|Enthralled by Nha Trang: Allister Esguerra, the creator of Discover Nha Trang magazine.
by Luong Thu Huong
When Filipino expat Allister Esguerra first visited Nha Trang it was love at first sight.
In fact, he was so enrapt with Nha Trang he launched Discover Nha Trang to celebrate the south-central city's beguiling beauty.
The magazine celebrates not only the allure of Nha Trang Bay, with its islands and white sand beaches, but also the city's exotic Cham heritage and rich culture. However, it is the friendliness of the people that gives Nha Trang the edge over other major tourist destinations such as Da Nang, Hoi An, or even Ha Long Bay in Esguerra's eyes.
But Esguerra's main motivation for launching the magazine was to give something back to the place he now calls home.
He says Discover Nha Trang is a meaningful and interesting source of information for visitors eager to learn about the city's attractions, which are many and varied.
The 100-page glossy is divided into three main parts: Discover Local People, Discover Destinations and Discover Via Photos.
Many of the articles in the magazine, which was originally planned as an online portal, are based on the author's day-to-day experiences, such as visiting coffee shops, eating street food, having a pavement haircut or just mingling with the locals.
The magazine highlights attractions such as the Po Nagar Cham towers, Long Son Pagoda (with its seated white Buddha) – established in 1963 to honour the monks and nuns who died demonstrating against the Sai Gon administration – as well as natural wonders such as Bai Dai Beach, Monkey Island, the Ba Ho waterfalls and the Thap Ba hot springs.
Esguerra has spent much of his time travelling to local fishing villages and just mixing with locals in order to see the real Nha Trang.
The 26-year-old has lived in four Vietnamese cities since coming to Viet Nam, but it was Nha Trang that forced him to give up his itinerant ways. He now works full-time as director of sales and marketing for Emperor Cruises.
"The main things that attract me the most here are the food, culture, language, and most importantly, the local people," he said.
"The Nha Trang locals are definitely among the friendliest, smiliest and most inspiring Vietnamese people I've ever met in the last five years of living here."
Publishing his own lifestyle magazine has been Esguerra's dream since settling in Nha Trang. With the help of three foreign friends who share his love of Nha Trang, together with Vietnamese friend Ngo Tung Bach, the Discover Nha Trang project was launched.
The team initially planned to create an online portal offering information on tourist attractions in and around the city, similar to a project he had planned in Ha Long but which he ultimately abandoned after discovering he'd been beaten to the punch.
"Since Nha Trang was lacking in terms of creative channels for tourists and locals, and we had the resources and a team, I knew that it was the perfect time for us to build our own magazine," Esguerra said.
|Destination magazine: Foreign visitors excitedly read Discover Nha Trang. — Photos tuoitre.vn
It took four months since the team decided to change direction to launch the tourism magazine, which is aimed at high-end visitors.
But it hasn't been all plain sailing.
"As for the difficulties, like all start-ups, we've had our ups and downs. But there again, these are things that we need to experience to be able to do something great," Esguerra said.
The first print run of 2,000 copies came out in July. Although print costs are high – the magazine uses high-quality couche paper – the publication is free, something made possible by the fact it is supported by Emperor Cruises and a number of other businesses and organisations, which are mentioned in the magazine.
Nguyen Van Thanh, vice chairman of the Nha Trang-Khanh Hoa Tourism Association, said the publication focuses mainly on the needs of international tourists, whom it encourages to explore the city and its surroundings in order to gain a unique and personal experience. Esguerra believes Discover Nha Trang, which he describes as a destination magazine, has a bright future because of the first edition was well received – not just in the city but all over the country.
That said, major changes are planned for the second edition, which Esguerra says will adopt a more minimalist approach to text and a stronger focus on visuals. He also plans to extend the print run to 4,000 copies.
"Aside from that, we also plan to partner with major airlines that have flights to and from Nha Trang and to put our magazines on their planes," he said. — VNS