Get off the beaten track in Nha Trang, ditch the beach crowds and full moon parties in favour of family-friendly fun at these under-the-radar spots!
Long sandy beaches, a lovely mountain backdrop, reviving hot springs, excellent diving and delicious seafood: Nha Trang has a lot to offer family visitors to Vietnam. But those appealing attractions mean it’s far from an undiscovered gem. Nha Trang is, with good reason, one of the most popular beach destinations in Vietnam, which might be a little off-putting for families who like their traveling to have a more local experience. Independently-minded families visiting Vietnam shouldn’t avoid visiting Nha Trang because of its popularity–aside from the obvious attractions, there are some less-touristy family attractions and activities in Nha Trang, and a whole lot of lovely swimming and sunbathing to be done.
Take a Trip to Yang Bay
Active families in Nha Trang will find it well worth taking a short side trip to the nature-lovers’ paradise that is Yang Bay. Around 50 kilometers from Nha Trang, it’s easily and inexpensive to reach by local bus (or pay a modest fee for a reasonable group or private guide). And while large groups of visitors flock to the pretty waterfalls and pools, the surrounding area is full of blissfully quiet trails. The Yang Bay eco-tourism site covers nearly 600 hectares and includes some truly spectacular flower displays. Look out for the magnificent, color-changing King Lotus flowers, whose leaves span up to two meters! Search for vine trees and weeping fig trees which wind around each other 25 meters into the sky, with a trunks so wide that even the largest family would struggle to reach around it hand-in-hand. There’s also a beautiful bird garden, home to more than 1,000 species. Families can pack a picnic and ditch the group tours in favor of independent exploring; just don’t get lost!
Encourage a Passion for Science at the Alexandre Yersin Museum
One for a rainy day, perhaps, this museum is within easy walking distance of the city center, and will thrill kids with a passion for science. Most tourists are too busy sunbathing or swimming to visit, but it’s well worth coming here to check out the exhibits dedicated to the life and works of Swiss-born, naturalized French scientist Yersin, who spent the last stages of his life in Nha Trang. Best known for his work in combating the bubonic plague, he arrived in Vietnam in the late 19th century to work on treatments for various animal diseases. The museum is located in the stellar scientist’s former home, and items on display include slides, photographs and medical instruments as well as his desk and his death bed. Entrance is little more than $1 USD.
Hone Your Haggling Skills at Xoi Moi Market
Bargain-hunting visitors to Nha Trang usually head straight for the famous Dam Market, and there’s certainly a lot of fun to be had browsing everything from crafts and keepsakes to weird and wonderful fruits and vegetables. But while Dam Market does play a large part in catering to the local community, it’s also become something of a tourist attraction, and where tourists flock, higher prices soon follow. For more local flavor, it’s well worth setting the alarm early for a morning visit to Xoi Moi Market on the outskirts of town (get here before 7:30 AM for the freshest local produce and the best bargains). Visitors can get a caffeine fix and a delicious breakfast or fruit smoothie, if the thought of savory noodles before noon doesn’t appeal. The goodies range from locally-produced arts, crafts and items of clothing to every foodie ingredient imaginable, and with scarcely an out-of-town in sight, prices compare extremely favorably with elsewhere. Just be prepared to haggle, haggle haggle.
?Eat this: Its coastal location makes Nha Trang a favorite destination for fish-loving foodies. Among the most popular of the town’s local specialties is bun cha sua. A favorite breakfast dish, it’s a potent mix of rice noodles, steamed fish and spicy-sweet broth. Another key ingredient is jellyfish, which may have kids clamoring to try it or refusing to give it a go, depending on their level of culinary curiosity. Given Nha Trang’s six-kilometer coastline, it’s no surprise that bun cha sua is one of its must-try delicacies. The dish comprises of rice vermicelli, jellyfish, and steamed sailfish fillet in a sweet and savoury fish broth, though some eateries add in crab, shrimp and pork to the ensemble. A popular breakfast amongst locals shopping at Xoi Moi Market, it’s a surprisingly addictive dish.
Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud
Some attractions are worth braving the crowds for, and travel-weary families in Nha Trang would be wise to follow the tourist trail to Thap Ba Spa, where hot springs, mud baths and all manner of soothing massage treatments will soothe away the stresses and strains of an active, adventurous family break in Nha Trang. The kids are going to love being given the green light to cover themselves in sticky mud (just don’t tell them it’s mineral-packed and bound to do them good).