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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.

Diving in Nha Trang

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 :  

Hon Mun

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 

Madonna Rock

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  

Moray Beach

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 / Oct  

Goat Rock

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.  

Electric Nose

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 history.

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 telescope.

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.

Cham Tower - 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.