Situated in south central Vietnam, Nha Trang hosts one of the world’s most beautiful bays, Nha Trang Bay. Its pristine and splendid beaches, surrounded by green hills and shaded with palms, are considered the best of Vietnam. It can be mentioned here Dai Lanh Beach (37 km north of city center), Doc Let Beach (34 km north) and Tran Phu Beach (along Tran Phu Street, the Pacific Coast Highway of Vietnam to many Americans). With deep bay, white sand together with calm and warm azure water, Nha Trang is the marine city in dreams of most people. It is an ideal destination for bathing, swimming, sailing, fishing, and snorkeling. Especially, Nha Trang is a famous spot for diving enthusiasts and may be the only spot on central coast where you can find certified dive shops. It also boasts some of Vietnam’s top seafood restaurants as well as nice Thai, Indian and Italian cafes. Nha Trang bird’s net soup is the best all over the country.
To many travelers, the real delight of Nha Trang is a boat trip across its turquoise water to discover plentiful coral reefs or to explore numerous surrounding islands where seclusion and tranquility are always guaranteed. Monkeys Island, in particular, will be one of your most fantastic discoveries in Vietnam.
It is also well worth exploring the dramatic little town of Nha Trang, “the Vietnamese Riviera” packed with rich history. You will enjoy its relaxed atmosphere as well as warmth and friendliness of locals. The town is kept tranquil and clean as most people prefer walking or cycling and fishing is its primary industry. If you want a bit livelier atmosphere, come to join colorful Nha Trang Sea Festival, which is usually held in May or June.
Nha Trang is also home to most of premier beach resorts in Vietnam, including Diamond Bay, Ana Mandara and Evasion Hideaway Nha Trang. The latest Vinpearl located on its most beautiful island, Bamboo Island, is reportedly Vietnam’s largest and most splendid resort. For travelers on a budget, Yasaka Saigon Nha Trang Hotel or Nha Trang Lodge Hotel is a great choice.
Nha Trang can be reached by bus or train, notably the Saigon-Nha Trang Five Star Express. The easiest way is to take a flight from Hanoi, Danang or Ho Chi Minh City. The civil Cam Ranh Airport is within a half-hour drive to the town. Nha Trang Bay has also welcomed some international luxurious cruises like Silversea Cruises or Princess Cruises.
From Nha Trang you can follow the highway 1 to Phan Thiet, city of Binh Thuan province in southeast Vietnam. Phan Thiet also hosts some of Vietnam’s best beaches which are yet to be touristy though it is just 3-hour drive from Saigon, much closer than Nha Trang. Time may be the only answer as Phan Thiet with its stunning Mui Ne had been completely unknown until October 24, 1995, when travelers rushed to it for a total solar eclipse. The two names are now placed firmly on travel map.
The magnet of Phan Thiet is Mui Ne Beach or Rang Beach, a 20-minute bus trip from the city centre. Gracefully shaded with a forest of coconut palms, Rang Beach describes the ideal beach in imagination of many people. It is known as another Phuket in Vietnam. Just as beautiful as Nha Trang, Mui Ne Bay also boasts the very best conditions for a perfect retreat: sparkling water, superb sand, year round sunny weather, fabulous seafood, magnificent landscape, friendly locals and grand resorts. But it is not exactly another Riviera of Vietnam as you will discover:
Mui Ne has uniquely spectacular sand dunes which are fun to slide down.
Mui Ne is one of the few spots in Vietnam to savor incredible sunsets on beaches.
Mui Ne offers excellent kitesurfing and windsurfing as it has quite strong sea breeze. When you get enough of bathing, swimming and sailing, you may also take a boat trip to go fishing at nearby Cu Lao Cau, a young beautiful island with abundant marine life.
Mui Ne is still a quiet and laid-back coastal town with postcard-perfect fishing villages. It is interesting to learn that Mui Ne is the homeland of round basket boat, a very common sign on sea around Vietnam.
Indeed, Mui Ne has recently drawn special attentions for huge tourism potentials. And though development is just underway, its central beach is now a full resort strip with big names like Coco Beach Resort, Saigon Muine Resort, Victoria Phan Thiet and Bamboo Village Beach Resort. You may also earn a wide range of comfortable and reasonably priced rooms in small beach hotels.
Another southern stretch much closer to Saigon is Vung Tau Beach nestled in the city of Dong Nai province. Just like Bai Chay in the North, this is one of Vietnam’s most popular beach resorts which are usually overcrowded with locals. In weekends or holiday seasons, it even tends to be the most crowded shoreline all over the country. If you have little time for a complete Vietnam beach holiday, you may entertain the notion of visiting it. Make sure you can afford a weekday.
The southernmost Phu Quoc Island, a Southeast Asia’s gem located in the Gulf of Thailand, is now coming onto the scene as a new paradise for nature lovers and sun-seekers. This Vietnam’s largest island still retains an air of adventure and isolation, assuring all the privacy and tranquility. It is exactly the deserted island in your dream.
Phu Quoc offers a number of delights: scenic mountains, tropical forests and again pristine beaches which boasts the country’s whitest and finest sandy stretches, including Bai Truong, Bai Thom, Bai Khem, Ong Lang, Duong Dong and Ba Keo Beach. It is also known as the best place to view the sunset over water in Vietnam. Especially, its fish sauce tastes the most terrific all over the country. Phu Quoc also offers many adventure activities such as snorkeling, diving, kayaking and trekking.
Compared to other islands in Vietnam, Phu Quoc has rather good infrastructure, including one airport and several harbors, making it easy to reach. Vietnam Airlines offers direct flights to Phu Quoc from Tan Son Nhat hub, Ho Chi Minh City. You may also take a ferry ride from Rach Gia, a southern port town in Kien Giang province. Phu Quoc is just working its way to become Vietnam’s most complete resort area but currently you can already enjoy the luxury of La Veranda Grand Mercure Resort and Saigon Phu Quoc Beach Resort. There are quite many basic, comfortable and cheap bungalows too.
So whatever your beach holiday, Vietnam is the ideal year-round destination to stay away from bustle and hustle life without spending a fortune. And wherever you find yourself in Vietnam, you will always have the best chance to bath, swim, enjoy cheap-fresh seafood, and really get in touch with nature. Just make sure you follow all safety warning signs and flags.