Nah Trang is a bit of an oddball. It's overdeveloped, overrun by tourists and to honest a bit overpriced. The main strip along the beach is packed with resorts, the beach has been taken over by them or hawkers renting out beach chairs and parasols. In short, it's crowded, expensive and characterless.
But there are some great parts about Nah Trang. For one thing, you have the neighbouring islands, just offshore, offering great snorkeling and diving (we enjoyed wonderful visibility and saw a lot of fish, fantastic corals too). The boat ride is smooth and fast, before you know it you're hitting the water and enjoying those underwater views. Being a coastal city the seafood here is simply amazing, we had some of the best food of our entire trip. Wanting to avoid the tourist traps and overrun beach bars we walked away from the shore a headed more downtown. You will find a few local places offering the best the sea has to offer at bottom prices. A great deal if you ask us.
Having some spare time and not being in the mood for the beach we visited most of what Nah Trang has to offer. Impressive and equally interesting is the National Oceanographic Museum. Housed, partly, in a French Colonial building the museum has a huge collection of pickled specimens (over 60,000) in jars. Outside you can enjoy the stunning marine life in the large tanks. Those sharks and bat-fish are marvellous to look at. Sadly, they also keep sea lions and turtles in pens that are just way too small for these animals. I was most impressed by the stuffed sea mammals on display, some of which are enormous. You can visit yet another of Bao Dai's residences in Nah Trang, we made our way up the hill and decided not to enter the villa (it seemed the worse for wear) but instead we enjoyed the stunning views of the coastline.
Nah Trang is Vietnam’s number one beach destination, it's lacking the charm of Hoi An and the soul of Hué, but it's still a great spot if you're looking for sun, sea and fun. Just avoid the touristy places and you will soon find some great local spots and the character you might be looking for.