The Infamous Boat Trip of Nha Trang, Vietnam

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“Do the Nha Trang boat trip.  Do the Nha Trang boat trip!!

There’s something that I’ve learned in my months on the Southeast Asia Backpacker Trail — if several people fervently tell you that you have to do an activity, you do it.  No questions.

So as soon as we rolled into Nha Trang, Vietnam’s most popular beach resort town, I knew that the boat trip would be part of our itinerary.  But I had no idea how bizarre it would turn out to be!

The boat trip usually costs about $5.  Because it was Tet, the peak vacation time for the Vietnamese, the price rose to $9.  But considering that the trip included visits to three islands plus lunch, it was still a good deal.

Are these trips popular?  God, are they ever. There were literally dozens of boats making the same trip as us that day!  There were backpackers, but also Vietnamese families and tourists from other Asian countries.

First off: snorkeling in the ocean. After hearing that the conditions weren’t great (and considering my fish phobia, I didn’t mind one bit!), we stuck to jumping into the water.

After I pointed out a straw hat floating in the water, Ste dove in and brought it back.  It became my accessory for the rest of the day!

Lunch was served on the top deck — and delicious.

Yes, I know.  This doesn’t sound that out of the ordinary.  Why would I be recounting every detail of a run-of-the-mill cruise?

Well…then it was time for the concert.

Everyone crowded into the main area of the boat and listened to our boat band!  We sang along with Wonderwall and we enjoyed the music.

And…out came the ladyboy.

His song — The Cyclo Song — about his wife who weighs so much that she breaks his cyclo every morning, was a piece of beauty.  This became our anthem for the rest of the trip!

Watch The Cyclo Song in its glory (and please excuse the stupid grin on my face the whole time):

It was just bizarre…and so much fun!

Next, they started calling people up by country.  The band would play one of the country’s famous songs, and the person would sing.

“WELCOME…NETHERLANDS!” our leader announced.

And Sander, our dear Dutchman, was chosen to go up and sing.  So which traditional Dutch song do they play?  She’ll Be Comin’ Around the Mountain When She Comes!

Now, Sander’s an awesome guy to begin with.  But when he got on that stage, his 6’7″ frame hunched over to fit, he became a star. Sander was a natural performer and the crowd adored him!


And then came the best part of all: THE FLOATING BAR.

We jumped off the top deck into the water, where the bartender was doling out orange-flavored shots as quickly as he could pour them.

Again, it was bizarre. But so incredibly fun.

And then the boat, filled with Vietnamese families and Western backpackers, turned into a dance party.

The guy on the right, who hailed from Korea, was one of the most unintentionally, naturally hilarious people I’ve ever met.

He didn’t take himself seriously — he couldn’t swim, so he jumped into the water in his life jacket, yelling, “Help me!  Help me!” in heavily accented English.

It took several grown men to pick him up and hoist him back into the boat — and while we were all laughing at the sight, he was laughing harder than anyone else!

And when Ice Ice Baby came on, naturally he and I had to dance on the table!

I can’t get enough of this guy.

The rest of the afternoon was spent visiting various islands, enjoying the beaches, and swimming in the South China Sea.

Going on the Nha Trang boat trip?  You should. As bizarre as it is, it’s one of the most fun activities Nha Trang has to offer.

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31 thoughts on “The Infamous Boat Trip of Nha Trang, Vietnam”

  1. This trip looks like a blast! My smile became wider and wider as you told the story. The videos are especially hilarious! It’s funny – I’ve had mixed results with “You have to do… or you have to see..” places. Sometimes they’re great and sometimes they’re a real disappointment.

    Thanks for sharing! Looks like you made some friends too. 🙂

    1. That’s true, Sarah! I do hear you when it comes to sights…but in terms of leisure activities (like this trip, the Halong Bay cruise with Hanoi Backpackers, Snake Village, etc.), the masses definitely know what’s up!

  2. Ohhh this looks crazy! I’m actually going to Vietnam and Cambodia on May and I’m quite limited with time so I’m choosing either Nha Trang, VT or Sihanoukville, Cambodia to relax and party! Any advice as to which place to go??

    1. Jerick, I love both places, but I would recommend Sihanoukville between the two. It’s much cheaper, it has a GREAT, backpackery, chilled-out vibe, and it just has a great atmosphere. $3 barbecues on the beach, tiny movie theaters, and really nice beaches. Nha Trang is a lot of fun, but it can’t compare to Sihanoukville, in my opinion!

  3. Kate, I just stumbled on your blog and have spent the last hour (more, actually) looking through your fabulous SE Asia posts (I’m going at the end of the year). Thank you so much!

  4. Hey, we were wondering who you booked through for this? We’re in Nha Trang at the moment and want to do a similar island trip.. x

  5. Wicked! It’s my next stop on my Vietnamese adventure and I’ll definitely be doing a boat trip. What’s the rest of Nha Trang like? I hear it’s nice but quite touristy

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  8. Which company did you do this with, babe? It looks fab! Definitely want to include this on my itinerary as I’ll be in Vietnam in April-time.

    Gabriella x

  9. I have been in these tours in Nha Trang islands and it was a great time. The price are excellent – very cheap for these tours in Nha Trang both for the tour in the three islands and for the four islands trip, including and aquarium, monkey island and much more. Also there is another one tour in the waterfalls from Nha Trang. Thanks.

  10. Hi Kate I did a similar boat trip in nha trang while on a contiki. which tour company hosted the boat trip that you went on? I know that you booked it through your accommodation but do you know the name of the company? I want to do the exact same one!

  11. Oh I am realy suprise while know that Kate have ever been in Nha Trang, my homeland. In my country, every body call it is another Hawaii in Vietnam. Happy!

  12. I apologise my “French” ,

    Swimming with lots of toilet flush from all the small fish farms.
    Waste! Everywhere.
    The equipment not possible to use , snorkelling equipment !! Full of fungi and not water proof.

    Show was funny but annoying to get pulled on a stage and start to sing when you do not want.

    One very good thing.

    We forgot the phone in the last coffee stop. and they organised it same evening

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