Nha Trang is a very interesting city with a decent amount of things to see and do. In this blog post, I will talk about what to see and do when doing a DIY Nha Trang city tour. We’ll talk the obvious sight seeing places like Ponagar Tower. And of course, the other places that might be overlooked by tourists coming to this city.
Excluded in this guide is Vinpearl which is the other major tourist destination in Nha Trang. I wrote a separate article on that which you can check out here. Vinpearl is not typically part of doing a Nha Trang city tour and you’ll need to set aside a separate day to explore the amusement park.
Why DIY city tour in Nha Trang?
After checking the cost of doing a city tour in Nha Trang, I found out that most companies charge around $50 USD. For that price, you typically get to see the following places:
- Ponagar Tower
- Long Son Pagoda
- Christ the King Church (Stone Church)
- National Oceanographic Museum of Vietnam
The cost of these Nha Trang city tours typically excludes the entrance fee to these places. However, they do pick you up and drop you off at your hotel.
At the time of writing this article $50 USD is about $67.50 CAD or 1,147,500 VND. Let’s find out if doing a DIY city tour of Nha Trang is more cost effective or not.
How to get around Nha Trang
In my opinion, the best way to get around Nha Trang is by using the Grab App. Grab is basically like Uber but you pay the driver in cash after they drop you off at your destination.
Grab is better than taking taxis because its cheaper and significantly less scams.
One way with Grab typically costs anywhere between 25,000-90,000 VND on average. That’s about $1.50 CAD to $5.30 CAD per one way. I think that’s a pretty awesome price!
The most popular place to see in Nha Trang is the Ponagar Tower. The cost to go there if you take Grab is about 40,000 VND ($2.40 CAD). The entrance fee to Ponagar Tower is 22,000 VND ($1.30 CAD).
Ponagar Tower is one of the Cham temple towers founded sometime before 781 C.E.. The tower is of Hindu origin but was taken over by the Vietnamese people in the 17th century.
Just one word of caution, this place is SWARMED by so many tourists. The tourist swarm has no reservations when it comes to shoving you out of the way to take selfies. Those tourists can get really aggressive so just be warned that you’re probably going to get shoved around at some point.
There’s also a dress code that must be adhered when entering the towers. You cannot wear shorts, skirts, and sleeveless shirts. So make sure to dress appropriately.
My favourite part when checking out Ponagar Tower is the cultural dance performance. The music is really good and makes you quickly forget all the obnoxious tourists in the area.
Ponagar Tower nearby street food vendors.
After checking out the Ponagar Tower, you might want to grab some street food located right outside the temple. The street’s name is Tháp Bà and there are tons of cheap and yummy street food in the area. Karen loved the shrimp dish she got. Most street food cost about 50,000 VND in this area. They also offer chilled coconuts to drink that cost 30,000 VND each. I thoroughly enjoyed drinking the coconut water in the blistering heat.
Long Son Pagoda
After checking out the Ponagar Tower, you’ll want to go to Long Son Pagoda next. Taking Grab from Ponagar Tower to Long Son Pagoda will cost no more than 35,000 VND ($2.10 CAD). There’s no entrance fee to enter Long Son Pagoda.
Long Son Pagoda is a Buddhist Temple with a giant white Buddha statue at the very top. This place is very serene and it was Karen and myself’s favourite tourist sight in Nha Trang. When we went there, there was a monk ceremony where you see them marching off to their dining hall to eat lunch. They started off with the younger monks walking in a straight line followed by the older monks. It was definitely a sight to see!
They require you to take off your footwear at some of the temple grounds so I recommend wearing flip flops when visiting this place. The hike to reach the giant white Buddha statue can be tiring for the unfit but it’s not that long so don’t worry.
Vegetarian cafeteria in Long Son Pagoda
There’s a vegetarian cafeteria within the Long Son Pagoda grounds which sells meals for an affordable price. I would recommend it if you like vegetarian food or if you just want to enjoy some chilled beverages.
Christ the King Cathedral (Stone Church)
The Christ the King Cathedral is a church founded by the French back in 1886. Nowadays, the church is mainly used by the Catholic Vietnamese worshippers in Vietnam.
And, they also use this church heavily for wedding photography. When Karen and myself went here, we saw two couples getting their wedding pictures taken in this church.
The cost of taking Grab from Long Son Pagoda to the cathedral is 25,000 VND ($1.50 CAD). The entrance donation to enter the church is 20,000 VND ($1.18 CAD).
To be honest, the church is the most underwhelming temple of the three we visited in Nha Trang. You might want to go here first before going to the Ponagar Tower or Long Son Pagoda if you don’t want to feel disappointed.
National Oceanographic Museum of Vietnam
The National Oceanographic Museum of Vietnam is basically an aquarium with different sea creatures in the waters surrounded Nha Trang. Entrance fee to this museum is 40,000 VND ($2.36 CAD). This museum is quite a distance to the religious temples and will probably cost you 45,000 VND ($2.65 CAD) to take Grab to go here.
The museum starts out underwhelming but it’s neat to see the locals try to educate kids on the sea creatures in the area. There is one particular area of the museum that looks like a creepy laboratory. They have tons of variety of preserved and labelled sea creatures in this area.
Total cost if you only include these places in your DIY Nha Trang city tour
If you only do the 3 temples and the museum when doing your DIY Nha Trang city tour, it’ll cost you a total of: 190,000 VND ($11.18 CAD or $8.28 USD). This amount only includes all the Grab rides including another 45,000 VND to take you back to your accommodation. As you can see, you’re saving $42 USD ($56.70 CAD or 963,900 VND) if you do it yourself.
If we include the cost of the entrance ticket to all these places, the total cost of your own city tour is: 272,000 VND ($16 CAD).
You’ll still have tons of money left to eat some delicious local food and to see other places!
Hidden gem Vietnamese cafeterias near the National Oceanographic Museum
If you walk about 10-14 minutes from the National Oceanographic Museum, there are some really good local eateries you can check out! Locals eat in these eateries so prices are lower and you’re less likely to get scammed as a result.
Hải Sản Ty Rô was one of Karen and myself’s favourite Vietnamese eatery in the area. This “cafeteria” is tucked in the middle of nowhere with amazing seafood dishes! We ended up ordering half a kilo of fresh fish, garlic sauteed vegetables, steamed rice and sprite. It cost us 405,000 VND for this massive meal that was so delicious. They even gave us a free dessert which was this coconut jelly thing. I totally recommend you go here after checking out the museum.
Nhà hàng hải sản Tám Mẹo is another popular local hidden gem that you must check out. Karen and myself ate some yummy oysters (1/2 KG), clams (1/2 KG), and prawns (1/2 KG) at Tám Mẹo and it was awesome. We ended up paying 428,000 VND for our meal including two 7-Up (12,000 VND each) and wet naps (4,000 VND each).
Other places to check out in Nha Trang
The obvious destination that we checked out here is the beach. To be honest, the beach sands feels a bit grainy but it’s still nice to lounge around and look at it. I went for a swim and sometimes, you get lucky and the beach is clean. Sometimes, you aren’t lucky and you see BBQ sticks sticking out of the sand. And of course, there’s also garbage floating in the water at times.
This is just a tower by the beach. I don’t think it’s that impressive but you can check it out on your way to the National Oceanographic Museum.
Karen and myself decided not to do any mud baths but maybe we should have. The cost for this ranges from 180,000 VND to 650,000 VND.
The most popular Mud Bath place is 100 Eggs Mud Baths.
Karen and myself went to two spas here and they were a neat experience.
Orchid Spa was the first spa Karen and myself ventured off to. It was 200,000 VND for one hour of massage of your choice. I picked the head, neck, shoulder, and back massage and the Vietnamese massage (they massaged my arms, legs, and feet).
Karen chose the head, neck, shoulder, and back massage and the foot massage.
We also checked out the more expensive Sen Spa and I did the 60 minute deep tissue massage (350,000 VND) and Karen did the 30 minute foot massage (180,000 VND).
Obviously, you can’t go to Vietnam without eating Pho. Karen and myself enjoyed some hand made Pho at Phở Hạnh Phúc!
Nha Trang Vietnam tends to get a bad rap amongst tourist. Many people who come here from North America complain that there’s too many Russian, and Chinese tourist in this city. There’s so many Russians and Chinese tourist here that many locals can speak Russian and Mandarin!
With that being said, Karen and myself really enjoyed our time here in Nha Trang!
From checking out Ponagar Tower, Long Son Pagoda to getting a spa treatment. And don’t forget all the delicious street food and restaurants, I think Nha Trang is definitely a solid Southeast Asian travel destination.
My biggest advice is to do the stuff that you want to do and not feel pressured to do something that just feels like “meh”. Karen and myself, for example, didn’t go island hopping because our main goal for traveling in Nha Trang was to relax. So we focused on eating yummy local foods and going to spas instead. Travel the way you want to travel and enjoy Nha Trang! Karen and myself was very happy with our time here.
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3 thoughts on “Do It Yourself Nha Trang Vietnam City Tour – Ponagar Tower, Long Son Pagoda”
I live life luxury. Travel big. Better experience.
Not all people can travel luxury, that’s quite presumptious. As a long time reader of this blog i feel offended by this comment. This blog is a terrific reference for many of us frugal travelers who rely on inside info such as this. Get your elitist attitude out of here, Kendrick please keep doing what your doing, its obvious you dont have a cent to your name but that’s what makes this blog so authentic to read. Thank you for all you do.
Both luxury and budget travel are good. I don’t think you can go wrong with travelling like a rich baller or a more budget backpacker style. 🙂
And glad to hear you enjoy reading the blog, Patricia!