How to get from Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) to Nha Trang
Nha Trang is the dominant seaside city of Vietnam. Beautiful white sand beaches run the length of the city and some of the best resorts in the country extend to the north and south. Once the sun sets, you will find a vibrant nightlife scene with restaurants, bars and clubs that span all tastes and preferences. From elegant cafes to thumping discos on the beach, there is something for everyone to enjoy after a relaxing day on the beach.
From Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) to Nha Trang
It is simple to travel from Ho Chi Minh City to Nha Trang by train, bus or plane and there are even two private luxury train services from Ho Chi Minh City to Nha Trang. The overland trip takes between seven and 11 hours, often overnight. There are regular daily flights from Ho Chi Minh City to Nha Trang’s International Airport at Cam Ranh which is approximately 35 kilometers south of the city.
From Ho Chi Minh City to Nha Trang by train
You have the option of several different Vietnam National Railways services from Ho Chi Minh City to Nha Trang everyday and a once daily private train services provided by Saigon Golden Train and Livitrans Express. The morning trains from Ho Chi Minh City to Nha Trang depart at 6am, 7.53am and 9am and get to Nha Trang seven and a half hours later. These are followed by 11.55am and 1pm departures which take you from Ho Chi Minh City to Nha Trang by 8pm and 9.30pm the same evening.
Vietnam Railways has six overnight trains departing Ho Chi Minh City between 7.30pm and 10.30pm and arriving in Nha Trang early the next morning (VND640.000/USD30 for a berth in an AC second class sleeping car). The Saigon Golden Train and Livitrans Express from Ho Chi Minh City to Nha Trang depart at 8.30pm and get to Nha Trang at 5.30am the following morning (VND1.100.000/USD50). These private train services can offer a more relaxing and comfortable journey with cleaner compartments, usable toilets and dedicated staff to assist any needs that may arise. Both Livitrans Express and Saigon Golden Train serve a small selection of snacks and drinks with more available for purchase. With all overnight trains from Ho Chi Minh City to Nha Trang it is advisable to inform your hotel of your arrival time to ensure everything is ready when you get in as the usual check-in hour is after midday but with a prior notice you may sometimes get a room earlier.
From Ho Chi Minh City to Nha Trang by bus
The Sinh Tourist has two busses departing daily from Ho Chi Minh City to Nha Trang both costing about USD10 (VND240.000). The first bus to Nha Trang from Ho Chi Minh City starts at 7.15am and arrives at 6.30pm with the whole trip taking just over 11 hours. The second is an overnight bus from Ho Chi Minh City to Nha Trang, which takes only 10 hours; it departs at 8pm and arrives in Nha Trang by 6am the following morning.
Getting around in Nha Trang
While there are xe om (motorcycle taxi) drivers on every corner offering rides (and more), you are better off taking a metered taxi. If possible look for the green Mai Linh taxis as these tend to be the most reliable. Should you absolutely need to use a xe om, know that it should cost under USD2 (VND40.000) to go anywhere around the city centre.
Nha Trang is easy enough to get around by bicycle and these are widely available at most hotels for a dollar or two per day. For those venturing out of the city to the nearby attractions, your hotel should easily be able to arrange for a motorcycle rental for around USD5 (VND100.000).
Tip: We recommend staying on the roads near the coast and avoiding the AH1 as that can be a harrowing experience for even seasoned riders while the coast highways are relatively calm.
Where to stay in Nha Trang
Nha Trang has hundreds of accommodation options in all price ranges and styles, most within several blocks of the beach. Prices can tend to reflect proximity to the water instead of overall quality, so take that into account when booking. During slow times you can often get large discounts when you book on the spot but do not count on this at 5am after your overnight train journey or during one of the Vietnamese national holidays.
Things to do in Nha Trang
The main draw here is the beach which white sands stretch the length of the city. Beach chairs generally cost a few bucks to rent for the day and vendors stroll by regularly selling snacks and drinks. Depending on various factors both the sand and water can become quite dirty by foreign standards. If this is the case you may want to try Bai Duong beach which is a kilometre and a half north of downtown or if you are feeling adventurous – Bai Dai (Long Beach) which is south of Nha Trang, about half way to the airport along the same road. There are several places to relax and eat here and plenty of undisturbed sand to enjoy.
North of the city centre, on a hill overlooking the Cai River are the Po Nagar Cham Towers. The earliest were constructed in the 7th century and are remnants of the Champa civilization which ruled over much of Vietnam and Cambodia in ancient times. The site is still used today by Buddhist worshippers and is easily reached by bicycle from downtown. Wear modest clothes and expect to pay a small entry fee.
Most popular amongst local tourists is the Vinpearl Land located on an island in Nha Trang Bay and accessible via cable car from south of the city. The island boasts an amusement park, aquarium and water park plus all of the arcade style attractions one would expect to find at such a place.
Water sports of all types are available for people looking to enjoy the ocean. You can learn to surf at Bai Dai, go rafting down the Cai River or enjoy any number of diving and snorkelling outings. The sea life is still recovering from a long history of poorly managed construction and fishing practices but Nha Trang is emerging as a great place to get your diving certification and is certainly worth a few trips for experienced divers.
Onward travel from Nha Trang
Hoi An is a popular tourist destination with its famous historical town centre that attracts visitors from all over the world. Both trains and airplanes will take you to Danang and from there you must transfer to Hoi An which is 30 km to the south. The Sinh Tourist has a direct bus route to Hoi An, which departs at 7pm, arrives at 6am and costs USD15.
Another option is to head inland from Nha Trang to Dalat in the central highlands. With the look and feel that is decidedly European and a climate to match, Dalat offers a nice change of pace after the heat of the coast. The Sinh Tourist busses depart daily at 7.30am and 1pm, costing USD5 and making the trip in four hours.