Nha Trang: Places of Interest
Known to be one of Vietnam’s best beach destinations, Nha Trang welcomes thousands of visitors every year who come to enjoy the pristine waters, beautiful sand, virgin dive spots and the many cultural and historical sites cradled by this marvelous coastal city. Historically called the Kauthara as it used to be the center of civilization of the Cham Empire, traces of Cham people’s settlement is still witnessed in Nha Trang. Every corner of this interesting place has a lot to offer to keep its visitors amazed.
Po Nagar Towers (Thap Ba): Built sometime between the 7th and 12th century, served as the place of worship for the ancient Cham people. Situated in Cu Lao Mountain, and is about a 25-minute walk from the main beach strip, Po Nagar tower comprises three levels, of which, its main tower stands at 25 meters high. Where used to be eight towers that stood in the entire complex, only four remains at present which the ethnic Cham, Chinese and Vietnamese Buddhists come to pray and make offerings to, according to their traditions.
Long Son Pagoda (Chùa Long Sơn): Sitting at the foot of Trai Thuy Mountain, this pagoda is considered among the most impressive sights in Nha Trang. Built during the 19th century and rebuilt several times over the years, the complex contains many interesting things. The wonders it hold could be witnessed beginning from the entrance alone, which, along with the roof, is decorated with mosaic dragons crafted from glass and pieces of ceramic tiles. A naturally lit image of Buddha is displayed in the pagoda apart from the 14-meter red brass statue of Buddha sitting on a lotus pedestal situated on the hilltop behind the pagoda itself. Its main sanctuary is a hall adorned with modern interpretations of traditional motifs.
Hai Duc Temple: Located West of Trai Thuy Mountain, this temple was built under the reign of King Tu Duc (1829-1883) who ruled during the Nguyen dynasty. Surrounded with huge trees and serene wildlife setting, the Hai Duc pagoda is a wonderful place to enjoy pure silence and solemnity, at the same time witness the 50-year-old library holding rare and valuable Buddhist documents and prayer books. The place is presently used as the Buddhism Studies Academy where people from different parts of Vietnam, and even beyond, come to learn about the doctrines of Buddhism.
National Oceanographic Museum of Vietnam: Founded in 1923, this museum, otherwise known as Nha Trang Oceanographic Institute, is an aquarium housed in a French colonial building. Holding a huge collection of popular and rare aquatic species of the Southern Vietnam, this place showcases the richness of the country’s aquaculture. Kids and adults alike would be amazed on the spectacle of display of coral reefs, sharks, turtles, lionfish and sea horses among other creatures.
Alexandre Yersin Museum: The then old library and office of the famous French doctor Alexandre Yersin was transformed into a museum as a tribute to his accomplishments and contributions to the medical advancement and research not just in Vietnam, but across the globe. Now one of the town’s famous cultural attractions, the place welcomes thousands of visitors every year who come to observe the display of laboratory equipments, astronomical instruments, books and a collection of personal items used by the renowned doctor during his living days.
Hon Chong (Balanced Rocks): is located 3.5 kilometers from the center of Nha Trang. Appearing as massive rocks lying on top of the other, Hon Chong is basically divided into two parts. Its other half is situated offshore while the other is in the sand dunes in the Cu Lao fishing hamlet. Apart from the extraordinary beauty translated by the layers of massive rocks, they also serve as natural wave breakers.
Bao Dai Villas: Set on a hillside close to the south edge of the town, a stay at Bao Dai Villa allows a panoramic view of the Nha Trang bay from there. There, cool, fresh air is enjoyed to give visitors an opportunity to relax and unwind. Built in the 1920’s, its massive, heavily-studded rooms are also an opportunity to experience the historical value connected to the place.
Nha Trang Cathedral: Built between 1928-1933 in the French-Gothic fashion, the Nha Trang Cathedral is an elegant building reflecting the French Catholicism influence. It stands on a hill overlooking the city and the town’s train station.
Things to See Near Nha Trang
Apart from all the wonders inside Nha Trang itself, the place is also surrounded with amazing sights and interesting places to visit:
Hon Tre Island: Also known as Bamboo Island, Hon Tre is located off the coast of Nha Trang and could be reached in an hour or two by rowboat, or 20 minutes if boarding a ferry/speed boat. Though considered modern in entirety, the island is peaceful and relaxing on top of the unmistakable beauty any visitor never fail to appreciate. In addition, visitors to Hon Tre could get the chance to visit Dinh Ong Nam Hai (Temple of the South Sea Deity) and witness and ton-weighted whale bones often worshipped by some fishing communities. The true touch of nature helps any visitor free himself from all the stress and anxiety, and enjoy a moment of quiet and tranquility.
Yan Bay Waterfalls (Heaven’s Waterfalls) is situated 40 kilometers West of Nha Trang. The waterfalls is about a hundred meters above sea level and is known to be the source of Cai River. The water from Yang Bay cascades from atop and makes its way through the forest and over the rocks as it descends into the valley. Apart from swimming, visitors can enjoy walking along the surrounding dry lands, go cycling, camp out, see the village markets and witness the locals making handicrafts.
Ba Ho Stream (Three Stream): Located 25 kilometers to the north from Nha Trang, Ba Ho stream is a stream originating from Hon Son Mountain. Around the lake are numerous beautiful rocks of all sizes and colors. Apart from enjoying the waters, visitors can opt to go trekking for a bit of adventure.
Tri Nguyen Tourist Complex: Situated in Mieu Island, 5 kilometers to the south across Nha Trang, the entirety of this complex holds diverse entertainment and services that delights both local and foreign visitors. This place is popular for its aquarium, beach, chain of restaurants, gift shoppes and a variety of accommodation options ranging from bungalows, tents and even sleeping bags.