But it throws you on the streets of Nha Trang, when they come at you first, not in English, but in Russian.

Nha Trang, a resort town on the South China Sea 300 kilometres north-east of Ho Chi Minh City, is the epicentre of Russian tourism in Vietnam.

About 190,000 Russians visited the city in the first 10 months of last year, with the results of their patronage evident everywhere.

Restaurant menus are in Cyrillic, pelmeni and beef stroganoff are readily available, women wear Orthodox headscarves in the surf and the pasty white men who idly watch them do not so much tan as burn.

The beaches recall Soviet-era photographs of Black Sea resorts, in which there never appears to be anyone swimming but rather a whole lot of people bathing.

But Nha Trang's status as Moscow-on-the-South China Sea is under pressure.

Western sanctions, designed to punish Russia for its role in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, have hit the rouble hard — the currency weakened for the fourth consecutive month in August — with tourists now looking for cheaper, more viable holiday locations as a result.

Between January and March, the number of Russian visitors to Vietnam was down 27 per cent on the same period last year.

This is not exactly a Vietnam story. It is really a Ukraine story in disguise.

Pegas Touristik's Colin Blackwell said the company, which brings the largest number of Russian tourists to Vietnam, had scaled down its operations in light of the rouble's slide.

"Our customers' spending power has effectively been halved," he said.

"This makes somewhere like Egypt a more attractive option for many tourists."

Mr Blackwell said a trip to Egypt, which is considering allowing Russians to use the rouble rather than the US dollar in tourism transactions, can cost visitors half the price of a trip to Vietnam.

Egypt also pays the fuel costs for Russian charter flights into the country.

Unsurprisingly, Russian tourism to Egypt and Turkey is already up 50 per cent on last year.

But not everyone on the ground is feeling the pinch.

Dmitri and Peter have worked in one of Nha Trang's ubiquitous Russian information centres — "The red ones," Dmitri explained, in reference to competing services, "not the yellow ones" — for the past year.

They said the rouble's decline was evident; not so much in overall tourist numbers but in terms of the type of tourist the city was attracting.

"We're seeing a lot more rich people than we used to," Dmitri said.

"They can still afford to come and throw their money around.

"We still get a lot of middle-class tourists, but they're counting their money a lot more than they used to."

'Crises come and go'

Dmitri and Peter were quick to point out that Chinese tourist numbers dropped precipitously last year — the result of widespread anti-Chinese sentiment that followed Beijing's deployment of an oil rig less than 200 kilometres from the Vietnamese coastline.

They said the Chinese drop-off was more drastic than the fall in Russian numbers this year.

Furthermore, Chinese arrivals have climbed again, and are expected to hit record highs this year.

Dmitri and Peter said they expected Russian numbers to follow suit, though the Vietnamese government would need to help.

"Unless the government does something, middle-class tourists are more likely to go to Egypt or to places in the countryside," Peter said.

Mr Blackwell said the Vietnamese government was unlikely to follow Egypt's lead. But he also said there were encouraging signs it might not need to.

"Russians consider holidays a priority," he said.

"They're not interested in cultural tourism like western European tourists, but rather in indulgence, in beaches, in forgetting everything for a while. We're still flying direct to Nha Trang from 25 Russian cities."

Most of these are in Siberia where the prospect of a long winter gives many tourists all the reason they need to board a plane bound for warmer climes.

"Nha Trang's hotel construction boom hasn't slowed down either," Mr Blackwell said.

Indeed, while the city's hotel occupancy rate dropped by 6 per cent last year, six new four- and five-star hotels are expected to open by the end of this year, representing an increase of 3,200 rooms, according to property services provider Savills Vietnam.

"The calculation is obviously that the current crisis is going to end," Mr Blackwell said.

His company certainly seems to think so. Pegas Touristik recently announced it would resume charter flights next month from Moscow to Ho Chi Minh City to meet demand.

"Crises like these are not unusual. They come and go," Mr Blackwell said.

By Matthew Clayfield - Australian Broadcasting Corporation - September 6, 2015