FRENCH VILLAGE & BA NA HILLS - DA NANG, VIETNAM11.39.00
Disclaimer: this post is going to be photo heavy, but you're gonna love them so keep on reading MWAHAHA!
I finally start writing my Vietnam travel diaries and it's been three days since I came back from my fun trip to Da Nang Vietnam with Air Asia (thank you very much!) and I have been getting nothing but super lack of sleep as I am buried with projects and deadlines! It's been a while since I remember having long undisturbed sleep and I need it badly at the moment (time for a short escape maybe?).
A ton of you has requested me to write the this Vietnam travel guide and story, particularly the French Village and Ba Na Hills, even up until today I still receive requests from you to post my Vietnam travel diaries ASAP and I was also glad that several of my Snapchat followers directly booked the tickets to Vietnam after they watched my snaps of the French Village and Ba Na Hills (I know I abuse my Snapchat with glorious amount of snaps here).
I think Vietnam is slightly underrated by the world, it might not be that glamorous country or ultra picturesque any way your head turns, but it's something beyond that. If you're a self-devoted foodie like me you're gonna love Vietnamese food (especially at Hoi An area where it's packed with street food), it's humble, cheap but extravagant on the flavors, such a freaking hidden gem! I am going to write more about the food on another post, and that's the Vietnam (Da Nang) travel guide that I am working on!
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Ba Na Hills was a 45-minute car ride distance from Da Nang and the location was rather isolated in a glance. If I can compare it to Jakarta, it's probably like the distance you take to Bogor but with the Puncak vibe where everything was greener, a little more uphill and quiet, chiller in terms of weather and fresher air all around! Ba Na Hills is located at the Truong Son Mountains at the west of Da Nang and according to Quan (the representative of the Da Nang tourism who were super helpful among the trip), the area was founded by the French colonials at 1919 and not until four years ago that investors jumped in, built and transformed mostly the whole thing. It's located 1487m above the ground and often referred as the "climate pearl" of Vietnam!
We stayed at Mercure Ba Na Hills French Village, but the judgemental bitch that I am was a bit shocked when I looked at the lobby and thought how simple it was before actually took back my words and found out that it was not actually the "lobby-lobby". Guests of the hotels will be escorted to the main lobby at French Village and the only way (and the best as well) is using THE CABLE CAR! Hotel guests were free of charge, people with height under 1 meter will be free of charge, while above 1.3 meter will be charged full price, half price in between. It was around 600.000 VND for return ride (around IDR 500k or $38)
Arriving at the D'amour Garden (or Le Jardin D'amour) at Ba Na Hills Mountain Resort to spend a little time before taking another cable car ride to the French Village. The whole area consist of 9 gardens: Love Garden, Mystery Garden, Legendary Garden, Memory Garden, Heaven Garden, Grape Garden, Thought Garden Suoi Mo Garden and Sacred Garden. Of course I did not go to all the gardens due to the limited time, but I went to the main ones.
BA NA HILLS JARDIN D'AMOUR
The Big Buddha as seen from distance <3
The Love Garden happened to be my favorite garden here, the area was filled with various beautiful and colorful fresh flowers and arranged accordingly to certain form and shapes almost Art Nouveau like. IT'S JUST GORGEOUS (as you can see from the pictures), and if my pictures can't do the justice, then you have to experience the beauty yourself, not to mention the perfect weather I've been raving on this entry simply added more excitement! It was actually starting to drizzle a bit but sometimes you just have to dance in the rain and seize the moment.
Was I in Paris or what???
Another favorite of mine: LAVENDER GARDEN! Took bunch of self-portraits here and they're taken by Air Asia official photographer: Arief, who has been working for the company for almost a decade! The highlight of the lavender park was the fact that it's located around the edge so you're so getting the gorgeous misty-mountain silhouette view and the floating cloud. Sitting around here was the real definition of tranquility, and that's probably one of the reasons why I didn't explore more of the gardens LOL!
Different angles of photo taking probably caused the lavender color to change (if you see my photos sometimes it's blu-ish and purple-ish), but it's actually more to the purple-ish color, it's LAVENDER so yeah. Wanted to edit the color but I guess the blue-ish ones also looks as pretty!
Meet my new friend, Abby, who I met during this trip. She's the food and travel writer for the Air Asia's Travel 3Sixty magazine.
Arief taking pictures of Jeff (sorry Jeff's blurry here LOL!)
Arief taking pictures of Jeff (sorry Jeff's blurry here LOL!)
BA NA WAX STATUE MUSEUM (Khu Trung Bay Tuong Sap)
Took another train ride to Ba Na Hills' wax museum (Ba Na Wax Statue Museum), besides wax museum, they also have Ba Na Fantasy Park and Furnicular, but due to the rainy weather and basically limited time, we skipped both and went to the wax museum instead.
You just couldn't compare this to Madame Tussaud wax museum as I think they're on a different level. Madame Tussauds makes better figure in terms of "look-a-like" and details, but generally they were quite nice and still looks like the original personalities, but not so much for Will and Kate (omg they're honestly fugly wtf), I was laughing at the figures that I actually forgot to took the pictures!
Lionel Messi & Michael Jordan
Lady Gaga & Marylin Monroe
Johnny Depp and Rowan Atkinson (his eyes were overly green)
Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa
Another cable car ride to French Village...
FRENCH VILLAGEI remember the thrilling-gasp that I made right after arriving at this GORGEOUS village and saw the scene! French Village was such a beautiful realistic mini village/town like area which consist of a square (where the fountain was), a church, shops, eateries and hotels, the architecture of the buildings was highly inspired by the European buildings which normally dominated with stone and wood. As someone who has been to Europe before, the vibe was clearly there and even more thanks to the perfect cool air. The whole time I was in French Village, I felt more like being in London in a good way.
French Village wasn't exactly spacious for a miniature town/village nor it's close to the Disneyland persona you're looking for, but that wasn't my main concern at all, I was genuinely happy to re-experience literally being in cooler surrounding after the last time being in Melbourne in February, and I love that just being here for two days successfully brought back my good London days memory. I JUST LOVE COLD COUNTRIES OK!!! I'd rather be in somewhere very cold rather than suffering in crazy hot area with my balls sweating!!!
Some pictures that I took before checking in to the hotel and lunch. Around 3 PM daily, there will be these people dressed in costumes waiting for you to take pictures with.
Because a prince deserves to stay at an awesome castle! YOU'RE LOOKING AT THE HOTEL THAT I STAYED AT: Mercure Ba Na Hills French Village.
Colorful car located outside the hotel building where you can freely take pictures with.
Lobby area of the hotel
Welcome drink! Don't normally comment much on welcome drinks but this one was super refreshing and sweet with dominant lemongrass flavor!
L'Etable restaurant from outside
They also had al-fresco area and guests were more than welcome to eat outside (like we did yay!)
The restaurant was quite spacious with seating capacity for over 100 people and minimalist-industrial design applied to the interior. The restaurant consist of two stories (didn't check out the second floor but I believe it would be just as awesome), had a set lunch of Vietnamese local cuisine made modern and everything was just delicious, the highlight for me had to be the baby cress salad with beef, it was so simple but so so good, it was the freshness of the ingredient that did all the talking! YUM.
Babycress Salad with Beef
PS: L'Etable made the best Vietnamese coffee I've had the entire freaking trip! I had at least 4 glasses of Vietnamese coffee everyday during the trip, and just like how I've always told you guys that coffee is more like a must-drink beverage in my life more than I found it beneficial for me (I can drink coffee at 2 AM and you'll find me asleep 5 minutes later)
Besides L'Etable at French Village, there are also some other restaurants spread in Ba Na Hills such as: Hoi An (local Vietnamese cuisine), Doumer (mainly serving rice dishes), Morin (Asian-European restaurant), Kavkax (grilled dishes), Du Dome Beer Garden (diversified rice, hotpots and beers), Debay Bar, Kavkaz Vista restaurant (Russia buffet), Club Food-square (buffet with North-Central-South tastes), Le Jardin/Le Lavande restaurant, La Crique (Asian-European), Le Terroir (French cake buffet) and Cafe La Pensee (Italian cuisine).
It was a good lunch and a good chat with the PR and communication team of the hotels, we chatted mostly about the life in Vietnam and food. We finished the lunch and we were given 1.5 hour of free time to do whatever we wanted, but since we were technically above the sky and 1 km above the ground, we prefer exploring the "village" instead LOL.
It got mistier and the cloud it started to cover the whole village, but guess what? I love the moody vibe!
Looks like a Silent Hill/Harry Potter movie scene, mysterious yet sexy in the same time!
There are a lot of couples doing pre-wedding photoshoot there, if I were them I would definitely take advantage of the current situation as well, you got a beautiful backdrop and natural misty surrounding.
D R E A M Y
I initially thought that the church was just a building, but turned out you can actually go in and pray to Jesus. The interior details of the church was beautiful again with mainly European medieval-Victorian touch to it.
It gets more and more moody by night, the sky literally went rapidly dark in minutes
That day we had dinner at the hotel's buffet restaurant (also where people went to have breakfast the next day) and what I love about their buffet was the fact that they emphasized on serving Vietnamese cuisine rather than the international cuisine, well you can't just take the international cuisine away because they're definitely expecting international tourists to come, but me as a tourist there found it awesome that they had decent range of Vietnamese buffet cuisine such as the grilled meat (chicken, fish and pork), noodle soup, Vietnamese rice cake, rice dishes, fried noodle dishes and many more.
By the way a quick knowledge for everyone: "Ga" is chicken, "Bo" is beef, "Ca" is fish and "Lon" is pork.
Vietnamese are HUGE and I mean huge huge on vegetables and they're putting it in almost all of their food. I personally am such a big fan of their beansprouts, it's just pro and long just how I like it LOL!
Bun Bo Hue for dindin - rice noodle soup with beef. Remember what I told you: "Bo" is beef.
After dinner I proceed to go to bed and slept the night! Here's how my comfy room in Mercure Ba Na Hills French Village looked like, I love the maroon wall giving a little bit of romantic vibe (even though I slept alone *so sad*).
THE NEXT DAY WAS SUCH A BEAUTIFUL DAY! It was the third day of the trip but it was the first day where I actually experienced the blue Vietnam sky! It was so bright and again reminded me of the European spring light and situation which was clear and chill. The sky was almost cloudless and spotless and the direct sunlight just made the French Village the spotlight that it deserved. SO GORGEOUS!
It was a sun-shiny day and the perfect time for a quick slide ride in the morning!
Gosh this place makes me feel genuinely happy. You know one of those moments in your life when you have this happiness in your heart and when you look at the beautiful nature you're just grateful that you're in that moment. I mean I am grateful for my life everyday, but this was just an exceptional experience. I just like this kind of place and I don't always need to explain why.
Super sad that I didn't get the chance to go to the Linh Ung pagoda as I heard it's uber gorge, well next time.
NOW TO THE FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ON SNAPCHAT!
How to get to Da Nang?
Air Asia is the first and only airline which flew directly from Kuala Lumpur to Da Nang so yes, go for Air Asia from Jakarta (via KL transit) to Da Nang - daily flight at 10 AM
Then from Da Nang to Ba Na Hills?
I would suggest you book the daily tour. The only downside about the Ba Na Hills and French Village was that they were somehow more designed for day tour, even though they have hotels here but I found the crowd to slow down after 6 PM. Visitors can book the tours via Van phong Da Nang (93 Nguyen Van Linh street, Hai Chau district, Da Nang City - Vietnam) and hotline at +845113749888
The tour should cost around 900.000 VND (IDR 720k/$55) with excluded fees such as beverage, entrance ticket for Le Jardin d'Amour, Debay wine cellar and wax museum.
Family photo <3
OMG I AM SO BRINGING MY FAMILY HERE!!!
Thank you Air Asia for the uber fun trip, it's a trip that I would remember, the experience was just something new and refreshing! Special thanks to Eugene, Jeff and Arief as well!