Vietnam is chock full of great cities to visit and lovely resorts to relax and unwind. During our most recent exploration of this enchanting country, however, we discovered a strange city: Nha Trang.
Nha Trang is a bustling coastal city in southern Vietnam. It boasts a population nearing half a million residents. The town is a 30-minute drive from Cam Ranh International airport (which is an hour flight from Ho Chi Minh City) and the closest metropolis to two of the luxury properties we visited on our itinerary. In 2018, a new international terminal opened with direct flights from as far away as Russia, South Korea, and China. The ultra-luxe Amanoi is 2 hours south of Nha Trang, while Six Senses Ninh Van Bay is 30 minutes north. Due to Nha Trang’s proximity to these hotels, we had to check it out.
Nha Trang retains influences from military operations based out of its’ strategic location. Cam Ranh Airport (Nha Trang’s closest airport) was built and utilized by the United States during the Vietnam War. From 1979 to 2002, the Soviet and Russian military forces used the airport as well as the port for their air and submarine military operations. Because of this long term treaty, many Russians settled in the area. Additionally, many Russians are familiar with this city, and it is now a popular beach vacation destination to escape the cold Moscow winters.
Nha Trang is unlike any other city in Vietnam. Our experience is comical in retrospect. Imagine stepping into a Vietnamese beach city that has substantial Russian influence, a large number of backpackers, and a handful of luxury travelers. Then, mix in a little of the wild, wild west. There you have it: Nha Trang.
Most of the touristy area of Nha Trang runs along bustling Tran Phu Boulevard. This main throughway has the golden sand beach on the east and loads of 2 and 3-star hotels (along with a few more upscale properties), shops, and restaurants on the west side. The majority of the tourists are Russian (with a lot of South Koreans, Chinese, and Australians mixed in). The Russian influence is palatable with a large number of shops and restaurants having the language broadly displayed.
Before traveling, we do our due diligence and research. We had an idea that Nha Trang might not appeal to us because so much of our information alluded to the city is a bit gritty. However, we also read a lot about the beautiful beaches, great diving, and seafood restaurants. So naturally, we had to check it out. Unfortunately, we should’ve listened to our gut and skipped our detour into Nha Trang. The beach is littered with trash and vagrants. We dined at a seafood restaurant and were grossly overcharged but had no way to protest. I didn’t feel safe walking around town, so I made sure that either Tom or I carried our toddler so that he was always protected. Some of the things we saw were hilarious and can be explained by the phrase, “only in Nha Trang…” One place called Crazy Fish had an alligator cooking on a rotisserie. “Only in Nha Trang… LOL!”
We cannot say enough about the fantastic Amanoi resort. This is our “must visit” hotel recommendation in Vietnam. When you stay at Amanoi and Six Senses Ninh Van Bay, we recommend staying away from Nha Trang. Instead, explore the surrounding area and local fishing villages. The location is full of beautiful sights and lovely people that will not disappoint you. However, if you do wish to experience Nha Trang for yourself, please do so! We can assist you with your adventure by recommending a guide for your “good ole’ fashion” Wild West kinda fun! Contact us and let us know if we could help.