Here’s Your Short But Sweet 7-Hour Itinerary In Nha Trang
If you’re having a short stopover in Nha Trang like Chef Sandy Daza, here’s how you can pack some sight-seeing and a street food tour in 7 hours
Nha Trang (pronounced as nyah-trang) is a small city on the coast of Vietnam, home to a small, laid-back population. While tourists who go to Vietnam usually go to Hanoi and Hoi Chi Minh, those who do visit Nha Trang will be treated to a special beach-side experience with a number of scuba diving destinations.
FoodPrints host and chef Sandy Daza visits Nha Trang as a side-trip on their Star Cruises SuperStar Virgo cruise with his kids for a short but sweet experience on the coastal city.
Exploring Nha Trang
When on a cruise aboard the Star Cruises, expect a few stopovers in different cities and destinations. One of the stopovers on Chef Sandy’s trip is in Nha Trang, where they were given a 7-hour free-roam time in the city.
If you’re pressed for time like Chef Sandy but would still like to experience Nha Trang like a local, you can sign up for a Nha Trang Street Food tour. The tour costs $39 and is inclusive of a motorcycle angkas ride. According to their tour guide, motorcycle is a great way to go around Nha Trang because it’s a popular mode of transportation in the city. It also lets you hop around the places that you need to go to fast, maximizing your time in the city.
This specific tour brings Chef Sandy and his kids to four different street food stops and two temples in just under 7 hours. That’s a lot of bang for your buck!
Nha Trang Street food
The street food tour’s first stop is at Banh Can 128, a hole in the wall that serves banh can, which are mini pancakes made with quail egg and squid. The Banh can are cooked in special molds made from terracotta that can cook 10 pancakes simultaneously.
To eat, you add sliced green mango in their special fermented fish sauce called Mam Nem, add chili or chicharon to your pancake, dip it in the sauce, and eat. Tip from Chef Sandy: Don’t leave the pancake for too long in the sauce or it gets too salty.
The second stop is a place that serves banh xeo, which are crispy Vietnamese crepes made with rice flour, shrimp, pork, squid, and spring onions. Banh xeo literally translates to “sizzling pancake,” named after the sound it makes when the batter is poured into the skillet when cooking.
There are two ways of eating the banh xeo. One is very straightforward where you deep it in the sweet fish sauce with vegetables. The second is you wrap it with vegetables in a rice paper wrapper just like a spring roll. The saltiness and sweetness of the fish sauce, the freshness of the greens, and the crunch of the pancake all work together to create an amazing dish.
Third stop is at Bun Bo Huong Giang, a place that serves Bun bo Hue, a Vietnamese noodle soup containing rice vermicelli (bún) and beef (bò). The dish can be described a bit similar to pho but with a strong lemongrass flavor. It’s also made with cubes of pig blood served like tofu.
Chef Sandy’s kids describe the dish as healthy, light, and refreshing, and a “symphony flavors” since it brings together a balance of salty, spicy, and umami.
Chef Sandy’s fourth stop is a small, local place that’s away from your typical tourist places, where he got to buy boxes of their special Vietnamese fish sauce. As a chef, Chef Sandy enjoys bringing home these flavors back to the Philippines, where he can try to recreate some of the dishes or infuse it with some of our local ones.
The Po Nagar Cham Tower is one of the most famous historical sites in the city, a remembrance of the Cham civilization. The Chams in Vietnam are remnants of the Champa, a kingdom that existed circa 1000–1100.
The Po Nagar Cham Tower is a sacred Hindu site built in 7th century to honor the mother of the Cham kingdom. The Cham civilization was a matriarchal society that’s why the tower was built to honor their female leader. Originally, the complex had seven or eight towers, but now, only four remain.
Like many temples, this site is a religious place, so be sure to remove your shoes before entering and wear proper clothing.
The second historical stop is the Long son pagoda, a Buddhist pagoda built in 1886. Situated on the foothill of the Trai Thuy Mountain, it is one of the largest and oldest pagodas in Nha Trang. Prepare for a long climb to get to the big Buddha statue.
One of the stories that you’ll find in the complex is the story of a monk, who, in protest, set himself on fire. Nha Trang was the hometown of that monk, whose heart was said to be beating even after he died and was burned.
Want to know more about the Dazas’ cruise and Vietnam escapade? Stay tuned to FoodPrints S7, with fresh episodes every Sunday, 8:30PM, and replays throughout the week on Metro Channel, channel 52 on Sky Cable and channel 174 on HD.
You can also watch FoodPrints and other Metro Channel original shows on-demand via iWant and on Metro.style’s Youtube.