Nha Trang: The Hawaii of Vietnam!

After running around Ho Chi Minh city, Scott and I were ready to go back to the beach life. We hopped on an 8 hour train to Nha Trang, a beach city located on the coast of South-Central Vietnam.

In an effort to stay within our flashpacker budget, Scott and I decided not to stay in the A/C sleeper cabin and spend just $8 each for a hard seat in the non A/C cabin. I thought that my seat on the train was the best seat option because I was next to an open window and I was getting a good gust of semi-cool wind blowing my way the whole time. About 2 hours into the ride I realized that it was actually the worst seat on the train because while I felt cool, my face was pitch black from dirt! To all of you that don’t have the tight travel budget that we have: splurge for an A/C cabin.

We dragged our filthy and tired bodies into the lovely Sheraton Nha Trang Hotel. Through past work trips, I had collected a pretty good amount of hotel points to use on our trip. With a small amount of hotel points, $30 USD/night and a free room upgrade from the hotel manager, we lucked out on an executive suite overlooking the beautiful beaches of Nha Trang:

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After 2 months of usually showering in a tiny space in between the toilet and sink, I was elated to finally get a decent bathroom…and this one had a bathtub with jets! What was Scott happy about? A “pooping bathroom” with a view:

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The suite was probably larger than our apartment back in LA so it was a nice recharge on the trip and we were able to give each other some space for once. There also was a beautiful infinity pool a spa and free yoga classes for guests.

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But enough about the amazing hotel, on to the beach!

Nha Trang is a very beautiful city that reminded me a lot of Waikiki, Hawaii. Beautiful beaches stretch for kilometers and are full of cabanas owned by the tall, beachfront hotels.

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Be warned: the food is more expensive than normal, but really delicious. And my definition of an expensive meal in Vietnam is a sushi feast for two plus a large bottle of sake for less than $25USD. Seafood is Nha Trang’s specialty. Not only can you find huge lobsters in restaurants but also charcoal stoves on the sidewalk!

The most interesting thing I discovered was that the majority of tourists are Russian. Apparently a Russian airline has a nonstop service from Moscow directly into Nha Trang so every sign and menu is in Vietnamese and Russian. English is not common.

We don’t have much to say in this post because our days pretty much were the same: sleep in, eat, beach, pool, eat, sleep. I think the most eventful thing that happened to me was that I picked up Fifty Shades of Grey at our hotel’s free book exchange in Phu Quoc Island and finally finished the book on the beach. Not my cup of tea but an interesting read.

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We were lazy and it was awesome. One day we did walk around Nha Trang and discovered that the local town is really beautiful. We discovered it on our last day in Nha Trang:

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Our laziness really got the best of us on this trip. We spent an evening just watching movies in our ever-so-comfortable bed. The hotel was a lavish treat, but there was a moment when I was watching American History X on our 42 inch TV in our air conditioned suite and thought to myself “Where am I? This really doesn’t feel like Vietnam.”

Life felt a little fake but I still wouldn’t trade it for a crappy hostel in Nha Trang. Apparently Nha Trang is all about staying in a fancy hotel, going to the beach everyday and eating at fancy restaurants. We did just that.

Another interesting thing that I discovered in Nha Trang was Vinpearl Land. When looking out our hotel window at night, we could see these smaller versions of the Eiffel Tower far far away. I just assumed that they were decorative lights lining the beach. When we looked out the window again in the morning, we noticed that those mini Eiffel towers were in fact running a cable car across the ocean from the mainland to an Island/amusement park known as Vinpearl Land.

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The entire island is owned by a guy that apparently got rich off of packaged frozen foods in the Ukraine. He is the first Vietnamese billionaire in the world and now is investing in a lot of real estate in Vietnam. He has built many luxury resorts and even owns another mountain in Danang beach.

I found this guy’s story to be very interesting. He currently is only 44 years old and Forbes wrote a great article about him:
Forbes article about Vietnam’s first billionaire

For $25 we could take the world’s longest over-the-water cable car and spend a day at a huge amusement park. I really wanted to go but Scott wasn’t too keen on it and I happily wasted hours by the beach and pool everyday. All of a sudden it had been 5 days and we had to leave Nha Trang.

If you ever go to Vietnam and decide that in between all the cultural trips you just want a pure lazy beach vacation, Nha Trang is a great option. And if you do ever visit, please tell me how Vinpearl Land is!

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