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North of Nha Trang

Travel Guide

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Running north from Nha Trang to the provincial border with Phu Yen are some of Vietnam's prettiest bays and beaches. There's also a waterfall and some minor tourist attractions cum spectacles, but if you're looking into this part of Khanh Hoa province it's most likely because you're after some serious beach time.

Many choose to visit these spots by hired motorcycle from Nha Trang town -- the road is good and it's a very scenic ride, so you could do a lot worse than doing your exploring this way.

Leaving from Nha Trang, the first point you'll reach is Ba Ho Falls, at around the 22km mark. Finding the turn off alone is a bit tricky, as it's marked only by two crumbling stone pillars. The road to the falls leads through the small village of Ba Ho, and then along a bumpy road to the parking area and the start of the walk. The falls are more a group of rapids running down through a valley littered with boulders. Admission is 5,000 dong. Unless you've got a fine eye for crumbling stone pillars, you're best to utilise one of the tour agencies in Nha trang, a taxi, or a motorbike guide to reach here.

Next stop is Monkey Island -- a small island that certainly qualifies as a tourist spectacle. "Attractions" include a show with performing animals, a go-karting racetrack and the chance to ride an Ostrich. The company running the tours is Long Phu Tourist Company. The day starts at another island, Thi Island, taking in the 'orchid stream' and 'orchid caves', then some swimming and rowing. After lunch you head to Lao Island (Monkey Island) for the action and adventure awaiting unwitting tourists there. The trip costs 140,000 dong per person, leaving at 08:00 and returning at 15:45. Trips here can be arranged through Long Phu Tourist Company at 84 Hung Vuong St, T: (058) 527 022, F: (058) 525 582.

Further north again, at around 50km from Nha Trang sits the idealic Whale Island, Jungle Beach and Doc Let.

Out off the coast of the Hon Gom peninsula, Whale Island is an isolated eco-venue. Bungalows here are on the beach in a relatively wild, untamed environment. The whole place is very eco-friendly -- the main draw however is the location and the activities including fantastic scuba diving & snorkelling, sailing, windsurfing and canoeing. Accommodation starts at US$140 for one night, US$210 for two (includes full board, transfers from Nha Trang -- twin share), so it's not cheap -- despite being very basic, costs a fair bit, but it does include three meals and transfer from Nha Trang airport. Drop into their office in Nha Trang city at 2 Me Linh St, T: (058) 513 871 for more information, or see the Whale Island website.

Doc Let and Jungle Beach are about 15km apart, but they are both in Ninh Tinh, which doesn't really have a bustling 'downtown' area. The nearest small city is Ninh Hoa, about 25km away and the internationally-recognised birthplace of Nem Nuong (grilled pork and vegetables wrapped in rice paper and dipped in peanut sauce). But there is no reason to visit here. All the services you need can be found closer to the beach somewhere within Ninh Tinh.

We looked for a good reason to head into Ninh Hoa, 4km before the turnoff to Doc Let and Jungle Beach, but we didn't come up with much. It's a quaint little town with some nice architecture, and while it's the birthplace of Nem Nuong, what they offer here is no better or worse than the Nem Nuong elsewhere.

One thing you can do if you're at the Jungle Beach is visit the Doc Let Beach Resort. We can't enthusiastically recommend staying here, but you can enter the resort for 10,000 VND even if you're not. The beach isn't nearly as nice as the one at 'The Jungle,' especially with the plastic bags sloshing around in the water like jelly-fish, but it's a thoroughly Vietnamese social scene that makes for a nice afternoon nevertheless. The beach is lined with dinning salas where you can chow down on seafood, and, of course, Nem Nuong. There's also a decent swimming pool here you can use for an extra 15,000 VND.

Otherwise, the hillside near the Jungle Beach is good for a hike with a nearly 100 percent change of spotting one of the Black Langurs. The jungle is dense and gets very toasty, so plan wisely and know your limits. The folks at the Jungle Beach will give you directions, though they don't usually lead tours anymore. Sylvio can also fill you in on some waterfalls and a hot spring in the area if you have your own transport.

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Text and/or map last updated on 21st August, 2009.

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