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VIETNAM COASTLINE

Phan ThietCentral and the coast line of Vietnam ( includes Nha Trang, Mui Ne, Phan Thiet, Phan Rang, My Lai, central highland...) is featured by lots of lovely beaches. With 3,260km-long coastline, Vietnam has numerous pristine plages, of which those in the Centre are highly recommended for their amazingly crystal water, rich of sunlight, less of rivermouths, and flat shore dotted by fishing villages; few of them have been developed as comfortable resorts like Non Nuoc Beach, Nha Trang or Phan Thiet. Yet, should you turn West, you will meet an absolute different topography near the Lao border ? the fertile plateaus cultivated for industry trees plantation and cattle farming. It's Tay Nguyen ? "the Plateau in the West". There are also lots of minority groups inhabit this area with those customs and conducts that are very unlike their brothers in Northern Vietnam. Their festive days and exciting daily life, the highland scenery and the sea and mountain resorts ? all make a voyage to the Centre of Vietnam so diversified and memorable.

 

Dai Lanh Beach Cana Beach Nha Trang
Po Nagar Cham Tower Hon Chong Headland Pagodas and churches
Pasteur Institute    

 

Dai Lanh Beach

Located at about 80 km North of Nha Trang, Dai Lanh is a picturesque fishing village with red-tile roofs. There's a high vantage point in the area known as Cap Varella, which provides sweeping views of the surrounding area and worth a visit. Dai Lanh Beach extends along Highway 1. At the southern end of the beach, it turns into a sand dune area that connects with the 30-km-long Hon Gom Peninsula which is another very scenic area. Of particular note on this beach or area is Vung Co, one of the nicest beaches on the coast. All buses traveling between Qui Nhon and Nha Trang will pass through this very beautiful area.

Cana Beach

35 km South of Phan Rang, and 123 km North of Phan Thiet lies Cana Beach, a great stretch of white sand strewn with boulders. The water is a beautiful turquoise. Onshore, the area has been colonized by prickly pear cacti.

Nha Trang

Nha trangNha Trang, which now has a population of 280,000 was constructed as a seaport in the 1920s. It is the capital of Khanh Hoa province. Fishing is the major industry. It is one of the most beautiful cities in southern Vietnam. It has with lovely beaches, 19 beautiful surrounding islands and is renown for its great ice cream! As the influx of tourists from Vietnam and abroad is ever increasing, a diversity of hotels and guests houses have been built along the beautiful beachfront. Intermingled with these new hotels are some very quaint and sometimes majestic old French villas.

It's pleasant to cycle in Nha Trang and the surrounding areas. The city has wide boulevards and very little traffic. On days where it is too warm to cycle, take advantage of your surroundings and take a boat ride out to the islands for a day of snorkeling in turquoise water and coral reefs. It will be a day that you will treasure forever. You can also have a fantastic seafood banquet for lunch while on these islands, and later return to town just in time to walk on the beach for a late afternoon beer or fruit shake. There are a number of wonderful sites in the surrounding area which you should visit and which we recommend.

Po Nagar Cham Tower

PonagaSituated on the north side of Nha Trang, you will need to cross the Xom Bong Bridge where you will see red and blue fishing boats and the best-preserved Cham Towers in Vietnam, a sanctuary to Po Nagar, a mythical goddess. Among the 8 towers constructed between the 7th and 12th centuries, only 4 are remain. They are still used as places of worship. There is a congregation of nuns who live there who will guide you around the site with their best sign language and smiles. There is a small but interesting museum to the right of the North Tower with photographs and ancient statues. The hill upon which the Cham Towers sit offers a great panoramic view of the surrounding beauty as well as a view of the entrance of the river with Nha Trang.

The entrance to the site is from street level. Then you will need to follow a staircase to the top. As you escalate the staircase, you will be able to see the remains of the mediation hall which was the original entrance ro the site for Cham worshipers. It will be to your right. The North Tower is the largest and the main one. It is situated on a higher level directly in front of the meditation hall. The other smaller towers are only meters away from the North Tower. You will note that all of them are facing due East. Please remember to take off your shoes before entering any of the temples. 

Hon Chong Headland

Due east of the Cham Towers are a series of fishing villages. You will observe that there are many boats that continually come in or go out from the local harbours over a surreal-looking bay next to the Xom Bong Bridge. There is a local fish market that opens early in the morning. West of the Cham Towers is the Hai Dao Island resort. It is composed of a series of cabins connected to the mainland by footbridges. Cockfights are sometimes staged here. To the northeast of the towers is Hon Chong Promontory where hundreds of boulders are balanced on top of one another. The massive boulder at the tip of the Promontory is call Chong Rock. Various legends are associated with this boulder which is said to bear the imprint of a large hand. Naturally, there are a number of beautiful look-outs with refreshment stands available.

Pagodas and churches

Pagodas and churchesOn the northwest side of Nha Trang is Long Son Pagoda. It is an active Buddhist temple featuring an unusual red brass Buddha sitting on a wooden lotus pedestal. On top of a hill behind the pagoda is a massive 9-m high white Buddha on a lotus throne. Embedded in the octagonal base of the Bhudda are 7 stucco likenesses of Buddhist martyrs, monks and nuns who died protesting the repressive Ngo Dinh Diem regime in southern Vietnam during the Vietnam War. Some of them immolated themselves and the white Buddha was built to their memory in 1963.

On the other side of the tracks, east of the railway station is Nha Trang Cathedral complete with its stained glass windows and French Gothic lines. It was built in the 1930s and the daily masses are still held here in the early morning and late afternoon.

Pasteur Institute

At the north end of Tran Phu Blvd. is the Pasteur Institute, with a small but fascinating Museum dedicated to the French Dr. Alexander Yersin (1863-1943). The Pasteur Institute was founded by Yersin in 1895, and he is probably one of the most respected historical Frenchmen in Vietnam. Being a Renaissance man, Yersin was not only famous for pioneering medical research but was an explorer, botanist, biologist and an entomologist He was also interested in photography and astronomy. He explored the Da Lat area and recommended building a hill station there. He was also responsible for the introduction of rubber and quinine producing trees and discovered the microbe that caused the bubonic plague. This institute now performs research and produces vaccines. Should you have an occasion to visit this Institute, you will be pleased to see that the office and library of Dr. Yersin are now open to the public and contain a small yet interesting collection of his equipment. It was on Yersin's recommendations that his laboratory in Nha Trang and Dr. Albert Calmette's laboratory in Saigon were upgraded to the level of Indochina Pasteur Institute. It was the first established outside Paris. Indochinese Pasteur Institutes later appeared in Hanoi and Da Lat, and microbiology labs opened in Hue, Vientiane and Phnompenh.

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