In a country with 3,444 km of shoreline, a beach would have to be pretty special to stand out, right? So what’s so special about Nha Trang? OK, tick the boxes. Six kilometres of fine white sand set against a backdrop of forested hills. Clear turquoise water. Excellent swimming, snorkelling and scuba diving. Catamarans, diving equipment, surf boards, paddle boards, kayaks, para-sails, and wind kites up for hire. Massages and beauty treatments available at the wave of a hand. Food and cold beer on demand. Seafood galore — what’s not to like?

 

I could go on and on. In fact I think I will. A cool sea breeze. Vendors willing and more than happy to braid your hair, tell your fortune, or paint your nails at the drop of a hat. Stately coconut palms. Sun umbrellas and beach chairs. No hassles, no pressures, no reminders of home. Sheer bliss. Are you convinced yet? The people at Travel and Leisure magazine certainly are. They have voted Nha Trang beach as one of the world’s best.

 

Something for Everyone

 

The city, conveniently spread out along the shoreline, boasts a cultural centre, night market, countless restaurants (Nha Trang’s birds-nest soup is said to be the best in Vietnam), bars, museums, galleries, chic beachwear boutiques, and shopping malls. Two kilometres north of the city centre are the centuries-old Cham towers.

 

One of the top attractions on the beach is the Nha Trang Sailing Club. It started out in 1994 as a small rustic beach bar, and has since grown to become one of the largest entertainment complexes in south-east Asia, with a head-spinning selection of dining and entertainment options. By day it’s a sprawling beach bar with a choice of three international restaurants laid out in a Mediterranean-style setting; by night it reverberates to non-stop music and dancing.

 

Towering over the city is the 53-floor-high Best Western Premiere Havana Nha Trang, its top floor occupied by the Skylight Rooftop Beach Club, a venue that rivals anything Las Vegas has to offer. The rooftop club has three bars, a skydeck with 360-degree views, a swimming pool and, for the fearless, a glass skywalk. At night the nightclub rocks to local and international DJs and live music. Perched on top of the building is the world’s highest lighthouse.

 

Vinpearl

 

For families, the jewel in Nha Trang’s crown is Vinpearl Land. Back in the 1980s, Vietnamese billionaire Pham Nhat Vuong had a billion or so dollars surplus to his needs, and decided to buy Hon Tre island, a former prison colony just off the coast of Nha Trang, and build a 200,000 square-metre amusement complex there.

 

Before too long, Vinpearl Land began to take shape. A water park, aquarium, amphitheatre, swimming pool (the largest in Southeast Asia), a selection of hair-raising rides, a dolphin show, an entertainment park for kids, food village, shopping mall, 4D movie theatre, five-star hotel, night club, and a world-class golf course were put into place.

 

Only one problem remained; how to get to the island? No problem. A 3,320-meter-long cable car system was constructed, the longest sea-crossing cable car in the world. Thus Vinpearl Land came into being. And did it prove popular? Just ask the 220,000 people who visit it every year. Or if that seems like too much hard work, just ask my family.

 

Don’t Forget

 

Nha Trang has hot springs, thermal spas, saunas and mud baths by the score. One of note is the 100-Egg Mud Bath. Only it’s not egg yolks you immerse yourself in; the mud is in egg-shaped receptacles. There are a number of interesting museums to visit too. The Oceanographic Museum of Vietnam has 20,000 species of weird and wonderful sea creatures, and the Impressions Museum displays wacky art and freakish, out-of-this-world optical illusions.

 

As I said earlier on, Nha Trang is Vietnam’s premier beach resort, and well worth a visit. Except at the height of the rainy season, that is. In October and November the rain buckets down, typhoons are regular unwelcome visitors, and the sea water turns murky-brown.

 

Born in New Zealand, Don Wills lives in Vung Tau. He’s been writing his way around the region for decades

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