Described as the Miami of Vietnam with its city meeting the beach, Nha Trang is undoubtedly more of a place to lie on the sand and drink at bars. There isn’t as much to do here in terms of exploring and sightseeing. There are some waterfalls about an hour’s drive away and a couple of other tours, but they’re not as exciting as what other places have to offer, so if you’re on a tight budget you’re best off giving them a miss and putting your money towards a better tour elsewhere.
I’m not complaining in the slightest though, it’s been so good to just lie on a beach and feel like we’re on a summer holiday. So many of you will want to punch me for saying this (I know other travellers can relate), but sometimes you do need a break from travelling. Being on the move all the time and using up energy constantly does take it out of you!
Nha Trang is like Russia’s Spain. Apparently there are direct flights from Moscow, so it’s a popular holiday spot for Russians. It’s the only place I’ve been where English isn’t the second language and where EVERY OTHER PERSON is Russian. The good thing about this is, because I speak Bulgarian, I can read most Russian (they have almost the same alphabet and so many of the words are the same or really similar). This has really helped dig out some of that buried Bulgarian which has buried itself in the deepest, darkest parts of my memory.
Because it is such a hot spot for Russians, it means a lot of Nha Trang is run by the Russian mafia. Once again we were warned to stay away from motorbike taxis for this reason. Otherwise it seems like Nha Trang is very similar to other places in Vietnam; people can smoke whatever and wherever they want, the streets are full of character and Banh Mi stalls, people are friendly, drinks are cheap and every other person wants to sell you something.
iHome Nha Trang is the best hostel I’ve stayed in so far. The air conditioning in the room works a breeze, the staff are welcoming and really go the extra mile to talk to you and remember your name, the beds are marshmallows and you can’t get your head around how cheap the drinks are. The rooftop bar with a view of the city is the cherry on top. It’s cosy, sociable and the view of the tall apartment blocks and hotels took me back to being in Tokyo; the buildings were just as pristine- looking.
Lounging out at the rooftop bar with a free pint in hand as the sun was setting, I had another one of those happy moments of realisation. When you’re travelling, you’re very quick to adjust to your new environment and sometimes things just start to feel like the norm and you get scared you’re taking things for granted. But every now and again (usually when you arrive at the next stop or you’re doing something with amazing people or looking at incredible views) you get this rush of euphoria and appreciation for life. Like you’re heads saying “oh my god where am I, is this real, this is a perfect moment, wow” and it’s the BEST feeling ever!
Unlike Sunflower hostel, which felt quite clique-y, this hostel has had less people so it feels like everyone has spoken to everyone and got on. Everybody has been so lovely and so fun to be around and I’ve not once felt like I can’t be myself around someone.
One guy called Damien, who was in the same room as us for the first couple of nights, started sleepwalking one night and it was the scattiest but funniest thing ever. Half awake and half in a dream, I heard what sounded like angry seal noises, then I heard the door open but it didn’t shut again. I was in a doze when Jenny called my name and said she’d just seen him get out of bed and walked half naked into the room across the hall. When I asked him the next day if he had a history of sleepwalking he gave me this look as if to be like ‘busted’ and he said he did and that he woke up so confused in a different room and different bed!! As freaky as it was, I’d much rather be in a room with a sleepwalker than a snorer.
It doesn’t quite beat the luxury of the beach in Hoi An, but the beach in Nha Trang is still complete and utter bliss. The sand is so soft and crumbly like the biscuit base of a cheesecake before it goes in the fridge. The water is crystal clear, the perfect temperature, cute white fish swim around close to the shore a fresh coconut is served with a straw.
We’ve noticed how these beaches stay really quiet until about four- five o’clock when the sun starts quietening down, which is really abnormal for us, because in England everyone rushes to the beach for latest midday to get the best tan. But then it makes sense for the Vietnamese to go later in the day, as they don’t like being out in the sun.
I took a solo adventure down to the beach on our first day here. We’d arrived at five AM and couldn’t check in until twelve and Jenny felt quite sick so she took a lie down. I only went for a couple of hours because when I saw the waves I couldn’t resist going for a swim, but after that afternoon I was so excited to go back.
My hair was left unwashed that night because I knew I’d be back in the morning and salt water works wonders. Bright and early, I was up by 6:30am to go and do some yoga on the sand, with the warmth of the sun on my skin and the sound of the waves in the background. Balancing poses proved difficult on the sand, even with my yoga mat, because the sand is so deep here (as in there’s so much of it) but it was so therapeutic and jumping in the sea after sweating out and stretching for half an hour was soul cleansing.
Later that day I was joined by Jenny, we both have built up good tans now yayy! There’s a stall over the road from the beach too which does the nicest smoothies and teas in the world. The banana, passionfruit and mango one was so good I went back for another one the next day. You can really tell the difference in the fruit over here; it’s so much fresher.
We were supposed to be going to a beach party that night but our plans fell through when we arrived there and it was 200,000 dong for entry and it looked wayyy too naff to be that pricy. It was tiny and the music was terrible and even if it wasn’t, we weren’t going to pay that. Up until that moment we’d all been drinking buckets of alcohol and playing games at the hostel, getting to know people and watching people fail at challenges, so we were quite boozy and happy to go anywhere at this point. We ended up just strolling around until we decided to sit outside this place near our hostel.
The hangover the next day was bearable which is always a bonus. Up until I ate some food (a salad because I need stop eating pizza when I’m hungover; I am packing on the pounds), I felt quite sick, but then it passed. As tempting as it was to get back into bed and watch Netflix all day, I decided to join our two new roomies and go play some pool. Harry and Finn are from London and due to start uni soon. Harry’s going to be studying history so we had a few good conversation topics about war and genocide in Cambodia and Vietnam (stuff that I find so sad but so, so interesting and wish I knew more about).
We ended up having to duck into a random bar before we found a pool table, because the rain got so heavy it drenched us in seconds. We had a couple of beers and before we knew it the street was flooded. Once the rain had finally stopped we continued our mission of finding a pool table, pulling up my trousers as I splashed though the street pond.
That whole day ended up being fun. I met more people later that evening, drank more free beer and played more pool. Not bad for a Sunday! The only rubbish thing is that literally everyone was round my dad’s for fathers’ day for a BBQ, and as much as I would not leave where I am for the world (haha just realised what that expression sounds like under the circumstances), it still makes me slightly jealous when all my family together and I’m not there. But I guess in those moments when you’re missing everyone, all you have to do is remind yourself of where you are and that so many more times like that are to come.
We ate mostly at our hostel whilst we were here, because the food was a lot cheaper and really good. But anyone looking for recommendations- you have to go to Truc Linh 2. It sells traditional Vietnamese style food from noodles, to rice to soups. The seafood there is all as fresh as it can get, and reasonably priced also.
Saying you’re going to have a quiet one is never a good idea; you should know you’ve jinxed it the second the phrase escapes your mouth. But it was our reunion night with Lauren (who we met in the Philippines) so I couldn’t say no. Plus, I managed to get four or five free beers in the space of an hour so I got pissed for free! It was so nice to catch up at the rooftop bar on what we’d all been up to since last departing.
It was ladies night at a nearby club called ‘Zima’, so me and Lauren got free entry and thank god we did because it was so expensive in there. A beer was 75,000 dong (which works out about £3 so it’s not too bad but it is for Vietnam). But it was a good club and such a hilarious night and I’d pay those prices again to relive it. There were a group of Australian and Swedish guys from our hostel there too and at one point the bar staff were giving out free drinks- we had to put fireman helmets on our heads as they made our drink, smacked us hard on the head with it a few times then made us down it.
Things ended with a late night/early morning swim in the sea, nearly losing sandal and almost getting my bag stolen (ten seconds of the worst panic ever). We almost managed to stay up until sunrise, but after realising I was soaking wet, covered in sand and had to leave the hostel in two and a half hours for my next bus, I figured it would be better to go back and shower.
I still can’t get over how quickly time is going now that we’ve adjusted. Seriously, where has June gone?! It feels like we have been away from home forever, but I really don’t want time to fly by as quickly as it’s starting too! Our next stop is Mui Ne, where we are spending less time, which probably means it will go even quicker!