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Vietnam is a country of many facets: driving from the balmy coast you can find yourself in the cool of the mountains in under three hours.
Nha Tran

Nha Trang doesn’t do badly when it comes to tourism. Not bad at all. Building on the coastal town’s decades of success in the tourism market, the city was the site of the Miss Universe pageant in 2008, pushing its small airport to almost breaking point with the flood of international beauty devotees flocking to Vietnam’s idyllic coast.

Compared to some of Vietnam’s chaotic cities, Nha Trang, located on the country’s south central coast, is distinctly sleepy though. From the air, the beach is easily

   Nha  Trang in a Nutshell
A coastal city and capital of Khánh Hòa province,on the South Central Coast
of Vietnam,Nha Trang is bounded on
the North by NinhHoà district, on the
East by the South China Sea,on the South by
Cam Ranh town and on the West by Diên Khánh
district. The city is well known for  its pristine beaches and excellent scuba diving and is fast
becoming a
popular destination for international tourists, attractingarge numbers of backpackers as well as
laffluent  travelers on the
Southeast Asia circuit.
 It is already
very popular with Vietnamese tourists.

Nha Trang Bay is widely considered

as amongst the world’s most beautiful bays.

Tourists are welcome to participate
in the Sea Festival, held biennially.
Nha Trang was the site of the Miss Universe 2008 Pageant on July 14, 2008 and it will also host Miss Earth 2010. Historically    the city was known as Kauthara under the Champa. The city is still home to the famous Po Nagar Tower built by the Champa. Being a coastal city, Nha Trang is a center for marine science based at the Nha Trang Oceanography Institute. The Hon Mun marine protected area is one of four first marine protected areas in the world admitted by the IUCN.
The French-Swiss bacteriologist Alexandre Yersin (who discovered the Yersinia pestis bacterium) identified himself with Nha Trang’s life for 50 years (affectionately known as Ông Năm). He established the Indochina Pasteur Institute (now known as the Nha Trang Pasteur Institute) devoted to research on the bubonic plague. Yersin died in Nha Trang on March 1, 1943. A street in the city is named after him, there is a shrine located next to his tomb, and his house has been converted into the Yersin Museum

Commercial flights to Nha Trang lands at Cam Ranh International Airport, a former US Air Force Base (built during the Vietnam War) located approximately 35 km south of Nha Trang (see the Transport section below for additional details). 

visible, stretching itself along coastal plains that are framed by hillocks of lush green. In contrast to the days of the Miss Universe pageant, the streets are strangely uncrowded and the beaches are speckled with far fewer sun worshippers. The city itself underwent a construction boom in the 90s and, while buildings are still being erected, it is relatively free of the clanging and drilling that epitomises many developing

resort cities. Nha Trang, it seems, has come of age and is awaiting the predicted tourism boom. While the city is steeped in colonial history, it is the beach that really draws the visitors. Before the French influenced the area, Nha Trang was rich in forests and wildlife. It was not until 1924 that the Governor General of Indochina established

the town, which quickly became the coastal resort of choice for the elite of the colony. After the decline of Indochina and the effects of the Vietnam War, the city followed the path well-trodden by many of Southeast Asia’s beachside meccas: backpackers

flooded in and were proceeded by upmarket hotels and the region’s affluent. It is only in recent years that the city has really featured on the international tourists’ radar and, in anticipation of the intended boom, the population is expected to double by 2020.

In spite of the attention it is getting from the rest of the world, the city is still very Vietnamese. Local fishing vessels still drag their primitive nets around the shore and street vendors, wearing traditional conical straw hats, still claim the streets as their own. The fact that the town sits near the mouth of the Cái River makes it the centre of local trade. Colonial relics have been incorporated into the culture of the area, and fusion food is readily 

available. Those not employed in tourism tend to scrape their living from the sea. Early in the morning at the Fishermen’s Village, entire families coordinate these fishing efforts: men haul in their nets while the women and children sort through the catch. Basket boats spin their way around the vessels, negotiating trade and, for the bystander, demonstrate the tradition of the area. Nearby, at the mouth of the river is Thap Ba Ponaga, a Cham era temple which dates back 1,200 years. Considered a place to pray for fertility, locals can be seen visiting the temple praying for longevity, prosperity and a huge family.

Tourism has had a big impact on the economy in Nha Trang, and many of those not directly employed in the tourism trade ply locally made crafts to enamoured tourists.

Straw hats are stacked on every street corner where they are bought in their thousands by tourists, being the ultimate symbol  of old Vietnam.

Made from corn leaves and bamboo, the craft has been handed down through the generations and is still popular in rural Vietnam. In the cities,

it is the tourists who are most often seen donning  the umbrella-like contraptions while the locals ironically prefer baseballs caps from America.

Despite the attention that many of the high-end resorts are garnering internationally, the local Vietnamese seem steadfast in retaining their traditions and, in doing so,    unconsciously or otherwise make this a city to be reckoned with. There is no doubt that in time some of the local culture will recede in the face of more profitable tourism-based professions, but for now the pace is thankfully slow. Were these to disappear completely, the city would lose its valuable cultural dimension and tourism might wane.


Situated three hours from Nha Trang by road, and a one-hour flight away from Ho Chi Minh City, Dalat could not be more different from the tropical Nha Trang. Selected

   Dalat: City of Eternal Spring
Dalat, the capital of Lâm Đồng Province in Vietnam, located 1500 m (4,920 ft) above sea level on the Langbiang Plateau in the southern parts of the Central Highlands. The name derives from the acronym of the Latin phrase ‘Dat Aliis Laetitiam Aliis Temperiem’ (“Giving Pleasure to Some, Freshness to Others”), which the French colonial government used in their official emblem of Dalat. In Vietnam, Dalat is a popular tourist destination. Dalat’s specific sights are pine wood (forming the name: “City of thousands of pine trees”) with twisting roads and tree marigold (Vietnamese:dã quỳ) blossom in the winter. This city has a unique temperate weather in Vietnam’s otherwise tropical climate. Mist covering the valleys almost year-round leads to its name “City of eternal spring.” Dalat is also known as an area for science research in the fields of biotechnology and nuclear physics. With its year-round cool weather, Dalat supplies temperate agriculture products for all over Vietnam, for example, cabbage and cauliflower. Its flower industry produces two typical flowers:hydrangea (Vietnamese: cẩm tú cầu) and golden everlasting (Vietnamese: hoa bất tử). The confectionery industry offers a wide range of mứt, a kind of fruit preserve made from strawberry, mulberry, sweet potato, and rose

by the French as a hilltop hideaway, the city has all the trappings of an alpine resort: pine trees line the avenues, Swiss-style chalets score the streets, and the city is surrounded by peaks and punctuated with waterfalls.

The roads leading to the city are awash with colour; this is one of the centres of flower cultivation in the country and roses and fruit trees line the winding road as it ascends to the height of 1,500m
from the coast. Because of the height, the temperature is much cooler than in coastal Vietnam, averaging around 17°C in summer, (it never exceeds 25°C)
and a cool 8°C in winter. Smaller than Nha Trang, the population here is just 180,000, making the city easy enough to navigate on foot.

Highly recommended is the cable car that rises to give a bird’seye view of the entire city. On a clear day you might even be able to spot Vietnam’s highest peak, Phanxipan, to the north. The cable car also connects the city to the Truc Lam Monastery,

where the locals come to meditate and relax in the peaceful surroundings. The city attracts a wide range of tourists,both local and international, owing to the fact that it retains much of its original French colonial architecture,

and it is sometimes hard to believe you are in Asia when you are wandering the European-style streets.
The city is not known as Le Petite Paris for nothing. The lone church,
(called the Cock Church, on account of the weather vane that sits on the spire),
has become something of a landmark and sits snugly in the centre of the city.

Dalat Railway Station was completed in 1938 and served as the transport hub for American soldiers during the height of the Vietnam War.

Today it is a tourist attraction, retaining the old French locomotive that ran during the colonial period, and which runs a service to Hanoi. As a local touch,

the architect added three peaked roofs, echoing the three mountains that soar above Dalat. Although the town is primarily known for its French influence,

it is also the site of the XQ Historical Village that parades Vietnam’s past witha cultural centre that exhibits embroidery.

Dalat’ s markets are amongst the best places to see the sheer range of produce that filters into the city from the surrounding

area. Flowers fill a large percentage of the markets as does fresh produce including avocados and artichokes. Between May and September, the local delicacy, avocado ice cream (Kem Bo), is devoured across the city.

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