Po Nagar Towers
Built between the 7th and 12th centuries by the Champa kingdom, a Hindu realm which ruled much of central and southern Vietnam for almost a millennia, the Po Nagar Towers are still actively used for worship by Cham, Chinese and Vietnamese Buddhists. Originally the complex had seven or eight towers, but only four remain, of which the 28m-high North Tower, with a terraced pyramidal roof, vaulted interior masonry and vestibule, is the most magnificent. The towers stand on a granite knoll 3km north of central Nha Trang, on the northern bank of the Cai River.
Nha Trang Cathedral
Built in the early twentieth century in French Gothic style, the beautiful Nha Trang Cathedral is situated atop a hill that overlooks the city. The interior of the cathedral is a bright, airy, well-lit place, replete with colorful stained glass windows, high, vaulted arches, and a domed ceiling. It’s a surprisingly elegant building given that it was constructed of simple cement blocks. Some particularly colourful Vietnamese touches include the red neon outlining the crucifix, the pink backlighting on the tabernacle and the blue neon arch and white neon halo over the statue of St Mary.
Doc Let Beach
Around 45km north of Nha Trang, Doc Let is a quiet, beautiful 18-kilometre beach with chalk-white sands and shallow turquoise waters that lacks the crowds and pollution found throughout Nha Trang, ranking it among Vietnam's best beaches. It's ideal for swimming with no rocks and a shallow depth for some way out. Dine on freshly caught seafood, prepared beachside by local fishermen, lay on the sand, or go for a ride in a locally-made basket boat.
If you don’t have the time to stay here (and you really should), then it is well worth doing it as a day trip.
Alexandre Yersin Museum
Founded in 1990, this small museum is dedicated tothe Swiss-French bacteriologist Alexandre Yersin (1863–1943), who founded Nha Trang’s Pasteur Institute in 1895. The Swiss-born Yersin introduced rubber and quinine-producing trees to Vietnam, and discovered the rat-borne microbe that causes bubonic plague. The museum is set within the late French bacteriologist’s home in Tran Phu Street, hosting extensive exhibits of his personal belongings and laboratory equipment, as well as original letters and photographs from his travels around Vietnam. There's information in English, French and Vietnamese, with a short film on Yersin’s life.
Basket Boat Rides
Considered one of the most interesting and instantly recognizable creations of Vietnamese people, known locally as “Thung Chai” or “Thuyen Thung”, basket boats are small, shell-like craft woven from strips of bamboo and waterproofed with a coating of pitch. Similar to western coracles, basket boats can seat approximately five people, though their shallow draft and light weight often means that they can be easily tipped over. The basket boats are an inseparable part of a fishermen’s lives in the central coastal regions of Vietnam.
Home to a tribe of monkeys who have long been accustomed to interaction with humans, Lao Island, more popularly known as Monkey Island is an easy day trip to Nha Trang. The island gets its nickname from the troops of monkeys who roam its woodlands and sandy beaches. While the simians are undoubtedly cute, they are still wild animals – and cunning creatures who live to snatch food and possessions off unwary tourists. Guests on the island can soak up the sun from a beach chair, zip down a waterslide, stroll through some gardens, and visit the handful of shops and restaurants.
Scuba diving is a must-do activity in Nha Trang if you’re looking to get up close and personal with colourful sea creatures and thriving coral reefs. Given its location near the bountiful, clear waters of the South China Sea, Nha Trang is Vietnam’s premier scuba diving and snorkeling site. Thanks to its various water depths and swim-through tunnels, you can see a wide variety of small colourful tropical fish, manta rays, moray eels, and pufferfish as well as thriving soft and hard coral reefs.