After traveling for over three months (through Russia, China and Vietnam), I was a little bit tired of the constant moving and I decided to take a break and to stay at one place for a while. For my extended stay I chose the coastal city Nha Trang in south central Vietnam.
This city has about 300.000 inhabitants and is a quite popular tourist spot and famous for scuba diving. Despite its reputation of being a party town, the tourism in this city is rather descent. Especially the tourist area has a more relaxed atmosphere than I expected.
My original plan for Nha Trang was to read a couple of books I always wanted to read, and to learn more about photography and photoshop. I thought I would finally have plenty of time for all that, however as it turned out I didn’t really.
In my first week in Nha Trang I met Gerhard from Austria who had been on a similar journey as mine and his plan was also to take an extended break in Nha Trang in order to work on his internet projects. His travel blog (www.andersreisen.net) inspired me to get a little bit more serious about blog writing and he gave me many useful tips.
To start my new blog, however, was more work (and learning process) than I first thought and so I ended up spending most of my time in Nha Trang, in a little restaurant, working on my blog. The restaurant, called the Green Apple restaurant is a cozy and quiet place with friendly waitresses and it has a good wireless internet connection. Gerhard was also joining me there with his work. Whenever we talked about the restaurant we just called it “the office”.
Altogether, I would say that Nha Trang is the perfect place for taking the kind of break as I did. You can find quality guesthouses (see “Good and cheap places in Nha Trang”), international restaurants (besides many local restaurants) and all kinds of shops. Wireless Internet is free almost everywhere and works quite well, everyone speaks quite decent English and the beach is always within walking distance. And above all life is very affordable here. In total I didn’t spend more than 400 Euros per month.
Despite its growing tourism and modern facilities for tourists, Nha Trang is still Vietnamese to the core and far from being too “westernized”. Let me name a few things to give you a picture: The sidewalk is used for parking motorcycles so you will find yourself walking on the street most of the time. On a zebra crossing motorcycles don’t stop, not even for tourists. Sometimes during the day, you see people sleeping on their motorbike, and some others want it more comfortable and span a hammock on the sidewalk. The favorite game in Vietnam is Chinese checkers, which is played everywhere on the streets. Often the game board is put on the ground while a bunch of people are crouching around it.
Many times you have to haggle to get a good price, but you shouldn’t exaggerate it and accept that for some things you pay little bit more than locals do. The best and the cheapest local food can be found in one of the hundreds little plastic chair restaurants. One more thing I noticed is that many Vietnamese don’t bother taking of their motorcycle helmet. You see them going shopping with their helmet on, fishing with their helmet on or playing Chinese checkers with their helmet on.
Sitting in front of my laptop in a restaurant wasn’t the only thing I did in Nha Trang. Every once in a while I also made it to the beach and watched the mighty waves. Then there are some tourist attractions, like a big market, of course a Big Buddha and a sleeping Buddha and there is Vinpearl. Vinpearl is a big tourist resort on an island. It has a water park and a big aquarium. One of the longest cable cars in the world is connecting Nha Trang with the island.
Lastly, there was also time for party, and Nha Trang has to offer many nice and fun pubs for that. During the time around Christmas and New Year I even took a break from “work” and spent some fun times with Gerhard and Sonja from Austria and some more people I met through couchsurfing. For example, Christmas eve we celebrated on the beach, surrounded by many local people, who use every occasion for a beach party.
After eight weeks of working and relaxing in Nha Trang I was recovered from my little travel sickness and I was ready to continue to Saigon on January 11th. This time I took a sleeper bus for 200.000 Dong.