Da Nang has been on my radar for at least 2 years when many of the nomad community started talking about it. I passed by Da Nang in 2015 during my south-half Vietnam trip (Saigon - Cần Thơ - Phú Quốc - Nha Trang - Hội An - Huế). At first I was wondering what’s good about it, since it looks quite like any other Vietnamese town. As soon as my stay in Bangkok ended, instead of staying at expensive and less interesting city of KL, I decided to book a ticket, ending a 2 year wait.
The airport is too close to town, I walked just 2km (around 30 min) to my first hostel deep in town center. At 5.30pm the sky’s already darken. By 6pm, it’s totally night. I didn’t remember about this on my earlier trip to Saigon in 2012 and 2015 mainly because I think I was too overwhelmed with new environment. In Hoi An on 2015, I arrive at 5am and it’s already looks like 7am.
What this means for Vietnamese is if they open at 9am to 5pm they’re starting business so late into the day, relative to Singapore and Malaysia. More so in Thailand. That’s how Malaysia decided to shift its timezone to use the easternmost of the country so they will start business earlier.
My first hostel (Danang Tomodachi) was deep in local area, which is also the town-center. They have bed curtain but shower water pressure was bad.
Since it’s quite close to anywhere, I didn’t rent motorbike. To find food as close as home, I just scan for the signage “com gà” (chicken rice). Definitely not adventurous when it comes to food.
I changed some of my dollars in the reception and luckily they gave good rate, which is one thing you might want to do properly. Some shops just round it to USD1 = 20,000vnd, vs current rate at 22,300 (currently at 22,700). For best rate, there’s one gold shop near Han market you should go to.
Local coffee shops have small table and chairs like the rest of the country so if you’re looking for typical cafe, you need to look around more. I found a very good place to work called Leevins Study, which is what the name suggest, for studying. All the chairs are facing the same direction towards view of the road. They have too good Saigon-style coffee, where I ended my caffeine-free streaks.
Da Nang has every kind of feature within its border. Long stretch of beach, wide bay, main river, overlooking hills, and the marble mountains.
Han River has at least 5 different bridges that links to the beach side. All of them are putting up lightworks trying to outcompete each other. Including Cầu Rồng (Dragon Bridge) which is the most outlandish of them all. It has head and tail of dragon and the whole structure looks like a continuous body. On weekend the dragon comes alive breathing fire and water, and the locals flock to see it. I did too.
Next day, I stayed a block away from the river promenade. While walking along, you can see three of the bridges and Sun Wheel, similar to London Eye. There’s a brightly-lit 3-storey shop where locals drink and enjoy view of the river. The promenade area is the more touristic parts of town.
Cham Museum is at the intersection of Cầu Rồng and promenade. I was interested in Champa kingdom history since my visit to Nha Trang. The whole south-part of Vietnam used to be settled by different kingdom before it died down and driven out. It was similar to Angkor civilisation, and part of them fled to Cambodia and Terengganu, Malaysia.
The east-side of the Han river seems more recent where much of the development can been seen. The artery roads are wider and less crowded. I stayed 3-night at one of the nicest hostel I’ve been to. The receptionist girl took me to eat at a local shop and we had long chat.
There is one huge cruise ship docking here, but it’s not what I thought it is. Turns out it’s a seafood restaurant. Except around the non-functional marina pier, not much nice shops can be reached by walking, so biking might be a better idea.
While it’s been few days here, I haven’t visited the beach side, as I wanted to save it for the rest of my stay. I booked a rather new hostel in area close the beachfront where American soldier landed during the war. I didn’t realized November was low season so I got the dorm room all for myself.
There’s one war-themed cafe nearby where it was an old building, full of antique unfurnished items as decor. Another coffee shop has recognisable mural from Penang painted on the wall. There’s still no sign of western nightlife around.
From Work Hard Anywhere I can see a neighborhood with most concentration of working place and turns out it was the same area I was planning to stay last. An Thuong is the place where you can find few bars and pubs that opens late and has some kind of night life.