We have now been staying a little over a weekend in Da Nang, Vietnam. There are some major differences comparing to Thailand which are easy to notice even in just a short period of stay in Da Nang.
First of all, traffic is a way crazier here. Ok, in Vietnam people are driving on the right side of the road like usually in the Western world. Moreover, the similarities end there. Also, they seem to have weird style when coming to a crossroad: Everyone is accelerating instead of braking with their horns on. That’s why it’s more than important to watch our everything, every time when driving around the streets of Da Nang and Vietnam. With that being said, Da Nang is the third largest town in Vietnam after capital Hanoi and the biggest city of Vietnam, Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City).
People of Vietnam are exceptionally friendly
Second, people are extraordinarily nice and polite here which seems to be normal in Vietnam all in all. Even though they might not speak English more than “Hello” or “Thank you” catchphrases, they will greet you when walking on the street with a big smile on their faces. That seems to be the case with all the people. Only exceptions we have had with that during the weekend have been with motorbike parkers and some salespersons.
In addition, Vietnam is generally a little bit cheaper than Thailand. Food in restaurants cost approximately the same amount in Da Nang than in Chiang Mai. I have to mention at this point that food is way more delicious in Thailand than in Vietnam though. But if you go to local supermarkets (which are very difficult to locate by the way), you can find there super cheap supplies and groceries.
The comparison of the supermarkets in Thailand is significant and to the Finland beyond belief.
Finally, because Vietnam is a communist country, the state controls almost everything. The government provides people taxis, phone operators, television channels, food, banks, almost anything you can just imagine. In free market economy, there are private businesses offering those things with supply and demand controlling the prices, for example in Thailand. In Vietnam, the state controls the prices and will keep them low in order to enable poor folks to buy them. Vietnam is more undeveloped and poorer nation than Thailand, and unfortunately, it’s quite an easy to notice.
As far as I know, the Internet isn’t controlled that strict like in China for instance and you can access websites without restrictions.
Okay, you have heard enough about the comparison of Vietnam to the others. Let’s dive into our first weekend in Vietnam!
Arriving at Da Nang, Vietnam
We arrived at Da Nang late Thursday evening after flying from Bangkok via Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City). We grabbed a cheap Vinasun (white) taxi from the airport to our Miami Beach Hotel (corny, isn’t it). The journey from the airport to our hotel was approximately 6 kilometers and it cost $4 (with extra airport pickup fee included). We went to sleep almost straight because traveling is always a bit exhausting even if it would be just 7 hours or so, isn’t it?
On Friday 9th of December, we began our day by working few hours before heading to the sandy beach first time since Phuket on March, 9 months ago. The waves were pretty effervescent so we didn’t go swimming straight away. Just walked along the beach and enjoyed warm sea water as well as the heating sun. The weather was perfect, about 25 degrees so it wasn’t too hot to spend time outside.
After walking three hours around the city we went back to hotel working. At the evening we grabbed a late, famous Vietnamese pho soup dinner.
Caught tiny flu…
On Saturday, we had the plan to rent a motorbike in order to visit famous tourist attractions. Instead of that, I got little flu during the Friday night (might be both aircon and sweaty walking or both together) so we changed the plan to Sunday.
We did rent a scooter anyway but instead of driving to the famous tourist places a bit further away, we just rode around the city to make it more familiar for us.
There are many beautiful bridges in Da Nang. One of those bridges is called Dragon Bridge. In the Saturday and Sundays evenings at 9pm, it will spit fire for few minutes. That is a must see event!
After seeings the spectacular fire spitting, we decide to wake up early on Sunday in order to go and see the Lady Buddha and Monkey Mountains before returning the motorbike. These were the tourist attractions we planned to see on Saturday in the first place.
Showery motorbike trip in Da Nang
On Sunday, we hit the road at 7.30am in a light drizzle. We put ponchos on us and drove approximately 10 kilometers to the Lady Buddha. It was a pleasant change to see female buddha this time. Usually, all of the huge statues are male Buddhists.
Furthermore, after visiting the statue, we began to climb with our scooter quite a steep road towards Monkey Mountain viewpoint. At the same time, the rain started to get heavier and heavier. When we got on the top of the mountain, we barely could see 10 meters in front of us. This most definitely didn’t make good for the little flu! We somehow managed to get to the viewpoint but saw nothing else but clouds. After getting down from the Monkey Mountain (didn’t see any monkeys either), we drove back to the hotel to change our soaking wet clothes before grabbing a brunch.
Quick visit at Marble Mountains
In addition, because we had motorbike still few more hours with us before it had to be returned, I decided to ride to the Marbling Mountains. It is one the most popular tourist spots in Da Nang. Wife didn’t want to join me and I can’t blame her because the weather was wretched, to be honest. Marbling Mountains are locating 6 kilometers South of our Miami Beach hotel, in front of the Non Nuoc beach.
Even though the mountains looked astonishing out, I didn’t want to go there by myself. So I was thinking maybe we would give it a second shot at one day when the Sun is shining again. I felt pretty exhausted as well so I returned motorbike two hours before the deadline and joined wife for an afternoon nap.
During the Sunday evening, we went for round two of Dragon Bridge fire spitting. We have to admit that it wasn’t as good as on Saturday. It didn’t last that long as well. Nevertheless, we got some great video footage from a different perspective! After seeing the fire spitting, we walked through the light rain to Universal 2 Sports Pub nearby in order to see Manchester United vs Tottenham Premier League game.
Our night ended with low-cost taxi journey from downtown Da Nang to Miami Beach Hotel at midnight.
We had booked a hotel from Hoi An from Monday to Thursday to see and visit this beautiful, picturesque town about 30 kilometers to the south of Da Nang, It is also mentioned to be a good place for digital nomads in online discussions. That’s one important reason to go and see the village.
Also, after Hoi An, we have planned to stay one more day in Da Nang before going to Hue (one hour away at the north side of Da Nang) for a couple of days. Then it’s time to take a night train to the South Vietnam for spending Christmas and New Years with in-laws. But we will see how it goes – our plans are not carved in stone!
In the next blog post, I’ll guide you through of our visit in the cozy little town called Hoi An.