Bao Dai villas
Set picturesquely on the hills among lush greenery the villas were once the retreat of Vietnamese last emperor, Bao Dai. When he abdicated in 1945 the villas were taken over by high officials of South Vietnamese government, in later years replaced by communist officials. Today the villas themselves don't look very attractive and as a lonely planet guide-book states: "low ranking capitalist tourists can rent a room there". The whole site is very tranquil and the best thing about it are beautiful views of the port and the town of Nha Trang from the hilltop.
The place is guarded and one has to pay a small entrance fee to get to its precints. While walking around we didn't meet any other tourists so we were quite surprised to find an open restaurant in the main building. There were no other guests inside and we sat at a table by a window offering a fantastic view of the port. A nice waitress dressed in ao dai prepared the food we ordered on a portable cooker placed in the restaurant room. Although it was just fried rice with vegetables it tasted delicious.
On the way to Bao Dai villas
What I love doing while visiting a new place is walking to the parts of a town away from tourist attractions. To see how people live, even it is only the outside of the buildings, to watch locals at their daily chores is as important to me as seeing the highlights of the city.
On our way to Bao Dai villas we spotted in the distance a roof of a catholic church. We decided to find it. Having left the main street we found ourselves in the maze of narrow lanes, some of which ended abruptly leading to nowhere. The people we passed smiled at us and pointed the direction we should follow. I have no idea how they knew where we were going. Finally we found the church. We loved the way it was built - looking like a pagoda. Unfortunately, we couldn't get inside because it was closed. Nearby, behind the fence, was a buddhist temple. We wanted to enter its grounds when two big dogs started barking at us. Just then a buddhist nun appeared and invited us in. She kindly showed us around and we had a chat.
Bha Yai beach
Forget Nha trang city beaches, and forget the islands, too. If you want an unspoilt beach, frequented only by locals, with great and cheap seafood, and especially with excellent waves to body-surf, head to Bha Yai beach.
Finding the beach is not really easy, and you'll need to rent a mortobike or hire a taxi to get there, as it is about 30 minutes driving from Nha Trang. Take the airport road, go up the "mountain2, and as you come down, when you reach flat ground again, take the first road on the left... it'll take you straight to the beach. It's not sign-posted...
We got up at 4 A.M. one morning and took a trip to the local fish market. The men go out at night to fish and bring in their catch early. For the most part it seems to be women on the dock sorting, moving and cutting up the fish. I don't think many tourists make this trip, people seemed a bit surprised to see us there. Stay out of the way or you will get a nudged by someone with a basket of fish and need a trip to the shower!
If you come later in the morning you will miss all the activity.
Breathtaking scenery on the bumpy way- Chapter 1
It belongs to Cam Ranh District, not Nha Trang. We used to have to travel 60kms to get to Cam Ranh in the past, but a new road was being built from Le Hong Phong Street so that it's only about 15 kms from Nha Trang city center.
It's worth the effort to suffer the bumpy road on taxi, because the scenery is terrific! My digital cam and poor knowledge of photography can't capture it all.
Why do tourists never seem to visit the local markets?
We spent an amazing time wandering around the labyrinthine market. The people were so friendly and happy to explain some of the more exotic species of fruits and vegetables to us.
A place where you can learn about a culture and a way of life.
Nha Trang has a small oceanarium next to the harbour which is a couple of kilometers south of town.
It has a nice collection of the fish that can be found in the waters around nha Trang plus a few other things.
It's not huge and impressive, but if you are about to take one of the popular boat trips anyway then it's a nice place to visit as it's right next to where the tour boats leave from.
The adress of the place is:
1 Cau Da, Nha Trang.
- Family Travel
Bai Dai Beach
I discovered this beach from making friends with one of the local girls. She used to visit this beach when she was a kid.
Don't expect any sort of developed resort here but just miles of white sand and a clear blue warm sea with a few family run restaurants at the end.
For just 100,000 VND you can enjoy 1kg of fresh crab and they will even show you how to dissect it to maximise it's meat contents.
To get there.
By motorbike, head South towards Cam Ranh. You will pass many beautiful mountains, breathtaking views of the South China sea and Diamond Bay resort. There is a just one road that leads there and you will notice a huge bill board that advertises Vin pearl land. This is where you need to turn off.
If you end up in Saigon, you have gone to far...
By taxi, pay around 100,000 VND and it takes around 40 minutes to get there. You can tell the driver to come back for you at a certain time and he will be very likely to be there.
Teaching local kids
At Crazy Kim's Bar, you can sign up to volunteer to teach local children how to speak and read in English.
The owner of the bar is a huge advocate against sex tourism and pedophiles in Vietnam.
19 Biet Thu Street
Breathtaking scenery on the bumpy way- Chapter 2
Simply blue, simply awesome...
On one side, it's this amazing beach, on the other, it's the high cliff. What an adventure!!!
No worries, the road is soon to be completed in the near future! So you can enjoy this view easily.
Beauty and the beach
My high school classmates and me, April 2004.
From left: Oanh, who speaks fluent French and will be a language teacher in Nha Trang soon; Quynh: a capable receptionist of Ana Mandara- a stylist resort right on Nha Trang beach; and me in orange..., a long-lost child of Nha Trang...
The road we were standing on was being constructed to connect Nha Trang with Bai Dai...
As said in my Nha Trang intro, we ate fresh squid and crabs to our heart's content (what you see is just part of our seafood) for only USD6... What a bargain
Breathtaking scenery on the bumpy way- Chapter 3
There's no way one can go down to this craggy coastline... The emerald water is so clear you can see the underwater stones and sand... Simply fantastic
Look like that of an adventure movie, this rocky beach is part of Bai Dai, which means Long Seashore in Vietnamese. This part isn't swim-worthy like others of Bai Dai, but the view is photogenic