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.