortar.
14. Yang Bay Waterfalls
About 45 minutes away from Nha Trang, these tiered 80-meter-high waterfalls sit surrounded by dense, primitive forests and unspoiled wilderness. At the bottom, the waterfalls end in a 10-meter plunge into a fresh lake, where you can dip your toes to cool off as you watch colorful fish swim all around you.
If you're up for climbing, there are mountain trails running alongside the waterfall. They're slippery and often tricky to maneuver, but they'll take you all the way to the top of the waterfall for beautiful views of the thick surrounding jungle.
There are a number of activities available in the massive 570-hectare valley surrounding the waterfalls, including a fairy garden, a small zoo, ethnic music performances, and even hot springs you can access for a fee. Plus you can visit the nearby "Wishing Tree," a 500-year-old tree considered a spiritual symbol for the local Raglai people.
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