Nha Trang

Nha Trang is one of Vietnam's most pleasant beach resorts. Just a 45-minute flight from Ho Chi Minh City, Nha Trang is renowned for its pristine palm tree-lined beachfront. The gentle waters of Nha Trang Bay make for enjoyable swimming, and numerous islands nearby are ideal for snorkeling and scuba diving. Nha Trang has numerous other sights, not least an attractive city centre of French-colonial buildings and small shops. One of the most lasting images of Nha Trang is the brilliant oranges, reds, and purples of bougainvillea flowers that seem to cover everything in this charming city. Given its proximity to the sea, it is not surprising that Nha Trang's restaurants serve outstanding seafood. A number of restaurants along the seafront provide a pleasant outdoor setting for eating freshly caught fish, shrimp and squid.

Places of interest

The Po Nagar Temple complex is a well-preserved example of Cham architecture from the 7th to 12th centuries. The largest tower is 23-metres high and was built in 817 AD. Originally consisting of eight towers, four still remain. The towers are surrounded flowers and trees and sit on a small hill overlooking the picturesque Nha Trang harbor.

Nha Trang’s best known pagoda was built in 1963 and is renowned for its unusual image of the Buddha, backlit with natural light. Outside the sanctuary a 9m high white Buddha sits on a hilltop overlooking the city.

Founded in 1923, the institute has an extensive library, some indoor and outdoor aquariums, and a huge whale skeleton. Interestingly, the world's most famous oceanographer, Jacques Cousteau, started his career here in 1933 when it was known as the French Institute d'Oceanographique.

This complex of five villas offers a panoramic view of Nha Trang Bay and is a former residence of Vietnam's last emperor.

The Yersin Museum, housed within the Pasteur Institute, is a tribute to Dr. Alexandre Yersin. Yersin spent much of his life in Nha Trang and introduced rubber and coffee plantations to Vietnam. The Museum contains lab. equipment, a library, and slides of his visits to different regions of Vietnam in the late 19th century.

Built between 1928 and 1933 in the French Gothic style, complete with stained glass windows, Nha Trang Cathedral stands on a small hill overlooking the train station. It's a surprisingly elegant building, given that it was constructed of simple cement blocks. A particularly colourful Vietnamese touch is the red neon outlining the crucifix, the pink back-lighting on the tabernacle and the blue neon arch and white neon halo over the statue of St Mary.

In 1988 a Catholic cemetery not far from the church was disinterred to make room for a new railway building. The remains were brought to the Cathedral and reburied in the cavities behind the wall of plaques that line the ramp up the hill.