Nha Trang is the popular beach destination for backpackers and local in Vietnam. White, sandy beaches stretch into a dramatic backdrop of mountains, and with nineteen islands to choose from it’s no wonder that this is a popular place for tourists. This is the perfect spot to learn how to dive while still keeping your budget in check. While the beaches are nice, keep in mind this place is very, very popular and can sometimes be a bit of a hassle, overpriced, or full of drunk tourists. Try to come here slightly off season or mid-week to avoid the crowds.
Hostel prices – Basic dorms start at 100,000 VND per night, while private rooms will cost around 500,000 VND per night for a double. Free WiFi is standard, and free breakfast is quite common. A few hostels also offer self-catering facilities.
Budget hotel prices – Expect to pay at least 200,000 VND for a basic double hotel room. Prices for nicer rooms go as high as 450,000 VND per night. Free WiFi is standard, and a handful of budget hotels also include free breakfast. Hotels located close to the beach will be more expensive. Airbnb is available in the city, and a shared room will cost at least 220,000 VND per night (though there are very few options for shared accommodation) while an entire apartment is at least 600,000 VND per night.
Average cost of food – Street food starts at 16,000 VND. Local food in restaurants starts at 25,000 VND for a basic meal, while Western food is more expensive, usually 75,000 VND and up. Domestic beer in restaurants will usually cost around 20,000 VND, though you can get it for a fraction of the price at smaller local places (sometimes as little as 3,000 VND!). If you plan on cooking your own meals, expect to pay at least 15,000 VND per week for groceries (though food is so cheap that you’re better off just eating out!)
Transportation costs – If you stay near the beach you likely won’t need any transportation because you can walk everywhere. Buses are crowded but rarely cost more than 15,000 VND. A cycle-taxi ride is around 25,000 VND per kilometer. Regular taxis start at 25,000 VND per kilometer. Be sure to use only metered, nice-looking green and white taxis! For intercity travel, a train to Hanoi will cost around 1,100,000 VND while the bus will cost around 300,000 VND. The train south to Ho Chi Minh City will cost around 600,000 VND, while a bus will cost around 220,000 VND.
Suggested daily budget – 680,000-900,000 VND / $30-40 USD (Note: This is a suggested budget assuming you’re staying in a hostel or cheap guesthouse, eating all the delicious street food, and using local transportation. If you stay in fancier accommodation or eat out more often, expect this number to be higher!)
Money Saving Tips
- Diving – There are quite a few dive shops in Nha Trang so it is possible to hunt around for the best price and bargain with the shop owners.
- Street food – As in most of Vietnam, street food is the cheapest and most exciting local food you can find. You can usually get delicious pork meat sandwiches on the street for about 44,000 VND.
- Find accommodation away from the beach – Hotels and Airbnb’s near the beach will be more expensive than those a bit further away. Stay further from the tourist hub to save yourself some money.
Top Things to See and Do in Nha Trang
- Snorkel – Snorkeling and diving are probably the most popular things to do at Nha Trang. Tread a little offshore and there are islands which offer both activities. It’s best to avoid the windy season (October and December) though. Nha Trang is a great location for seeing some underwater life, however, it’s even better if you want to get a scuba certificate. Expect to pay around 1,700,00 VND for two dives. An open water PADI certification will cost around 9,000,000 VND.
- Set sail – There are plenty of places to go around here and plenty more boat companies who offer boat trips. It is an opportunity to see the different islands off of the mainland and a trip will usually include snorkeling, a visit to an aquarium and fish farm, plus plenty of boat grub and alcohol. These tours are generally aimed towards the 18 to 30 crowd. Shop around so you can find one boat trip that suits you best. This is ideal if you want to see more of Nha Trang than just the mainland.
- Visit Po Nagar – Dedicated to Yan Po Nagar, the goddess of the country, the temple tower was founded sometime before 781 AD and therefore plays a big part in the history and archaeology of the country. With being up a mountain, you get a good view of the beautiful landscapes of Nha Trang. Admission is around 225,000 VND per person.
- Lounge on the beaches – If you want a change from the Nha Trang beach, Bai Dai beach or Long Beach is nearby and stretches for six miles of gorgeous white sand. It has a relaxed, breezy atmosphere with little cafes and restaurants gracing its shores and serving seafood. Watch your stuff when you go swimming as thieves are known to steal stuff.
- See the Buddha at Long Son Pago – Long Son Pago, founded in the late 19th century, is home to a 79ft tall, white Buddha. Seated atop the hill, the pagoda is a historical artifact built to honor monks and nuns who died protesting against the Diem government. The place also as sweeping views of Nha Trang City. Admission is free!
- Check out the National Oceanographic Museum – At the far south end of Nha Trang is the National Oceanographic Museum. Great for those who do not like the idea of diving because here there are tanks of marine life and stuffed birds and sea mammals. Brilliant if you want to occupy a couple of hours on a not so pleasant day. Admission is 30,000 VND per person.
- Head to Yang Bay – Yang Bay is a charming excursion from Nha Trang. Once you get here, you will find three different sets of falls; Yang Bay, Yang Khang, and Ho Cho. However, once you get to Yang Bay it’s a matter of climbing to discover all three of these waterfalls. Surrounded by dense forestation and mountainous terrain, it’s slightly off the beaten track and a good area to visit when you want to leave the crowds of the beach.
- Relax in the hot springs – Hot springs and mud bathing are popular in Nha Trang. A relaxing past-time, the mud claims to have somewhat healing powers with the mud formed from rocks and volcanic ash. Prices will vary but expect to pay at least 130,000 VND per person.
- Shop in Cho Dam Market – For an authentic Nha Tran shopping experience, there is no better place than Cho Dam open air market. With vendors selling fresh produce, the catch of the day, and everything from fake designer gear to watches, I highly recommended that you put your bargaining hat on and see what kind of bargains you can find!
- Visit the Alexandre Yersin Museum – For any zoologists or science geeks out there, this museum might be for you. Dr. Yersin was a Swiss scientist who came to Vietnam in the late 19th century to study sick animals. He eventually invented a serum from buffalo and horses. This museum showcases his life’s work and findings. Admission is around 30,000 VND per person.
- Hike to the Bao Dai Villas – These villas are perched on top of a small hill. From the top, you’ll get a great view of Nha Trang Bay.
- Visit waterfalls – There are a number of swimming holes and waterfalls in the area that you can access, such as the Fairy Spring Waterfalls and the Ba Ho waterfalls. Some of these are best reached by a combination of motorbike and hiking. Check with locals ahead of time, and some of the holes are too cold for swimming in the winter.