Dai Beach - A
great, little-known getaway spot
19km south of Nha Trang
If Nha Trang beach isn't exactly what you're looking for, you might
enjoy a jaunt over to Bai Dai (which means 'long beach' and is
pronounced 'bye-yai'). It's 19 km from the outskirts of Nha Trang,
to the south, along the relatively new road that cuts through the
coastal mountains to the Cam Ranh Airport. The beach is a long,
beautiful stretch of sand that extends for ten kilometres or more
along an arc-shaped bay.
There's a long row of beach-side, seafood restaurants, of the
make-shift bamboo and canopy variety, clustered at the northern end of
the beach, and the rest of it is just deserted. The restaurants provide
a great place to laze away the day in canvas lounge chairs and enjoy
excellent, very fresh seafood -- not dirt cheap, but about what you'd
pay in Nha Trang proper. The restaurant owners and staff live on the
beach, so they open when the first customer comes and close when the
last one leaves. There's a wide band of shallow water close to the
shore, which makes it a better swimming spot for some. There's a bit of
fishing boat activity here, but the water is still good and clean.
It's a great getaway spot that most western tourists know nothing about.
How to get there: To get here, you have to find the Cau Binh Tan
bridge to the south of Nha Trang. You can get to the bridge directly
from the southern end of the beach, but be sure to budget some time to
get good and lost in the maze of roads along the way. The sure-fire way
to get here is to find Le Hong Phong street in town, and head south. The
turn-off for the bridge is on the right on Nguyen Tat Tanh Road -- it
doesn't look very promising, but it takes you where you want to go. Once
you cross the bridge, take a right, and it's 19 km to the beach -- the
new road has definitely left its marks in the rock face of the hills
along the coast, but the ride is still stunningly beautiful as it climbs
up hills and hugs the shoreline. When you get to where the road is split
by a wide median (there's a big billboard for the Vin Pearl that you
can't miss) take an immediate left onto the dirt road that leads to the
beach and the restaurants. If you stop and ask for directions be sure to
say 'bye yai' not 'bye dai,' or they might think you're saying, 'seven
radio stations.' No wonder they're looking at your like you're crazy.
Trip - highlight in
The most popular activities in Nha Trang revolve around water. The boat
trip is offered by a hundred different travel agencies that reside along
the beachfront roads, but all boils down to the same schedule. It's more
18-30's than family orientated, and includes snorkelling, an on board
lunch with singing and dancing, a floating bar in the sea in the
afternoon, an aquarium and a fish farm. It's a good way to get off the
mainland, explore some bays on the outlying islands, do some swimming
and generally have a laugh.
The typical tour heads to Mun Island first, for swimming, sunbathing,
and snorkelling at a nearby coral reef, then to Mot Island for lunch and
drinks at a floating bar. Then Tam island, where there is a resort, more
sunbathing (and more drinking) and then to Mieu Island to visit a
The cost isn't too bad either, at around US$6 per person, which includes
all transport and food. One of the better trips is arranged by Mama
What to do
As the Republic of Vietnam grows more and more as a tourist favorite
destination in South East Asia, its shore line is home of some good dive
sites in Nha Trang and off to the island of Mun also known as Hon Mun.
Situated on the north east of Ho Chi Minh City (former Saigon), and far
from the murkier waters of the MeKong river delta, Nha Trang offers
great Vietnamese culture, essentially based on the harvest of the sea in
a very traditional way. The coast line around Nha Trang has developed
through history its pure tradition of fishing techniques and it will be
possible to visit some of these fishermen villages, guardian of
ancestrous traditional fishing secrets. Vietnam is the newest dive
destination. Nha Trang offers fantastic sites: with over 350 different
species of coral, also various and rich underwater life . Off Nha
Trang lies the island of Mun, home of some interesting dive sites, where
one of our dive package will take the adventurer diver.
These are some dive sites in NhaTrang :
This is the island where all dive sites already mentioned in the Nha
Trang section are located. It also has a couple of other sites such as
Rainbow Reef and Tiger Wall. There are some shallow spots which offer
good night diving and a smaller southern island called Hon Mot with a
could of good dive sites. There are no wrecks around the islands of Nha
Trang as everything above 50 meters has been salvaged by locals.
Depth: 5 - 40m Viz: 5 - 20m Currents: Occasional Getting there :
Boat 1 hour Best months: Jan / Oct
There are a couple of good swimthroughs at this dive site. It is a small
rocky outcrop off Hon Mun Island, marine life includes giant morays,
lionfish, scoprion fish and a wide array of breath taking coral. Depth:
5 - 25m - Viz: 5 - 20m - Currents: Occasional - Getting there : Boat 1
hour Best months: Jan / Oct
A shallow dive with a sandy bottom, also some bizarre rock formations
here. The site gets its name from the resident giant moray eels that are
upto two and a half meters long. You may find the rare black spotted
moray (Gymnothorax-favagineus) here too. This site is also good for
spotting pipefish, razorfish and trumpetfish with a couple of leaf fish
hiding in a small cave at 3 meters. Depth: 3 - 18m - Viz: 5 - 20m -
Currents: Occasional - Getting there : Boat 1 hour Best months: Jan /
A spectacular vertical wall dive down to 40 meters can be done here. The
wall is covered with hard and soft coral and provides home to all manner
of marine critters.
A little further towards the mainland is another little rocky out crop
where deep diving can be done. The underwater terrain drops to 45 meters
here but currents can be strong so only recommended for experienced
divers. Depth: 5 - 40m - Viz: 5 - 20m - Currents: Occasional - Getting
there : Boat 1 hour Best months: Jan / Oct
Nha Trang's Cham Tower
is worth visiting. The Cham people ruled in this area from 243 AD until
the 1600's, and this is one of the last remnants of their civilisation.
Once a whole complex of towers, some are now in ruins, but the North
Tower still stands largely untouched.
Also within an easy bicycle ride of the beach is the Long Son pagoda,
which houses an impressive sitting Buddha statue high in its gardens on
the hillside, and which is visible for miles around. This is the biggest
and most worthwhile pagoda to visit whilst in the city, and also the
most convenient for its location -- it's right by the train station.
A few kilometres away at the bottom of a bumpy pot-holed road is the
Thap Ba Hot Spring Centre. As the advertising billboards around town
boast, 'soaking in mineral mud is interesting'. Not only is there
the chance to take a mud bath, but also soaking in mineral water, steam
bath and massage, and a warm mineral water swimming pool are available.
The centre even has a VIP Spa service taking in all these highlights
through the course of a very relaxing day. A mud soak in a single tub
costs 180,000 dong, or 300,000 for a 'double tub'. A swim in the pool
costs 30,000 dong for an adult, kids are cheaper. Transportation is
available from Nha Trang city and back for 30,000 dong per person.
The National Oceonographic Museum of Vietnam lives in Nha Trang,
to the south of the town on the coast road. The museum is set in a huge
colonial complex of buildings. Signs guide the way through the various
exhibits which range from bored looking leopard sharks in tanks, to a
plastercast model of a whale skeleton (or maybe it's real as they say --
you decide), to an entire 'sea cow' or manatee preserved in a huge glass
case. Preservation is a big thing here, but we're talking about 'in
vinegar' preservation -- giant squids and small reef sharks, if it's
gruesome sights in glass jars you're looking for, there's a whole
room full of them here. Other displays show Vietnam's oceanographic
Another museum, although a whole lot less interesting, is the Yersin
Museum. Yersin was a prominent Frenchman who was loved by the
Vietnamese for his work in the country. This may only interest those who
want to learn more about the man and his contributions to shaping
Vietnam during French colonial times. The museum features displays about
Yersin's life, book collections from his library and an enormous
Some may cringe at the idea, but Vin Pearl Land, as well as a 5
star hotel, is also a day trip attraction in it's own right. Once there,
it's possible to enjoy the facilities and take a guided tour, chill on
the beach or take a swim. A visitors pass costs $20, for $50 lunch and
swimming are included. Don't underestimate the pool -- at 5,700 sq
metres it's the largest in Southeast Asia.
A cable car is now operating from the harbour to the south of Nha Trang
beach out to the Vin Pearl Resort. There is an amusement park there with
rides that are a cut above what you might find elsewhere in the country
-- not all of them are just for the kiddies. The cable car costs 100,000
VND for a return trip, but you can buy a combined ticket that lets you
ride all the rides twice for 200,000 VND. The cable car operates from
09:00 to 22:00 daily.
To get here, just head south on the beach road for 6km and stay along
the water—the cable car looms in the distance, you can't miss it.
- 2/4 St, Nha Trang. Daily: 06:00-18:00. Admission: 4,500 dong.
Long Son Pagoda - 20 Twenty Three / Ten St (23/10 St). Daily:
07:00-18:00. Admission: Free.
National Oceonographic Museum of Vietnam - 1 Cau Da, Nha Trang.
T: (058) 590 035. Daily: 06:00-18:00. Admission: 9,000 dong.
Thap Ba Hot Spring Center - 15 Ngoc Son, Ngoc Hiep, Nha Trang. T:
(058) 834 934. F: (058) 835 287.
Yersin Museum - 10 Tran Phu St, T: (058) 822 355. 07:00-11:00 &
14:00 - 16:30 Mon - Fri. Admission: 25,000 dong.