To give Nha Trang its dues however, it is far more than a beach city and there is a lot to see and do here. For cultural enthusiasts, there are the Po Nagar Cham Towers, one of several kalans (towers) in the area built by the Hindu Chams between the seventh and twelfth centuries. There is the massive White Buddha, which stands at the top of a hill and can be seen all over the city. The views alone from here are awesome but the Buddha itself is of interest, as a symbol of Buddhist struggle against former repression. The Pasteur Institute offers a glimpse into the life and work of one of Vietnam's most famous expats.
Nha Trang's main industry -apart from tourism- is fishing and just north of the city, dozens of gaily-painted fishing trawlers grace the Cai River estuary. If you can face getting up at some ungodly hour, you'll witness waves of fishing boats returning from their nightly catch and fish sold shore side for the city's Central Market.
For the best way to start the evening off however, Nha Trang has countless good restaurants to choose from. Many serve fresh fish sizzling over hot charcoal table barbecues and from beachside candle-lit eateries, the distant lights of fishing boats can be seen.
Phan Thiet - Mui Ne
200km east of Saigon/ HCMC, this is one of the best laid-back getaways in Vietnam. The town of Phan Thiet is traditionally known for its nuoc mam (fish sauce), producing 16 to 17 million litres per year, and a bustling little fishing port - quite picturesque and good for a day's visit - but you'll want to get out further to the long, sprawling, sandy stretch of beach to the east: Mui Ne.
Mui Ne is known for the beautiful tropical beaches lined with groves of swaying palm trees, immense saharan dunes meandering through kilometers of read, yello and white sands. It is also developing a reputation as the kiteboarding and windsurfing capital of Vietnam. There's no scuba diving or snorkelling to speak of, but when Nha Trang and Hoi An get the rains, Mui Ne gets the waves. Surfs up from August to December. For windsurfers, the gales howl as well, especially from late October to late April, when swells stir over from the Philippine typhoons. Kite-surfing is very popular. If this all sounds too much like hard work you can simply splash about in the clean, clear water.
Phu Quoc Island
Phu Quoc, the largest island in Vietnam, lies in the Gulf of Thailand, Kien Giang Province, 45 km from Ha Tien and 15 km south of the coast of Cambodia. Phu Quoc is also called the Emerald Island because of its natural treasures and infinite tourism potential. One of Vietnam's star attractions, mountainous and forested Phu Quoc is a splendid tropical getaway set with beautiful white-sand beaches and quaint fishing villages. Exploring the dirt track byways of the forested isle, among picturesque pepper plantations and long stretches of deserted beach, is a hoot. A visit to Phu Quoc is a wonderful opportunity to relax, spend time on the beach, and snorkel or scuba-dive.
Together with the beautiful beaches, Phu Quoc is known for its two traditional products: the pepper and fish sauce. The pepper industry on Phu Quoc has just gotten back up to speed after a long gap since the days when every French table had a shaker of Phu Quoc's finest. Phu Quoc is most famous for production of nuoc mam, the noxious fish sauce that is part of any meal in Vietnam. U.S. pilots flying over the island during the Vietnam War joked that the fumes from nuoc mam factories of Phu Quoc were enough to blow out the torch on a jet engine.
Trips to Phu Quoc can be made all year round, but the best time is in the dry season (December to June) when the sky is always sunny, clear and blue. It is possible to reach the island by either plane or boat from Rach Gia, Ho Chi Minh City (40minutes, by plane), Ha Tien (8 hours, by boat).
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