Founded in the 19th century, the Long Son Pagoda has been attracting travelers thanks to its stunning façade, traditional peaked roofs and ornately decorated mosaic dragons. Its peaceful interior pays homage to seven monks who lit themselves on fire during the 1960s in an act of protest. Travelers will find hand-carved busts of these men surrounding a massive white seated Buddha, who’s perched in a lotus blossom looking out at these martyrs.
Visitors can explore the grounds and make their way to the top of the hill and platform surrounding the massive Buddha, where incredible views of nearby towns and the Vietnamese countryside do not disappoint.
Sometimes called the beach capital of Vietnam, Nha Trang is known for its scenic shores and few are more delightful than the yellow sandy stretch of Nha Trang Beach. This 6-km destination is ideal for swimmers, sunbathers and snorkelers, who will likely find uninterrupted turquoise blue waters to explore on their own. While a slightly more social scene can be found at jumping beach joints like Sailing Club and the local brew house, deserted island vibes can be found further down towards the south side. A popular promenade offers a scenic place for an evening stroll and the nearby town comes alive with plenty of entertaining nightlife options once the sun goes down.
Situated at the mouth of the Cai River in Central Vietnam, just a few kilometres north of Nha Trang, is the ancient Po Nagar Cham Towers complex. Constructed between the 7th and 12th centuries by the Cham people who once ruled the central plain of Vietnam, the towers were built in honor of Yan Po Nagar, the ruler of this area, who later came to be identified with the Hindu goddess, Bhagavati. Today, only four of the original towers in the complex remain. The tallest of the temples, Po Nagar Kalan, is the most impressive in terms of architectural prowess. It stands at over 25 meters tall and, according to the inscriptions, was the place where Po Nagar was worshipped, with animal sacrifices made in her honor. In the center of the complex is at the Cri Cambhu tower, representing the goddess of fertility, with the remaining two temples serving as shrines to the Hindu gods, Shiva and Ganesh.
This stunning island is located in close proximity to the hot-sea currents that rise from the equator. As a result, it’s home to incredible underwater coral reefs that attract topical fish, sea turtles and other rare and beautiful marine life. The warm waters that draw diverse wildlife also bring researchers, oceanographers and snorkelers to the shores of Hon Mun Island.
It’s possible to explore the waters from the safety and comfort of a glass bottom boat, but travelers say that dipping below the surface and getting up close with local wildlife is the best way to truly experience the beauty of Hon Mun. Almost every dive shop in the vicinity offers trips to the crystal clear waters of Hon Mun, where visibility is almost always ideal. Rainbow Reef and Tiger Wall are two of the most popular dive sites near Hon Mun Island.
Built in the early 1900s, this massive market is a hub for local life in Nha Trang City. Originally constructed on a seven hectare pond, Dam Market was damaged during the Vietnam War and later resurrected as a three-storey building that’s jam packed with souvenirs, meat and fish stalls. Locals make their way to the popular market in the earliest hours of the morning and comb through stalls manned by friendly men and women in search of the day’s freshest. Travelers will find just about everything inside this eclectic marketplace that’s ripe with all of the energy and excitement of Nha Trang City life.
Along the mountainous coastline north of Nha Trang, Hon Chong (Husband Rock) is made up of huge rock formations piled on top of each other that run from the land down into the sea. The views are what people come here for, with a fantastic landscape of rocks, beach, ocean, and neighboring islands to feast your eyes on. Around 300 meters south of Hon Chong lies the tiny Hon Do (Red Island), which features its own Buddhist temple. To the northeast is Hon Rua (Tortoise Island), so called because of its tortoise shape, while the two islands of Hon Yen (Bird’s Nest Island) lie out to the east. As the area is not particularly large and won’t take long to see, many visitors combine a trip here with a visit to the Po Nagar Cham Towers, which are around a five-minute taxi ride away.
The National Oceanographic Museum of Vietnam is located around five kilometers from Nha Trang’s city center in a grand old French-colonial building. It has a large collection of marine life and other items, including numerous jars of pickled specimens, stuffed birds and sea mammals, plus plenty of fishing related artefacts. The displays are arranged across two floors. The ground floor is home to various sized tanks housing countless varieties of marine life, including reef sharks, turtles, anemones, pufferfish, lionfish, clownfish, seahorses, and a whole array of colorful coral. Upstairs is where to find the exhibiting specimens, local boats, and various fishing articles, not to mention an 18-meter-long skeleton of a whale. Themed rooms chart the history, science, and technology associated with marine life, with exhibits focusing on things like algae and phytoplankton, as well as the history of fishing in Vietnam, plus natural disasters at sea and around the coast.
The picturesque private oasis off the coast of Nha Trang that’s known as Monkey Island lives up to its name thanks to the 1,500 playful creatures roaming the wooded trails and white sandy beaches here.
Visitors are greeted upon arrival at the ferry dock by dozens of monkeys awaiting feeding. And those who want a closer look at these lively animals can get their fill during the popular dog and monkey show that runs at 10 a.m., 2 and 3:20 p.m. daily. Sun worshiping travelers can also unwind in the dozens of free beach huts and sun chairs that line the shores. A handful of local shops, restaurants and well-kept gardens offer options for the non-watersport set. With plenty of activities and wildlife, a visit to Monkey Island is the perfect way to spend a day while visiting Nha Trang.
This peaceful bay offers travelers picturesque views of crystal blue water and lush green landscapes. Clusters of islands dot the sea and hopping from one to another on a tour of Nha Phu Bay is perhaps the best way to experience this isolated bit of Vietnamese magic. Whether it’s checking out the untouched sandy shores at the beach of Thi Islet, where travelers can tuck into tasty plates of fresh fish grilled tableside or taking a tour of Thi Island, where ecological diversity means easy access to plenty of indigenous plants and animals—there’s something for every sort of traveler at Nha Phu Bay. Check out the orchid caves at Hoa Lan Spring, where brilliantly beautiful blooms hang from rocky interiors or sunbathe at An Binh Beach before heading to the nearby wildlife sanctuary where peacocks and deer roam on protected land. A day spent touring Nha Phu Bay will be a truly memorable outdoor experience.