Copacabana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is known for its 4 km Balneario beach, also widely known Copacabana beach which is one of the most famous in the world. Now if you’re looking for a Southeast Asian equivalent then I have found found it – it’s Nha Trang in Vietnam. Located about 8 hours drive north of Ho Chi Minh city (Saigon) this coastal resort city in southern Vietnam known has long curved beaches, tropical islands all surrounded by stunning rolling hills. At first glance you could be mistaken that it could be Copacabana. Its main beach is a long, curving stretch along Tran Phu Street backed by a promenade, hotels and seafood restaurants. The main beach has beautiful turquoise water and has areas for swimmers only so where you won’t be bothered by jetskis or boats like many beaches in large seaside towns in Asia.
Nha Trang is a high energy, vibrant and bustling tourist town with plenty of attractions and activities to do if you’re not into just being down by the beach. It has one of the longest cable cars that cross over to Hon Tre island and the Vinpearl Resort, with a golf course, water park and fairground. There are plenty of seafood, international and local restaurants and accommodation to choose from. If you want to be spoilt then you must come here.
The city also has plenty of cultural and adventure activities to see and do. One of the most popular attractions in the city are the Po Nagar Cham Towers. With only $1 dollar entry fee and 40 mins walk from the centre of town it should be be missed. The Po Nagar Tower is the name of the main temple in a complex of Cham towers 2km north of Nha Trang City but the name Po Nagar is usually used to refer to the whole complex. The place is beautiful and is supposedly the temple for Shiva, Ganesh and Shakti. Offerings can be made at the temple and is used for prayers by all. There are a bunch of souvenir stores too that sell interesting replica models, incense sticks and sand paintings. Being up a hill you also get a great panoramic view of Nha Trang.
For some more culture there is Long Son Pagoda home to a 79ft white Buddha which can be seen from many rooftops of hotels in Nha Trang. The pagoda is an historical artifact built to honor monks and nuns who died protesting against the Diem government.
If you want activities then you must head over to Vinpearl amusement park. It is located on an island just off the coastline and you need to catch a cable car to reach it. The cable car ride over has fantastic views of Nha Trang and the park itself has plenty of fun attractions, water slides and rides, and you can easily spend a day here. The cost itself is around $30 to enter and short 10 minutes ride from the centre.
If you’re into something more natural and adventurous then you’ll love the Ba Ho waterfalls. Only 40 km out of town it is off the beaten path and, takes a bit of work to get to as the hiking path is challenging but put in the effort and you’re rewarded with a incredible views and great swimming areas and with just $1.50 for entrance it’s a bargain for the experience.
Hon Mieu is one of the 19 islands in the Nha Trang area and well worth a visit. From private beaches where you can catch sun, snorkel, or just take photo-ops, it is one of the most scenic in the area. Most local tour agencies or hotels can arrange boat tours, but I recommend that you charter one of the many speed-boat tours available to see not only Hon Mieu, but the others in the bay.
If you find yourself wanting to spend more time in Nha trang then you can also visit the the hot springs and take part in mud bathing which are popular activities in the city as the mud claims to have healing powers with the mud formed from rocks and volcanic ash.
Overall Nha Trang is a great place for families and couples alike as there is plenty to do and see and with golden long beaches and sun kissed bronze bodies around the town you’ll feel like you’re truly on holiday.