Beach, Sun, and Mountains – Two Days in Da Nang

Beach, Sun, and Mountains – Two Days in Da Nang

Beach, Sun, and Mountains – Two Days in Da Nang

I’ve heard many stories about the coastal city Da Nang… but never did I manage to pay a visit. I wanted to change that, so I took a flight from Hanoi to Da Nang during my last stay in Vietnam.

Arriving in Da Nang

National flights in Asia are relatively cheap, so you can go from Hanoi or Saigon to any airport for maximum 60 EUR. The most common carrieres are Jetstar Airlines and VietJetAir.

I traveled with both airlines already and didn’t have a good experience with VietJetAir.

Click if you want to read my short review:

My experience with VietJetAir

Sadly, I did not receive a confirmation mail after booking my flight and I could not do what I always do – take a screenshot. So I had no booking code and no proof for booking. Nevertheless, I did not expect this much trouble. At the airport it was possible to find my booking, but the would not certify that I had booked a return flight as well. So, when I arrived in Vietnam, I had to book an additional flight since I didn’t have proof for my departure. Therefore, I do not want to fly with VietJetAir again if not absolutely necessary.

If you don’t want to fly, you can take a bus as well. There are night busses where you can sleep comfortably. However, I have to warn you. Long bus trips may be dangerous in Vietnam. I don’t know if it’s because of the terrible roads or the ruthless drivers or even the tired bus drivers, but there are far too many accidents on long distance bus trips. I only did one of those trips and that took 7 hours from Saigon to Da Lat.

As a last alternative I want to mention driving by bike. Vietnam is famous for it’s many travelers that bought a bike and took across the country. Which is of course also dangerous, but nevertheless popular.

 

Accomodation in Da Nang

Normally, I do House Sitting* or I rent an Airbnb*, in order to live like the locals. In Da Nang, however, I booked a hotel for a change, since I was travelling with a non-nomad friend. We chose the Aria Hotel, in the second row to the beach and including sea view from the rooftop.

I was impressed by the kindness of the personnel. They tried to fulfill our every wish.

The room was a little small, even though we already booked a bigger type. Apart from that it was nice and also the bathroom was small but cute. Most interesting was a curtain in the bathroom, that allowed opening or shading a window directed towards the bedroom. A modern trend, apparently.

The location was ideal – second row from the sea and you can walk to the beach in only a few minutes. The beach is very inviting and offers pleasant walks. Directly at the beach you can find numerous restaurants and hotels with rooftops, if you want to enjoy the view.

 

What can you do in Da Nang?

I have to admit that I was drawn to a place outside of Da Nang. I wanted to see a bridge, that is carried by a gigantic pair of hands. I had seen them quite often on Instagram and I knew, this is the Must See in Da Nang. In the hotel, we made sure that we were going to the right place. Because the bridge is in the mountains and you cannot find the bridge on Google Maps. The staff told us, we were going to the right place and would need to pay 700.000 VND entry. We were irritated, as it is almost 30 EUR. We only wanted to see the bridge, nothing else, so we didn’t plan to pay any entry for anything else.

It took us almost an hour with a rented scooter, including a fuel brake. The drive was wonderful, through small villages, past rivers and streams and through the woods. Only at the end, the road started to go uphill. Once we reached our destination, we realized what the staff meant. The bridge is part of a theme park.

As we already drove this far… we just payed and went in.

SunWorld

We were supposed to take a cable car ride to the mountain top. Easier said than done. There are three cable car lines and the one we were supposed to take was closed. So we followed signs to find the next one, but somehow took a wrong turn and ended up taking escalator after escalator.

At some point, we finally reached the end and entered a gondola. I took photos like a maniac, especially excited by the glass floor! We went higher and higher and after 15 minutes, we reached the clouds. Everything became white and the atmosphere became rather mystic. We broke through the clouds and continued upwards.

The whole cable car ride took around thirty minutes. Once we reached the top, my world turned up side down. Is this… supposed to be Paris?  Clad in winter decorations, we could see baroque churches and the Moulin Rouge. It felt like we’re in the wrong place. And also the only westerners around. 

We took a walk through the park, looking for attractions but had to admit, that there are none – except one. A summer toboggan run. So we went there and stood in line. And waited. And waited. And waited. And after an hour, we had moved 10m. We gave up.

Only one thing left to do – looking for the bridge with the hands. For this, we had to take another cable car. The first one, that we were supposed to take in the beginning and that was out of order, would have stopped half way up the mountain and let us see the bridge straight away.

As we descended through the clouds, we could see the part of the park, where the bridge is. Our search is over. Yes, it’s beautiful! But… do you have to pay 700.000 VND enty? I dare to say ‘no’.

We took a last ride with the cable car and as a farewell gift we had the most beautiful view of the day, as the sun descended and covered the sky in myriads of colors.

If you pay attention, you can spot waterfalls running between the hills.

Down at the entrance / exit we took a walk through the beautiful Chinese Gardens of the park.

As we left the park, the sun disappeared. In the dusk, we made our way back to the hotel.

 

Lady Buddha at the Linh Ung Pagoda

The next day, we decided to take a trip on a scooter bike along the coast. From the beach, you can already see the female buddha statue on the other side of the bay. And Google Maps said, it was easily reachable via bike. Actually, it is a whole peninsula, named Son Tra.

To get there it took us around 30 minutes and once we left the beachfront, we drove upwards. Jungle to the left, seaside to the right. Beautiful!

There are several stops on the way that invite you to take a break and just enjoy the beautiful view. We only had limited time till our plane to Saigon took off, so we could only take short stops. And we also wanted to visit the cathedral and the dragon bridge. 

 

The Cathedral

The cathedral in the heart of Da Nang was built in 1923 by the french priest Louis Vallet. Even though it is not as bright as her sister church in Saigon, it is still famous for its pink color (here you can see one of my pictures of the Cathedrale in Saigon on Instagram). You can see a rooster on top of the church, which also gave it the nickname “Con Ga Church” – Chicken Church.

 

The Dragon Bridge

The dragon bridge connects the city centre of Da Nang with the seafront. it is 666 meters long and has 6 lanes. Definitely worth a visit and if you stay over the weekend, you can watch it breath fire every saturday and sunday from 9pm.

 

Hoi An

There wasn’t enough time for a visit in Hoi An, but if you can fit it into your travel itinerary you should definitely go there and maybe even spend a few days! I only heard beautiful and romantic stories about Hoi An and even the drive should already be worth the trip.

Conclusion Da Nang

Since I only knew the major cities Saigon and Hanoi, Da Nang was a more than welcome change. The traffic is much less aggressive, there’s almost no honking, the ocean view is soothing and even vegetarians find a lot of good options there! Da Nang has a lot to offer and I will definitely come back and enjoy the city a little longer.

Have you ever been to Da Nang?

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The Saigon Guide for Digital Nomads

Saigon Guide for Digital Nomads

Live Like a Local

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Cu Chi Tunnels – Half Day Tour to Saigon’s Underground War Museum

Cu Chi Tunnels – Half Day Tour to Saigon’s Underground War Museum

Cu Chi Tunnels – Half Day Tour to Saigon’s Underground War Museum

On my last trip to Vietnam, I had several tourist highlights on my list. I booked a half-day tour to the Cu Chi tunnels for example. Up to this point, I had never concerned myself with this topic and it was about time to face it. The Vietnam War, or American War as they call it here, is a very prominent topic, especially in the south. On my day trip to the Mekong Delta, I was surprised how often it was mentioned. But I already realized in Ho Chi Minh how important the topic is, as i.e. the most popular museum in town is the War Remnants Museum. So I booked a half-day tour to the Cu Chi Tunnels at my hotel. The price of 314.000 VND (almost 12 EUR) included the drive to the tunnels, as well as the entry and guided tour of about 110.000 VND. On the premises, you also get a snack and tea. 

 

Cu Chi – An Idyllic Retreat Becomes a War Zone

Cu Chi was a place of summer and vacation for the Saigonese. On the weekends and during school holidays, families gathered here and spent their time in the fields, in the woods or at the lakeside. This ended as soon as the Vietnam War broke out. What many don’t know is that not only the guerrilla soldiers hid in the tunnels, whose entrances were concealed in the woods underneath leaves and twigs. But also the thousands of inhabitants of Cu Chi and the surrounding area. They built a system of tunnels and took the people underground to safety. The underground city contained sleeping areas, storage areas, medical stations, and even a kitchen area, to continue their lives underground.

 

Cu Chi Tunnels – The Half-Day Tour

To start the tour, I got picked up at my hotel. With a minibus and 20 other travelers, we went to the northwest. The ride took about 90 minutes. After an hour we made a stop and had a look at a workshop for decorative items, manufactured and painted by handicapped people. Parts of the different patterns are made with mosaic techniques, using broken egg shells. The small pieces are placed in a way that they create patterns and figures. Afterwards, they get painted. lacquered and polished. Fascinating! And everything by hand! After another half an hour of driving, we came to the entrance of the Cu Chi area. Our guide paid for us as a group, so we didn’t have to wait in line. My ticket was included already, but others had to pay for their tickets at this point. In the end, those travelers paid even less in total. Only 260.000 VND. Afterwards, we were led to a forest area. In a clear and open spot, we stopped and before we even had a chance to take in the surroundings, our guide opened an undetectable hole in the ground that was hidden by leaves. A staff member immediately took over and showed its purpose – it has been a hiding spot for guerrilla soldiers. 

Cu Chi Tunnels

Please excuse the blurred photo. The guide was so quick in going down that hole that I didn’t even have time to adjust my camera correctly! I was surprised by how people back then could remember those hidden entry spots, but they obviously had no other choice. Humans are really capable of extraordinary feats when it comes to life and death. We went on, past inconspicuous hills that were only given away to hide much more beneath them by the small ventilation holes on the outside.

Cu Chi Tunnels

Hidden by leaves, these holes were undetectable. An ingenious system also kept off snakes, rats or rain. By putting spices and chilies in the holes, bloodhounds were deterred from finding them. Next stop was the traps. We were told they were also meant only as deterrents, more than killing the enemy in masses. Several contraptions that reminded me of Indiana Jones were supposed to skewer the US soldiers.

Cu Chi Tunnels

While we listened to the explanations of the different traps, we could hear the sound of gunshots growing closer. I already knew what awaited us. A shooting range. In this safe area you could try out the actual rifles that were used during the Vietnam War for 600.000 VND (around 27 EUR) per magazine and the line was alarmingly long.

I neither shot one of the rifles nor did I get closer to take a photo. But I guess there are things that don’t need to be photographed. So we waited, accompanied by the relentless gun sound until the tour continued. The next highlight followed: we were allowed to enter one of the tunnels! Originally it was much smaller, but for touristic purposes, they had widened it, so tourists can pass through. During the war, people were crawling on their bellies through the tunnels. For me personally, it was already claustrophobic enough. You could exit the tunnel every 20 meters, but I walked the whole 100 meters. If you can actually call it walking. 

Cu Chi Tunnels

Cu Chi Tunnels

I am not claustrophobic but the thought of being trapped in one of the tunnels was terrifying. I was more than happy to leave the moist and hot tunnels after what felt like an eternity. Next, we got a little “snack”… but not just any snack. Of course, it was tapioca root. The people of Cu Chi survived on these roots for days on end. The roots and tea were even prepared in an underground kitchen, just like the guerrilla soldiers used to do it. The last part of the tour was a documentary about the backgrounds and history of the area.


Cu Chi Tunnels

This marked the end of the half-day trip and we went back to Ho Chi Minh City. We arrived around 7 pm and got dropped off at the Benh Thanh Food Street. 

Cu Chi Tunnel – Conclusion

For me, this is a really uncomfortable topic. Personally, I don’t like to concern myself with war history – I admit that. However, as it is an important part of Vietnam’s history and culture, I think it is critical to at least get a basic understanding of it. Even if it’s only out of respect for the Vietnamese people. Hence, I’m glad I made this step and experienced it with my own eyes. 

The Saigon Guide for Digital Nomads

Saigon Guide for Digital Nomads

Live Like a Local

Are you searching for a cool spot for digital nomads in South East Asia? You should check out Saigon!

Subscribe to my newsletter so I can keep you posted about my life of travels and as a digital nomad! You will never miss a new blog post, a new ebook or where my next adventure is going to bring us. Because it’s never going to be boring!

VIETNAM

MEKONG DELTA

ASIEN

KOH CHANG

ASIEN

ANGKOR WAT