Nha Trang

Nha Trang

Things to do - general

The name Nha Trang is a Vietnamese pronunciation of a Cham word Eatran or Yjatan. Ea or Yja means river, and tran means reed. According to the locals, there once were a lot of reeds along Ngoc Hoi river. The river winds its way through the town. Ngoc Hoi was later renamed Nha Trang river.

Another theory of the origin of Nha Trang’s name has a more amusing twist. Long ago, in this part of the country, all the houses were made out of the reeds and mud gathered from Ngoc Hoi river. The only house that was made out of bricks were the house belonging to Dr. Yersin, a French immunologist who made his home here. The house itself was painted prominently white and could be seen by vessels coming from far away. Once there was a foreign vessel passing by. The captain asked his translator where he was. The translator not knowing where they were blurted out “Nha Trang” or white house in Vietnamese. The captain duly noted on his chart Nha Trang. Because most foreign languages do not make use of tones, the captain’s name for this part of the country stuck.

The port city of Nha Trang is the biggest city in Khanh Hoa province, and lies at the mouth of the Cai River, 256 miles (412 km) northeast of Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon). Khanh Hoa is studded with over 200 picturesque islands, and its 200 kilometre coastline abounds in beautiful white sandy beaches. The Khanh Hoa coast is the first place in Vietnam to welcome the morning sunshine, and it enjoys 300 days of sun a year, at a comfortable temperature of 26.5 degrees Celsius.

Its history is known as far back as the 3rd century AD, when, as part of the independent land of Kauthara, a Champa kingdom, it acknowledged the suzerainty of Funan.

In 1653 it was incorporated into the territory of the Nguyen lords of southern Vietnam and after 1802 into the kingdom of Vietnam due to its strategic value in possessing two major rivers, and boasting a well-protected seaport.

After 1862 Nha Trang was acquired by the French, and in July 1891 Alexandre Yersin, a ship’s doctor in search of adventure, made his first landing in Nha Trang. Eight years later, he was back – and this time he founded the now famous Pasteur Institute for research in tropical diseases. and stayed on in the town until his death in 1943.

In 1912 the Saigon-Hanoi railway reached the town of Nha Trang, known then as a fishing port that had oil-storage facilities. It also has a fine, sandy beach, and under the French it became a seaside resort.

On the north bank of the Cai River, opposite Nha Trang, is the village of Thon Cu Lao, behind which, on a granite knoll, sits Po Nagar (“Lady of the City”), a well-preserved cluster of four Cham shrines dedicated to Shiva and erected or rebuilt between the 7th and 12th century. Nha Trang is the site of the University of Fishery and Marine Products.

Languages spokenVietnamese
Currency usedVND
Area (km2)251

Interesting palaces & Activities

Places to see

Pasteur Institute and Yersin Museum located at 10 Tran Phu. Open: 08.00am-11.00am & 2- 4.30pm. Closed Sat. & Sun. The museum is on the second floor of the adjacent building. Guided tours are available in English and there is also a short film shown on Yersin's life.

The Khanh Hoa Museum is also worth a visit featuring Cham statues and costumes. There is also the Uncle Ho room featuring some of Uncle Ho's personal effects.

The Po Nagar Cham Towers complex was built between the 7th and 12th century. The most beautiful towers were built in the year 813 and 817. Most were destroyed and only four towers are still standing. Each tower is a shrine to a different deity The Po Nagar towers once stood at the entrance of Cai River, where the river meets the ocean. The towers stood in isolation on a rock foundation, but over many years the towers and the land it stands on became part of the land mass as the river changed its flows Today, the tower is north of the river and the rock formation it stood on became known as nui Cu Lao or Mount Cu Lao. The town of Vinh Phuoc at the base of the mountain was once a fishing village, known as Xom Chai and Xom Bong. Great views/photos from the hill. Closes at 5 pm. The Long Son Pagoda is about 500m west of the train station on 23 Thang 10 St. It has resident monks and was founded in the late 19th century. At the top of the hill, behind the pagoda is a Big White Buddha seated on a lotus blossom which is visible from all around. It was built in 1963, is 14m high and to reach it, you must climb the 152 stone steps beginning from the right of the structure to the top of the hill. You will be rewarded with great views!

If you head north along Quang Trung St. at the 2nd bridge are 100’s of fishing boats moored among huge boulders. Also, visit the fishing village! The Hon Chon Promontory is a narrow granite promontory providing stunning views of the mountainous coastline north of Nha Trang and great "Kodak Moments".

The Oceanographic Institute (Vien Nghiem Cuu Bien) is open 7.30am-noon and 1pm-4.30pm daily . It was founded in 1923 and is housed in a grand French-Colonial building 6km south of Nha Trang's main post office in the port district of Cau Da.

Nha Trang is the most famous destination in Vietnam for Scuba Diving. Visit The Rainbow Divers located at Nguyen Thien Thuat - Nha Trang for more details.

Useful information

Getting there and awayBy AirCurrently no international flights serve Nha Trang's Cam Ranh Airport, which is 35km from town, but linked with a new, good quality road.Vietnam Airways flies the Saigon-Nha Trang-Saigon route three times a day on Sat, Mon, Wed, and Thu, with four a day on Fri, Sun and Tue. The fare costs 575,000 dong one way, 1,155,000 dong return. Times are as follows:Saigon - Nha Trang: 06:00, 10:15, 14:10Nha Trang - Saigon: 07:45, 16:00, 16:10 (11:10 on Fri, Sun and Tue).From Nha Trang to Hanoi there is one flight a day, but no set schedule, leaving at either 09:20 or 13:40.Vietnam airways also has flights to Da Nang.By TrainThere are numerous classes of train travel between Saigon and Nha Trang, including the new '5 star' express service which only stops once between the cities (www.5starexpress.com.vn). This service boasts private departure lounges at each end, and facilities on the train include LCD TV's, several bars and airline-standard bathrooms. The train departs daily at the following times:Sleepers come highly recommended, anyone who has experienced a 'soft' or a 'hard' seat for any length of time will understand why. The price will vary again depending on the bunk (top, middle or bottom), top being the cheapest.Trains also leave to the North -- one for Da Nang (the jump off point for Hoi An) is the D2, 23:46 (arr. 10:30).Getting aroundXe Om drivers are easy to find, as are cyclos, which may make for a pleasant cruise along the beachfront road, Tran Phu. Renting a personal motorbike is easy enough, ask at your hotel. A fully automatic costs around $6 a day, a semi-automatic $4. Many tourists prefer to rent bicycles to enjoy the roads around the sea front -- bicycles are available for rent from almost every hotel.Shop ya to drop!!!Jean Lou Coiffure De Paris, a French hairstylist and designer, has a little storefront at 13 Biet Thu and not only does hair and nails but also serves drinks and does laundry, too. It's open daily from 8am to midnight.Groove Shack, at 89a Nguyen Thien Thuat has lots of copycats, but owner Zac has this business down. The business provides good pirated CDs and media loaded onto your Ipod or personal computer. Ethical? Not really. Convenient? Yes. And you can fill up on good new tunes (or DVDs) for kicking back at the beach. Zac also sells T-shirts and beach clothes. Open daily from 8am to 10pm.Bambou (15 Biet Thu; daily 8am-9:30pm) is a popular T-shirt shop in the heart of the backpacker area of Biet Thu. These shirts are becoming like the "Black Dog" shirts of Martha's Vineyard for Vietnam.At 17A Biet Thu, the heart of the busy traveler street in Nha Trang, you can't miss bright Tashunco (17A Biet Thu; daily 7am-10pm), a little grocer that carries familiar Western goods, ranging from Diet Coke to good cheese.Nightlife and entertainmentCrazy Kim Bar (19 Biet Thu St, Nha Trang)In the heart of the backpacker area, Crazy Kim is the meeting point for the young and wild. Their motto is "Be hot. Be cool. Be crazy. Just be." There are many personified versions of that motto walking around this place. It's especially popular with the diving crowd and the few expats in town.Guava (17 Biet Thu, Nha Trang)Just next door to popular Crazy Kim, Guava is a similar young scene. They often have good live music acts.Trang Sailing Club (72-74 Tran Phu St, Nha Trang)The Sailing Club is the only bar/restaurant on the beach (all others are across the main road) and is extremely popular. This is the only place that stays open much past midnight, but it gets a little seedy after that. They have open-air bamboo huts by the beach, and a large central pavilion with pool table and a dance floor.Why Not Bar (24 Tran Quang Khai St, Nha Trang)This one seems to skirt the midnight rule. A large, brick pavilion, the place stays up later thanks to reputed "special" local connections. Live bands and dancing. Just south of the Biet Thu areaNha trang weatherNha Trang is extremely lucky to not be influenced by monsoon winds that turn the rest of southern Vietnam into water six months every year. Nha Trang has a warm, fair and beautiful climate nearly all year round, with the exception of late October, November and early December.The best time to visit Nha Trang would probably be March or April. The least windy months of the year are May, April and June. Nha Trang in general is not windy ennough to windsurf, with the exception of Doc Lep beach (35 km north of Nha Trang), which is usually reserved for experts.

Culture and history info

From 1653 to the 19th century, Nha Trang was a deserted area rich in wildlife (animals like tigers) and was a part of Hà Bạc, Vĩnh Xương County, Diên Khánh Province. After just two decades in the early 20th century, Nha Trang underwent a rapid change. On 30 August 1924, the Governor-General of French Indochina decreed Nha Trang as a townlet (centre urbain).[3] Nha Trang Townlet was established from the ancient villages of Xương Huân, Phương Câu, Vạn Thạnh, Phương Sài, and Phước Hải.

During French Indochina, Nha Trang was seen as de facto capital of Khánh Hòa Province. The colonial administration offices (like Envoy Office, Commanding Office, Trade Office, Post Office) were situated in Nha Trang. Local royal offices like Province Chief, Provincial Judge, Military Commander are in Diên Khánh city (a walled military city 10 km southwest of Nha Trang).

On 7 May 1937, the Governor-General of French Indochina by another decree upgraded Nha Trang Townlet to town.[4] At this time, Nha Trang Town had five wards based on the ancient villages merged to make the town: Xương Huân, Phương Câu, Vạn Thạnh, Phương Sài, and Phước Hải.

On 27 January 1958, the president of the Republic of Vietnam, Ngô Đình Diệm by Decree 18-BNV abrogated the town status of Nha Trang and divided Nha Trang into two rural communes: Nha Trang Đông (Eastern Nha Trang) and Nha Trang Tây (Western Nha Trang), under the administration of Vĩnh Xương County.

On 22 October 1970, the government of the Republic of Vietnam by Decree 132-SL/NV reestablished Nha Trang Town on the ground of Nha Trang Đông and Nha Trang Tây and other rural communes — Vĩnh Hải, Vĩnh Phước, Vĩnh Trường, Vĩnh Nguyên, and villages Phước Hải (Vĩnh Thái Commune), Vĩnh Điềm Hạ (Vĩnh Hiệp Commune), Ngọc Thảo, Ngọc Hội, Lư Cấm Villages (Vĩnh Ngọc Commune) under the administration of Vinh Xuong County, together with islands Hòn Lớn, Hòn Một, Hòn Mun, Hòn Miễu, Hòn Tằm. Nha Trang Town was made the capital of Khanh Hoa Province. The town included two districts. District 1 covered communes Nha Trang Đông, Vĩnh Hải, Vĩnh Phước, and villages Ngọc Thảo, Ngọc Hội and Lư Cấm of Vĩnh Ngọc Commune, Vĩnh Điềm Hạ village of Vĩnh Hiệp Commune. District 2 covered communes Nha Trang Tây, Vĩnh Trường, Vĩnh Nguyên (inclusive of islands of Hòn Tre, Hòn Một, Hòn Mun, Hòn Tằm), Phước Hải village of Vĩnh Thái Commune.

Following that establishment, the government by Decree 357-ĐUHC/NC/NĐ dated 5 June 1971 divided Nha Trang into 11 urban zones, of which, district 1 covered urban zones of Vĩnh Hải, Vĩnh Phước, Ngọc Hiệp, Vạn Thạnh, Duy Tân; district 2 covered urban wards of Vĩnh Nguyên, Vĩnh Trường, Phương Sài, Tân Phước, Tân Lập, Phước Hải. Decree 553-BNV/HCĐP/NV dated 22 August 1972 renamed urban zones into urban wards. Decree 444-BNV/HCĐP/26.X dated 3 September 1974 merged islands of Hòn Một, Hòn Cậu, Hòn Đụn, Hòn Chóp Vung, Hòn Đỏ into Vĩnh Hải ward (district 1) and Hòn Ngọc into Vĩnh Nguyên ward (district 2) of Nha Trang Town.

On 2 April 1975, communist (NLF/PRG/VPA) forces captured the city. On 4 April 1975, Khánh Hòa Military Commission (Ủy ban Quân quản Khánh Hòa) divided Nha Trang into three administrative districts: District 1, District 2 and Vĩnh Xương District.

In September 1975, the districts were merged to become one entity, the town of Nha Trang.

On 30 March 1977, the Council of the Government (now the cabinet) of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam by Decision 391-CP/QĐ upgraded Nha Trang to city status, a county-level city under the administration of Phú Khánh Province (a province created by merger of now Phú Yên Province and Khánh Hòa Province). Seven communes of former Vĩnh Xương County, namely Vĩnh Thái, Vĩnh Ngọc, Vĩnh Hiệp, Vĩnh Lương, Vĩnh Trung, Vĩnh Thạnh, Vĩnh Phương was split from Khánh Xương County to become Nha Trang City territory.

On 27 March 1978, the provincial government by Decision 54-BT founded Phước Đồng Commune under Nha Trang City.

On 1 July 1989, Khanh Hoa was split from Phu Khanh Province to become Khánh Hòa Province as it was before, Nha Trang was made the capital of Khánh Hòa Province.

On 22 April 1999, the prime minister by Decision 106/1999 recognised Nha Trang City the second class municipal city.

On 22 April 2009, the prime minister Nguyễn Tấn Dũng recognised Nha Trang City at the first class municipal city

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