Monday, 20 April 2015

Nha Trang

Ah, what can I say about our time in Nha Trang? It's the beach capital of Vietnam, located on the southeastern coast. We flew there from Ho Chi Minh City, which took about an hour with VietJet airlines, Vietnam's low cost airline. I must say for a budget flight it was pretty good, nice new planes with decent legroom. If you don't want to brave the trains to travel around the country, this is a good option.

Our taxi from the airport took us along the beautiful coastline, past posh resorts and lush golf courses. And then, about half an hour later, you arrive in Nha Trang. I feel like Nha Trang is Vietnam's version of Surfer's Paradise, or Magaluf in Spain. A beautiful beach, but you don't really want to turn around and look at the city behind you. If you like bright, neon signs out front of every single shop/restaurant/hotel, you will love this place.

We stayed at the Dendro Hotel, on the main road Tran Phu, which runs parallel to the beach. Upon arrival, we were told we had been upgraded to a Sea view room. Fantastic! We did have an excellent view of the sea... unfortunately this also came with the noise of the road and Russian Karaoke until about 1:30am in the morning. I have a sneaky suspicion our "upgrade" came as a result other guests demanding to be moved rooms, as we did after the first night. There was nothing wrong with this hotel per se, and the staff were lovely as we'd come to expect in Vietnam. However there is no way I would stay here again, even for the low price of $35US/night that we paid! 

View from our Sea view room
Nha Trang Beach
After dropping our bags off we headed straight for lunch and the beach. We ended up at Louisiana Brew House, located beach side, complete with swimming pool, lounge chairs, pool table, and brewery. The food here was ok, not spectacular, with a range of Western and Vietnamese dishes. Andy and Lee had the tasting flight of beers, sampling four of the beers brewed on site. The sun loungers here cost 40,000 for the day, and there is no expectation that you will order food or drink from them (although of course you will). Around 5pm they start to pack up the sun loungers which was a bit of a shock as we were enjoying our relaxing beach time, so we went back to the hotel to rest and get ready for dinner. 

Louisiana Brew House
It was a bit of a mission finding a place to eat on our first night. Good old TripAdvisor recommendations didn't seem to help, and the neon signs and picture menus can really put you off a place. I forgot to mention that Nha Trang is very popular with Russians, as there is a direct charter flight straight in from Moscow. I'm assuming it's the quickest and cheapest sun destination for them. We ended up at Olivia, a really nice Italian where we all had satisfying thin crust pizzas. After dinner we headed over to the Sailing Club for a few drinks on the beach. There was a bonfire on the beach and pretty good music, I think this is the kind of place you would come if you were looking for a bit of a party!

The next day Lee and Claire left for a day and night at a very posh resort. Little did Claire know, but Lee was going to propose to her! She said yes, so it was all very exciting when they came back the next day. Andy is going to be best man, and so we will have our third wedding in three years to go back to the UK for next year!

   

Andy and I spent the morning getting coffee and breakfast (Our hotel offered breakfast but Lee and Claire told us it was pretty bad so we decided to go out). We loved Cuppa Coffee for our Vietnamese drip coffee, where we discovered there was a TOMS shoe store. I love TOMS. If I could just wear them and Havaianas for the rest of my life I'd be pretty happy. Anyway we had a great time trying on loads of different styles, unfortunately for Andy they did not have big enough sizes for him. I ended up getting 2 pairs, and at about $30 (Australian) each I was pretty happy that I'd got a bargain. Until later, when we came to the realisation that they were probably fake :( Devastated! I went online and there is no record of stores in Vietnam on the TOMS website. The store looked so legit, I can't believe we were totally scammed! There is nothing wrong with them or anything, it's just that one of the great things about TOMS (besides being super comfy) is that for every pair of shoes you buy they give a pair of shoes to someone in need. So, if these were fake, then obviously this hasn't happened. Sigh. Well, there is nothing I can do about it now. 



That afternoon we decided to go to a different beach, called Bai Dai, about 20km north of Nha Trang. This beach was beautiful and much quieter than the main beach in Nha Trang. We hung out at a place on the beach called The Shack, which is a restaurant and also a surf shack owned by a French couple where you can rent surfboards, stand-up paddle boards, jet skis and kayaks. We spent the day reading and dozing in deck chairs, which was just perfect!



Pho!
For dinner back in Nha Trang we had one of the cheapest/best meals in Vietnam. At Galangal they serve street food and authentic Vietnamese cuisine in a "safe" environment (aka not from some dodgy street vendor - critical when you are pregnant!) Highly recommend this place, the food is not adapted to Western tastes, and like I said it was really cheap, the two of us feasted like kings for under 300,000 dong.

For our last day we decided to hit the sun loungers at Louisiana Brew House again. We briefly considered checking out the Egg Mud Baths, but it was just too hot to do anything but lay around and take occasional dips in a pool! We feasted at Galangal again for dinner, this time taking Lee and Claire, before heading back to the Dendro to clean up and get ready for our overnight train to Hoi An.  What an experience that was!
Pork wraps at Galangal
Overall, Nha Trang was good for a beach stop on our trip. However it was our least favourite place in Vietnam and not somewhere I would return to if we were back in the country. 


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