Dec 07 2011
With the exception of Tet, which sees Saigon comes to a four-day screeching halt, holidays can make people here go extra crazy. Christmas sees Saigon residents jam the streets to look at the Christmas lights around the city and getting a taxi from the airport is ridiculous: last year on Christmas Day I was quoted a million dong by several drivers for what should have been a 100,000 VND trip. I’m more into escaping the mess that the holiday causes so, instead of hanging out in town, I escape to my favourite beach destination: Nha Trang.
I love Nha Trang because there is so much to do. Besides just wandering down to the beach, which is usually pretty empty, you have several options.
If you enjoy diving or snorkelling, Nha Trang has an amazing number of choices and, since there is so much competition, prices are ridiculously cheap. A two-dive boat trip, which includes all your gear and a little bit of food, will start at 800,000 VND.
If diving isn’t your thing, take the cable car to Vinpearl Island, an island park where the 360,000 VND entry fee gives you access to a water park, an aquarium, a pirate ship, and a private beach. If you are just looking to relax you should head to the Thap Ba Hot Springs where 100,000 VND will give you access to a shared mud bath.
To get to Nha Trang you have three options. First, and most preferable to maximise beach time, is by plane. From Tan Son Nhat, a flight of a little over an hour puts you in paradise. A ticket will run 900,000 VND each way, but that’s a small price to pay considering the time you save. The second method of travel is by bus. This option is much cheaper, with tickets starting around 150,000 VND. The ride may be cheaper, but it is much longer, taking roughly 10 hours. Your last option is to visit Nha Trang by train, which is just slightly quicker than taking the bus. Train tickets start at 240,000 VND for a regular seat and 400,000 for a sleeper.
There are plenty of beaches that are just a day away from Saigon — Mui Ne or Phu Quoc Island – are also fine choices, but Nha Trang is, in my own opinion, the best option for a Christmas break. Its prices are very reasonable, it’s easy to get to, and it’s pretty close to home. The only thing to remember is to book your tickets soon, because the trains, planes, and buses will fill up fast.
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