LONG SON PAGODA
At the base of Trai Thuy Hill rests Nha Trang’s largest Buddhist Pagoda, with ornate statuary and a strong Chinese influence. Most striking is the 24 meter high white statue of Buddha at the top of the hill. Built in 1963, it receives thousands of visitors every year and offers lovely views of the surrounding area. It’s a fantastic location for some memorable photo opportunities and is centrally located for easy access.
PO NAGAR TOWERS
The once mighty towers stand on a hill where the river meets the sea. Remnants of the Kingdom of Champa, the towers were built between the 7th and 12th centuries. Named after a local goddess, four towers still stand in a gorgeous park-like enclosure. The square shaped towers are made of baked bricks with pyramidal apexes and the site receives a large number of visitors from all over the country.
CHONG PROMONTORY ROCKS
Hundreds of boulders balanced atop one another in an area surrounded in legend. The biggest, at the top of the promontory, is called Chong Rock and is said to bear the imprint of a large hand from a fisher-giant. Also on the promontory is a traditional Ruong house, some beautiful views of both the northern and southern beaches and some souvenir and refreshment stalls set up along the way.
NHA TRANG CATHEDRAL
Christianity was brought to Vietnam in the 16th century by Portuguese and Spanish missionaries. The Catholic community in Vietnam is second in size only to the Philippines in South East Asia. Nha Trang boasts its own large congregation plus a thriving Protestant community, as evidenced by the massive crowds at the city’s many churches on Sundays and Christian holidays. The three largest churches are relatively near one another. Nui Church (Nha Trang Cathedral) serves local Catholics on Thai Nguyen St., as does Bac Thanh Church at 38 Le Thanh Ton St. There’s also the small Giao Xu Thanh Guise Catholic Church at 53 Hung Vuong St, in the tourist area. The Evangelical Church of Vietnam is at 29 Le Thanh Phuong St.
Any visit to Nha Trang would not be complete without a day trip to the prominent Vinpearl Island. Vinpearl Land offers an array of activities for the young and old. The journey across, on the world’s longest cable car crossing, offers breathtaking views of the bay, surrounding islands and back to the Nha Trang coastline. Featuring Vietnam’s first 4D cinema, a substantial aquarium, rides for people of all ages and a water park with multiple slides, Vinpearl Land is a great destination for families, couples or for adventure-seekers looking for something just a bit out of the ordinary. The trip on the cable car alone is worth the price of admission so the rest of the day is a bonus!
Located right in front of Nha Trang Seaport, south of town, the Oceanographic Institute is a very interesting and informative place to visit. On entry, there is a series of large ponds holding a wide variety of larger fish such as cod, grouper, snapper and even black tip reef sharks. Turtles, corals and a number of invertebrate species can also be seen. Next is a room with a number of well-maintained aquariums displaying rare and unusual specimens such as seahorses, anemones and their clown fish, butterfly cod and even the extremely dangerous stonefish. Next door is a huge whale skeleton dug up by farmers some years ago plus that of a smaller dolphin. This is followed by an aquarium some 2m x 10m housing larger fish and sharks. Then there is a room full of preserved marine specimens plus a local shell and coral display. All in all, it is a very worthwhile visit giving a good insight into Nha Trang’s marine life. Being so close to the port, it is worth a visit when you are going on a cruise. Open: 7:00am – 5:00pm Entry: VND30,000
SUOI BA HO WATERFALLS
About 23 km north of Nha Trang take the left turn for “Suoi Ba Ho”. The bumpy road takes you past farmers’ houses on a narrow winding road, and the foliage gets thicker and the people scarcer as you near your goal. The parking area sits right on the banks of a stream and is quite lovely in its own right. “Suoi Ba Ho” means “Three Pools Stream” in Vietnamese, and the first one kilometer paces the stream through dense jungle. It’s important to note that the hike up is initially an easy stroll but then turns into a scramble over large boulders that sees only the very fit making it up to the third and highest pool. The waterfalls and pools you’ll see along the way are small but charming.
If you’re a diver, then Nha Trang is the place to explore. With over 300 days of sunshine a year, it is not only our famous beaches to enjoy, we are even more irresistible below the crystal clear waters of the many bays and islands of this wonder world. Mun Island, a marine sanctuary, is excellent for snorkeling or diving with depths of only 2-5 meters, so whether you are a beginner or experienced, you will discover a colourful underwater world with many species of tropical fish. A literal kaleidoscope of beauty, and not only the marine life, but a variety of stunning hard and soft corals, and beautiful underwater flora and fauna, that will delight even the seasoned diver. Follow the wall, poke into the nooks and crannies of the coral and maybe find Nemo and his family enjoying their playground. Book Zui Zui Island Tour at only 680.000VND. Ring 0986833555 or book online www.nhatrangexcursions.com.
An integral part of Vietnamese daily life the local market plays a vital role in every Vietnamese household. While modernization has seen growing construction of shopping malls and supermarkets in the city, most Vietnamese people still favour the local market as their primary source of food, clothing and household items. It is also a great place for tourists to pick up gifts, souvenirs and other products that they may need on their travels. Prices can be cheaper than the supermarkets, however the price can depend on your bargaining skills, so be prepared to haggle. If bargaining is not for you, then all the modern supermarkets have fixed price items. The two main traditional markets in town are the sprawling Dam Market, and the slightly smaller Xom Moi Market. Both are only a couple of kilometres from the tourist hub, so take a trip to one of them and see what bargains you can find, but just the experience of a bustling Vietnamese market is enough reason in itself.
LOC THO PAGODA
Loc Tho doubles not only as a place of worship but also as a school for orphans and underprivileged kids. The school opened in 1991 under the guidance of the former head nun, Thich Nu Dieu Y! There are about 130 students, most living under the pagoda’s care and range from kindergarten to primary school. Teachers donate their time and visiting the school sees a calm, well disciplined group of students learning in a loving environment taught by people who care. The pagoda is only 4km from the tourist hub and visitors are welcome. Being a charity school, assistance in any form is appreciated.
Tip: pagodas are a place of worship and visitors should dress respectfully. Make sure you dress to cover from shoulders to knees.