Nha Trang – beaches, mud and trains

After Mui Ne we took a pretty swanky bus to Nha Trang, the beach capital of Vietnam. We arrived late, around 9PM, and we hadn’t been able to book accommodation ahead of time. We wandered around and tried a few of the tripadvisor favourites but they were all full. On a whim we walked into one nearby and had a look at a room, it was absolutely fine, clean with hot water, aircon and wifi for only $10 a night – total bargain. We checked in and decided to stay for 3 nights.

We were just a short walk from the beach and all of the bars and resorts on the front. We quickly discovered that Nha Trang is BUSY. It’s really popular with local and foreign tourists and you can see why, the beach is long and lovely and the water is clear and warm. The Cham islands are not far away as well as Vinpearl land, a huge amusements and water park that takes over a whole island.

The beach at Nha Trang:

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We hired a motorbike for the whole 3 days we were here and decided to explore the coast around Nha Trang. We had heard brilliant things about a place called The Shack on Ban Dai beach, 20kms north of Nha Trang, so on day 1 we went there. We hadn’t had a burger the whole time we’d been away but this place offered them as a speciality with rave reviews, as well as fish tacos, so we decided to indulge. It was delicious. We spent a chilled out day here before heading back. Nha Trang is very busy at night time with bars and restaurants all over. We visited a hotel on the seafront that brews its own fresh beer, there is even a whitbeer which I LOVE.
Here’s a photo of our little ‘n’ large beers:

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Nha Trang turns into a total party town at night so we decided to join the fun at Why not? bar.

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The next day we decided to visit a beach called Doc Let, pronounced Yop Lek. This was 40kms away, so a bit of a trek, but we had heard it was worth the journey. We set off on our bike. After about 20kms we drove over the top of a lovely little fishing village, we decided to pull off the main road and go and have a look. We drove down streets that were so thin two mopeds wouldn’t be able to pass each other, eventually reaching the village square. We were definitely a bit of a novelty and attracted quite an audience. We decided to sit down at one of the stalls and have a coke while we were surrounded by smiling curious faces, we tried out our limited vietnamese and said hello and thanks!

We walked through to the little fishing dock to take some photos and suddenly heard lots of people shouting “Hello!”. We found an entire family leaning out of the window to wave – here they are:

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We carried on to Doc Let after this, making it there by midday. The beach was stunning, long and white and fringed with palm trees. It was also pretty deserted as it doesn’t have much accommodation there, just one resort. We walked up and down and spent some time reading and relaxing before venturing into the resort for lunch. We were a little worried it would be really pricey but it wasn’t, and I enjoyed a very Western and boring (but delicious and well missed!) tuna-niscoise salad.

Doc Let beach:

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On our last day we decided to try out a popular local thermal mud bath spa. Neither of us had done anything like this before so it was a bit of an adventure! We drove there in about 20 minutes and paid about £3 each for the experience.

First, we got into a mud bath with 5 other people and sat there until we were well and truly covered in the stuff. It felt quite silky and strange to sit in, and it didn’t smell at all. The locals were using buckets to keep pouring mud all over themselves so we did the same!

Jack covered in mud:

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After 15 minutes in the mud we were told to sunbathe whilst it sets and dries on your skin. Once it is hard you shower it off in a mineral water shower. As I hobbled to the shower my skin felt like it was cracking – a shower has never felt so good!

Sun mud bathing:

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After this you walk through some mineral water massage showers, basically holes in the wall jetting out mineral water onto your skin as you walk through. Then you sit for 30 minutes in a warm mineral water bath – this was the most enjoyable part of the experience.

Us in the bath:

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After this we swam in the mineral pool before heading back to the hotel, feeling well and truly pampered. We had a sleeper train booked for just before midnight to take us to Hoi An, we kept the room so we could make sure we were clean and mud free before we started our jourey.

We decided to take the train to Hoi An from Nha Trang, having heard less than positive things about the night buses in Vietnam. We were really pleased with our decision because the train was a really cool experience. We booked a sleeper carriage but could only get tickets for the hard sleeper, as soft sleeper tickets were sold out. After a warning from a Russian lady that if we were travelling by train we must be prepared to travel with cockroaches we didn’t quite know what to expect. Anyway I am happy to report that I didn’t see one cockroach! The train was old style, with one side used as a corridor and the other side making up numerous cabins.

The train layout:

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Each hard sleeper cabin sleeps 6 people stacked up in bunk beds, 3 per side. The bottom bunk is most comfortable and costs the most, the top bunk is cheapest as you have to climb up to access it and it is also closest to the lights and aircon, making it harder to get any decent sleep. Jack and I had a bottom and middle bunk. We boarded the train just before midnight and it was already full of passengers as it starts out in Saigon and runs all the way up to Hanoi in the north. We found our carriage and located our cabin, opening the door into complete darkness and lots of disgruntled Vietnamese people who had been having a nice sleep which we had interrupted. One guy was actually sleeping in my bed which I found a little rude, he moved straight away though! Luckily a lovely man on the top bunk showed us what to do with our bags (stash them under the bottom bunks) so we quickly settled down for bed, popped a couple of Valium each and then he switched the lights out. Valium is amazing, I NEVER manage to sleep on transport but I conked out for over 6 hours, despite the very hard bed which was basically a plank of wood. We woke up feeling relatively fresh at around 6:30AM, the people in our cabin were up already with one couple watching a film on their laptop.

Here’s a photo of me in the cabin on my bottom bunk:

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A bit later that morning we heard music coming from the cabin next door and realised some guys were playing guitar and having a bit of a singalong. We decided to pop our heads in and say hello. They were really friendly and happy to have their photo taken:

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After a strong iced coffee we arrived in Danang around 10AM. We had a 30KM trip to Hoi An to make by road (they don’t have a train station) so we booked a pickup from our guesthouse as we knew we would be tired. Our driver was waiting with a little sign for us – perfect.

Another great traveling experience in Vietnam!

Debbie xx

xxx

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