Da Nang, Vietnam

The fifth largest city in Vietnam.  Being located on the coast of the South China Sea makes it a very important port city.   With it’s central location it is a great hub for transportation.   It’s a bustling city that is growing and changing all the time.   There’s plenty to do to stay busy here with the beach, shopping, food and my personal favorite- The Bridges!

I really hate it when people tell me not to visit a place.  Just because you didn’t like it, doesn’t mean I wont like it.

Da Nang is about an hour North of Hoi An where I had been working for the previous month.  There’s plenty of transportation leaving at all hours to get there from any of the surrounding cities.  I took a minivan that picked me up at my homestay and dropped me off basically smack dab in the center of Da Nang city.  When I first arrived I checked into my hostel and decided to head out to see the city.  I walked down to the Han River and walked along its shore admiring all nine of the different bridges.  The people of Da Nang are very proud of their bridges which add so much character to the city.  My personal favorite was the dragon bridge.  From the shore, at a distance it looks like a dragon stretching across the water

THE CITY OF BRIDGES

HAVE YOU EVER SEEN A PINK CATHEDRAL BEFORE?

I wandered back into the heart of the city and found a pink cathedral I had read about. I mostly just wanted a picture of a pink cathedral more than anything. It was easy to find and was swarming with tour groups of Chinese, making it nearly impossible to capture a good photo. I personally think it looks like it belongs in West Hollywood. Anyone else?

MARBLE MOUNTAIN

If you’re comfortable riding motorbikes, then I would highly suggest renting one in Da Nang to see the surrounding attractions.  If not, there’s always Grab.

Marble Mountin, also known as, the 5 elements mountains, is a cluster of 5 marble and limestone hills located about 15 minutes south of Da Nang city.   The 5 mountains are named after 5 elements; water, metal, fire, wood and earth.   All the different mountains have caves and tunnels leading throughout.  There are several different Buddhist sanctuaries all with their own character.  You can climb to the summit of Mount Thuy which offers killer panoramic views, and there are a few other viewpoints to be discovered.   SHOCKER: this area is known for stone sculpture and stone cutting crafts.  Although, recently they banned direct rock extraction from the mountain, so now it has to be transported in.

I rented a motorbike from my hostel and headed out early to try to beat the heat.   First I stopped off at a giant super market that I had read about.  Think Walmart, Target and TJ Maxx all in the same building.   I have no idea why I went here.   I did need some sun screen and a bottle of water, but I could have gotten those things anywhere.   It was three floors and each floor was guarded with security and is independent of each other.  I found sunscreen on floor 2 for $10 USD but it was only $7 USD on floor 3 for the same exact bottle.  Very strange, I didn’t understand.  I felt quite weird having so much to choose from and was pretty overwhelmed for some reason.    So I bought my sunscreen on floor 3 and a bottle of water, as well as, a giant 44 ounce ice tea and ran out of there as fast as I went in.

NEWS FLASH: MARBLE MOUNTAIN HAS A TON OF STAIRS

Thank god I stopped for water and my giant ice tea because I nearly died out there.  I was sweating so intensely that it was if I had showered with my clothes on.  I was huffin and puffin and had to stop to use my inhaler once.  Seriously, SO many stairs!  Every time I thought I was done climbing, I would come around another corner and see two more sets!

I really enjoyed the different temples that Marble Mountain had to offer.  They were scattered through the mountains and all had their own style and character.  Buddhist temples are so EXTRA, for lack of better words.   The amount of detail in the structures and over the top decorations and offerings never get old.

WHO DOESN’T LIKE CAVES?

In total there are 6 different caves that you can enter and wander around in.  None of them were worth writing home about, but I still enjoyed them.  In one of the caves a local man kept pressing me to climb up to see some big Buddha.  I really didn’t want to do any climbing that day, but he was pretty persistent making me feel like I couldn’t miss out.  When I climbed back down and was leaving he said “money, money” for climbing.   OK, now buddy, that’s just not how this works.  I just kept walking.

A RIDE AROUND TOWN

Sometimes it’s just best to take off and get lost.  You almost always find something you would have never read about online

I had half the day left with the motorbike so I decided to ride off into the sun to Son Tra Peninsula, which is said to be one of the most beautiful areas of Da Nang.  As I drove out of the city, I passed a vibrant fishing village before I headed up the hill.  As the road twist and turns around the mountainous coast I got some of the best views of the city.  I then came to the Linh Ung Pagoda where a giant lady Buddha sits looking down on the city and is said to protect from wind and storms.

After leaving the pagoda I continued down the peninsula where the views just kept getting better and better.  The cliff edge that holds the road drops drastically down to the water, as it wraps around the lush green hills.  I came to a large resort as the sun was starting to fall.  The local at the gate asked me if I was headed to the top of the mountain.  I had no destination at this point, but who would say no to that?  YES, to the top of the mountain!  I obviously had no idea what I was getting myself into but I just kept going.  But then the sun started to set and I still had to make it all the way back to town.   So I turned back around and headed into town.   When I return to Da Nang, following that entire path to the top of that mountain is top on my list.

On my way back into town I could see a storm front moving in over the city of Da Nang.  I stopped on the side of the road with many other locals to watch the storm pass from the hill.  I’ve never actually watched a storm from afar like this.  It was truly spectacular.  The best part though was missing the storm all together!

where not to stay

The hostel I booked was total shit.  I was booking last minute and had spent hours prior trying to book a good place for my Hong Kong trip and I think I was brain fried and over it because ToTo Hostel was the worst place I have ever stayed.

The owners had an anxious, yappy dog that barked without relief for hours on end.   They did nothing to stop the dog from barking.   I have no idea how people live like this.  Don’t get me wrong, I love dogs, and this dog was terribly cute, but I couldn’t handle the noise pollution.

There were 2 showers for all guests.  The first shower was a small bathroom which also contained the only toilet for all the guests. The shower head, however, was not attached to the wall.  Have you ever tried to shower with a detached shower head?   It’s the absolute worst.    The other showers, was only a shower.   It had the worst smelling sewage seeping up the pipes that it was almost unbearable to shower in there but at least the shower head was attached to the wall.

I was completely disgusted by this place and got no sleep while I was there because of the yappy dog.   I typically don’t leave reviews, but you better believe I reviewed this one.

TOTO Hostel

 

What to eat

My favorite thing to eat anywhere in Vietnam is a classic Bahn Mi.  They are cheap, delicious and always differ from stand to stand, making it exciting every time I get one.  BUT besides that here were a few of my favorites.

Banh Xeo

Crispy pancake that you roll in rice paper with veggies and then dunk into whatever house made sauce that is provided.

Mi Quang Noodles

Rice noodles, meat, herbs, broth.  In this case a hard boiled egg and rice cracker were added.  It’s always served with a side of fresh herbs for adding to the top.

Larb Gai

Ok, So I know this is Thai food, but there was a Thai restaurant next to my hostel and I couldn’t resist.

WHAT I COULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT IN DA NANG