Vietnam – Nha Trang and Trips to the Surroundings
Nha Trang is practically the most famous tourist resort in Vietnam, not so much for some landmarks, this coastal city of Khanh Hoa province is famous for its seven kilometers long sandy beach with adjacent islands. The city of approximately 392,000 inhabitants and this number is growing steadily.
In previous years Miss Universe and Miss Earth competed. On the island of Hon Tre, located directly opposite the main beach, you can see and, of course, visit the enormous Vinpearl theme park. The park can also be reached by a cable car leading across the Nha Trang sea level. This city is renowned in every guide. The city is a bit like Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic, almost every visitor is considered Russian, we get Russian menus, we hear Russian, and even Russians run their local travel agencies. The famous beach is surrounded by huge hotels and sea water is really not as transparent and clean as it was advised. Of the genuine Vietnam, there is almost nothing left.
But is it worth to visit in Nha Trang? First we head to the huge statue of Buddha, which towers above the Long Sơn pagoda (formerly known as Đăng Long Tự), today's day makes us a bit harder to rain, so the white sculpture almost coincides with the gray sky in the background. From the pagoda, we move to the Champs of the Po Nagar, built between the 8th and 12th centuries. It is overlooking the Cai River, which runs off the mouth of the South China Sea. These are remnants of the defunct kingdom of Champa, the Main Tower is dedicated to the goddess Po Nagar - the protector of the Cham kingdom and Shiva's wife.
There is also a large market in the city center. It is really hot with many different smells, but it is possible to buy for a few crowns a variety of typical fruits or some other souvenir. This is where they buy local. In the aisles around the marketplace there are plenty of great family restaurants where you will be happy to send time.
The next day we take the boat to two islands. Cruise through the sea is full of beautiful views of the surrounding islands and hills, at sea we see stylish fishing villages. The first is Hoa Lan Stream or Orchid Flower Stream, we call it a floral island. Nice beach with calm water is a pleasant contrast of other strong waves. However, otherwise, the island is once again such an attraction for tourists - artificial waterfalls, tired animals of all kinds (bear in a skirt, ostrich riding and much more), artificially assigned orchids on trees along the way, butterfly house, etc. However if you manage to run a bit from this area, you can get even more into the forest, where the real nature awaits.
The second island we visit is Monkey Island. The local attractions are, of course, monkeys. This is a kind of macaque, which is definitely not shy and welcomes tourists with great enthusiasm. You can buy special feeding here for monkeys, but be aware that monkeys like to pull or rather pull anything from your backpack, pocket, hand, and so on. And sometimes not very sensitive, so for a while it's fun, then almost a struggle for survival. In retrospect, it would be good to recommend - not to buy any food and the area just to walk in peace, monkeys will lose their preoccupied interest and the walk is even more pleasant. Behind the main monkey resort are once again attractions, from which the tourists go through their eyes. These include races of monkeys on dogs or races in monkey swimming. You can bet on everything. Animal protectors would be very much amazed, as do we.
How to get to Nha Trang? There is less and less of the true Vietnam, but families with children are sure to enjoy this "tourist lunapark".
GPS: 12°15'03.2"N 109°11'48.6"E
Text and photos: Veronika Schubertová
Upon an hour of waiting for a visa I was free to explore the capital of the country I really looked forward to exploring. First of all, I somehow let a cab driver to make a 300 crown rip off. Sometimes things like this happen. But honestly – this happens in Prague as well. Aboard the airplane I could see streets where millions of bikes stream in all directions. And “down” here the traffic is even more crazy. If I compare Ho Chi Minh city to Bangkok, a city of comparable size, in the former there are much less traffic jams. One must add that there is no subway, or rail that would go above the ground. It seems that high taxes on car is working.
Immediately after arriving at Sa Pa, stay and do not waste your time. With clear visibility, the best choice is to arrange a lift to Phan Xi Pang. It is the longest cableway in the world that uses a three-lane system. Its length is about 6 km and was opened in 2016. It is still being built here. True, for tourists who enjoy the virgin nature with a mountain cottage, it probably will not. Several pagodas, sanctuaries, even a train have been built on top, which will take you to the highest point. The prospects are really good, and the landscape here is on your palm.
After a tough night-train trip, we arrive early in the morning to Da Nang City, where we do not stay very much. First we head to perhaps the most beautiful Vietnamese city - the Hoi An lantern, from which we go for a trip to the Marble Mountains, Vietnamese Ngũ Hành Sơn.
In the evening we arrive at the airport in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon). We are already busy only to lodge for a quick dinner in the busy streets of this largest Vietnamese city and sleep. The next day a very exciting war trip is waiting for us - we go to the Cu Chi tunnels.
Ha Long Bay is one of Vietnam's most famous and popular tourist destinations. It is located in Tonkin Bay in the South China Sea in Quang Ninh Province. Since 1994 it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Ha Long means the place where the dragon descends into the sea. It is also said that thanks to the dragon there were created interesting limestone rocks from the sea, which attract many tourists every year.
Today we are about to enjoy our last amazing trip in Vietnam, we originally intended to visit the Ba Vi National Park, but for time constraints we had to change our program because we need to reserve at least two days for this park. So we had a hotel counseling and planned a trip to a place that was not even mentioned in our book guide, although it is very popular for tourists (even for local people). Today, we go to visit the largest Vietnamese pagoda Bai Dinh and then explore the beautiful complex Trang An.
Do you think which destination is the right one for you? Where is something interesting and unusual? Where you can find beautiful landscape, excellent cuisine, and pleasant locals? Well, I know where to go. My favorite place is... Vietnam and I will try to convince you in the next few articles that even for you this is the right choice.
When visiting south Vietnam, go to the Mekong river delta. The river originates in China and runs across five countries. It is however in Vietnam where it enters the sea. The area lures in tourists who may experience boat rides here, a floating market, or see interesting life of the locals on the riverbank. Its brown color is not appealing for locals use it to their everyday activities – washing, cleaning etc. There are no dangerous animals in the river so you can swim in it.
There are many places how to travel in the country. I have prepared for you a small summary with some recommendations.
Last year already, we brought you a video of the "wedding" town of Dat Lat, Vietnam. Our reporteur made a return there to ride down one of the best roads in Vietnam for a road trip on motorbike.
Vietnam is no destination where climbers would travel intentionally. Yet once you are there you should try its climbing areas. We travelled to Cat Ba island which I highly recommend to any climber.
Da Nang (a city almost in the geographic center of Vietnam) is largely unknown. Which is unfortunate. An average tourist usually passes by there in a taxi on his way from the airport to his favorite Hoi An hotel…. I spent three weeks in Da Nang. And the city got on the list of my favorite places in Southeast Asia (right next to Chiang Mai). In Top Gear, Jeremy Clarkson called the old road to Hue as the “abandoned fragment of perfection.” I absolutely agree.
The very first day in Asia went very quickly, and in the evening we moved to a cozy family hotel. The environment is friendly, staff gives advice with a smile, they recommend you meals, trips, help with transportation or you can buy the fruit you want. At least first, before you get by, you will certainly appreciate the help.
Omnipresent honking, grandmas pulling bikes with flowers, Vietnamese sitting on small chairs, food, bikes, wires, bikes, French cafes, bikes with food, bikes with chairs, bike transporting part of another bike… Welcome to Hanoi! It is a city crazy beyond believe. You either love it or you hate it eternally.
Upon our arrival and first impressions of Vietnam, we take a tour of Hanoi. The guide first takes us to Ba Dinh Square, which is famous especially for Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum.
Upon we explore Hanoi a bit we planned to see other places which are must see in the capital. The first one was the Ho Chi Minh Museum (Lăng Chủ tịch Hồ Chí Minh).
We reached Hanoi (Hà Nội in Vietnamese) by train, again. Friends had been waiting for us at the train station already. Hospitable as they were they took us on their bikes to their place. Founded in the 11th century, Hanoi’s original name was Thăng Long – Soaring Dragon. The legend says the emperor saw a dragon soaring at this place so he founded the city there.
Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) is often regarded economic heart of Vietnam. It is not as hold as Hanoi (Hà Nội) but still it has some magic.
Every time I have the feeling I know something more about something I come to realization which tells me the opposite. I spent one year of studying and travelling in China. Bit arrogantly I had felt Asia couldn’t surprise me much more. Fortunately, I hadn’t boarded a plane to the Czech Republic, instead I boarded a plane to Vietnam.
I was feeling like travelling in China when I was on my way to Hoi An – “there is going to be this yellow bus. It will take you there“.
On the following day we set off to Hoi An (Hội An . It was during the daylight and also it didn’t rain. The sun was pleasantly shining and warm. We reached the historical center by foot and were ready for some great sightseeing (even the one in the night had its atmosphere).
Our journey continued to Hue (Huế), the former capital of Vietnamese emperors situated in the central Vietnam.
Even though the title suggest some offensive connotations we were did not intend to disgrace royal tombs as if we were in an action movie. A rented bike, however, solved our problems. The tombs around Hue are scattered along vast area. Before relying on public transportation it is better to pay couple of crowns to rent a bike.
The last day was before us in Hue, the picturesque imperial city. In the early morning we hit the streets and just roamed around in the city. Indeed, we saw one of the most distinctive sights in the city - the Trường Tiền bridge across the Perfume River.
We imagined the visit to the lake as relaxing time after quite a busy day. The reality was seriously different from our expectations. I have remembered the first impression until today. With my daughter and son, we dodged through the local traffic and it was not really easy. The flood of motorcycles was not to stop. We naively thought that someone might slow down or even stop. Don't expect that. Just walk to the other end of the road. And be brave.
One day trip to the Bach Ma National Park, approximately 40 kilometers from Hue, was one of our best days in Vietnam. The park was founded in 1991 and its name means a white horse. It covers an area of 220 square kilometers.
Approximately 7-14 kilometers from Hue, there are 6 imperial tombs of the Nguyen Dynasty, at least some of which are worth a visit. Various excursions are organized, but even a taxi can be hiredfor a few cents.
Phu Quoc is the name of the largest Vietnamese island situated in the Gulf of Thailand close to Cambodia. Islands in the Gulf of Thailand are beautiful this one is no difference. The island is mere 50 kilometers long (from north to south). In the north the island is wide and it narrows down towards the south. Majority of the island is covered in green but this will not be the case in the future. The island features beautiful sand and palms. Who would love this?
In the region of Sa Pa, northwestern Vietnam, the best means of transport is a bike. You don’t have to worry about missing your bus, of taxi not coming, or that your taxi cab driver would be someone who drives illegally. Therefore, we rented us a bike in Sa Pa. It cost only a few crowns. Then we planned our trip.
When someone in Prague says “Sapa” everybody recalls the famous marketplace in Prague. However, once you dig into where the name originates you soon find the mysterious area of Sa Pa in Vietnam’s northwest (near the borderline with China).
Cat Ba is an island southeast of Vietnam. It was very difficult to get there until recently. In September, a new road featuring a bridge made it easier to travel to the island. Hence, Cat Ba is a popular tourist resort. You may buy a ticket to Cat Ba town in Hanoi and Ninh Binhu zakoupit. It takes 4 hours to get there from Ninh Binhu and 3 hours from Hanoi.
As much as I hate to travel by bus, I would repeat the ride from Nha Trang and Da Lat. The former is the city of two hundred thousand. It is the most popular spot to spend honeymoon at in Vietnam. It is situated at 1500 meters in the Central Highlands. You can enjoy a number of great views while on the road. And it gets even better on bike …
The end of my stay in Vietnam was neigh. There was one more place to see, a must-see place. The Caodaistic temple. Caodaismus (Đạo Cao Đài) is a young, syncretic religion established by a bureaucrat from South Vietnam in the 1920s.
I have always longed to see a large desert with sand dunes. However, neither in Europe nor in Southeast Asia (the places where I spend most of my time) is one. Once I first saw pictures of Mui Ne, Vietnam I knew for sure that I want to go there. Okay, it is not a desert per se but sand dunes there are huge.
Someone loves it. Someone swears to not to come again. There is nothing in between. I am with the first group. From the first day on in Saigon, a hectic city, and I turned into a side street. We are about to introduce you to a new series where we tell you about interesting places in the city and the country. First of all, let’s talk some important facts about the country.
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