Saturday, September 24, 2016

[TRAVEL] 4D3N Itinerary in Da Nang City, Vietnam

Xin Chào! A big Hello in Vietnamese to you guys! 

My recent vacation to Vietnam has been really fruitful as I manage to visit quite a number of popular and new attractions in Da Nang. If you think Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi are the only cities in Vietnam which you can visit, then you are wrong.

Da Nang is the third largest city in Vietnam located on the coast of the Eastern Sea. It is famed for its amazing structures such as old pagodas and French colonial buildings, as well as natural beauties such as beaches, mountains and national parks. 

While you can spend 2-3 days at the neighbouring tourist attractions in the outskirt area of Da Nang such as Ba Na Hills and Hoi An, I’d recommend you to stay at least 1-2 days at the town centre of Da Nang because there are plenty of landmarks / hot tourist spots that you must not miss here.

[ITINERARY] What You Can Do in Da Nang City

❤ Arrival at Da Nang
❤ Marble Mountain
❤ Linh Ung Pagoda

❤ Street food hunt / local restaurant visit  
❤ Cao Dai Temple

❤ Dinner at local restaurant / street stalls
❤  Han River Cruise (Dinner is optional)
❤  Dragon Bridge
❤  Chill at the bar / coffee shops

Full-day visit to Ba Na Hills French Village 
Read about my experience at Ba Na Hills: HERE

Full-day visit to Hoi An Ancient City 
Read about my experience at Hoi An: HERE

❤ Visit the old capital, Hue (half day)
❤ Bid goodbye to Da Nang!

Weather Check

Highest temperature: 28-30 degree Celsius in June, July and August.
Lowest temperature: 18-23 degree Celsius in December, January and February.

Our trip to Da Nang falls in the month of warm September. 
The level of heat is no joke, it can be way hotter than in Malaysia!

How To Get To Da Nang?

AirAsia is now flying from Kuala Lumpur (KUL) to Da Nang (DAD) 4 times a week (2 hours 35 minutes flight)-- Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Fly-Thru connections to Da Nang are also available for guests flying from Melbourne, Gold Coast, Sydney, Jakarta, Guangzhou and Auckland. 

It was our first day in Da Nang, so the morning was spent in the flight and for hotel check-in. We were running late at the airport but luckily the check-in process was super speedy with AirAsia Self Check-In Kiosk. We just scanned the confirmation email and passport using the machine, then managed to get our boarding passes and baggage tags immediately (maximum 2 tags per person).

Our 2-hours-35-minutes flight from KLIA2 to Danang International Airport was complete with AirAsia Big Breakfast, coffee and 3sixty travel magazine. Creamy egg frittata, grilled chicken patty, warm roasted cherry tomatoes and baked beans served in a box, were probably the best way to start the day on a plane.

Traveling Tips: Get a local SIM Card upon landing!

The first thing we did upon landing was to get a local SIM car. The best offer we got was 4GB data from Vinaphone telco at only VND 120,000 (USD $6). 4GB was more than enough for my 4D3N trip.

Accommodation in Da Nang
Serene Hotel (4-star)
274 Vo Nguyen Giap Street, 
My An Ward, Ngu Hanh Son District, 
Danang City, Vietnam.
Contact: +84 5113 987 666
Mobile: 0911 696 168 

Since Da Nang is a coastal city located along the coastline of Southern Asia Sea, there are many lodging options by the beach. We choose the 4-star Serene Hotel because it has an outdoor pool (Open from 8am to 10pm) and picturesque views of Da Nang’s blissfully tropical coastline. Location is superb as the famous My Khe Beach is sitting right in front of the hotel.

Our Superior Room, the most basic type of room in the hotel, is so spacious that it can easily fit 3-4 pax. Amenities are basic, but sufficient for me as long as the WiFi connection is strong. Buffet breakfast is included in the room package, so I’d call it a great stay there.

Lunch at Mi Quang Ech

The first thing to explore is FOOD! Local food options are everywhere, such as the infamous Banh Mi, Banh Xeo and Pho. To experience eating like a local, we go for the popular Mi Quảng in town.

Mi Quang (廣麵) Noodle - Special (VND 59,000 / USD $3)

Mi Quảng is a bowl of flat rice noodles soup (Similar to Chinese’ Chee Cheong Fun, but thicker and firmer)—usually pork-based savoury broth with slight sweetness of Vietnamese fish sauce-- accompanied with fresh herbs, sesame rice crackers, roasted peanuts.

Ours is an extra-large portion for sharing, as it consists of two different broths—One is Chicken, another is a mix of Pork, Shrimp and Frog. At only USD $3, It can easily feed 2-3 persons, whereas a normal bowl for individual serving is less than USD $1!

Another item I like is the Fresh Vietnamese Spring Rolls with slices of pork filing— All you need is to get a slice of transparent spring roll skin, add on fresh herbs and pork slices, plus a dollop of fish sauce. Roll it up and enjoy the savoury crunch. Delicious!

Other local flavours that you should try are the Vietnamese Milk Coffee, Corn Milk (VND 15,000 / USD $0.70) and Pork Roll (VND 39,000 / USD $1.70).

Marble Mountains
Entrance Fee: VND 15,000 per pax (USD $0.70 / RM3)

After lunch, we are all fueled up for a short hike at the legendary Marble Mountains (Ngũ Hành Son) — “a beautiful landscape of the southern heaven and earth. Just off the China Beach coastal road, the Marble Mountains consist of 5 craggy marble outcrops topped with pagodas. Each mountain is named after the natural element it represents: Water, Wood, Fire, Metal and Earth.

Traveling Tips: If you notice in the itinerary, I put Marble Mountain as an activity in the morning because it is cooler and has lesser crowd. Be early (around 7am) if you want to enjoy the breeze. Don’t forget sunblock, umbrella and water too.

There is a ticketing counter on the ground level, and upon entering, you can use the
Thang May Elevator to reach the middle of the mountain (where the “hiking” begins).

The moment we went up the evelator, we are totally blown by the beautiful scenery beneath our feet. The beautiful view of colorful village surrounded by hills kinda reminds me of Gam Cheon Village in Busan, Korea.

Well, it is not really “hiking” that we are talking about. Here all the pathways / stairways are well-constructed for public use. Just follow the crowd and you’ll be able to enjoy the spectacular sights of Buddhist and Confucian shrines to be seen around the mountain such as Tam Thai Pagoda and Van Thong Cave, a limestone cave where God statutes are housed.

Traveling Tips: Remember to wear appropriate shoes as the roads can be slippery after rain.

As Buddhism is the official religion of the country, this culture-rich attraction reminds me of the Angkor Wat Complex in Siem Reap, Cambodia which I visited last year. 

The Marble Mountain also allows you to reach Linh Ung Pagoda where Vietnam's largest Guan Yin Buddha is standing boldly overlooking the vast blue sea. Unfortunately the rain stops us from going any further into exploring the entire cluster of mountains.

Overall, it is indeed a great workout for us while being serenaded with the beauty of mountains, Buddhist architecture and lush greenery. Good time passes without us realizing, and then it’s time for dinner.

Dinner at San Ho Cafe and Restaurant
Nhà hàng San Hô Đà Nẵng 
Lô 12-13 Hoàng Sa, Sơn Trà, 
Đà Nẵng, Vietnam.
Contact: +84 511 3938 998 
Business Hours: 7am - 10pm

Our evening feast is spent at San Hu where we have plenty of local delicacies which are very close to the taste of Chinese food—Stuffed squid with minced meat, fried fish fillets with sweet sour sauce, local beers. The dishes seem simple, but truly homey and satisfying for us. And the local beer tastes milder and smoother there too.

Evening Stroll along Han River / Dragon Bridge

While exploring Da Nang town centre, you would probably pass by the Dragon Bridge several times as the 6-lane bridge crosses the Han River and links all the major areas in Da Nang City. But don’t forget to get down and take a closer look at the real, fire-breathing dragon especially in the evening when it is illuminated with thousands of colorful LED lights, making the city livelier at night.

The best part is, this 666-meter-long (2,185 feet) dragon-shaped bridge that breathes fire and spouts water every Saturday and Sunday night at 9pm. I am surprised to see thousands of people gathering along the river banks area—some are catching Pokemons, while others are admiring the beauty of the dazzling light reflection on the surface of the river.

Cộng Cà Phê: Cafehopping in Vietnam
Cộng Cà Phê
98-96, Bạch Đằng, Tp Đà Nẵng, Vietnam.

Just by the riverbank, we spot plenty of hipster coffee places, bars and pubs along the street. This area seems to be the tourists’ favourite spot to hang out at night, and of course we don’t want to miss the fun too. Cộng Cà Phê is one of the largest chain cafes there (like our Starbucks in Malaysia), known for its nostalgic ambiance and good Vietnamese coffee. 

Our cravings for Vietnamese coffee brings us to Cong Café, a two-storey coffee shop beautifully adorned with paraphernalia from the yesteryear. I really love the rustic vibes here which make every nook and corner of the cafe so picture worthy!  I can easily stay there till 12 midnight (the shop closes at 12) with a bunch of friends who happen to be coffee lovers too. 

Coffee with Condenced Milk @ VND 35,000 (USD $1.60)

There goes the end of my first day in Da Nang (Second, third and forth day are in separate blog posts)
Special thanks to AirAsia and Da Nang Tourism Board for the amazing trip!

1. From beaches to mountains and holy places, Da Nang has everything covered under your feet. Perfect for family, friends and couples getaway! Good food and local coffee are plus points for a perfect vacation in Da Nang.  
2. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for a minimum of 4 days in Da Nang to explore the neighbouring towns / attractions:
                 Ba Na Hills French Village
             ❤     Hoi An Ancient City

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