Island hopping in Nha Trang

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 Tourists in a bamboo raft-race from Sam Island to Lao Island

Hon Lao, Nha Phu Bay's biggest island, is a good first stop, and it's the most famous of the area's islands.

It is also called "Monkey Island" because it is home to 1,000 tame monkeys that are wild but nice, unafraid of people.

They are very friendly with visitors, so you can play and take photos with them.

Tourists visiting the island can also go scuba diving, go-cart racing, bamboo raft racing and horseback riding.

For other entertainment on the island, the Hon Lao Tourism Park has an animal circus with goats, monkeys and dogs.

Then there's Thi Island. Spanning 500 hectares, the island features a pristine beach and ostrich and deer farms.

The white-sand beach surrounded by rugged cliffs makes for terrific photo opportunities and is a great place to have picnic or a rest.

The seawater here is calm all year and perfect for swimming.

You can also feed deer with dry peanuts or corn, ride ostriches, or have photographs taken with the animals.

The island is also dotted with patches of wild flowers and fruit orchards where mangos, guavas, custard-apples, oranges, dragon fruit and coconut trees are abundant.

Hiking through the orchards and seaside rock formations is one of the island's real treats, especially if you're able to find the deep caves that are perfect for adventurous exploring.

A little farther from Thi Island is Hoa Lan (Orchid) Brook on Hon Heo Peninsula.

Formed by many small streams that flow down from the rocky slopes of Hon Heo Mountain, the brook snakes its way through the island for six kilometers. It gives its name to the Hoa Lan Brook Tourist Park, where a natural cave has been filled with orchid gardens.

The park also features a unique 6-km labyrinth built in a forest of 45,000 willow trees.

Camping, ostrich riding, and kayaking are also available.

Sam Island is also worth visiting.

HOW TO GET THERE

To reach Nha Phu Bay, depart from Da Chong Wharf about 15km north of Nha Trang Town. Long Phu Tourist Company operates boats that transport tourists to the bay. The trip takes about 20 minutes so vacationers can visit it in a day.

Holidaymakers can book a tour by calling Long Phu Tourist Company at (058) 383 9436 or emailing the firm at longphutourist@dng.vnn.vn. The tour operator is based in Da Chong, Vinh Luong Ward, Nha Trang Town.

To get to Yang Bay from Nha Trang, drive about 10 kilometers west to reach Dien Khanh Ancient Citadel, and then continue for 25 kilometers until the road hits the Cau River. Then make a left and drive for 14 more kilometers to reach Yang Bay Tourist Park.


A tourist plays with tame monkeys on Hon Lao, aka "Monkey Island"

The fresh air and shade of the natural and native longan and orange trees make this the perfect place to visit in the afternoon.

Sam Island is also covered by a lush forest that is home to many salamanders.

Before leaving Nha Phu Bay, it's a good idea to have a meal and some beer or booze at Hoa Lan Brook Tourist Park's Huong Viet Restaurant under the shade of bamboo trees.

Chasing waterfalls

Also near Nha Trang is Yang Bay Waterfall, about 45 kilometers west of the coastal resort town.

Its name means "heaven's waterfall" in the language of the local Raglay people, one of the 53 ethnic minority communities in Vietnam.

Situated in Khanh Vinh District's Khanh Phu Commune, Yang Bay Waterfall and the surrounding forest has been turned into Yang Bay Tourist Park, a 570-hectare tourist site.

Clear water from the 80-meter Yang Bay, which flows from a spring 2km long, plunges down several tiers of waterfalls into a one-meter deep pool where you can easily see the bottom through the crystal water.

Apart from swimming in the pond, tourists can soak themselves

in a hot spring that flows from Yang Bay and two nearby waterfalls: Yang Khang and Ho Cho.

A specialty of Yang Bay is the water "lithophone," where iron wires have been fastened to the waterfall's rocks to produce notes when hit by the falling stream.

Tourists can also enjoy songs played by Raglay artists at the park's ethnic musical instrument house. They play on traditional instruments like the Chapi, T'rung, Tacung flute, and Taleploi clarinet.

Pig racing, a 4,500-square-meter bear farm, and a crocodile farm are all popular features of the park. Visitors are welcome to feed crocodiles after renting a fishing rod and attaching meat into it.

Visitors can then try crocodile and ostrich dishes at the park's restaurant.

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