A couple of weeks back, my family, together with my sister who was visiting from Manila, stayed for 3 days in Nha Trang, Vietnam. Nha Trang is in Central Vietnam famous for its beautiful beaches and is usually hit by monsoon rains, typhoon, and well, rains. 😀 It was unfortunate we had some rough times in Nha Trang but those didn’t really stop us from enjoying our trip. We loved our visit so much that we are planning to go back.
Our flight via Vietnam Airlines was at 6 am. By 7 am, we were already in Cam Ranh Airport in Nha Trang meeting our tour guide, Thanh. We were together with another Filipino couple. We all stayed at Yasaka Hotel just right in front of the beautiful Nha Trang beach. There are several hotels along the stretch so would be travelers have a lot to choose from like Novotel, Sheraton, Sunrise, and soon — Crowne Plaza.
It was raining when we arrived but that did not stop us from hiring a car (500,000 VND) to take us to interesting spots around. So right after a yummy meal at Yasaka’s Sole Fish Restaurant, we checked out the following spots:
XQ is actually a showroom of intricate embroidery silk works. It was awesome! From a distance, you’d think those hanging on the walls are paintings but no! They’re lovingly embroidered works of art. Some works take 2 months to a year to finish. Truly Xquisite work! I wanted to buy the 4 seasons work — 4 frames but it was quite expensive. Maybe someday I will. I bought a hand-embroidered shawl instead to remember the visit by. I would have liked to take a lot of photos of their works but I think no camera can capture the exquisite work they’ve done.
Long Son Pagoda
Buddhism is one of the more popular religions practiced in Vietnam and we just had to visit the Long Son Pagoda. Even if it was drizzling a bit, tourists were milling around the pagoda. We took photos of the temple, sleeping White Buddha, and sitting White Buddha 24 meters from the ground. We can actually see the White Buddha from the 11th floor of our hotel. One tip if you’re visiting this place, don’t acknowledge any help from any of the people in the pagoda. They will ask you for “donation” which they will just pocket. There was this old man who does the cleaning in the pagoda and I thought he was just being helpful showing us around — but no — he asked for 100,000 VND each from me, hubby, and my sister. The entrance is free but there are leechers inside. Hubby gave the old man 100,000 VND so he would stop pestering us.
Po Ngar Cham Towers
For those practicing Hinduism, the Po Ngar Cham Towers is the place to visit. There’s a minimal entrance fee of 18,000 VND if I remember it right. The temples were made of red bricks and are reminds me of Mayan architecture. Truly interesting to see such temples.
The temples were under restoration and there were a lot of construction bars around the towers so I couldn’t get a decent shot. Hopefully they are able to fully restore the towers soon.
Nha Trang Cathedral
Since we visited the Buddhist and Hindu temples, it just made sense to visit the Nha Trang Cathedral. It was just beautiful inside and out! I just love the feel of the place. It’s holy but homey. Like the Notre Dame Cathedral in HCMC, it was French-Gothic inspired with stained glass windows. The plus is it has pews! The Notre Dame church didn’t have pews because it is already cramped inside.
We went inside for a bit and offered prayers.
Long Thanh is one of the more popular Vietnamese photographers specializing in black and white photography. His subjects center on the people and sites of Vietnam. His work is just inspiring. Would love to take one of his works home! I didn’t take a photo of his photos because it felt disrespectful. We had a photo taken with Long Thanh instead. That ended our half-day tour.
After a quick trip to the supermarket (yup still with the hired car), we went back to the hotel to let Sam sleep a bit. By 7 pm, we asked for a cab to take us to Good Morning Vietnam Italian Restaurant as recommended by my boss. Yeah so weird to eat there for dinner with that name for a resto! The pasta and pizza are delicious! We tried the giant-sized 4 Formaggio pizza and we weren’t able to gobble it all up!
We ended the day by walking along the Tran Phu Road just by the beach towards our hotel. We took lots of photos and just enjoyed watching the waves crash to the shore.
We decided not to rush our second day so we had an hour-long breakfast feasting on the buffet served at the hotel’s Red Onion Restaurant. It was a mix of American and Vietnamese cuisine.
By 10 am we were in a cab heading towards Vinpearl Land. At Vinpearl, we had to take a 20-minute cable car across the ocean (!!!) to the Vinpearl island! It was AWESOME! For 320,000 VND each, we had access to the indoor and outdoor amusement park, waterpark and the white sand beach! There was an outdoor mall too!
Tourists can bring food too but the food here is cheap! My sis and I had a blast playing in the arcade! It was fun trying the different games without needing to buy tokens! There even was a playroom for kids and Sam had a difficult time choosing what toy to play with. Haha. There were small beds on one side as well so kids have a place to rest if they fall asleep. There are also a number of 4D Theaters and bump cars in the indoor amusement area. For the outdoors, there are a lot of rides for adults and kids to choose from as well. There are lockers for the waterpark so we just deposited our stuff and took advantage of the pools and beach. We all had a fun time that it was sad that we had to leave by nightfall (again via cable car).
For dinner, it was Louisiane Brewhouse for us. Terrific food and ambiance. There even was a Filipino-Australian band. And yes, they JUST HAD to play Freddie Aguilar’s Anak. Waaaaah!!!! Anyhoo, since it’s a brewhouse, they served beer. They offer a sampler with several beer flavors.
Our flight back to HCMC was at 3 pm so we had plenty of time to visit the Yersin Museum nearby. Too bad it was raining so we didn’t get to go out of the hotel anymore. Worse, our flight got canceled due to the heavy rains. According to our agent, Thanh, the runway was flooded. We decided to rebook our flight to Sunday BUT all flights were fully booked — even Business Class!!! So what we did was to buy SNT1 train tickets (blue train) with soft beds. The hotel was kind enough to let us stay in our room with no extra charges till it was time for us to leave for the train station.
It was raining pretty hard when we left the hotel and even harder when we boarded the train. We left the Nha Trang Train Station at 7pm as scheduled but the train stopped after an hour. We thought it was just the usual stop BUT no! We got stuck there for 10 hours till 10 am the next morning. The train management was commendable though. They made sure we were fed (cup noodles galore!) and that we were updated on the weather and travel plans. Luckily, the weather cleared up and the water went down allowing the train safe passage to HCMC. We reached HCMC at 5pm. Oh yes 22 hours on the train! But it was a wonder that all passengers were orderly and there were no untoward incidents. Most of us were foreigners in the train but somehow the management was able to deal with the incident well.
Overall, I enjoyed our trip. The detour towards the end was something we didn’t anticipate but we were safe — and that’s all I can ask for.
Nha Trang is a perfect family getaway! Just check the weather before going.
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