Although we enjoyed our time in the bustling city of Saigon we were all looking forward to getting somewhere a little more relaxed, so we were hoping Nha Trang would tick the box. After an overnight train journey of around seven hours we arrived in the early hours to very deserted streets, however this only lasted until sunrise when the roads filled with vehicles of every size and shape. I don’t think I have ever seen more tourist buses in one place. They were everywhere, each picking up dozens of tourists from their hotels for a day of sightseeing.
Nha Trang, a seaside city of about half a million residents, was little more than a collection of small fishing villages prior to colonisation by the French in the late 19th century. The French then started its transition into a seaside resort town, taking advantage of the long stretches of white sandy beaches along the coastline. This transition is well and truly complete now with Nha Trang attracting tourists from all over the world. Similar to Pattaya in Thailand, the Russian dialect is often overheard with many Russian expats making their home here. Plus with direct flights to and from Russia, the tourist community is seemingly predominantly from this part of the world.
Although we had not done a lot of research into Nha Trang before arriving, one thing we had planned on experiencing was one of the natural mud baths in the area. We settled on Thap Ba Spa, located within the nearby hillside and here we purchased a private mud bath package totalling 900,000 VND/$60 NZD. This package included:
- 20 minute soak in hot mineral mud
- Hydrotherapy and jacuzzi
- 30 minute soak in hot mineral water
- Use of the hot mineral swimming pools
We all enjoyed the mud pool with the exception of Braxton who was not even willing to dip his feet in. Which was a little odd as generally 5-year-old boys love playing in mud and getting as dirty as possible, but no amount of coaxing was going to change his mind. Instead he settled on pouring mud over Paula, Lincoln and myself. The mud itself is quite fine in texture and surprisingly had quite a silky feel to it. After our soak we walked through the high pressure water shower, of which the water came out at such strength that you had to shield certain parts of your body or risk immediate pain. After a quick jacuzzi it was into a private hot mineral water pool for another relaxing soak, or as relaxing as it can be with two boys who were intent on chasing and splashing each other in an area not much larger than a regular spa bath.Like the preceding activities, staff members are stationed in each area and time how long you are in for, then signal you when your time is up. Because there were not too many customers when we went they seemed quite relaxed about the length of time we stayed in one place or another. Although we have read that when they are busy they are very pushy in keeping to the correct schedule. After our soak we headed into the public pool area where the boys had a bit more space for their games and tomfoolery with about five different pools to choose from, including two childrens pools and a couple of man-made waterfalls. The premise and grounds are surprisingly large with several places to order food and/or drinks. You could quite happily spend a whole day at Thap Ba however a few hours was more than enough for us.
A short 5-10 minute walk from our Airbnb apartment (see our review here) was Hon Chong or Chong Rocks. Each and every daylight hour of each and every day there were always countless tourist buses parked up with a steady stream of visitors going to and from this area. So one afternoon we decided to walk over and see what all the fuss was about. Tickets cost 44,000 VND/$2.93 NZD for two adults (children had free entry) and once inside we encountered hordes of tourists, predominantly Chinese in large tour groups. To say the area was busy is an understatement, however we made our way down to the rocks and explored them for a short while. To be honest there was not much to see although we did have a pretty nice view back towards the beach and our apartment building.One of the main tourist attractions in Nha Trang is Vinpearl Land, which is situated on Hòn Tre Island off the mainland. To get to the island you can either take a speed boat or a cable car 3.3km over the water. Both are included in your ticket price and for our family of four it cost us 3,000,000 VND or around $180 NZD. Once at Vinpearl Land everything was included; whether it be amusement park rides, the waterpark, video arcade, zoo, aquarium or shows. Unfortunately a lot of the rides had a height restriction of 110cm or 130cm which meant Braxton missed out, however there was still more than enough to keep him occupied. After a couple of hours of different rides and some lunch we hit the waterpark to cool off and try some of the pools and slides. They also had a giant inflatable obstacle course off the beach so Lincoln and I challenged ourselves to complete it and managed to get through with only a couple of falls each into the water. We then decided to ride the 120m high ‘sky wheel’, which opened late last year and was an impressive site from the ground but this had nothing on the view once you reached the top during its very slow rotation. After another couple of rides and realising that it was nearly 5pm, we decided to call it a day, enjoying the cable car again on our return journey. We never managed the zoo or aquarium, however it was probably a good thing knowing how animals are generally kept and treated in Southeast Asia for tourism purposes.
One of the other highlights, especially for Braxton, was going to the movies to see the Peter Rabbit movie. If you are new to our blog you may not know that Braxton’s life long companion is a soft toy of none other than, Peter Rabbit; often referred to as “Rabbi”, which he has had since he was a newborn, see the adventures of Braxton and Rabbi here). He had being waiting for quite a while to see this movie so after finding out it was screening in English in Nha Trang we took Rabbi out for the day, brought some popcorn and settled in to some very comfortable seats for a couple of hours to enjoy it. Back in New Zealand going to see a movie would run upwards of $50+ NZD including snacks for our family but here it was a little less than $20 NZD. So it makes for a pretty budget friendly activity and also keeps some normality to our travelling lives for both boys.To be honest I thought two weeks was probably a little too long in Nha Trang although we did manage to get well and truly back into a good education routine with the kids, with Paula adding to her ever-growing list of teaching subjects with Science. Next up for us is Hội An, a town that Paula and I have been really looking forward to exploring for some time, hopefully it lives up to our high expectations….
Average Daily Spend – $113.57 NZD ($58.93 under budget per day)