With plenty of fun things to do with kids including its beautiful beaches, mountains, resorts and a great theme park, Nha Trang caters to each family member’s desires.
Although it’s an easy overnight train trip from Ho Chi Minh City, be aware that not much is open at 5 a.m. at the time of arrival. A quicker option is to fly, just note Nha Trang's Cam Ranh Airport is about 40 minutes by taxi from the town.
The accommodation options range from swanky five-star resorts to budget options. Some of the best high-end choices for families include the beachfront Evason Ana Mandara Resort, the brand new high-rise Intercontinental Nha Trang, Novotel Nha Trang and the nearby Sheraton Nha Trang Resort and Spa, all of which feature excellent facilities for kids, including pools and kids clubs.
A great budget option for families is the family-run La Paloma Hotel about 10 minutes from the main tourist strip. With its lovely lush grounds, small pool and sweet little breakfast area, La Paloma is an ideal alternative.
Once the accommodation is sorted it's time to plan the activities and Nha Trang has a lot to keep all members of the family happily occupied.
Keeping The Family Entertained: The Best Things to Do with Kids
VinPearl Land on Hon Tre Island is a must-visit no matter what ages your kids are. There's everything from a toddler play area to rollercoaster rides, as well as a great water park area, oceanarium and live dolphin shows. Plan to spend an entire day here and make sure you find restaurants near the water park area (ignore the fast food places near the cable car arrival port, they are of poor quality).
Speaking of cable cars, access to VinPearl Land is available through a cable car ride, which gives great views of Nha Trang's beautiful crescent beach and warm clear waters. The cable car ride is included in the ticket price.
The VinPearl conglomerate also houses an 18-hole championship golf course on Hon Tre Island, which will keep golfers happy for several hours or possibly even days.
For some fun family pampering and laughable photos, head over to I-Resort for a mud bath experience. This is another activity that can take up half a day, especially for those who choose to dine at the resort.
Nha Trang also is home to some interesting cultural attractions, including the Po Nagar Towers, remnants of the mysterious Hindu Kingdom of Champa that ruled Central and Southern Vietnam from the 4th to the 12th centuries. There's also the Long Son Pagoda with a giant Buddha statue and dragon-themed mosaics.
Water babies and divers should check out the snorkelling and diving trips available in Nha Trang. Be selective in choosing a reputable dive center, such as Rainbow Divers or Sailing Club Divers. Get out on the water with an island tour, such as those offered by the party-centric Funky Monkey Tours.
For a less structured day, make your way to Bai Dai Beach, about 20 km south of Nha Trang. Pull up a pew or a deckchair at The Shack and indulge in some great Mexican dishes or freshly caught seafood while deciding whether or not to rent a surfboard for a few hours. Bai Dai Beach is a great place to watch the sunset, with or without a few cold beers.
Another great sunset location is Nha Trang's famous Sailing Club, right on the beach, with food and entertainment options to satisfy one from night to day. The Sailing Club's various eating areas serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, and one can choose to eat at a table, on a four-poster lounge or on a deckchair right on the beach. At night there's usually live music and more of a party scene, which often includes a bonfire on the beach.
Food, Food & More Food
On the dining front, Nha Trang has a wide selection to suit every palate and budget. Join the locals at Lac Canh, a popular barbecue and hot pot joint or try local food in a more upscale market setting at Galangal or the long-time tourist favourite, Lanterns. For a pizza and pasta fix, head to Good Morning Vietnam (yes, an odd name for an Italian restaurant), for French home cooking, try the small and intimate Refuge, and for Indian, go to Ganesh.
Nha Trang Xua restaurant
Slightly out of town is the hard-to-find rustic Nha Trang Xua, a thatched open-sided restaurant with a handwritten menu, set between a lotus pond and a rice paddy. Not much English is spoken here at all, so you'll need to use your best point-and-order technique. The basil rice and fish cooked in bamboo are highly recommended.
So if you find yourself yearning for an easy and convenient weekend getaway with the family, Nha Trang is the ultimate family hideaway.
Barbara and her husband Vu lead street food tours in Ho Chi Minh City's back streets through Saigon Street Eats. Since their first bundle of joy arrived five years ago, Barbara, a former journalist, has become a family travel expert. Follow Barbara's blog here.