Snorkeling Near the Islands of Nha Trang

Carving our way down the switchbacks of the mountains in the back of a crowded bus, we slowly plunged back into the heat and humidity of Nha Trang, Vietnam. Only my Dramamine protected me from being one of the may passengers who lost the contents of their stomachs on the descent.

We arrived in Nha Trang in the afternoon and checked in to the Truong Giang Hostel, soaked in sweat from the one mile walk from the bus station. The city is packed full of Russian and Chinese tourists on romantic getaways and family vacations. Most of the businesses and restaurants near the beach are resorts or geared towards tourists; however, we still managed to find some local eats.

Food from Nha Trang

Bo Nuong La Lot in Nha Trang, Vietnam

Bo Nuong La Lot

Nha Trang Market Bun Thit Nuong

Nha Trang Market Bun Thit Nuong. My favorite meal of the trip so far.

Banh Can (Squid on Doughy Cakes)

Banh Can (Squid on Doughy Cakes)

Dried Squid in the Nha Trang Market

We also ate a restaurant, Yen’s, for Stu’ birthday and got some special treatment from the staff. It is the same restaurant that has a rooftop bar that is popular in town – definitely recommended.

Stu's Birthday Dinner at Yen's Restaurant in Nha Trang

Stu’s Birthday Dinner at Yen’s

Activities in Nha Trang

Because Nha Trang is more a resort town, there were not many activities to take part in besides drinking, lounging by the beach, and eating good food, but we managed to do a couple of day-trips.

Snorkeling

We booked a snorkeling tour through our hostel, the Truong Giang Hostel, and met up with our group on our tour boat. It was a nice mix of nationalities including Americans, Canadians, Brits, Russians, Vietnamese, and Germans.

Boats Anchored off of an Island in Nha Trang

Boats Anchored off of an Island

I do have to admit that the snorkeling itself is …OK. There was cool and colorful coral and a few different species of fish darting about, but I don’t think it compares to other areas of SEA or Hawaii, which is the only other place I have snorkeled.

Making Sure My Mask Still Seals Snorkeling in Nha Trang

Making Sure My Mask Still Seals

The best of the trip was meeting news friends, swimming around, jumping off the upper level of the boat, and eating great food.

Visiting the Long Son Pagoda

The only real cultural activity we did on the trip, besides eating delicious food in the street market, was seeing the Long Song Pagoda. Walking several miles in the blazing sun and high humidity, only to come upon a hill to finish it off nearly made me get sick. It was the first time the heat really go to me, but it was worth it in the end.

The day before I had my beard buzzed off at a women’s salon across the way from our hostel. Sitting in the salon with two women and one young girl all speaking in Vietnamese while they laughed and shaved my beard was quite the experience. I don’t think they had every done anything like that before. I am pretty sure she kept saying “his beard is going to break my clipper”. It took about 30 minutes to finish up and it cost me around $1.80. Unfortunately, none of that helped with heat.

Up the hill, past the pagoda, various shrines, and the always present bell tower, sits a giant buddha overlooking Nha Trang. It was a pleasant surprise to find in a city I thought was a modernized resort town.

Resting in the shade of the Long Son Pagoda in Nha Trang

View from Long Son Pagoda

View from Long Son Pagoda

Hotels & Hostels in Nha Trang, Vietnam

We stayed in the Truong Giang Hostel for three nights while visiting Nha Trang. Our private twin room was $6/night/person. The hostel has a great location close to the beach, restaurants, and night life of the city. It was also in walking distance of the markets and the main sight seeing, although those were a fairly long walk. The room was nothing special and the bathroom smelled a bit, but the staff was helpful, the wi-fi was fast, and we were able to book all of our tours and activities through the front desk. There also was no curfew at this hostel if you want to stay out late.

Overall

In the end, we had some good times Nha Trang, but I wouldn’t recommend it if you are doing a trip through Vietnam. Spend more money and nights somewhere else that you want more time in – there is not much to see and do here.

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