Southeast Asia is backpackers’ paradise! It’s a place where young, adventurous travellers on a tight budget can venture from city to city, jungle to jungle, temple to temple, or cave to cave, while spending very little money on food, lodging, and transportation. But if overnight buses, hostels, cheap beer, and haggling at markets isn’t your idea of a vacation, don’t worry. Southeast Asia also offers excellent beach vacations. And the best part of a beach vacation in this region is that it’s STILL Southeast Asia – that means you can still cover a day’s expenses for the cost of a meal at a nice restaurant in a developed country. Perhaps nowhere is this more true than in Nha Trang, the beach capital of Vietnam.
We weren’t really sure what to expect from Nha Trang. We haven’t really researched it much. In fact, it wasn’t even on our radar when our trip began. But after weeks of battling the heat and humidity of Southeast Asia, we felt it was time to spend a few days on the beach. Plus, Nha Trang was a convenient stop on the way from Ho Chi Minh City to Da Nang/Hoi An. As it turned out though, Vietnam’s beach city had some neat surprises for us.
The first surprise was that Nha Trang felt like ‘Little Russia’. It turns out that this city is extremely popular with Russians looking to escape winter (sort of like Florida or the Caribbean for Canadians). Consequently, a lot of the locals have learned to speak Russian. Most of the vendors at the market stalls, shops, and restaurants assumed we were Russian and began speaking to us in that language as we walked past. It caught us a little off guard at first.
The next surprise was that Nha Trang was a lot more than just a ‘beach town.’ Although Ben and I consider ourselves to be more urban explorers, we really enjoyed our time on the beach (and our visit to the mud baths)! We were fortunate enough to find accommodation through Airbnb in a home on the ‘other side’ of town, away from the uber touristy area, which gave us a chance to see the local life. Like other cities in Vietnam, Nha Trang has lots of neat alleyways to explore, great street food and coffee (which is ridiculously cheap), and very friendly locals.