Nha Trang, Vietnam: The Perfect 3 Day Itinerary


Are you planning a trip to Vietnam? If you are, then we think Nha Trang should be one of the stops on your list. This city was the third stop on our 30-day backpacking journey in Vietnam. It offers a six kilometre coastline with white sandy beaches, mountain ranges at each end and numerous untouched islets just a short boat ride away. This beautiful beach city provided us with so many fond memories. Nha Trang is covered with breath-taking structures (dating back to the Champa Kingdom), Buddhist temples, Catholic Churches, as well as natural hot springs, salt fields, and unique waterfalls. With various sightseeing and recreational activities, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. If you ask us, this Vietnamese coastal city is a must-visit!


WHERE IS NHA TRANG?


This port city lies in southeast Vietnam located 412 km northeast of Ho Chi Minh City in the Khanh Hoa Province of Vietnam. It lies between the cities Cam Rahn and Tuy Hoa.

TRAVELLING TO NHA TRANG?


In general, there are several ways to travel around Vietnam: by plane, bus, train and in some areas, we recommend getting a motorbike. Before determining what method of transportation you’d like to take, first consider your budget. Ask yourself, what is your budget for this trip? How much of that budget are you willing to spend on transportation?


For us, we were on a backpacker's budget. Our mindset was to spend our money enjoying the destination rather than on the trip getting there. We made it our goal to spend as little as possible on the transportation aspect of our travels. This meant we typically took buses from place to place. With that being said, below we’ve listed all the options for you to determine which method best suits your travelling needs.


First, in order to make the best decision for your travel budget and needs, you'll need to determine from where you'll be travelling.


TRAVELLING NORTH - HO CHI MINH CITY TO NHA TRANG

If you have decided to start your Vietnam adventures from Ho Chi Minh City, you will be in the south of Vietnam and will be venturing north to see other parts of the country.


TRAVELING SOUTH - DA NANG TO NHA TRANG

If you started your trip in Hanoi, you will be heading south to make your way down Vietnam. This means you’ll first hit Da Nang, which is the best city to get transport from if you want to put Nha Trang on your list.



BY TRAIN:


Vietnam is a deceivingly large country. As most of the major places to visit are along the coastline, you are mostly travelling up or down the coast. Due to its length, most journeys are considerably longer than you may expect. Because of this, most transport services offer overnight services. Whether it’s the national rail line or a private service, both offer sleeper cabins where you can pick from 4-bed cabins (bunk bed style) or 2-bed cabins for extra privacy. The latter will increase the price of your journey.


Although the private trains are considerably more expensive than the national rail line, it can offer a more relaxing and comfortable journey with cleaner compartments, usable toilets and staff present to assist with any needs you may have. They also serve a small selection of snacks and drinks with additional items available for purchase.


Although we did not take the train to Nha Trang, we did take an overnight train during our Vietnam adventures. We did not have the option for a private service as it’s only available to and from certain cities, however, we found Vietnam Railways to be sufficient and the conditions were fine. While it’s not the most luxurious way to travel, the beds were clean and comfortable enough. The only unpleasant thing was the toilets, but we basically slept the entire journey so this wasn’t much of an issue for us.


HO CHI MINH CITY TO NHA TRANG

Approx Time: 7h - 9h

Distance: 411 Km


You have the option of several different Vietnam National Railway Services that depart throughout the day from Ho Chi Minh City or there are also 2 private train services that depart once a day. Train services from Ho Chi Minh City to Nha Trang take between 7 to 9 hours based on which time table you choose, as some trains have more stops than others.


DA NANG TO NHA TRANG

Approx Time: 9h 30m - 11h

Distance: 524 Km


Vietnam Railway Services has plenty of trains running this route daily with about six options per day from which to choose. Whilst there are no private train services that run this route individually, there are carriages on every train operated by a private company called Violette Express. These cabins are basically the same quality as the private trains described above, just purely localized to a few cabins within a public train.


BY BUS:


Bus travel in Vietnam is probably the most popular form of transport. This is mainly because it's so affordable and has such an extensive network that it can take you virtually anywhere. Buses are great for those who are looking to explore the far reaches of this culturally rich country. Trying to figure out the buses in Vietnam can be overwhelming at first, but once you get the hang of it, it's definitely the cheapest way to travel - always great news to backpackers on a tight budget like we were on this trip.


Travelling from city to city along the coast, you will most likely want to take an interprovincial private bus over the state bus. Both buses offer regular day-seating and sleeper bus seats. The time of day you choose to travel will likely impact which bus type you will want. For us, we typically opted for the sleeper bus so we didn't waste any of our daylight hours riding on a bus and also had one less night of accommodation for which to pay. The higher-end private buses are much more comfortable with most including WiFi, TVs, toilets and steward service. However, it's important to mention that the sleeper beds themselves aren't very big whether you take a private or public bus. If you're on the taller side you may find this method of transportation uncomfortable. No matter your stature, sleeping on a bus constantly can get tiresome and obviously isn't the most luxurious way to travel, even on private buses - just something to keep in mind when booking by bus.


We took both private and public buses during our Vietnam adventures. Whilst public is much cheaper, it can be somewhat of a hit or miss depending on the luck of the draw of which bus you end up on. Some were new buses and absolutely great while others had no air conditioning for the entire journey. Whatever you choose, taking a bus is definitely a uniqueexperience to have in Vietnam, even if it's only once!


HO CHI MINH CITY TO NHA TRANG

Approx Time: 10h

Distance: 433 Km


Ho Chi Minh to Nha Trang buses operate 24/7. There are both daytime and nighttime buses with state-owned and commercial options. Hanh Cafe, The Sinh Tourist, and Futa are 3 private companies that run to Nha Trang from Ho Chi Minh. Check their sites for timetables and pricing. When available, we typically chose Futa as we had the best luck with them in reagrds to the quality of buses and service.


DA NANG TO NHA TRANG

Approx Time: 11h - 12h

Distance: 530 Km


Buses from Da Nang to Nha Trang run daily with both State-owned (public) and Commercial (private) options. There are sleeper buses, as well as day buses available on this route.


BY PLANE:


If you decide flying is the best option for you, be sure to check Vietnam Airlines and Vietjet flights. Vietnam Airlines is slightly more expensive than Vietjet, but VA provides a more comfortable experience and also usually includes luggage fees in their ticket price (Vietjet does not). Essentially, Vietjet is the Ryanair or Spirit of Vietnam. We have never had a bad experience with them and you can save money taking this budget airline as long as you play by their rules.


HO CHI MINH CITY TO NHA TRANG

Approx Time: 1 h 10m Nonstop

Distance: 433 Km


This would mean you'll most likely fly from SGN to CXR (Nha Trang). One way flights are currently averaging at 20 USD for Vietjet and 28 USD for Vietnam Airlines.


DA NANG TO NHA TRANG

Approx Time: 1h 15m Nonstop

Distance: 530 Km


If you decide to travel via plane to Nha Trang, you will fly from DAD to CRX (Nha Trang). One way flights are between 30 USD - 50 USD depending on when and how you choose to book. They are slightly more expensive than those from SGN. If you're on a tighter budget, you will be able to find 30 USD flights, you may just need to be more flexible with your travel dates.

WHERE TO STAY?


There are so many options for accommodation here from hostels to hotels to Airbnb’s - it really all depends on your budget.

We’ve listed our suggestions, as well as descriptions and price estimates for each to help you in your search for finding the right fit for your needs.


HOSTELS


Typically hostels here start at 130,000 VND (~6 USD) per night for a bed in a shared dorm. They usually also offer private rooms averaging around 371,000 VND per night for a double bed (2 people). Most Hostels have free WiFi, a bar, free breakfast (most of the time) and some even have a pool.


Some people may not like the idea of Hostel accommodation, however, Justin and I stayed in many over the course of our trip and usually in dorms to meet other people. If you’re looking for a way to make new travel friends and keep your costs low, choosing a hostel may be for you!

Our Recommendations:

Bondi Beach Backpackers

Ku Kid Homestay

Tabalo



BUDGET HOTELS


Most two and three-star hotels will offer a basic double bed hotel room. You can expect a clean, comfortable room with an en-suite bathroom with most including breakfast (it's rare for it not to be included). The majority average around 464,000 VND (~20 USD) per night and free WiFi is standard! As a couple on a backpacker's budget, this is a very feasible option as it’s only about $4 more each than a hostel dorm or $2 more each than a private hostel room. Plus, the breakfasts are usually much better than hostel breakfasts. If you’re a couple travelling together looking for your own private space then you may want to consider this option.

Our Recommendations:

Apus Hotel

Agnes Nha Trang Hotel

Holi Beach Hotel and Apartments



LUXURY HOTELS


While this was unfortunately out of our price range this time, we wanted to be sure to include some options for those of you who plan to travel on a less reserved budget. We scoped it out and chose a few of our favourites that we would personally come back and stay in. Most of the 4 and 5-star hotels offer various amenities such as a pool, spa, fitness center, restaurant, and bar. All usually come with breakfast (or you can add for an additional fee). We also enjoy the finer things in life, just like anybody else, so if you’re looking for that extra luxurious stay then this may be the best option for you.


Our Recommendations:

Hotel Novotel Nha Trang

Queen Ann Nha Trang Hotel

The Sheraton Nha Trang

OUR 3 DAY ITINERARY


Now that we’ve laid out the why, where, and how-to travel aspects of a visit to Nha Trang, we hope that you’ve decided to go ahead with a trip to this great city. If so, then check out our perfect 3-day itinerary. In the spirit of full disclosure, there is so much more to do here than just what we’ve listed. This itinerary is based on our own personal experiences here. We created this itinerary based on what activities we found most enjoyable while also providing an overall sense of Nha Trang based on a 2-day time constraint. We fully encourage you to read other blogs and do your due diligence on Nha Trang so you can customise your itinerary to fit your needs.


*All information listed from pricing to hours is from our journey in Jan 2020.

DAY 1


ARRIVE IN NHA TRANG


As we explained previously, we often took the bus and many times they would be overnight buses. This meant early arrivals in our new destinations. If you’re like us and arrive early, drop your things off at the accommodation and head out to explore for the day!

SUNRISE VIEW AT PONAGAR TOWER

Location: Hai Tháng Tư, Vĩnh Phước, Thành phố Nha Trang, Khánh Hòa 650000, Vietnam

Hours: 06:00 - 17:30 Daily

Cost: 22,000 VND

Head to the Po Nagar Cham Towers first thing in the morning. The Towers and surrounding area isn’t very spacious, which means it can get pretty crowded here throughout the day, especially from about lunchtime onward. Arriving early will allow you to beat the crowds and have the place virtually to yourselves - great for taking pictures with no one in them!


We, unfortunately, did not make it there before the crowds and that’s one of our biggest regrets. It was hard to get any good photos or even just admire the architecture without people blocking our view. We only found out later that earlier was better.


Also, please remember that while this is open to tourists and a beautiful place for pictures, it is still a place of worship. Be respectful and dress appropriately, meaning no bare knees or shoulders. I carried a shawl around with me for when we would enter temples and it worked just fine! For those of you who wear shorts or a sleeveless top, there are robes available for you to borrow at no charge.


HAVE A BEACH BREAKFAST


Stroll along the beach walk and peruse the numerous restaurants and beach clubs to enjoy an ocean view breakfast. Or, grab a smoothie/coffee and find a spot on the beach to take in the beautiful views and fresh ocean air.



RELAX AT THAP BA HOT SPRINGS

Location: 438 Ngo Den Ngoc Hiep, Nha Trang 650000 Vietnam

Hours: 07:30 - 17:30 Daily

Cost: Varies based on package


Unwind and relax at Thap Ba Hot Springs. Experience the traditional Vietnamese thermal mud baths in a private or communal setting. This had to be one of my favourite experiences in Nha Trang. Neither of us had done a mud bath before so it was such a fun activity to share together.


As for price points and packages, there are many different options. This will depend on what items you wish to include in your package and your price point. There is also an option for just access to the spas. This only gives you access to the public pools and does not include any of the mineral mud or water soak treatments.

For booking, you are able to book directly through Thap Ba spas website or you can book through KLOOK.com (usually at a discount!)


We opted to book through KLOOK as it saved us around 50,000 VND each. Every bit you can save counts, right? If you are planning to pay a visit to the Spa, then use our referral link to book your experience through KLOOK, at no additional cost to you.

However, although we appreciate if you book through KLOOK, we are all about finding the best deals. Thap Ba occasionally offers even better special promotions that are worth checking out. You can find them on their website!



HAPPY HOUR DRINKS AT LOUISIANE BREWHOUSE

Location: Lô 29 Trần Phú, Lộc Thọ, Thành phố Nha Trang, Khánh Hòa 650000, Vietnam

Happy Hour: 17:00 - 18:00

Hours: 07:00 - 24:00 Daily


After a day of sightseeing and relaxation, head over to the Brewhouse for some Happy Hour drinks. Enjoy the buy 2 get on 1 free deal on their beers. Choose from a variety of unique craft beers while you get some sun and enjoy the ocean views from their open-air terrace area.

We personally chose not to eat here as the food seemed on the pricier side. It is also a western-style restaurant so we opted to go somewhere more authentic, which also usually ends up being cheaper. However, this spot is definitely worth checking out, even just for drinks. Great service, delicious drinks, and a beautiful view!


EAT AT NOM NOM

Location: 6 Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai, Lộc Thọ, Thành phố Nha Trang, Khánh Hòa 650000, Vietnam

Hours: 08:00 - 22:00 Daily

Price Range: $$


Eating at Nom Nom was actually more of an accident than a planned visit. When initially deciding on a place for dinner, we went to check out a restaurant named Rainforest. From their website and trip advisor, it looked like a really fun and unique experience as you eat in what is essentially a treehouse. Plus, they advertised healthy bowls with gluten-free options and noodles. As I have a gluten allergy, I thought this would be a great place to check out. We quickly figured out that the people who went there go purely for the photos.


While we love a good Instagram-worthy snap as much as the next person, that's never a reason to endure terrible service. We can't really comment on the food because after waiting 20+ minutes for someone to greet us and provide menus (after they had already seated us), we finally just got up and left. Needless to say, we don't recommend going here for good service. It's a cool concept and if you wanted to grab a coffee and get some snaps, maybe it would be okay, but we won't be back.

After wandering around for a while, we stumbled across Nom Nom. This cozy morning cafe/bakery come lunch/dinner restaurant was exactly what we needed. Upon arrival, this place was buzzing with both young locals and few westerners, which we always say is a good sign. They offer a mix of western, Asian, and fusion dishes along with some pretty killer smoothies. They also have their own bakery next door so they produce all their own baked goods and noodles. If you pay this fabulous restaurant a visit, check out the Nom Nom Bowl and Tom Kha Soup. From the delicious food to impeccable service, Nom Nom is at the top of our list!

DAY 2


BREAKFAST AT THE HOTEL


When we travel we typically try to stay in hotels or hostels that have breakfasts to save money. So our mornings here, aside from the first day consisted of buffet hotel breakfasts. In Vietnam, we found that almost every accommodation from hostels to 5-star hotels all offer breakfast. Whilst some were more lavish than others, there was always some form of breakfast usually consisting of both Western and Asian style breakfast choices. We always enjoyed giving the Asian choices a try, so if you're in the mood to step out of your comfort zone pick up some of the Asian cuisine and experience a Vietnamese breakfast!



LONG SON PAGODA

Location: số 22 Đường 23/10, Phương sơn, Thành phố Nha Trang, Khánh Hòa 650000, Vietnam

Hours: 08:00 - 17:00 Daily

Cost: Free

Head over to this beautiful Pagoda first thing in the morning to beat the crowds and get the place to yourself. Climb the 152 stone steps to the giant white Buddha that sits on the hilltop overlooking Nha Trang. This impressive 79 ft Buddha was built in the late 19th century to honour the monks and nuns who died protesting the Diem government. Make sure to admire the beautiful sweeping views of Nha Trang that surround the Buddha while visiting!


If you decide to take your own bicycle or motorbike, be aware that there will be a “parking fee”. Whether it’s legitimate parking or just a local trying to profit off of tourists we don’t know, but we just decided to pay the 10,000 VND.



BA HO WATERFALL

Location: Ninh Ích, Ninh Hòa, Khanh Hoa Province, Vietnam

Hours: 06:00 - 18:00 Daily

Cost: 50,000 VND


While this entrance fee may seem a little pricey for a Waterfall it’s well worth it. You definitely get your money’s worth once inside.

While at first, we thought it was just a waterfall, it turned out to be a full resort with a pool, restaurants, shops, and water sport activities.

Head to Ba Ho early in the day so you can enjoy all it has to offer! We spent the day hiking up to the top of the waterfall, (there are 3 parts) but it’s not for the faint-hearted. It’s quite a climb and there’s no real railing just some ropes in the tough spots to help you climb. So if you aren’t comfortable with that, we wouldn’t recommend it!


Once up the top we enjoyed a swim and getting a free fish pedicure! After our waterfall fun, we made the journey back to the front of the resort where we had some fun playing water activities, like the obstacle course. Justin of course beat me, like always...


Just know that this particular waterfall isn’t located in Nha Trang city limits, it’s just outside and is about a 20 min ride by motorbike- however, if you do choose to get a bike as we did you have to ride on the main highway which is terrifying. Although it was quite the adventure, I think if we did it again we would just get a grab or hire a driver. Regardless it’s definitely worth the trip and cost to experience this amazing waterfall and resort.



DINNER EATS AT LANTERNS

Location: 30A Nguyễn Thiện Thuật, Tân Lập, Thành phố Nha Trang, Khánh Hòa 650000, Vietnam

Hours: 07:00 - 23:00 Daily

Price Range: $$


Indulge in traditional Vietnamese food at this amazing sit-down restaurant. While we mostly enjoy the local cuisine in the form of street food or a small local family-style restaurant, we decided to splurge a little with a fancier dinner date. We can assure you this place didn’t disappoint.

With my dietary restrictions, being gluten-free (and not by choice! ) sometimes it could be quite a challenge in Asia. Especially when it came to street food or places where they didn’t speak much English.


At Laterns, not only did they speak really good English but they were so caring and accommodating with my food allergy. They even had the chef come out to double-check with me personally and since I wasn’t sick the next day, it was a success! Although the food is on the pricier side for Vietnam averaging around 70,000 - 100,000 VND we felt the price was justified based on the level of service and food provided - plus the added ambiance the restaurant offered. If you make it to Nha Trang definitely put this place at the top of your list!



LATE NGIHT DRINKS AT JELLY BREWPUB

Location: 46.2 Hùng Vương, Lộc Thọ, Thành phố Nha Trang, Khánh Hòa 650000, Vietnam

Hours: 03:00 - 02:00 (next day) Daily

Price Range: $


After dinner head over to Jell Brew Pub for after-dinner drinks. be sure to choose from their wide selection of craft beers. Take your drink to the balcony bar tabletops and enjoy the city street view. With beautiful murals surrounding you, this colourful and fun small space provides a cozy and comfortable atmosphere. This unique little craft brewery pub is a must-do activity during your stay in Vietnam!

DAY 3


SPEND THE MORNING AT NHA TRANG BEACH


Who doesn’t love a good beach day? Take your favourite sun hat, bathing suit and a good book and spend the morning lazing on the sandy beach.

For those adventurous types, you can opt for scuba diving, Island-hoping, swimming, or sailing instead of lazing on the sand.


If you have some extra time, we suggest checking out some of the other beaches a little further up the coastline.



LUNCH AT THE SAILING CLUB


Head over to the sailing club to grab a last bite to eat. Relax by the beach with a cocktail and choose from one of their 3 kitchens, that serve 3 completely different cuisines: Western, Indian and Vietnamese. Or choose a health drink, with natural fruit juices, and smoothies choices along with healthy calorie conscience snacks from their health bar menu.


If you have some more time and a bigger budget, you can also rent a day bed or cabana for a more luxurious beach day. Lay back and enjoy their tasty food and refreshing cocktails, while soaking up the sun and beach views. Chill, dine, and party all day and night!


It's definitely one of the more expensive activities we have listed here, but sometimes it's nice to splurge a little even if you're on a backpackers budget like we were. We definitely recommend checking it out, if you have the chance!

We hope you've found our guide to Nha Trang, Vietnam helpful, and that you have the chance to visit in the future! If you've been to Nha Trang before, let us know what your favourite activities were in the comments!


Wishing you lots of happy travels in your future!

Liv

xo


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