We really had a great and relaxing time in the beach town of Nha Trang. We were only there one night, however, the night train we had taken got us there in time for the sunrise, and we didn’t leave the following day until nearly 8pm. What did we do? Ate, hung out on the beach, ate, checked out a mud bath spa, ate, slept, hung out on the beach, ate. This break from moving non-stop was exactly what was needed at this point in our trip! I am not so much of a lay on the beach vacation type of gal. I figure, if I am going to travel across the world to see things, I want to see as much as I can. If I want to lay on a folding chair, I’ll hang out in my backyard during summer (this is NOT a glamorous backyard). BUT, it’s also easy to cram in way too many things to a trip and burn yourself out. Make sure to build in time to just chill. Sit on a beach or grab a coffee and people watch. Just watch life go on around you. This is part of the experience too.
One thing you may NOT want to experience though, are “special” massages. Just, well, just pay attention to where you get your massage! Take queues from the types of photos you see and who is hanging around. Let’s just say some of our group was offered a massage with a happy ending, and freaked out. If this is your thing, umm, that’s just kind of disgusting.
Also, nothing against Russians, but Russians basically own this town. You will see most things translated into English and Russian, and many, many speedos.
We did hang out on the beach one of the days but didn’t go swimming. We were not on a private beach, and it was fine, but we did pay for chairs with an umbrella in front of one of the hotels. Women completely covered from head to toe in clothing – like socks in the sandals covered, will walk around selling drinks or trinkets. Although it was not the highlight of my trip, just spending a few hours napping on the beach was nice.
Those are chickens hanging from a motorbike.
What I ate
For basic information and tips for traveling gluten free in Vietnam HERE. For general info, check out TRAVEL TIPS.
72-74 Tran Phu Street Nha Trang, Vietnam
No, this is not the most inexpensive meal you will get in Vietnam, not by a long shot. It’s also not street food. It is a beautiful restaurant and resort with an astounding view and super nice bathrooms with real toilet paper. So we ate here 3 times. Yes, 3 times. Breakfast and dinner the first day, and lunch the second day. Because I found amazing gluten free food – and that view thing. It was just easy and beautiful, the service was fantastic and the staff spoke English well. For our breakfast meal I had an omelette with chorizo, for the dinner meal Beef Tenderloin with pumpkin puree, green beans, roasted shallots, red wine sauce, rosemary fried chips (no fries though, they were fried with other things). And for our lunch meal we got the risotto with tomatoes. Yes, I realize none of these things were remotely Vietnamese in nature, but oh well.
Thap Ba Hot Springs
Read more about the hot springs below.
Lanterns Vietnamese Restaurant
30A Nguyen Thien Thuat St. Nha Trang (near The Pizza Company)
Like many of the restaurants we ate at in, this was another one that helps to support local schools and orphanages through training and scholarship programs. Although we only had dinner here, they do offer cooking classes! Something I wish I had done more of. I had the chicken with cashews which was great, although the lemongrass pieces were much too large to eat. Generally speaking, this was an average priced meal for a nicer restaurant, and it was about $4.50. You can get street food cheaper for sure, but this still seemed really reasonable to us as tourists.
What We Did...
Thap Ba Hot Springs
15 Ngoc Son, Ngoc Hiep, Nha Trang, Vietnam
(The link here is in Vietnamese, if you open it in Chrome you can right click to translate into English)
Thap Ba Hot Springs is a short taxi ride away from the city center. I personally really enjoyed the mud baths and hot springs. It was a beautiful day and very relaxing. There are lots of options for what you can do here. The least expensive option is to be in a group shared tub (about $8 USD per person), since we had a large group, we opted for this knowing we would fill an entire tub. With this, you sit in a tub of mineral mud (which apparently is good for you) for about 20 minutes. Then the tub is drained and you sit in the sun to let it dry. There are outdoor showers and pool and waterfalls to help rinse off the mud. Note – you will be scrubbing mud out of everywhere. I had a one piece suit and it was a challenge to do this in public! If you’re in a smaller group and don’t want to sit in a pool of mud with a bunch of strangers, you can upgrade to a private tub. There are even private rooms and packages complete with massages.
There are also larger pools and chairs to lay out on. For some reason it wasn’t all that busy when we were here, so it was easy to find a spot, so we hung out here for hours. There was only 1 massage therapist working in the main group area at the time, so we didn’t all get massages, but heard it was a great massage.
There was also a place to eat, and they were able to accommodate gluten free. However, we had someone with us that was able to translate, I don’t know if any of the wait staff spoke English. The translation card probably would have worked fine though.
Above: Those are stone boobs...right!? Right???
Hang out on the beach
We spent a day at the Tran Phu Beach, mostly because it was close to our hotel, and we were really enjoying The Sailing Club restaurant that sat on this beach. It’s the most popular beach in Nha Trang, so it can get crowded. We decided to rent beach beds with an umbrella. I have read it could be dirty, depending on the season and how busy it is, but we found it to be quite clean in January. You can also take a taxi to other beaches, or pay fees at hotels to use their beach. A few things you will see: Russian tourists in speedos sunning themselves while standing, and women selling drinks or trinket on the beach that are covered from head to tow in clothing – like socks in flip-flops and hats and long pants and shirts.
I am not a big lay on the beach type tourist. Generally speaking, I feel like if I’m going to pay to go around the world, I want to experience the culture, if I want to lay on a chair in the sun, I can do it in my backyard in summer in Wisconsin (not a glamorous backyard either). BUT, on a longer trip like this that is go, go, go, taking a break to just relax is nice. Plus, laying there and people watching is part of the experience, right? I can just only do it for so long!
You might also be interested in my posts on Can Tho, Saigon, Hoi An, Hue, Halong Bay and Hanoi! For specifics on each city, check out each post! Or find basic information and tips for traveling gluten free in Vietnam HERE.