Nha Trang is a coastal city and capital of Khánh Hòa province, on the South Central Coast of Vietnam and it is Vietnam’s most famous seaside resort-town. It's more lively and urban in character than other beach destinations like Mui Ne and Phu Quoc. It's also the scuba diving center of Vietnam.
Nha Trang is well known for its pristine beaches and excellent scuba diving and is fast becoming a popular destination for international tourists, attracting large numbers of backpackers as well as more affluent 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 Miss Earth 2010 held December 4, 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.
Commercial flights to Nha Trang no longer use the city's municipal airport, but fly to the larger Cam Ranh International Airport, a former U.S. Air Force Base (built during the Vietnam War) located approximately 35 km south of Nha Trang.
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.
Nha Trang is one of the most important tourist hubs of Vietnam, thanks to its beautiful beaches with fine and clean sand and the clear ocean water with mild temperatures all year round. There are several resorts - such as Vinpearl, Diamond Bay and Ana Mandara - and amusement and water parks, both in the city and on islands off the coast. The possibly most beautiful street of Nha Trang is Tran Phu Street along the seaside, sometimes referred to as the Pacific Coast Highway of Vietnam.
Lying off Nha Trang is the Hon Tre Island (Bamboo Island), with a major resort operated by the Vinpearl Group. A motorized chair lift system, reportedly the longest in the world, links the mainland to the five-star resort and theme park on Hon Tre Island. Nha Trang is a stopover for annual yacht races starting in Hong Kong. In recent years, the city has welcomed many five-star sea cruises. In addition to sail boat racing, Nha Trang provides a rich variety of tourist activities for visitors. Island hopping, scuba diving, water sports and other sporting activities can be enjoyed in the city. The Nha Trang Tourist Information Center (a non-governmental organisation), located near the Cho Dam Market has been set up to provide information for visitors.
The local cuisine is most famous for fresh seafoods and barbecued pork rolled in rice paper. The area's Bird's nest soup is deemed one of the best in Vietnam. Bird's nests are collected in the wild, on bird farms on the islands off the coast and even in some houses in the inner city. The farmed bird in question belongs to the swiftlet group, popularly referred to as yến hàng (Aerodramus fuciphagus germani).
Long Son Pagoda is prominent for its statue of Gautama Buddha.
Scuba diving, kite boarding are available, as are catamaran sailboats. Winds are steady.
The nightlife here is known as superior to other coastal towns such as Mui Ne, Da Nang and Vũng Tàu. It is usually busiest around the Vietnamese New Year period, but can still be worth visiting any time of year, with the possible exception of the rain period (especially November).