Da Nang - From Lady Buddha

Da Nang – Vietnam – Information


NOVEMBER 2015:



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OVERVIEW:

Đà Nẵng is one of the major port cities in Vietnam (in addition to Ho Chi Minh City and Haiphong) and the biggest city on the South Central Coast of Vietnam; the city is situated on the coast of the Eastern Sea, at the opening end of the Hàn River.

Da Nang - River From East Da Nang - RiverĐà Nẵng is the commercial and educational center of Central Vietnam, with a well-sheltered, easily accessible port; its location on the path of National Route 1A and the North–South Railway makes it a hub for transportation.

It is located within 100 km of several UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the Imperial City of Huế, the Old Town of Hội An, and the Mỹ Sơn ruins.

I stopped in Da Nang for 4 nights on route to Hoi An.

I was there in November (off season). November and December are their ‘rainy months’ where the weather isn’t its best; good surfing seas. High Season is January through October; calmer seas.


GETTING THERE:

I used VIETNAMAIRLINES.COM to find the cheapest ticket from Nha Trang to Da Nang.

12Go Logo

For such domestic flights in such countries, it is normally better to go directly to a local airline than to use flight search engines (like CHEAPFLIGHTS.COM, SKYSCANNER, etc).

My flight cost VND1,230,000 (US$55) inclusive of 20Kg of checked in luggage.

The flight left Nha Trang at 7:00am which meant that I had to catch a taxi to Nha Trang Airport at 5:00am – this added VND300k to the transit cost at the starting end.

Check in went without any problems. You don’t have to show them any bookings… just your passport. With that, they can bring up all of the information that they need and check you in.


ARRIVAL:

There is no bus service from Da Nang Airport to Da Nang city. To get to your hotel you will need to catch a metered taxi.

The green, Mai Linh, taxis have a good reputation for being honest, so I jumped into one of those.

It cost VND140k (VND125k on the meter PLUS VND15k in Airport Fees) to drive the 4-ish Kms from the airport to my hotel.

I monitored his route on Google Maps with GPS. He took an honest route.


GETTING TRAVEL MONEY:

I had problems getting money from ATMs in Phu Quoc. I was limited to VND2m per withdrawal. Lesson learnt, I had taken out VND5m in Saigon Airport on my way to Nha Trang.

So, whilst at Da Nang Airport, I took the opportunity to get some more cheap cash. However, most of the ATMs were still only dispensing a maximum of VND$2m.

I found an HSBC ATM that dispensed a maximum of VND5.6m but charged VND112k for the privelege. Given my home countr Foreign ATM Transaction Fees, it was still worth me paying this VND112k and taking out the VND5.6m.


SAFETY & DRUGS:

Da Nang immediately felt so much safer than Nha Trang did. Because it is.

You will find people genuinely friendly; and there’s no ‘hard sell’.

There is some marijuana around but it is very ‘low key’ and hardly seen – unless you go to certain ‘young’ bars. A small bag of hash (enough for 6 joints) costs about VND100k.


COMMUNICATIONS:

I still had my Viettel 3G SIM with 1.5GB of data that I had topped up in Nha Trang.

Many hotels, cafes, and bars provide unsecured, password-free internet. Although not ideal for safety reasons, it is very handy.

I use the ‘WiFi Free’ mobile app which finds all of the wifi connections within your range and tells you what the password is. This keeps my own data plan requirements as low as possible.


ACCOMMODATION / WHERE TO STAY:

After my ‘below GRANDPAcking standard‘ room in Nha Trang, I decided to pay a bit more for a better room.

I used BOOKING.COM to find the Hi Da Nang Beach Hostel.

Hi Da Nang Beach Hostel - StreetDa Nang - River From East 2I booked a Delux Double Room. The description said that it was 30sqm with balcony, sea views, cable TV, and free wifi for a discounted US$15.40 / night for 4 nights with breakfast included. It had excellent reviews (8.8/10).

Because I have ‘Genius’ status with BOOKING.COM (having used them so much), I get some perks. One of which is I can check in 2 hours earlier than normal. As I landed in Da Nang just after 8:00am and expected to be at my hotel by 9:00am, I asked for this early check in (which should have brought it forward from 14:00 to 12:00).

Hi Da Nang Beach Hostel - Standard Double Ensuite Hi Da Nang Beach Hostel - Standard Double Entry Hi Da Nang Beach Hostel - Standard Double Room Hi Da Nang Beach Hostel - Standard Double Shower Hi Da Nang Beach Hostel - Standard Double ToiletWhen I arrived at 9:00am, the staff couldn’t have been nicer. They really are so helpful and friendly. They said that they would have my room ready at 10:00am… so I left my luggage and went off to find breakfast.

I was back by 11:00am and booked into my room. But, I seemed to recall that I had tried to book something nicer than this? …

I got out my tablet and checked my booking. Sure enough, it said 30sqm and balcony. The room that I was in was about 15sqm and had no balcony.

I went back down to reception and showed them the booking. The pictures on my booking were of the room that I was in. However, I showed them the descriptive text.

The text was, probably, in error but they honoured the booking and moved me immediately to a bigger room with balcony.

Hi Da Nang Beach Hostel - Deluxe Double BalconyHi Da Nang Beach Hostel - Deluxe Double Room 2 Hi Da Nang Beach Hostel - Deluxe Double Room Hi Da Nang Beach Hostel - Deluxe Double Seating Hi Da Nang Beach Hostel - Deluxe Double Sink Hi Da Nang Beach Hostel - Deluxe Double Table Hi Da Nang Beach Hostel - Deluxe Double TV Area Hi Da Nang Beach Hostel - Deluxe Double WardrobeLater that afternoon I met the owner at reception. Hi Da Nang Beach Hostel - Deluxe Double EnsuiteHe apologised for the mistake and gave me a free can of beer. What more could you ask for? They were VERY pleasant to deal with…. even when things were not quite right.

The suite had everything. A kitchenette, a fridge / freezer, a microwave, a dining table, a lounge with cable TV, a balcony… at US$15.20 / night, I could easily have lived there. I can highly recommend this hostel.



Booking.com


With all that said, the Hi Da Nang Beach Hostel is really another Backpacker Hostel; a nice one but, still, a Backpacker Hostel.

I ended up in a very good room but that was just a bit of good fortune.

The reality is that, at GRANDPAcker prices, this is what you get in Da Nang.



 


TRANSPORT:

The hotel that I stayed at provides bicycles free of charge to its guests. I used them to get around most of the time.

You can easily rent a scooter but the centre of town can get very busy and a ‘rat race’ for those not confident on a scooter nor confident on Vietnamese roads.

The standard rate is a whopping VND150k / day; a good negotiator should be able to get this down to VND100k / day (I have heard figures as low as VND80k / day).

I rented a scooter for 1 day from Hi Dan Nang; it wasn’t the best scooter in the world. It had no acceleration and couldn’t get up steep hills – first gear was worn out. The engine didn’t sound that good either. If you rent a scooter from here, I suggest that you take it for a test drive first.


EAT:

The Hi Da Nang Beach Hostel price included breakfast. The day before you choose what you want for the next morning. The menu changes every day.

Hi Da Nang Beach Hostel - Pork Noodles with Coffee VND0kOn my first morning I had Pork Noodles. One downside of the Hi Da Nang is that they don’t really have a restaurant area to eat and laze about in. You can choose between this or a vegetarian baguette or Noodel Pancakes. You can have as much coffee or tea as you want.

Da Nang - Cafe - Beef Noodles VND50kThere are some ‘local cafes’ in the area where you can get ‘standard fare‘ for about VND50k.

Da Nang - Street - Kebabs VND50kThere is a street vendor that haunts the Rovers Return Pub / The Minsk. He sells kebabs for VND3.5k per stick. I got a mixture of meats at VND50k for 15 sticks.

Da Nang - Cafe - Pork Tofu w Soup VND25kFrom the Hi Da Nang, I walked about 10 minutes up the road away from the beach. There, you find a road that runs parallel to the river. Down this road I found a local cafe. In this cafe you pay VND25k for a ‘buffet’ meal. My first meal was a Sweat & Sour Pork Chop, a Rice & Beef Mince Stuffed Tofu, Vegetables and Rice with a Spinach Soup. My second meal was Beef Stew, Fried Whitebait, Omelette Slice, Vegetables and Rice with Cabbage Soup. I ate there several times because I liked them and they were honest with me from the start (there was no ‘hint’ of me being charged a ‘tourist price’).

Another reasonably priced place to try is Ly’s Caffe & Bakery with Noodle dishes for VND20-30k, Pastas from VND40k, and Pizzas at VND69k. Coffees start at VND10k and fresh Orange Juice is VND20k.


DRINK:

There are some bars with Happy Hours… some are better than others. The ones that have Happy Hours are usually the westernised ones that are charging too much for the beer anyway.

You won’t find the VND10k beers in this area of town. You will be hard pushed to find a beer for less than VND18-20k (in Happy Hour or not).

Outside of Happy Hour, VND30-35k is an average price for a beer in the tourist bars.

Da Nang - Roves Return Pub - Bar Da Nang - Roves Return Pub - SeatingOne of the ‘places to go’ around the Hi Da Nang is the Rovers Return Pub (also known as the Minsk Bar – because of all of the Minsk Motobikes parked outside). It is a Pub with a very small Pub Menu but the beer is reasonably priced (Larue VND18k, Huda VND20k, Tiger VND25k …) and it is busy most nights. On a Wednesday night they have live music.

A Larue at Ly’s Caffee & Bakery is VND15k.

A popular place with expats is the Billabong which is a bit more Touristy with beers starting at VND35k. They have a Happy Hour between 17:00-19:00 where you get 2 draft Larues for VND35k.

I preferred the Virtigo Bar (another favourite with expats) which has a Happy Hour from 16:00-19:00 with Tigers going for VND20k.


THE BEACH:

The beach is one of the best in Vietnam. It stretched several kms.

Hi Da Nang Beach Hostel - Beach North Hi Da Nang Beach Hostel - Beach SouthThe beach front is not riddled with Tourist Restaurants, Bars, and Lounger / Umbrella Renters like Nha Trang is.


MONEY / PRICES / SHOPPING:

In the City, the shopping is good.

Minimarts: Large bottled water VND10k. Away from Tourist Areas this is VND5k.


GETTING AWAY:

As I previously mentioned, I was only in Da Nang so that I could get to Hoi An. The Hi Da Nang told me how to get to the local bus stop (which was about a 800m walk up the road). From there, I caught a local bus to Hoi An (about 25Kms and a 30-40 minutes ride).

The busses pass every 10-15 minutes. The cost is VND30k – but they charged me an extra VND20k for my suitcase.


CONCLUSION:

Da Nang was a pleasant surprise in more ways than one.

I struck lucky with my room, I found a pleasant area to stay in, I found a pleasant city, I found a nice beach, I met nice people, and my hosts were lovely.

I didn’t see Da Nang at its best. I was there whilst it was still raining – but it didn’t matter. In good, sunny weather it would be even more charming.

Da Nang is a MUST SEE location if you are coming to Vietnam.


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