Since I arrived in Nha Trang, Vietnam, a month ago I’ve been getting quite a few questions from curious readers and Instagram followers about why exactly I chose to spend two months in Nha Trang, whether or not it’s a good place for digital nomads and if travelers should include it on their Vietnam itinerary. But every time I go to answer their questions, I’m not entirely sure what to say… because it totally depends…
My reasons for choosing Nha Trang are a bit random, and they are definitely unique to me and my situation. First and foremost, I knew that I needed to find a nice, quiet place where I could rent an affordable apartment to comfortably work from. After all, I do work a 9-5 (even though I do sometimes work remotely), so work was my number one priority in finding a city to temporarily base myself. Other than that I needed to be in a city that’s more or less in the same time zone as Beijing and had a low cost of living. And ideally, I wanted to be close to the beach and be able to easily find lots and lots of vegetarian food.
For me Nha Trang, Vietnam, ticked all of those boxes.
With all that in mind here’s a specific breakdown of why I chose Nha Trang:
It suits my work needs…
This was number one on my list. I know it doesn’t seem this way, but I’m not in Vietnam as a traveler. I’m here because my bosses are nice enough to let me work remotely during Aaron’s lengthy breaks from his job. (Aaron is a professor and he gets AMAZINGLY LONG winter and summer breaks). Since we live in the middle of nowhere in Beijing, and wanted a temporary reprieve from the notoriously cold and smoggy Beijing winter, we decided we’d find somewhere else to work from.
Here in Nha Trang, he’s busy researching and lesson planning, and I’m busy working my normal 9-5 job. So having a place that’s quiet, semi-spacious and has reliable internet was number one on our list. I also learned from our time in Bali this summer that working a 9-5 job while hopping from hotel room to hotel room wore on me… fast. Both Aaron and I knew that this time around we needed more space and more stability. And we both needed a designated workspace that’s not a bed.
We’d spent time in Nha Trang before…
When Aaron and I first set out on our yearlong trip in 2013 we were half traveling and half working. So unlike other long-term travelers, we would stop every so often, rent an apartment for a month and work. In September 2013, we had just spent a few weeks in Laos, and we were in desperate need of a place that was more affordable and had faster wifi. So we crossed the border into Vietnam and went to Nha Trang. The choice was random, but we ended up finding a cheap studio apartment at a place called Cozy Condos. We liked it so much that we stayed almost an entire month. And now, three years later, we’re back in the same apartment!
It’s on the beach…
I was born and raised in San Diego, home to what is arguably the world’s best weather but also to some spectacular beaches. I spent the first 30 years of my life living within a 2 to 15-minute drive of the beach. Being able to look at the ocean or take walks on the beach or go for a swim whenever I wanted (if I wanted) was something I was spoiled with until I left California in 2013. Since then I’ve lived in Jakarta, Phnom Penh and Beijing – and in case geography isn’t your thing, none of those cities are on the beach. Well, Jakarta is kind of on a beach port – but it’s not a pretty sight.
Suffice it to say, I miss the beach. Every morning here in Nha Trang I’m able to glimpse a tiny sliver of the ocean out of the window of my studio apartment, and I can walk down to the beach in under five minutes. I can’t really explain why, but that in itself makes me happy. And being able to go for walks on the beach or take a dip in the water whenever I please is something I love.
Vietnam is an incredibly affordable country, even by Southeast Asian standards. Nha Trang is definitely a tourist-oriented city, so it’s more pricey here than other, more local areas of the country. But travelers on all budgets can live very well here.
Right now I’m paying roughly $23 a night for my studio apartment. Because I travel with a partner that means I’m paying a little over $10 a night. Renting a motorbike for a month puts me back $2 a day. When I want to splurge on Indian food or Western-style dinners it costs roughly $10-15 for two people (including mains, appetizers and drinks). And when I want to eat local – a bowl of pho or a banh mi sandwich – it costs roughly a dollar.
Because we have the option of self-catering at our apartment, there are some days when we spend little more than $23 a day combined (the cost of our apartment).
There’s tons to do during the weekends…
Nha Trang gets a bad rap among travelers for being too touristy, too full of Russians and too inauthentic. I mean, I can see where people are coming from with this. Nha Trang is known as the ‘Moscow of the South’ for a reason, and it’s definitely touristy. (I’m currently here during Tet, the height of the tourist season here, so I’m in the thick of it!). But I’m not really put off by those things.
But then again, I’m not exactly here on vacation. I’m here because, for me, Nha Trang doubles as a comfortable yet fascinating place to work from and is a great place to take weekend trips. But what I’m slowly discovering during my time here is that there are some pretty fantastic sites within close proximity to Nha Trang. There are historic Cham temples, picturesque beaches, breathtaking vistas, hidden waterfalls and they’re all less than a 45-minute motorbike ride away.
There are also some stunning coastal drives to both the north and south of Nha Trang. Because I have a vacation coming up during Chinese New Year (aka Tet here in Vietnam), I’m planning on taking a motorbiking trip down south. Fingers crossed that the weather clears up next week because it’s been pretty stormy here for the past month!
It’s what I needed…
Clearly I was operating under very specific circumstances when I chose to base myself in Nha Trang. Is Nha Trang the number one place on the planet I would choose to spend two months? The honest answer is no. I like it here, but if I had my way I might have gone to Europe or Mexico or back to Colombia. But Nha Trang ticked all of my many boxes, so here I am. And I’m digging it here.
So is Nha Trang worth visiting?
Do I recommend Nha Trang as a travel destination? Hell yes! The city itself is a great place to lounge by the beach, visit a spa or go island hopping or diving off shore. But for me the real gems lie just a short ride away, and sadly these places often get overlooked by travelers who are all too quick to dismiss Nha Trang as “too touristy.” I did this exact same thing during my first month-long trip to Vietnam back in 2006. Oops!
Should digital nomads set up shop here? I’m not really sure what to say on that one. Because I don’t classify myself as a digital nomad, I’m not really sure what others are looking for. Clearly Nha Trang ticks my boxes, but that doesn’t mean it’ll suit everyone’s needs. It’s definitely not the hub that places like Chiang Mai or Bali or even HCMC are, but perhaps someday it will be. And if you’re looking for a digital nomad community, co-working spaces or a thriving café culture, this is probably not the place for you. That being said, it’s a beautiful, fascinating, bustling city. I mean there’s clearly something about Nha Trang that keeps me coming back!
Well, there you have it. I hope this helps you understand what to expect from Nha Trang and whether it might be a good travel destination for you. If you’re looking for a full travel guide on Nha Trang, this is a really informative post. And if you’re looking for a place to stay I cannot recommend Cozy Condos more. Studio apartments start at roughly $23 a night. They’re quiet, have full kitchens, strong internet and the exceptionally attentive owner will give discounts for monthly rentals and help you with anything (and I mean anything) you need.
If you’re considering a stay in Nha Trang don’t hesitate to ask me any questions in the comments section below. Happy travels everyone!
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Have you been to Nha Trang? Would you recommend it to other travelers?