So What Am I Doing in Vietnam Anyway? And Why Nha Trang?

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.

Is Nha Trang Worth Visiting? - Travel Lush
Veggie pho!

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.

Is Nha Trang Worth Visiting? - Travel Lush

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.

It’s affordable…

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.

Is Nha Trang Worth Visiting? - Travel Lush
Vegetarian bahn mi with mock meat!

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.

Is Nha Trang Worth Visiting? - Travel Lush

Is Nha Trang Worth Visiting? - Travel Lush

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.

Is Nha Trang Worth Visiting? - Travel Lush

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!

PIN ME FOR LATER!

Is Nha Trang Worth Visiting? - Travel Lush

Have you been to Nha Trang? Would you recommend it to other travelers?

About Justine

Justine Lopez is a California native who always seems to take the unconventional route in life. She also suffers from a serious case of wanderlust. In 2013, she set out on a yearlong round-the-world journey and never looked back. Since then she's lived the expat life in both Jakarta and Phnom Penh. She's now living and working as a freelance writer in Beijing. As she meanders her way through Asia she's always seeking out great vegetarian food, budget travel deals and amazing new travel destinations.

16 thoughts on “So What Am I Doing in Vietnam Anyway? And Why Nha Trang?

  1. Great post, Justine! I was in HCMC last year for a while and wanted to get to Nha Trang but never got the chance. You’ve convinced me it’s worth another look next time I’m in the region (hopefully later this year). Cheers!

  2. Ahh that’s awesome you get to work remotely when Aaron is on vacation. Glad your job is going well. I had to laugh at the “living in the middle of nowhere Beijing”. Because it seems like that shouldn’t be possible in Beijing but I know exactly what you mean haha. Beijing is a funny place! Enjoy your trip for Tet, looking forward to reading about it.
    Joella recently posted…Eleven Years of Blogging and Traveling

    1. Well you’re the one who found me the job, so thank you 😉 Ugh, I really do hate where I live. I am so lucky to have a subway stop right near my apartment, but every time I go downtown I realize how much I’m missing out on not living there. Sometimes I don’t feel like I actually live in Beijing! Haha, Tet will be interesting. I’ve already been asked to be involved in a Buddhist ceremony for the new year!

    1. I think a lot of people tend to skip Nha Trang because of other people’s negative reviews. It is true that there are a lot of Russian families and it’s not backpacker oriented. So if those things put you off, then it’s probably not for you. BUT I do think there are some very worthwhile reasons to visit. It really does just depend!

  3. Ahh how exciting 🙂 I can’t wait to hear more about Nha Trang and it really does seem like the perfect choice for a few months of remote work. You’re making me want to consider visiting and seeing how I like it there 😀

    1. It really has turned out to be a great place to spend a couple months. And I do recommend it. I know it’s not for everybody but I’ve enjoyed being at the beach, eating tons of veg food and having all this stunning scenery all around me! Vietnam is a beautiful country 🙂

  4. ‘Lovely post Justine!

    I’ve been to Vietnam only once and I absolutely loved it. I went back in 2007 and “did” the whole country. In fact, I een went to Bangkok “to re-cover” once I had finished travelling as I picked up a cold on my Russian Aeroflot (oh yes!) plane and couldn’t shake it off for the whole month that I was there!

    I’ve actually been to Nha Trang, and I liked it. I found it quiet, the locals were friendly, and everybody seemed to know that we were in town. It was also fairly cheap!

    Would I recommend it to other travelers? I don’t really know as like you, I like different things. I also like the sea, but I’m not into beaches so there has to be other things to do And there were!

    I think we went fishing here in those funny fishing bowl boats, and there were a few islands nearby which we explored.
    Victoria @The British Berliner recently posted…How to visit Amsterdam: Introducing Zaandam – a Dutch traditional town with windmills!

    1. Thanks Victoria! I’m glad to hear that you liked your time in Nha Trang. Yes, I love the beach but I’m definitely not someone who can just hang out on the beach day after day (or even for more than a couple hours!). There definitely needs to be other things to keep me entertained and luckily there’s tons to do here to suit all tastes, in my opinion. For example, I hiked up an amazing waterfall a few days ago and swam in the natural pools. It was great! I’d love to go explore the surrounding islands but it has been so rainy here I’m not sure how pleasant it would be. Hopefully I’ll get to do that before I leave in a few weeks!

  5. Have you had greek food there yet? We had some at a little upstairs place in the tourist centre (near the brew pub place), and I thought it was awesome. This may have been mainly because I was craving variety really badly after a month or so surviving on rice, eggs and greens in less vegetarian friendly parts of the country!

    1. No, I haven’t! I’ve read that there is good Greek food here but every time I see a “Mediterranean” restaurant there’s no actual Mediterranean food! Hmm, I’ll have to try and hunt that place down. Thanks for the tip Kirstie!

  6. I must admit I wasn’t a big fan of Nha Trang, but the hostel we stayed in made it so worth a visit haha. It’s good for a beach break but I kept just getting the impression that you have to be really careful (which is why I walked back alone at 1am obviously…) and it was a bit off-putting. I don’t think I made the most of Nha Trang at all, but what really annoyed me is we ended up missing Da Lat and I think that would have been a better choice!
    Clazz – An Orcadian Abroad recently posted…Australian Wildlife: The Good, The Bad & The Unexpected

    1. I can totally relate. For me, the city was a great place to live for a couple months because it had everything I needed. And it’s proximity to the beach is amazing. But as a travel destination there are so many other places in Vietnam that are probably more appealing to most. But what people do miss out on when they do visit Nha Trang are the amazing sites around the city. You really do need a motorbike to properly get to see everything Nha Trang has to offer, because it’s all surrounding the city. Dalat is pretty amazing too!!

  7. Hi looking for advices from locals. I am in Hoi An and heading south. Suggestions for Homestay/Hostel close to the train station. I am not a party person but would like to check the city out. Thanks

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