On to the Russian enclave of Nha Trang

Ominous clouds over the beach

After staying around 6 days in Saigon, we travelled to Nha Trang. In hindsight, it’s kind of hard to see why we wanted to go to Nha Trang in the first place. But to be wise in hindsight is easy. I guess after 1 month in Cambodia of which all of it was spent inland and then 6 days in hectic Saigon, we wanted to see the Ocean. Sure, we’ve heard that there were lot’s of Russians in Nha Trang, but how bad could it really be, right? Turns out that Nha Trang was positively packed with Russians, with a sprinkling of Chinese tourists as well. I don’t mind tourists as long as everything is not warped around them. For instance, I’ve recently spent some time in Hoi An, which can also be characterized as very touristy, however, there Vietnamese people are also out in town enjoying the sights, eating at restaurants, visiting museums, eating street food etc. In central Nha Trang, it’s pretty clear that almost everything is catering to tourists. There are hardly any good street food stalls (although we found a really good one), mostly sleazy buffet restaurants with ushers trying to get you inside. In my experience, the really good Vietnamese food is generally in either right on the street or in small hole-in-the-wall style restaurants, with the vendors specializing in a few dishes that they can vary to a small degree. There are of course exceptions to this rule but I’ve found this to be true in most cases.

On the street, if you are white, you are often spoken to in Russian. And within 10 minutes of my arrival in Nha Trang, I was offered to by drugs by a shady guy hanging out on a street corner with his motorbike. And then there’s all the Russians, you can barely tell they are on holiday, most people have the facial expression of somebody whose family has just been murdered by a raving lunatic, or that they are said lunatic on their way to somebody’s house. And let’s not even discuss the lack of awareness regarding the use of sunscreen on your skin, coupled with a tasteful dress sense. It truly makes for some horrifying sights. When I write about different nationalities of tourists I’m not trying to single anyone out, I’m just writing it as I see it. I’m pretty sure that spending time around my own countrymen in say Mallorca or Ibiza would earn them some pretty scathing commentary as well. To be fair I didn’t have any bad interactions with Russians per se, it was more the feeling that basically everything in central Nha Trang had been warped around them. We did also see a few same-sex couples that looked to be more than just friends, considering what’s happening in Russia right now perhaps it’s easier to be openly together abroad?

What Nha Trang did have was a really nice beach right next to the city centre. You almost got that Rio-feel when you were walking along the beach seeing white-bleached high-rises reaching for the sky above you. The surf was quite strong on the beach as well, something I really enjoyed, but might have been an issue for smaller children. It’s like a free amusement park ride basically. The nature around Nha Trang was also really nice, just driving outside of town for whatever reason, the views were simply stunning. We did make a day trip to some waterfalls that I will write more about in my next post. But frankly, just the trip to the airport yielded some beautiful landscapes. I ate a few times at Zoltan’s little Hungary restaurant, which I can heartily recommend. Elly found a really nice stall selling veggie Banh Mi, and we both ate with another really nice stall serving Com Tam, and a few other dishes such as beef noodles. The lady there was really the sweetest, if we had tried her earlier we would have eaten there every day. Unfortunately, it’s hard to give recommendations to small streetfood stalls since they usually remain nameless and are nonexistent on apps such as google maps and Tripadvisor, however, if you travel to Nha Trang, I recommend supporting the locals that serve you real nice genuine Vietnamese street food.

2 Replies to “On to the Russian enclave of Nha Trang”

  1. Hi, I found your observations of Russians very similar to what we found back in 2015.
    Of course I went back & read my blog from that city & smiled, again.
    I think we saw the same people – blog inserted below!

    “I was aware of the Russian influence here long before we left home & yes most signage reaffirmed that to R’s surprise. It wasn’t hard to spot the Russian tourist either…they’re whiter than the screen your reading, have no shame on the beach outfits they wear & the younger males have haircuts like Mo from the Three Stooges.
    I was humored by more poor souls from the tundra pleading the sun to give them some vitamin D, really quickly & by the look of some yesterday’s effort was a massive overdose – shit it must’ve hurt them.”

    Great memories!

    1. Happy to hear that I’m not the only one who thinks that. I struggled a bit with that part. I really pride myself with being non-judgemental, but at the same time, I want to be honest and write what I (or we) see. Sometimes I worry that I might come across as a Russian och Chinese hater, but the reality is just that they are so far the most annoying kind of tourists we’ve encountered. Thanks for commenting by the way!

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