Nha Trang, the Ibiza of Vietnam... While some information on internet might lead you to think that it is a worthy destination, we explain here why you could doubt it.
For those who don’t know where Nha Trang is or why we bring it a particular interest, well you need to know that as per Wikipedia: “Nha Trang is well-known for its beaches and scuba diving and has developed into a popular destination for international tourists, attracting large numbers of backpackers, as well as more affluent travelers on the south-east Asia circuit; it is already very popular with Vietnamese tourists, with Nha Trang Bay widely considered as among the world’s most beautiful bays”
It’s located on the coast line of Vietnam, not so far from Dalat. There is an airport and it is one of the favorite beach destinations in Vietnam. In 2015, we went for a cycling trip and decided to stop by this city to enjoy the bay and scuba dive there as it is a popular scuba diving spot in Vietnam before heading to Ho Chi Minh. Of course, when you look up on Google, you find only amazing pictures and rapidly we though it was a must-do. How wrong we were…
The beaches are fairly dirty and polluted
No much words to say besides the fact that our stay in Nha Trang has been the trigger to create this blog. When you go on holidays and you pay a substantial money to enjoy sun and beach, you expect it to be clean. The beaches are full of trash and even if the municipality cleans them every day, there is a huge amount of garbage floating in the sea, so you swim between plastic bags and other kind of trash. We even saw a syringe!
Then you walk in the street and you see some trash a bit everywhere. The street dirtiness is not worse than anywhere else in Vietnam though. We were expecting a lot from the Nha Trang beaches as they are supposed to be among the most beautiful of Southern Asia. Unfortunately, tourism is developing rapidly and not in a sustainable way in Vietnam, it is going out of control.
The coral reefs are destroyed or close to be
We stopped by Nha Trang because we wanted to dive as this is one of the best spot to dive in Vietnam. We had 4 dives planned. We did 1 and we cancelled the others. I actually cried (do not try this; it’s really difficult to cry and breathe in a regulator!). Why? Because the reefs were destroyed by the fishing boats as there are no regulations and no protection in place. All the coral was dead except for 2 or 3 small remaining reefs. It looked quite apocalyptic.
Very little marine life, and for the few fishes that were there, they didn’t look such in good shape. I met one butterfly fish with a hook stuck in its jaw which was preventing him from opening its mouth. We couldn’t do anything for him, I felt terrible. I didn’t want to see more of that so I asked Denis to cancel the other dives.
It is expensive
Compared to the rest of Vietnam, prices are in average 20% higher in Nha Trang for accommodation and it’s the same for bars and food. Of course you can always find cheaper places, but we found the city more expensive and less Vietnamese-typical.
It is not very beautiful
You would tell us that you don’t go to Nha Trang for the city and you would be right because the city looks like any other coastline city in Asia. There is nothing that stroke us in particular. Not its originality, not its charm, not its people, not much.
It is mainly a Russian holiday destination
If you are looking for a typical Vietnamese experience, you will be disappointed in Nha Trang. Everything is designed for tourists especially for Russian tourists. Most bars and restaurants have a Russian menu and even in shops you find Russian translation. Very exotic.
The food isn’t particularly good
That point is actually pretty similar to the point before, but we had spent 2 weeks and a half in Vietnam before heading to Nha Trang, so we tasted some food and tried a certain number local places. In Nha Trang, nothing is really local, besides the name of the dishes. We didn’t enjoy the food in Nha Trang even though we stayed 3 days and tried different kind of restaurants. This is the reason we ate 2 times at the same restaurant, we couldn’t find anything better…For the food, go to Hue, well known in Vietnam for its cuisine.