DA NANG TRAVEL GUIDE - WHAT TO DO IN DA NANG, VIETNAM

I did not expect to love Da Nang as much as I eventually did when I first came to the city, and to be completely honest, I was a bit skeptical, especially after reading tons of Vietnam trip stories on people's blogs where most of them told the world how bad their experience was, but again, let's say there are 7 billion people in the world, I might happen to stumble on reading the bad stories, and half of them (or possibly more) might have just the most amazing experience in Vietnam but chose not to write and show it off to the world, and I was totally on the pro side as my experience was a good one.

To be fair, I did join a media familirization trip, but opinion and experience remain my own. Everywhere you are in the world is filled with imperfection, and that's totally normal. I hated Da Nang's (Vietnam in general) weather as it was twice hotter than Jakarta on the time of my visit (and the experience made me appreciated the Jakarta weather better) but beyond that, Da Nang is a beautiful tourist destination not yet discovered by the world...and slightly underrated.
Da Nang was the more "resorty" part of Vietnam, or just like Indonesia's very own Bali, only less modern and touristy. At the moment, locals and Asia tourists still contribute the most income to the Da Nang travel industry and the local resorts, but I am hoping that in a few years more and more international tourists packing Da Nang. I hope this guide can help you in planning your trip to Da Nang or hopefully influence you to book your tickets directly right after reading this post! ENJOY *wink*
HOW TO GET TO DA NANG
Air Asia is currently the first and only airline which has the direct access from Kuala Lumpur (KLIA) to Da Nang International Airport (PS: Da Nang is Vietnam's fifth biggest city with the international airport becoming the third busiest in Vietnam).

Da Nang International Airport
CURRENCY AND EXCHANGE RATE
Da Nang is a part of Vietnam and the country's currency is Vietnamese Da Nang (VND). By September 12th 2016, 1 VND = IDR 0,6 and changing on a daily basis, visit this website for the exchange rate update.

WEATHER
Vietnam is located in South East Asia and being located in tropical region, the weather in general is hot and humid with the chance of rain. Vietnam's weather on 3-7 September 2016 ranged from 35-37 degree celcius with occasional mild and hard rain.
COMMUNICATION
When travelling to Vietnam and based on my experience, I directly went and purchase the mobile sim card from MAX SIM by Vinaphone and I got the 5 GB 3G mobile data for as cheap as VND 100.000 (IDR 70k/$4)
ACCOMMODATION
Accomodation in Da Nang is cheap to affordable in general with class ranging from hostels to five star resort. 

Average cost for:
Hostels in Da Nang: VND 130.000/night
Boutique hotels: VND 500.000/night
4&5-star hotels: VND 2.000.000/night

TRANSPORTATION
Vietnamese are big motorcycle drivers and based on my personal experience, bad drivers.

There's something about the structure of Da Nang city that reminds me of my home town Singkawang and same as Singkawang, motorcycle is probably the most convenient way to explore the city. I didn't see a lot of public transportations in Da Nang other than taxi, and Uber is not available here.
Da Nang (Vietnam) green taxi
Unfortunately, Da Nang taxi drivers are not the most honest. Me and my friends wanted to hang out at the well-known skybar and being a complete stranger to the city, we obviously opted for taxi and depended on it (and the Google map). We reached the place with the fare of VND 30.000, but when my friend gave the driver VND 300.000 (he thought he gave him VND 30.000), he only returned my friend VND 30.000 and wanted to take VND 270.000, luckily the kind hotel staff approached us and spoke to the driver whatever it was he was saying in Vietnamese and we got the proper VND 270.000 chance. It's not the money, it's the honesty and it's a bit disappointing - but trust me I don't really "stereotype" people, dishonest people are just everywhere in the world.

FOOD AND EATING OUT
Picture above: Mi Quang noodle from Bep Trang

First of all, let me just say this to you: VIETNAMESE FOOD IS BOMB! As an Indonesian myself, I feel like the characteristic of their food is quite similiar to Indonesian food where it's very rich in seasoning & variety, fragrant, some simple-some quite complex but altogether delicious! Finding good food was barely a chore and it's everywhere. While Hoi An might has more street food options, it doesn't mean that it's hard to find good food in Da Nang. Eating out in Da Nang is incredibly cheap, just like how Vietnam food cost in general, expect to pay as cheap as VND 20.000 for a bowl of Bo Pho in local markets to VND 150.000 for a fulfilling dinner for two at local eateries. It's definitely below Jakarta price standard.
As an avid fan of coffee, Vietnamese coffee (Ca Phe Sua Da) is definitely one of the highlights of my trip, just when I thought Monviet creates a very-very good one, the authentic one was beyond that! The only downside was that the portion was very little, I mean like 1/4 glass little, but that's a good excuse to have 3-4 of that everyday like I did, and now I am missing it so bad.

Another thing that I love about Vietnam cafe scene is the fact that their definition of "chill out" is anti-mainstream. They don't really have a lot of sit down fancy cafes like we have here in Jakarta, and for them to sit outside with short plastic chairs and tables is probably more than enough. I was blown away with what I noticed, in a very good way.
MONEY SAVING TIPS
Eat at the local markets/street food vendors
I suggest exploring the Da Nang night food scene as they have quite extensive local food options, and they're VERY cheap, the Pho Bo below was about VND 35.000/bowl (IDR 24,5k/$1.8) and it came in this relatively huge portion with slices of beef and sweet-savory soup, and generous vegetable condiments. One piece of fried cakwe (Chinese donuts) go for as cheap as VND 5.000 (IDR 3000/30 cent)
Maximize the usage of free WiFi
To my surprise (and probably everyone's), Da Nang is highly connected to public WiFi so if you're not planning to purchase any simcard here you can just depend your social media life to the public internet.

Skip the expensive bars and enjoy the beach!
Drinking in Da Nang is far from expensive, but if you really are on budget but still wanna have fun, go grab the beers at the local supermarket and drink on the beach while tanning. Da Nang has such beautiful clean beach surrounding the town.
WHAT TO CHECK OUT IN DA NANG CITY
Out of the 4 days being in Da Nang city, I enjoyed some planned activities with all of them being my first experience being and doing things, and here I am sharing it to you guys (list sorted in alphabetical order).
Asia Park
Asia Park is Da Nang's largest theme park and famous for its Sun Wheel and gorgeous night scene <3
photo by Qaedi Fuadillah (qaedif.wordpress.com)
Ba Na Hills
Ba Na Hills is just like the Kota Bunga or Puncak of Jakarta where it's uphill with cooler-fresher air to breathe and a lot of green mountain and hills surrounding the area. Ba Na Hills is a spacious mountain resort accessible with cable cars where local and international tourists can go to spend a day trip to visit some of their famous sites such as the Le Jardin D'Amour or Love Garden, French Village, Wax Museum or stay overnight at the fancy and gorgeous Mercure Ba Na Hills at French Village - keep scrolling for the brief description on each sites.
Da Nang Dragon Bridge
The Dragon bridge is the city's main icon and people can enjoy the dragon spitfire action which occurs every Sunday 9 PM local time, do come early as the bridge closes at 8:30 PM!
photo by Qaedi Fuadillah (qaedif.wordpress.com)
French Village (read my overnight experience in French Village -> HERE)
French Village is a gorgeous and highly photogenic man-made village located at Ba Na Hills and its rising fame is the reason why it's packed with tourists strolling and taking pictures everywhere. I was fortunate to experience the village on its mistiest day and the brightest day! Both were just equally beautiful and I highly recommend making a stop here on your Ba Na Hills day trip (I honestly will recommend you to stay overnight here!), for details of my glorious days at French Village, read here.
Morning slide with a beautiful backdrop
Hot Spring Than Tai Da Nang
There is a very popular hot spring and pool site where visitors are more than welcome to experience the natural Mountain spring water - the water was so fresh that you can drink it (but not recommended) - there's also a Japanese onsen site installed at the complex so you can definitely experience pretty much the same onsen experience like you probably had in Japan before. The hot spring also accomodates a luxurious family hotel if you're planning to stay overnight with large hand-carve marble bathtub installed at each room. Rate for the hotel room starts from $65-$130 per night!
Le Jardin D'Amour
More of Le Jardin D'Amour -> HERE
The Marble Mountains (Ngu Hanh Son)
Opening hours: 7 AM-5:30 PM
The Marble Mountains or Ngu Hanh Son is a cluster of five marble and limestone hills in the south of Da Nang, the marble mountains have several tunnels and caves inside it with Buddhist sanctuaries located inside. It's also the perfect destination to go pamper your eyes and check out the a glimpse of Da Nang city's landscape and colorful locals houses, it's almost like Busan but not significant!
You can also find the Linh Ung pagoda and these dragon statues around the Marble Mountains complex
Shop for silk scarfs or Vietnamese farmer hats (Non La) as souvenirs!
Vietnam is a country which is quite popular as silk producer, you can easily find silk scarfs at local markets and purchase them as souvenirs, as for the guys, if you're not so big with scarfs, you can definitely purchase the Vietnamese farmer hats which available in various sizes as cute souvenirs to take home.
Vietnamese coffee (ca phe sua da)
Vietnamese coffee is my holy water here in Da Nang, I literally constantly craved for it and drank up to 4 glasses a day! Something about Vietnamese coffee that was really creamy, rich without being too overwhelming, fragrant and chocolate-caramel infused sweetness that blended extremely well with the condensed milk. It's a total must try!
Visit Hoi An
Hoi An is a city which I would love to declare as the foodier (I know that's not even a word) part of Vietnam and food wise, perfect for me! The city which has been noted as one of UNESCO's World Heritage Site since 1999 is only more or less 1 hour drive from Da Nang and there are tons of street food vendors all day and night all over the city! The most famous tourist destination is probably the Ancient Town (entrance free VND 160.000 for international tourists) which generally is an old area of Vietnam which is now transformed as arrays of shops, cafes, restaurants, museums, historical sites divided by the river in the center. There is the full moon lantern festival happening annually and I believe it should be a wonderful scene to look (and capture, maybe?) as hundred of paper lantern go with the flow of the river. Nice.
Hoi An Ancient Town
The famous Mot Hoi An lotus herbal drink that I found accidentally while strolling the streets of Hoi An Ancient Town
This is the drink! (VND 10.000)
 Hoi An Roastery is a famous coffee shop located inside the Ancient Town and famous for its coffee beans and their coffee for sure.
Had dinner at this random restaurant that we discovered again when strolling the Ancient Town. They serve very good Vietnamese food, I wish I remember the name of the restaurant (will find out for sure!)
When in Hoi An, wake up early and have streetfood for breakfast and Banh Mi is perfect for the morning! One of the highly recommended banh mi seller here is Madam Khanh, short to say, it might be the best banh mi I've ever had so far, it's filled with generous topping, homemade sauce, special seasoning and all wrapped in this crunchy-fluffy banh mi! Another one that you need to try here in Madam Khanh is this special egg dish with sauce topping as a dipping mix to the plain bahn mi baguette! Crazy good, she really is the banh mi queen!

Madam Khanh Banh Mi Queen
115 Trần Cao Vân, tp. Hội An, Quảng Nam, Vietnam
Bun Bo Hue - beef soup with rice noodle and beef slices (VND 30.000/bowl and had this randomly at a stall near Madam Khanh)
Some part of Hoi An is fields and farms and here are some snapshot of the Hoi An "green" environment!
Vietnamese farmer hat (Non La)
- - -
Staying at Tune Hotel KLIA 2
I departed from Jakarta on September 3rd and stayed overnight at the simple and comfortable Tune Hotel KLIA 2 before catching the morning flight to Da Nang, if you have a little more budget to spend I think it's nice to invest on a little space to have a good night sleep (not to mention affordable rate!) and woke up fresh to catch your flight the next morning. The hotel was connected to the airport and barely 15 minutes walk from the arrival conveyor belt.
I think it's the longest guide that I've written so far, it took me 3 days to finish everything. I hope you had a good time reading it and have fun in Da Nang!

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