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Nha Trang

NHA TRANG

tel 058 pop 315,200

Nha Trang is the capital of Khanh Hoa province, has one of the most popular municipal beaches in all of Vietnam. Club Med hasn’t arrived yet, and there are still no Monte Carlo style casinos, but the resort town has rapidly developed into a bustling destination for sun and fun.

Nha Trang is a place to come and party, and the service on the beach is incredible massage, lunch, cold beer, manicure, beauty treatments, etc. If you are after something more tranquil, however, consider heading for Mui Ne Beach further south or north of Nha Trang, to beautiful Jungle Beach or Whale Island.

The clear turquoise waters around Nha Trang make for excellent fidhing, snorkelling and scuba diving. However, you aren’t likely to enjoy these pursuits in the off season months of November and December, when the rains come. During heavy rains, water levels rise in the two rivers at either end of 6km beach; runoff carried by the fresh water flows into the bay. which can turn a murky brown. Most of the year, however, the water is as it appaers in the tourist brochures.

The combined fishing fleet of Khanh Hoa province and neighbouring Phu Yen province numbers about 10,000 travellers and junks; they are able to fish during the 250 days of calm seas per year. The area’s saefood products include abalone, lobster, prawns, cuttlefish, mackerel, pomfret, scallops, shrimps, snapper and tuna. Nha Trang’s fishing fleet operates mostly at night, using the days in port for rest and equipment repair. Agricultural products exported from the area include cashew nuts, coconuts, coffee and sesame seeds. Salt production is also large, employing over 4000 people – a good place to observe some photogenic salt fields is on the access road leading to Doc Let Beach.

Nha Trang’s dry season, unlike that of HCMC, runs from June to October. The wettest months are October and November, but rain usually falls only at night or in the morning. Weather patterns vary greatly from year to year, but in general the best season is from late January to late October. November typically brings the worst weather and December is not much better. The best beach weather is generally before 1pm; the afternoon sea breezes can make things unpleasant until the wind dies back down around 8pm. Although well within the tropics, Nha Trang has cool evenings.

Boat trips are a real highlight of Nha Trang.

Warning: We continue to hear reports of theft on the beach, as well as a proliferation of “motorbike cowboy” thieves along Đ Tran Phu, the street running parallel to the beach.

Information

Money There’s a branch of Vietcombank (tel 822720; 17 Đ Quang Trung; open 7.30am-11am & 1.30pm -4pm Mom-Fri), where you can change travellers cheques and get cash advances.

Post The main post office (cnr Đ Le Loi & Đ Pasteur; open 6.30am-8pm daily) ia near the northern end of Nha Trang beach.

For night owls, there’s another post office (50 Đ Le Thanh Ton) that’s open 24 hours.

Email & Internet Access Thereis plenty of Internet access available at Le Fregate Internet (tel 829011; 4 Đ Pasteur; open 8am-noon & 2pm-midnight daily) for a mere 100d per minute.

Thanh’s Family Booking Office (2 Đ Hung Vuong) in the town centre charges about the same.

Many hotels also offer Internet access, as do the travellers cafes mentioned earlier.

Travel Agencies The provincial tourism authority, Khanh Hoa tourist (tel 822753, fax 824206; 1 Đ Tran Hung Dao) is beside the Vien Dong Hotel. It offers variuos tour programmes, but you’ll likely find it cheaper and more interesting to book elsewhere.

The following are a few of Nha Trang’s budget traveller cafes cum travel agencies.

Hanh Cafe (tel 814227, hanhcafe@dng.vnn.vn; 26 Đ Tran Hung Dao)

Sinh Cafe (tel 811981, sinhcafent@dng.vnn.vn, 10 Đ Biet Thu)

TM Brother cafe (tel 814556, fax 815366, hoanhaont@dng.vnn.vn, 22 Đ Tran Hung Dao)

Lotus Tourist (tel 811350/0913429144, www.lotusvietnam.com, www.aseansailandpaddle.com) is worthy of a plug for its outdoor activities such as kayaking, surfing, sailing, trekking and camping. It’s run out of the tranquil Jungle Beach Resort, north of Nha Trang.

Wave Killer (tel 512308/090572106; oceane@dng.vnn.vn), found at the Louisian Cafe, is a good place in town to hire water sports equipment.

Con Se Tre (tel/fac 811163; 1006 Đ Tran Phu) offers interesting boat tours to peacefull Hon Tre (Bamboo Island). Full day tours cost US$5/10 with/without lunch, and their popular dinner trips (US$8) are also worth looking into. For more information (including about camping on the island) visit the booking office across from the Ana Madara Resort.

Mama Linh’s Boat Tour (tel 826693, fax 815365; 2A Đ Hung Vuong) runs a fleet of island hopping party boat. Daily trips last from 8.45am until 4.30pm, and typically include stop on Hon Mun (Salangane Island), Hon Mot, Hon Tam and Hon Mieu. Ticket (US$5) are sold at this office, but you can easily book at your hotel for a dollar or two more.

Sea Life Tours (tel 827528,www.sealifetours.com; 96A/4 Đ Tran Phu) peddles three hour glass bottom boat tours (145,000d per person) in Nha Trang Bay.

Mr Vu’s Tour Adventures (tel 813009, fax 828996, tranvuvn@hotmail.com), attached to Cafe des Amis, can be recommended for inland excursions to the central highlands. One reader wrote:

If you’re in Nha Trang, heading north of south, an interecting alternative to the Sinh Cafe tourist bus trail is to take a tour of Central Highland en rout to Hoi An, Hue, HCMC or Dalat. You can trek or raft to minority villages, ride elephants, see waterfalls and more.

Caprice Olsthoorn

Nha Trang is Vietnam’s number one scuba diving destination; for a list of local dive operators.

Bookshop & Photo Processing Outdoors, near the War Memorial, is Mr. Lang’s Book Exchange (Đ Tran Phu), which stocks a good collection of used books in a variety of languages.

Hung Hara (tel 828030; 2C Đ Biet Thu) is a relaible local photo lab to have your film developed at.

Dangers & Annoyances Although Nha Trang is generally a safe place, be very careful at night, especially on the beach and along Đ Tran Phu. The best advice, in fact, is to stay off the the beach after dark. We’ve heard countless stories of thievery and rip-offs, mostly instigated by quick witted prostitutes who canvass the area.

Beaches

Coconut palms provide shelter for both bathers and strollers along most of Nha Trang’s 6km of beachfront. Beach chairs are available for rent – you can just sit and enjoy the drinks and light food that the beach vendors have on offer. About the only time you need to move is to use the toilet or when the tide comes up.

Hon Chong Beach (Bai Tam Hon Chong) is a series of beaches that begin just north of Hon Chong Promontory; fishing families live here among the coconut palms, but the refuse makes the place unsuitable for swimming or sunbathing. Behind the beaches are steep mountains, whose lower reaches support crops that include mangoes and bananas.

About 300m south of Hon Chong (ie, towards Nha Trang) and a few dozen metresfrom the beach is tiny Hon Do (Red Island), which has a Buddhist temple on top.

Louisiane Cafe

Louisiane Cafe (tel 812948, fax 814722, lousianecafe@hotmail.com) is a large and pleasant beachfront place that resembles a Western style beach club. This attractive, thoughtfully landscapedfacility has beendone in a stylish Mediterranean blue motif. In the daytime, vendors are not permitted on the private beach, a restriction you’ll come to appreciate with time.

The best thing about Louisiane Cafe is that it is free – well, almost. Guests can indulge themselves in use of the swmming pool and beach chairs here in exchange simply for patronising the restaurant, bakery or bar. Their cakes and pastries are superb!

Also at the cafe, Wave Killer rents out surfing, windsurfing and kite-sailgear, plus catamarans.

Pasteur Institute

Nha Trang’s Pasteur Institute (tel 822406, fax 824058; 10 Đ Tran Phu) was founded in 1895 by Dr Alexandre Yersin (1863-1943), who was, from among the tens of thousands of colonists who spent time in Vietnam probably the Frenchman most loved by the Vietnamese. Vietnam’s two other Pasteur Institutes are in HCMC and Dalat.

Born in Switzerland, of French and Swiss parents, Dr Yersin came to Vietnam in 1889 after working under Louis Pasteur in Paris. He learned to speak Vietnamese fluently and spent the next few years travelling throughout the central highlands and recording hisobservations. During this period, he came upon the site of what is now Dalat and recommended to the government that a hillstation be established here. Dr Yersin also introduced rubber and quinine producing trees to Vietnam. In 1894, while in Hong King, he discovered the rat borne microbe that causes bubonic plague.

Today, the Pasteur Institute in Nha Trang coordinates vaccination and hygiene programmes for the country’s southern coastal region. The institute produces vaccines (eg, for rabies and Japanese B encephalitis) and carries out medical research and testing at European standards. Physicians at the clinic here offer medical advice to around 70 patient a day.

Dr Yersin’s library and office are now an interesting museum (admission 26,000d; open 7am-11.15am Mon-Sat, 2pm-4.30pm Mon - Fri), located on the second floor in an adjacent building. Items on display include laboratory equipment (such as his astronomical instruments), books from his library, a fascinating 3-D phot viewer and some of the thousand or so letter written to his mother! The model boat was given to him by local fishermen with whom he spent a great deal of his time. Tours of the musuem are guided in French, English and Vietnamese, and a short film on Dr Yersin’s life is also shown.

At his request, Dr Yersin was buried near Nha Trang.

Khanh Hoa Museum

This sleepy local museum ( admission free; open 8am – 10 am & 2pm – 4pm Mon, Wed, Thur & Sun) features displays such as Cham statutes and costumes, and artefacts of the ethnic minorities in the province, The Uncle Ho room features several of Ho Chi Minh’s personal effects, such as clothing and the actual microphone with which he made his famous independence speech in Hanoi on 2 september 1945.

Long Son Padoda

Aside from the beach and Cham towers, perhaps the most impressive sight in Nha Trang is Long Son Pagoda, also known as Tinh Hoi Khanh Hoa Pagoda and An Nam Phat Hoc Hoi Pagoda. Its about 500m west of the train station. The pagoda, which has resident monks, was founded in the late 19th century and has been rebuild several times over the years. The entrance and roofs are decorated with mosaic dragons constructed of glass and bits of ceramic tile. The main sanctualy is an attactive hall adorned with modern interpretations of traditional motifs. Note the ferocious nose hairs on the colourful dragons wrapped around the pillars on either side of the main altar.

At the top of the hill, behind the pagoda, is a huge white Buddha ( Kim Than Phat To) seated on a lotus blossom and visible from all over the city. The platform around the 14m-high figure, which was built in 1963, has great views of Nha Trang and nearby rural areas. As you approach the pagoda from the Buddha begin to the right of the structure. You should take some time to explore off to the left, where there’s an entrance to another impressive hall of the pagoda.

Nha Trang Cathedral

Nha Trang Cathedral, built in the french Gothic style and complete with medievallooking stained glass windows, stands on a small hill overlooking the train station. It was constructed of simple cement blocks between 1928, a Catholic cemetery not far from the church was disinterred to make room for a new train station building. The ashes were brought to the cathedral and reburied in the Cavities behind the wall of plaques that line the ramp up the hill.

Messes are held daily.

No Nagar Cham Towers

The Cham towers of Po Nagar ( Thap Ba, The Lady of the City; admission 3000d) were built between the 7th and 12th centuries The site was used for Hindu worship as early as the 2nd century AD. Today, both ethnic Chinese and Vietnamese Buddhist come to Po Nager to pray and make offerings according to their respective traditions. This site has a continuing religious significance, so do remember to remove your shoes before entering.

The towers serve as the Holy See, honouring Goddess Yang Ino Po Nagar, the Goddess of the Dua (Liu) Clan, which ruled over the southern part of the Cham Kingdom covering Kauthara and Pan Duranga ( Pre sent day Khanh Hoa and Thuan Hai provinces).The Original wooden structure was razed to the complex, most of which relate to history or religion, and provide great insight into the spiritual life and social structure of the Chams.

Originally the complex covered an area of 500 sq metres and there ware seven or eight towers, four of which remain. All of the temples face east, as did the original entrance to the complex, which is to the right as you as cend the hillock. In centuries past, a person coming to pray passed through the pillared Meditation Hall, 10 pillars of which can still be seen, before proceeding up the staircase to the towers.

The 28m-high North Tower ( Thap Chinh) with its terraced pyramidal roof, vaulted interior masonry and vestibule, is a superb example of Cham architecture. One of the tallest Cham Towers, it was built in AD 817 by Pangro, a minister of King Harivarman I, after the original temples here were sacked and burned. The raiders also carried off a linga made of precious metal. In AD 918 King Indravarman III placed a gold mukhalinga in the North Tower, but it too eas taken, this time by the Khmers, This pattern of statues being destroyed or stolen and then replaced continued for some time until 965, when king Jaya Indravarman I replaced the gold mukha –linga with the stone figure, Uma ( Shakti, or a feminnine manifestation of Shiva), which remains to this day.

Above the entrance to the North Tower, two musicians flank a dancing four – armed Shiva, one of whose feet is on the head of the bull Nandin. The sandstone doorposts are covered with inscriptions, as are parts of the walls of the vestibule. A gong and a drum stand under the pyramid – shaped ceiling of the antechamber. In the 28m hight ceiling of the antechamber. In the 28m-high pyramidal main chamber, there is a black stone statue of the goddess Uma ( in the shap of Bhagavati) with 10 arms, two of which are hdden under her vest; she is seated and leaning back against some sort of monstrous animal.

The Cental Tower ( Thap Nam) was built partly of recycled bricks in the 12th century on the site of a structure dating from the 7th century. It is less finely constructed than the other towers and has little ornamentation; The pyramidal roof lacks terracing or pilas-ters, although the interior altoars were once covered with silver. There is a linga inside the main chamber. Note the inscription on the left hand wall of the vestibule.

The South Tower (Mieu Dong Nam) at one time dedicated to Sandhaka (Shiva), still shelters a linga. The richly ornameded Northwest Tower (Thap Tay Bac) was originally dedicated to Ganesha. The richly ornamedted Northwest Tower ( Thap Tay Bac) was originally dedicated to Ganesha. The pyramid-shaped summit of the roof of the Northwest Tower has disappeared. The West Tower, of which almost nothing remains, was constructed by King Vikrantavarman during the first half of the 9th century. Near the North Tower is a smll museum with a few mediocre example of Cham Stone – work; the explanatory signs are in Vietnam-ese only. At one time there was a small temple on this site.

The towers of Po Nagar stand on a granite knoll, 2km north of central Nha Trang and on the banks of the Cai River. To get there from central Nha Trang, take D Quang Trung ( which becomes D 2 Thang 4) North across Ha Ra Bridge and Xom Bong Bridge, which span the mouth of the Cai River. Po Nagar can also be reached via the new tran Phu Bridge along the beach front road.

Hon Chong Promontory

Hon Chong is a narrow granite promontory that juts out into the turquoise waters of the South China Sea. The views of the mountainous coastline north of Nha Trang and nearby islands are certainly fine, and the beach here offers a more local flvour than the main beach in the town centre.

To the northwest is Nui Co Tien ( Fairy Mountain) with three summits believed to resemble a reclining femail fairy ( see the boxed text “fairy Romance’)

To the northeast is Hon Rua ( Tortoise island), which really does resemble a tortoise . The two islands of Hon Yen are off in the distance to the east.

Thap Ba Hot Spring Center.

Thap Ba Hot Spring Center ( Tel: 514099, fax 514278, Email: saomaitk21@dng.vnn.vn open 8am-8pm Mon-Fri, 7am-9pm Sat, Sun &  public holidays) is an outdoor leisure complex on the northern outskirts of Nha Trang, near the Po Nagar Cham Towers. The big attracttion here is the chance to soak your bones in soothing pools of hot, mineral rich mud. Facilities at this suburban oasis include swomming and bathing pools (both private and public), a massage service, a butterfly garden, a waterfall, a restaurant and a cafe. You can also rent simple Bungalows here.

Ticket prices are 15,000d for use of the minreral water swimming pools, 25,000d for a regular hot spring water bath, and 50,000d for a bath in mineral mud. Kids get a 50% discount. Towels and bathing costumes are provide free of charge.

To get there, follow D 2 thang 4 North from the centre of town. Cross the Ha Ra Bridge and the Xom Bong Bridge, after which you will see the Po Nagar Cham Towers on your left. The turn off ( sign-posted) to the springs is on the same side of the street, just beyond the pododa, turn and follow the bumby road for 2.5km,

Oceanographic Institute

The Oceanographic Institute (Vien Nghiem Cuu Bien, Tel 590036, admission 5000d; open 7.30 am-noon & 1pm-4.30pm daily) Founded in 1923, is housed in a grand French Colonial building 6km south of Nha Trang’s main post office in the port district of Cau Da ( Also called Cau Be). It jas am aqiaroum ( Ho Ca) and specimen room open to the paublic, it also has a library. The 23 tanks on the ground floor are home to a variety of colourful live specimens of local marine life, including seahorses.

Behind the main building and across the volleyball court is a large hall filled with 60,000 dead specimens of sea life, including stuffed seabirds and fish. corals and the corporeal remains of other marine creatures preserved in glass jars.

As nice as the Oceanographic Indtitute is, if you really want to see an aquarium, you should take a boat across to nearby Mieu Island ( see Around Nha Trang later in this chapter).

Bao Dai’s villas

These are the former retreats of Bao Dai, Vietnam’s own “last emperor” He abdicated in 1945. Between the mid-1950s and 1975, Bao Dai’s villas ( Biet Thu Cau Da) were used by the high ranking officials of the South Vietnamese government, including President Thieu, This all changed in 1975, when the villas were taken over for use by high-ranking communist officials, including the prime minister, Pham Van Dong. Today, low-ranking capitalist tourists’ can rent a room in the villas ( see places to Stay).

Bao Dai’s five villas, built in the 1920s, are set on three hills south of town, and have brilliant views of the South China Sea, Nha Trang Bay ( to the North) and Cau Da dock ( To the south). Between the buildings are winding paths lined with tropical bushed and trees. Most of the villas’furnishings have not been changed in decades.

There’s a 20000d charge to enter the grounds of the villas, but if you’re heading for the restaurant, there is usually no need to pay the entry fee.

To get to Bao Dai’s Villas from Nha Trang, turn left of D Tran Phu street, Just past the white – cement oil storage tanks (but before reaching Cau Da village). These villas are several hundred metres north of the Oceanographic Institute.

Scuba Diving

Nha Trang is Vietnam’s premier scuba-diving locale, Visibility averages 15m, but can be as much as 30m depending on the season ( late October to early january is the worst time of year).

There are around 25 dive sites in the area, both shollow and deep, there are no wrecks to dive on (Yet), but some sites have good drop-offs and there are a few small underwater caves to explore. The waters support a good variety of soft and hard corals, and a reasonable number of small reef fish. There are a few resident sharks, including grey-nurse sharks and a white-tip shark named “Eric”. Whale sharks have also been known to pass through and stingrays are a common sight.

A full-day outing including boat transport, two dives and lunch typically costs between US$ 50 – US$ 70. Most dive operators also offer a range of dive courses, including a discover diving” grogramme for uncertified, first time divers to experience the thrill under the supervision of a qualified dive master.

It is difficult to recommend one dive operator over another, so our best advice is to shop around, speak to a few different operators and use your better judgement. With that caveat in mind, consider the following outfits.

Blue Diving Club: Tel: 825390 Fax 816088 Email: bluedivingclub@hotmail.com, http://www.vietnamdivers.com, Biet Thu street) is French Bristish owned and operated

Coco Dive Center ( Tel 812900 Fax 810444 Email: cocodive@dng.vnn.vn, http://www.center.com, 2E D Biet Thu street) wwas opened by ms Minh Xuan, Vietnam’s First and only PADI Instructor, and consequently a champion swimmer and local karate champion

Jeremy Stein’s Rainbow Divers (Tel 829946, Fax 811223, email: rainbowdivers@hotmail.com, http://www.divevietnam.com) is located at the Sailing Club and is run by Briton Jeremy Stain ( who also just happens to be a dead ringer for Chuck Norris)

Octopus Diving Club (Tel: 810 629, Fax 827436, Email: haison.aaa@dng.vnn.vn; 62 Tran Phu street) is a French –run dive shop right across from the beach.

Orca Club ( Tel: 811375 Fax: 811374 Email: vietravel.diving@dng.vnn.vn, Tran Phu street) is Vietnamese-run, and part of a company called Vietravel.

Considerations for Responsible Diving

The popularity of diving is placing immense pressure on many sites. Please consider the following tips when diving and help preserve the ecology and beauty of reefs.

+ Do not use anchors on the reef, and take care not to ground boats on coral, Encourage dive operators and regulatory bodies to establish permanent moorings at popular dive sites.

+ Avoid touching living marine organisms with your body or dragging equipment across the reef Polyps can be damaged by even the gentlest contact. Never stand on corals, even if they look solid and robust. If you must hold on to the reef, only touch exposed rock or dead coral.

+ Be conscious of your fins. Even without contact, the surge from heavy fin strokes near the reef can damage delicate organisms. When treading water in shallow reef areas, take care not to kick up clouds of sand. Settling sand can easily smother the delicate organisms of the reef.

+ Practise and maintain proper bouyancy control. Major damage can be dine by divers descending too fast and colliding with the reef. make sure you can rorrectly weighted and that your weight belt is positional so that you stay horixontal. If you have not dived for a while, have a practice dive in a pool before takoing to the reef. be aware that buoyancy can change over the period of an extended trip; initially you may breathe harder and need more weight; a few days later you may breathe more easily and need less weight.

+ Resist the temptation to collect or buy coral or shells. Aside from the ecological damage, taking home marine souvernirs depletes the beauty of a site and spoils the enjoyment of others. The same goes for marine archaeological sites ( mainly shipwrecks). Respect their integrity, some sites are even protected from looting by law.

+ Ensure that you can take home all your rubbish and any litter you may find as well. Plastics in particular are a serious threat to marine life. Turtles can mistake plastic for jellyfish and eat it.

+ Resist the templation to feed fish. You may disturb their normal eating habits, encourage aggressive behaviour or feed them feed that is detrimental to their health

+ Minimise your disturbance of marine animals

Place to stay

Nha Trang is a trendy place for both domestic and foreign tourists, whith the result that there are around 100 hotels to choose from Several of the state run hotels occupying prime beach fron property have become markedly run-down, and most are not worth considering. For the same money, you can do much better at one of the countless private minihotels. which even if not on the beach, will be within a few minuts’ walk

For two secluded-beach accommodation alternatives outside of Nha Trang, see the Whale Island and Jungle Beach sections earlier in this chapter.

Place to stay- Budget

Hotel O-Sin ( Tel ; 825064 Fax 824991, Email osinhotel@hotmial.com, Nguyen Thien Thuat Str, Dorm bed: 5usd, Fan rooms 10 usd, air-con rooms: 15usd) has earned itself a steady following with backpackers for its good, cheap rooms.

O sin 2 Hotel ( Tel: 822902, 15 Hung vuong Street) Charge similare rates.

Saomai Hotel ( Tel: 827412, 99 Nguyen Thien Thuat) Charge similare rate ( higher 1-4 usd) is another padget place with a dorm.

Bang Khuong Hotel ( Tel: 823516, Quan Tran street, air con rooms US$ 15) is a nice new place tucked into a quiet alley near the Chanh Quan Pagoda on Hung Vuong str.

Yen My Hotel ( Tel: 829064 Email: yenmyhotel@hotmail.com, 22 Hoang Hoa Tham str, Fan rooms US$12-15, Air Con rooms: 15 -18usd) is a good budget place run by a friendly man named Mr Duan.

Thuan An Hotel: ( Tel: 815577, Thuananhotel@dng.vnn.vn Tran Quang Khai str, Fan rooms from 12 usd, Aircon from 15 usd) is a friendly place offering internet access in the lobby. Next door, The Sun Hotel (814428, Email Kshoangvan@dng.vnn.vn, Tran Quang Khai,) provides a welcoming reception, setellite TV and Bathtubs in most rooms. Both of these places are very close to the beach.

Blue star Hotel: ( Tel: 826447, Biet Thu Str, Fan Rooms from 15usd, air-con rooms from 15, also close to the beach, has received good reports from travellers.

My Long Hotel ( fax: 814451, email: mylonghotel@yahoo.com, 26A Nguyen Thien Thuat, Price from 15 usd for fan room. air con room from 18 usd) is a centrally lcated, clean and friendly choice.

Hotel Canary ( Kim Tuoc, Tel 828679, 27C Hung Vuong str, rooms from 15 usd) and Truc Linh Hotel ( Tel: 815 201, email internet_bt@yahoo.com, 27b Hung Vuong str. Room from US$ 15-25) are two flshy, new, jumboo minihotels located side by side. Some rooms feature large balconies.

Dong Phuong 1 Hotel.(Tel: 828247, fax: 825986, 103 Nguyen Thien Thuat str, Old wing rooms US$ 8-10, new wing rooms US$ 15 – 25 usd) Is older than Dong Phuong 2, But has spacious rooms featuring the thickest mattresses in Nha Trang. The New wing minihotel next door features an elevator and sea views from the upper floor rooms.

An Dong Hotel: ( Tel: 828905, 31 Nguyen Thien Thuat, Fan rooms US$ 10, aircon rooms US$ 15) has clean and comfortable rooms.

Huu Nghi Hotel ( Tel 826703 Fax 827416 Tran Hung Dao str. Singles with Fan/aircon US$ 6 -9) is a time honoured backpackers haunt. Air-con rooms also have satellite TV.

Ha Huong Hotel ( Tel: 512069, Email: hahuongnt@dng.vnn.vn, 26Nguyen Trung Trung, Fan room from US$ 9) is a friendly hotel on a quiet street about five minutes’ walk from the beach. Rooms are clean and the air-con rooms have satellite TV and a balcony.

White Sand Hotel I: ( Tel: 825861 fax 810449, Tran Phu Str, room US$ 15 – 18) is a motel style place near the beach with basic aircon doubles.

Post Hotel ( Tel: 821250 Fax 824205, email; posthotel@dng.vnn.vn, Le Loi str. Room with shared toilet US$ 10, room with private toilet US$ 18-22) Is in a good location near the beach front. The better rooms provide a view of the sea.

Phu Quy Mini- Hotel ( Tel: 810609 Fax 812954, email phuquyhotel@dng.vnn.vn, 54 Hung Vuong, Fan rooms US$ 10, with air-con US$ 15 – 22, receives good reports.

Grand Hotel ( Nha Khach 44, Tel 822 445, Fax 825 395, 44Tran Phu str, Fan rooms from US$ 6, air-con room US$ 14025) is a huge beachfront place housed is a stately ( But faded and crying out to be restored) French colonial style building. The cheaper prison cells with fan only are in a sepratate wing.

There’s a strip of fine oceanfront minihotels along the southern part of Tran Phu street, some rooms feature balconies over looking the sea. Worth checking out are the Thanh Thanh Hotel ( Tel: 824657 Fax 823031, email: thanhthanhhotel@dng.vnn.vn; 98 Tran Phu str. Air-con rooms US$ 10 -16) The Seaside Hotel ( Tel: 821178, fax *28038, 96B Tran Phu, Rooms US$ 10-20) Next door and the Yen Mai Hotel.

Last but not least, La Paloma Hotel (Nha Trang map, Tel: 831216 email: datle@dng.vnn.vn, Hon Chong Str. Rooms US$10-25) is a commendable little family-run oasis on the northern outskirts of town, near the Hon Chong Promontory, Fronting the Hotel is a pleasant outdoor cafe situated in a palm-tree garden. The friendly owner Mr Bu offers guests free jeep shuttles to/from the train station and airport, as well as between the hotel and downtown. There’s a small beach nearby with good local flavour.

Place to stay-Mid-range

Rainbow Hotel ( Tel: 810501 Fax 810030 Email: rainbowhotel@dng.vnn.vn, Biet thu str. Room US$ 15 -25) has an elevator and satellite TV. and is in a pastel-green building not far from the beach – Its hard to miss.

Indochine Hotel ( Tel: 815333 fax 821515; 14 Hung Vuong str, Room US$ 15-30( keeps a similar standard as the Rainbow.

Linh Giang Hotel ( Tel: 816454 Email: linhgianghotelkh@dng.vnn.vn; 98A Đ Tran Phu; rooms US$15-20) is a good spot right across from the beach.

Dong Phuong 2 Hotel (tel 814580, fax 825986; dongphuongnt@dng.vnn.vn; 96A 6/1 Đ TRan Phu; air-con rooms US$15-25) is a large and quite place set back off the main road. Rates vary depending on what flor you are on and the size of the balcony. Nearly attached is the squeaky-clean Hoan Hai Hotel (tel 821262; fax 813123, hoanhai96tp@dng.vnn.vn; 96 Đ Tran Phu; rooms US$20-30), offering satallite TV, an elevator and minibars.

Que Huong Hotel (tel 825047,fax 825344; 60 Đ Tran Phu; rooms US$40-60) boast a swimming pool and tennis court. It looks a bit better on the outside than it does on the inside. Air-con rooms also come with satellite TV.

Duy Tan Hotel (tel 822671, fax 825034, 24 Đ Tran Phu; single/doubles with air-com from US$15/20) is a large seafront place that is OK for a state run hotel.

Vien Dong Hotel (tel 821606, fax 821912; viendonghtl@dng.vnn.vn; 1 Đ Tran Hung Dao; singles/doubles/triples from US$24/28/32) is a large old place that has long been a travellers favourite. It has a swimming pool, photo-processing facilities and bicycle rentals (US$5 per day). According to the hotel’s pamphlet, “Weapons and objects with offensive smell should be kept at the reception desk”.

Hai Yen Hotel (tel 822828, fax 821902; 40 Đ Tran Phu; rooms US$10-52) is notable for its swimming pool and balcony se views. Its name means “sea swift”. All rooms have air-con, hot water and satellite TV, and rates include breakfast.

Ban Me Hotel (tel 829500, fax 810035; 3/3 Đ Tran Quang Khai; singles/doubles/triples/quads 253,000/275,000/319,000/418,000d) is a large place just a few hundred metres from the beach. All rooms have air-con and satellite TV. Rates include breakfast.

Bao Dai’s Villas (tel 590148, fax 590146; baodai@dng.vnn.vn; standard rooms US$25-50, deluxe rooms US$70-80), furthest from the town centre, is near Cau Da on the coast, 6km south of the rain station. The spacious top-end rooms are classic, with hight ceilings, huge bathrooms and prime views of the bay, though it’s questionable if they’re worth the price tag. This is where Vietnam’s ruling elite has rested itself since the days of French rule. Rates include breakfast. There is a private beach below the hotel with a good restaurant and another restaurant up top with a good restaurant and another restaurant up top with fine view of the bay.

Places to Stay – Top end

Ana Mandara Resort (tel 829829, fax 829629; resvana@dng.vnn.vn; rooms US$166-330++) is a gorgeous set of open timber roofed beach villas south of town. This exquisite resort offers every possible luxury and is hands down Nha Trang’s classiest accommodation offering.

Nha Trang Lodge (tel810500, fax 828800; nt-lodge@dng.vnn.vn; 42 Đ TRan Phu, rooms US$45-150), with 13 floors, is one of Nha Trang’s tallest and fanciest high-rises.

Another snazzy skyscraper, Saigon Yasaka Nha Trang Hotel (tel 810500, fax 828800, nt-lodge@dng.vnn.vn; 42 Đ Tran Phu; roomsUS$ 98-198++) is a glitzy joint venture between Saigon Tourist and the Japanese. Facilities include a health club and swimming pool.

At the time writting, plans were in the works for Ruaka, a five star mega resort north of the city. it is questionable whether it will be open by the time you read this, but when it does, Ruaka promises to be Vietnam’s most exclusive and elegant beach resort.

Places to Eat

Nha Trang is naturally a seafood haven, and there is a wide variety

of excellent eateries. If you’ve been enjoying the fresh beguettes in Vietnam, you’re in for a treat. Nha Trang has its own unique variety of French bread a heavier loaf, which is closer in consistency (and taste) to a New York City hot pretzel. Proud locals say the bread is more filling for Nha Trang’s hard working fishermen.

Beach Area Serving up excellent Italian food, La Bella Napoli (tel 829621; Đ Tran Phu) is found in a delightful terracesetting, overlooking the beach. The congenial owners Marinella and Gigi specialise in home cooked southern Italian dishes and great brick oven pizzas. Inquire (the day before) about their special fish dishes (the sea bass cooked in salt crust is divine!).

Casa Italia Restaurant (tel 826528; 72-4 Đ Tran Phu), yet another authentic Italian ristorante, serves excellent pasta and fine wine. You can choose a selection of fresh seafood from a traditional Vietnamese boat and have it cooked in front of you. Attached is the Nha Trang Sailing Club (tel 826528), a popular bar restaurant that serves a variety of cuisins from Vietnamese and European to Indian and Japanese.

Good Morning Vietnam (tel 815071, 19B Đ Biet Thu; mains 20,000-50,000d), also Italian run, does good and reasonably priced pizza, pasta and salads, plus a bit of Thai and Vietnamese to spice things up. Upstairs you can kick back on cosy Thai cushion to eat or watch movies (shown daily at 5pm and 8pm).

Cafe des Amis (tel 813009, 2D Đ Biet Thu) is a popular spot with excellent vegetarian fare. The walls here are covered with an interesting collection of works by Vietnamese painters. Attached to the cafe, Mr Vu’s Tour Adventures is a recommended place to inquire about jeep/motorbike tours into the Central Highland.

Tin Duc (tel 827030; 16 Đ Tran Quang Khai; most mains 25,000d) is a reliable choice for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This place has received good marks from many travellers.

Same Same But Different Cafe (tel 524079; 4 Đ Tran Quang Khai) is another good spot run by cool people, who prepare Vietnames and Western food (including vegie dishes and tasty muesli for breakfast) at reasonable prices. There’s a similar setup downthe road at the Candle Light Cafe (6 Đ Tran Quang Khai).

Red Star (tel 812790; 14 Đ Biet Thu) is a no frills place with excellent seafood. Try the crab or lams with ginger, lemongrass and chilli, or the fish hotpot.

El Coyote (tel 820202; 76 Đ Hung Vuong; mains 40,000-60,000d) does authentic TexMex food like chili con carne and pato con coca - duck leg with coca sauce. The owner has perhaps the most curious ethnic roots in town; he’s a mixture of French, Vietnamese, Lao and Cheyenne Indian.

Bombay (15 Đ Biet Thu) does Indian food that is worth a try. Ditto for Tandoori House (Đ Hung Vuong). Just next door is the Chau Cafe.

Thanh Thanh Cafe (tel 824413; 10 Đ Nguyen Thien Thuat) is a travllers cafe serving pizza, Vietnamese dishes and other standard backpacker fare.

Central Area A Nha Trang institution, Lac Canh Restaurant (tel 828189; 44 Đ Nguyen Binh Khiem) is one of the busiest local eateries in town. Here, on the street level or upstairs, beef, squid, giant shrimps, lobsters, and the like are grilled right at your table.

Restaurant 7C (tel 828243; 7C Đ Le Loi; mains 20,000-25,000d) is the place to head if you’re craving an authentic German sausage. This expat run place serves up excellent bratwurst and schnitzel, plus home baked brown bread and fresh sharp. Prices are reasonable, including the good local Viet Duc beer on tap (12,000d). Restaurant 7C is a short walk from the beach, near the main post office.

Au Lac (28C Đ Hoang Hoa Tham) has cheap and excellent vegetariant food. This tiny place is near the corner of Đ Nguyen Chanh. Bo De (28 Đ Hoang Hoa Tham) next door is also good.

Then there’s Dam Market itself, which has a colorful collection of stalls in the covered semicircular food pavilion. Vegetarian food (com chay) can also be found here.

Dua Xanh Restaurant (tel 823687; 23 Đ Le Loi) is a nice spot with many seafood dishes. There are outdoor garden tables and more tables indoors. Leave room for dessert.

For some great ice cream, try one of the remarkable little Banana Split Cafes near the roundabout where Quang Trung meets Ly Thanh Ton Str. Both are long time rivals, evidenced by their strong –arm tactics for luring customers inside.

Hon Chong Area A noteworthy local seafood restaurant that is well off the beaten track, Biet Thu ( Nha Trang map, Tel 828441) is worth seeking out. Fresh seafood and shellfish are plucked right out of an open air aquarium near the tables.

Entertainment

Jack’s Bar (Tel 813862, 96A Tran Phu str, food 15.000d – 35.000d, open late) is a fine place to get the night stared, Run by a congenial young Brit named, you guessed it, Jack, the bar boasts a roof terrace overlooking Nha Trang Bay, two pool tables, good music and cheap cold beer ( happy hour lasts from 6pm until 10pm) A full menu is offered from 8am to 10pm, and you can be sure there will be no hawkers to disturb your meal.

Crazy Kim Bar ( Kim Dien Bar Tel: 816072; 19 Biet Thu str. Open 10am – 1 am daily) is a funky pub run by a Vietnamese – Canadian woman named Kimmy, She opened the bar as a vihicle in her commendable “ Hands off the Kids! campaign, which is working to thwart the growing problem of paedophilia in Nha Trang. Proceeds from the sale of food, booze (try te killer cocktail buckets!) and T-shirts go towards the cause, Inquire the bar if you’re interested in volunteering teach English to local street kids.

Nha Trang Sailing Club (Tel: 826528, 71 Tran Phu str. open early till late) is a highly popular open air beach bar. Aussie-run, the Sailing Club is where most of the hard-core party crowd ends up at some point in the evening. It’s best known for thumping music, wild dancing, flowing shots, pool and general mayhem. You can escape the madness (sort of) outside on the large beachside terrace.

Hexagone Disco is a long running dance sport, right on the beach near the Ana Mandara Resort.

Vien Dong Hotel (tel 821606; 1 Đ Tran Hung Dao; shows 7.30pm nightly) offers free ethnic minority song and dance performances.

Shopping

Along with Hanoi, HCMC and Hoi An, Nha TRang has emerged as as reasonable places to look for art. Though actual galleries are scant, there are several local painters and photographers who display their work on the walls of Nha Trang’s resort, restaurant cafes and bars.

There are quite a number of shops selling beautiful seashells (and items made from seashells) near the Oceanographic Institute in Cau Da village. As a glossy tourist brochure put it, “before leaving Nha Trang tourist had better call Cau Da to get some souvernirs of the sea... for their dears at home”. The environmentally conscious may choose to resist the temptation and take photos instead.

Bambou Company (tel 093573602; bambou_company@hotmail.com), run by French expar, produces high quality T-shirt (from 75,000 to 100,000d) featuring cool original designs (rarity in Vietnam!). You can find them for sale at local bars and restaurant like La Bella Napoli.

Also worth checking out are the hand painted T-shirts done by a friendly local painter named Kim Quang (tel 0913416513). Quang works every night from his wheelchair at the Sailing Club.

Getting There & Away

Air There are regular flights by Vietnam Airlines (tel 826768, fax 825956; 91 Đ Nguyen thien Thuat), connecting Nha Trang with HCMC, Hanoi and Danang.

Bus Express and regular buses depart from Mien Dong bys station in HCMC to Nha Trang. The express bus trip takes 11 to 12 hours.

Lien Tinh bus Station (Ben xe Lien tinh; tel 822192; Đ 23/10) is Nha trang’s main intercity bus terminal, and is 500m west of the train station. The short haul bus station is for local routes only.

Minibus The preferred option, chartered minibuses are easy to book at most places where travellers congregate.

Train Hotels and travellers cafes all book train tickets, and it’s worth paying the small commision to use these booking services.

The Nha Trang train Station (Ga Nha Trang; tel 822113; opposite 26 Đ Thai Nguyen; ticket office open 7am-2pm) is overlooked by the nearby chathedral.

Car & Motorbike Road distances from Nha Trang are: 205km to Buon Ma Thuot 541km to Danang; 448km to HCMC; 104km to Phan Rang; 424km to Pleiku; 412km to Quang Ngai; and 238km to Qui Nhon.

A series of roughly parallel roads heads inland from near Nha Trang, linking Vietnam’s deltas and coast regions with the central highlands.

Getting Around

To/From the Airport The airport is on the southern side of town and is so close to many of the hotels that you can astually walk.

Cyclos can get you to the airport for about US$1. They’re good for around town, but limit your cyclo riding to the daytime.

Nha Trang taxi (tel 824000) and Khanh Hoa taxi (tel 810810) have air-con cars with metres.

Bicycle Most major hotes have bicycle tentals. The cost is around US$1 per day.

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