Nha Trang’s famous beaches live up to their reputation. The city is situated right on the coast, making a beach holiday within reach for all budgets. Whether you are staying at a hostel or a five-star in the tourist centre, the ocean is always less than a 15-minute walk away and all beaches in Nha Trang are free to the public. And what’s more, venture out of the downtown core and you’re spoiled with additional options.
Tran Phu Boulevard runs north-south along the coast, separating the beach from the downtown core. Nha Trang Beach is the star attraction, with clean white sand, blue waters, swaying palms and a pleasant promenade. It is relatively quiet in the scorching midday heat but come late afternoon, the sand and water is packed with locals and tourists having a great time as children’s screams of delight ring through the air with every wave. The sand, the promenade and the square at the Lotus Tower is alive with activity: vendors sell kites, cotton candy, kem (ice cream) and coconuts, families stroll, kids whizz by on rollerblades, locals hit the free exercise equipment in the park or play hacky-sack. There are basic toilets and hoses to rinse off along the walkway.
Territorial flags demarcate plots of sand and loungers for guests of the international chain hotels just across the road. But everywhere else is fair game and there are plenty of spots – especially to the south of Novotel – where you can rent a sun-lounger all day for 40,000 VND, a life jacket for 20,000 VND and an inner tube for 30,000 VND. There is also a floating bouncy playground for kids and other equipment rentals. The vendors shut down at around 17:30.
The beach at the northern end of the downtown core (north of Nha Trang Centre shopping mall, between Yersin Street and Michelia Hotel) seems even more gorgeous. It is quieter and downright sleepy in the daytime. It’s a long walk from the tourist centre, or a quick motorbike taxi ride.
For beachside dining or drink, aside from the giant restaurant/parks catering to Russian tourists, there’s Sailing Club Nha Trang, Louisiane Brewhouse and Ana Beach House at Evason Ana Mandara Resort, the city’s only beachfront resort. Read about them in our Eat and Meet section. It would be safe to hang out on the beach in front of these restaurants in the evening. In August 2015, the tourism department announced it was allowing a company to set up a free public night area at 32-34 Tran Phu with lights. Aside from the lively spots, it is just common sense to avoid the beach after dark.
Four kilometres north of Nha Trang’s tourist hub, past Tran Phu bridge and the promontory of boulders called Chong Rocks (Hon Chong), is a quiet stretch of coast with a local feel and far fewer tourists than Nha Trang Beach. Here you can find ocean view accommodation at flashpacker to midrange prices, but it is also a very easy daytrip from the tourist centre. From 05:35-19:00 you can travel there via the air-conditioned white and blue city bus, #4 Hon Xen – Vin Pearl. There’s a bus every 20 minutes costing 7,000 VND per ride. Take the bus from one of the stops on Nguyen Thien Thuat Street. This beach has a bit of rubbish and it certainly isn’t as sexy as Nha Trang beach, but it is an escape from the crowds and there are must-try oceanfront seafood restaurants just south of Chong Rocks. Climb out onto rocks themselves for an excellent picture of the city and bay.
Further north: If you don’t have the time or money to stay in Doc Let Beach, then it is well worth travelling the 50 kilometres one-way for a daytrip. You’re probably tired of hearing this: The beach is truly stunning – but there’s a cheap, easy way to get there to boot. From the tourist centre, on Nguyen Thien Thuat St take the blue-white-yellow air-conditioned bus #3 (Nha Trang – Ninh Hoa – Doc Let). It runs from 06:30-17:30, costs 24,000 VND per ride, and drops you at Doc Let beside White Sand Doclet Resort & Spa. The ride takes about 1.5 hours one way. You can park yourself anywhere on the beach, or the resort has a day guest area where you can rent loungers, lockers and picnic huts.
The northern Cam Ranh Pensinsula area is a jaw-droppingly beautiful 14-kilometre stretch north of Cam Ranh airport. While construction is underway to build a string of mega-resorts, the coast for now is windswept, wild and mostly unspoiled. Beach bums can simply drive along the coast and look for roads leading to the water. At the top of this section is Bai Dai beach (aka Long Beach). Located 20 kilometres south of Nha Trang, Bai Dai is a popular daytrip from the city. It also has white sand and blue water, but has a more local and backpacker feel. It’s not for everyone – the beach has rubbish, you can rent jet-skis and other motorised watercraft, indulge in fresh seafood and cold beers at the numerous seafood shacks, chill out at backpacker bar The Shack, or rent a chair and settle down with a book. Bai Dai is free (if someone demands an “admission” fee it is a scam) but you do have to pay to park your motorbike.
Last but not least, Vinpearl Land amusement park on Hon Tre (“Bamboo Island”) has a fantastic little beach with a view to the city, which is included with your price of admission and transfer to the island (600,000 VND). It is next to the waterpark and since most people seem interested in the slides and not the beach, the powder white sand and free huts are not so crowded. Here you can also try parasailing, catamaran, kayaking or water hoverboard. You get to the island via the world’s longest over-sea cable car or by ferry.