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Nha Trang Beach - Khanh Hoa - Vietnam Tourist SitesNha Trang is Vietnam’s beach resort town. A major face-lift in 1995-96, and the opening of two upscale hotels later in 1996, vaulted Nha Trang onto the playing field with places like Phuket, Thailand, and Cancun, Mexico. Today, it's a popular destination for both foreign and domestic tourists.

 

In addition to sun bathing, popular attractions include boat trips to the nearby islands and tours of Nha Trang's historic sites. If you like typical beach resort towns, then Nha Trang is for you.

Nha Trang is on the central coast, about 450 km north of Saigon and 1,200 km south of Hanoi . The main strip in Nha Trang is Tran Phu St, which runs north-south along the sea for about 4 kilometers. It is a wide boulevard, bisected by a grassy median with street lamps. Numerous restaurants and bars line the beach side of Tran Phu, while hotels and more restaurants line the other. A walking path and wide swath of trees separate the beach from the road.

Not surprisingly, life in Nha Trang centers on the beach. In the early mornings and late afternoons, especially on weekends, you'll find the beach packed with locals. In addition to swimming, football (soccer) is a popular pastime, and you'll find numerous games in progress. During the heat of the day, the locals surrender the beach to mostly foreign sun-worshippers. In the evenings the beach is all but deserted.

When you tire of the beach, visit the nearby islands. Day trips are offered by just about every hotel and cafe. A typical itinerary includes visiting 2 or 3 islands, snorkeling and lunch, all for about US$8 per person. For serious snorkelers and divers who want to spend more time in the water, two local dive operators offer day trips from January to October

Back on the mainland, there are a few worthwhile attractions in or near town. The towering white Buddha that can be seen from many parts of Nha Trang is part of the Long Son Pagoda and can be reached by climbing a steep (and long!) set of stairs. North of town, across the Nha Trang River , lies the Po Nagar Cham site. The ancient Cham towers sit high atop a hill; the views overlooking the river and town are breathtaking. A little beyond Po Nagar lies Hon Chong, a scenic beach that is reputed to have the best seafood in the area. South of town, check out Emperor Bao Dai's former holiday retreat, now a hotel
Every road leads to Nha Trang; well, actually there's only one road, National Highway 1, but you can also fly or take the train from just about anywhere in Vietnam . Some promoters boast that there is only one month of bad weather in Nha Trang, which is true if you don't mind rain and wind. Otherwise, plan to visit between January and August.

Po Nagar Cham Tower
On the north side of Nha Trang, across Xom Bong Bridge excited with red-blue fishing boats are the best-preserved Cham Towers in Central Vietnam , a sanctuary of Po Nagar, a mythical goddess. Among the 8 towers constructed between the 7th and 12th centuries, only 4 left and they are still used as places of worship. There is a group of nuns that may show you around with their best sign language and smiles and there is a small interesting museum to the right of the north tower displaying photographs and ancient statues. The hillock upon which the Cham Towers sit offers a great panorama of the surrounds and a view over the entrance to the river with Nha Trang as a background. The entrance to the site is at street level followed by a staircase uphill to the top. You will notice on the right of you way up the remains of the meditation hall, which was the original entrance for Cham worshippers. The north tower is the largest and main one situated on a higher level directly in front of the meditation hall. The other smaller towers are only metres away from this and all of them are facing due east. Remember to take off your shoes before entering any of the temples.

Hon Chong Headland
Due east of the Cham Towers are fishing villages, with a lot of boats move in and out of the surreal-looking bay by Xom Bong Bridge. A slippery fish market opens early in the morning. West of the Cham Towers is Hai Dao Island resort, a collection of cabins connected to the mainland by footbridges. Cockfights are sometimes staged here. To the northeast of the towers is Hon Chong Promontory where hundreds of boulders are balanced on top of one another. The massive boulder at the tip of the Promontory is call Chong Rock. Various legends are associated with this boulder which is said to bear the imprint of a large hand. Naturally, there are various (beautiful) look-outs with refreshment stalls are set around by the local people.

Pagodas and Churches
On the northwest side of Nha Trang is Long Son Pagoda, and active Buddhist temple featuring and unusual red brass Buddha on a wooden lotus pedestal. On top of a hill behind the pagoda is the massive 9-m high white Buddha on a lotus throne. Embedded in the octagonal base are 7 stucco likeness of Buddhist martyr, monks, and nuns who died protesting the repressive Ngo Dinh Diem regime in southern Vietnam during the Vietnam War. Some of them have immolated themselves and the white Buddha was built in their memory in 1963.

On the other side of the tracks, east of the railway station is Nha Trang Cathedral, complete with stained glass windows and French Gothic lines. It was built in the 1930s and the daily masses are still held here in the early morning and late afternoon.

Pasteur Institute   At the north end of Tran Phu Street is the Pasteur Institute, with a small but fascinating Museum dedicated to the French Dr. Alexander Yersin (1863-1943). The Pasteur Institute was founded by Yersin in 1895, and he is probably one of the most respected French man in Vietnam . Being a Renaissance man, Yersin was not only famous for the pioneering medical research but was an explorer, botanist, biologist, and entomologist, and also interested in photography and astronomy. He explored the Da Lat area and recommended sitting a hill station there. He was also responsible for the introduction of rubber and quinine producing trees and discovered the microbe that caused the bubonic plague. This institute now performs research and produces vaccines. Within the Nha Trang institute, the office and library of Dr. Yersin are now open to the public and contain a small yet interesting collection of his equipment. It was on Yersin's recommendations that his laboratory in Nha Trang and Dr. Albert Calmette's laboratory in Saigon were upgraded to the level of Indochina Pasteur Institute, the 1st established outside Paris . Indochinese Pasteur Institutes later appeared in Hanoi and Da Lat, and microbiology labs opened in Hue, Vientiane and Phnompenh.

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