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3 Days in Da Nang, Vietnam

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Article author: michael
michael
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This is the 3rd part in my Vietnam & Thailand 2019 series.

You can view my Vietnam overview page, as well as my Thailand overview page with links for all the cities I stopped at.


Day 10

I started day 10 back in Hue, but left at night by train to make my way to Danang. I arrived in Danang close to 11pm, and then hailed a Grab bike to take me to my hostel/guesthouse.

Check-in to Gilda Hostel

In Da Nang, I had booked my stay at Gilda Hostel Apartment, which is really close to the Dragon Bridge and also a nice night market. I booked a private room as I always do, but this hostel is more of a guesthouse, and I believe all of the rooms in it are private rooms.

Gilda Hostel Apartment

Gilda Hostel Apartment

Gilda Hostel Apartment

Gilda Hostel Apartment

I was happy to see the room was super modern and clean! It even had a sink, single burner stove, microwave, decent sized fridge, and even a washing machine in the closet next to the fridge. The bathroom was also really nice, so I was really happy with my choice of accommodation.

On the negative side of things: my room was right on the main floor, which meant that my window was facing a cement wall from the building next to it, but not a super big deal as I wasn’t planning on spending much time in the room anyway. The soundproofing of the exterior walls though was terrible, as I could hear people outside as if they were in the room with me.

In any case, as I had arrived close to midnight, I just checked in, unpacked a few things, showered, and went to sleep.


Day 11

Day 11 was my first full day in Da Nang, but I kept my agenda for the day mostly open, so I could see a few things I wanted to, but also change plans if I needed/wanted to.

Jeremy’s Kitchen

I love Vietnamese food, but for breakfast I’m more of an eggs and toast kind of guy. I can’t remember how I’d found out about Jeremy’s kitchen, probably a Google search, but I was really craving a western breakfast and this place had great reviews.

I ordered the American breakfast which has eggs, bacon, sausage, hash brown, and French toast. As a Canadian, I’d typically have maple syrup with pancakes or French toast, but this breakfast came with their own brown sugar butter syrup which was actually quite delicious.

Price: 90,000 VND

Jeremy's Kitchen

The whole breakfast was really good, and while a simple eggs and toast would have sufficed, this really hit the spot. And at less than $5 Canadian, it didn’t hurt the wallet either.

Phap Lam Pagoda

After breakfast, I headed to Phap Lam Pagoda. It was only about a 26 minute walk from my hostel, so easily doable by foot.

Some friends have asked me what my obsession with Pagodas is. After all, they’re all pretty much the same, right? Well, yes and no. They’re all Buddhist temples, but they’re all unique in their own way. Some are more ornate than others, some are bigger, some are smaller, some are more modern, some are more traditional, etc.

I guess I just find them all really beautiful and peaceful, and I love visiting them and taking in all their details. I’ve told myself that I really need to learn more about Buddhism one of these days, so I can better understand and appreciate the temples I visit and pay my proper respects. I know the basics of Buddhism of course, and have chatted with several Buddhist monks about some of the temples and Buddhism itself, but I still have a lot more to learn.

As usual, I was using Google’s walking directions to get to the Pagoda, and it brought me down an alleyway I wouldn’t have otherwise thought to go down.

Phap Lam Pagoda

The Pagoda was probably smaller than I was expecting, and it’s a newer Pagoda, but it still has a lot of significance to the people of Da Nang. Despite seeming smaller however, it’s still apparently 3,000 m², so it’s not exactly tiny!

Phap Lam Pagoda

Construction of the pagoda started back in 1934 under the encouragement of the An Nam Buddhism Association of Da Nang. Its original name of Da Nang Buddhism Association Pagoda was changed to Phap Lam Pagoda in 1970.
[…]
Phap Lam Pagoda is more than a place of worship. Throughout its history, it has been the venue for many humanitarian and community activities in Da Nang, making it a vital part of the city’s culture and one of the most notable pagodas in Vietnam.
vinpearl.com

I really liked the neutral colours with the gold accents, and the details on the dragons on either side of the temple were really beautiful.

Phap Lam Pagoda

Phap Lam Pagoda

When I came, there wasn’t much going on and it was mostly empty, however there were some locals in the lower level just talking.

Phap Lam Pagoda

Outside the Pagoda you’ll find three statues:

Phap Lam Pagoda

Phap Lam Pagoda

Phap Lam Pagoda

On the left in the photos above is a statue of a sitting Buddha. The middle pic possibly shows the Goddess of Mercy, but I found a lot of conflicting info online, so I’m not 100% positive. And finally, on the right, is fat or Laughing Buddha.

I’ve seen posts online from people saying you can spend several hours here, but I’m not quite sure how. Maybe if you spend 15 minutes walking around and then 2 hours and 45 minutes praying? Honestly, I probably spent about 20 minutes here, and that was plenty of time to see everything and take some photos. It’s a nice Pagoda, and I enjoyed visiting it, but I wouldn’t say it’s a must-see on a regular non-holiday day.

As a side note, if you enjoy vegetarian food, there are many vegetarian restaurants right near the Pagoda.

Con Market

I think I probably based my sites-to-see for the day on some tripadvisor lists or something, because next up on my list for some reason was Con Market. It was a 5-minute walk from the Pagoda so why not?

Con Market

Well I guess the why not is because, well, it’s just a market full of stuff. Fruits, veg, some food stalls, lots of cheap clothing and textiles, and lots of other random cheap quality stuff.

I guess if you’re looking for some cheap clothes or something, it might be worth a visit, but I wasn’t really looking for anything and frankly wasn’t impressed with it as far as being a tourist destination. No idea why so many people online say it’s a “must see”.

Con Market

My advice: skip it, unless you want a great selection of fresh fruits and veg, and possibly other foods.

Da Nang Museum

Next up I headed to Da Nang museum. The walk to the museum was about 25 minutes from Con Market, so I continued there by foot.

Da Nang Museum

Entrance fee: 20,000 VND

Now I searched through my camera photos, as well as my local backed-up photos, but have no idea what happened to my pics of inside the museum. I know I took pics, but somehow they’re nowhere to be found.

I enjoyed what I saw, however it wasn’t my favourite museum in Vietnam. But since I can’t find the pics and prefer not to write a wall of text with no images, I’ll just leave a link for more info if you’re interested in visiting: Da Nang Museum: An ideal place to learn about the development of the city.

Dragon Bridge Show

After the museum, I putzed around the city for a bit, then headed back to my hostel to relax a while, before heading out to see the Dragon Bridge show later that night. The bridge is foot steps away from my hostel, so it was a quick walk.

Dragon Bridge Show

The Dragon Bridge show is a weekly event that happens every Saturday and Sunday at 9pm. The bridge is closed to traffic, and the dragon breathes fire and water for about 15 to 20 minutes.

The area fills up quite a bit, so if you want a good up-close view, you might want to get there an hour early.

I got there early enough, but stayed at the lower level thinking that would be the better view. I suppose it was a good view, but I think the upper level would have been better.

In any case, it was pretty cool, and I’m glad I went to see it. The area around the Dragon Bridge is also pretty bustling at night, so it’s a nice place to walk around and people watch. There’s also a night market right near the bridge, so after the show I walked around and checked it out.

Son Tra Night Market

Night markets in Asia are pretty fun and the ones I’ve been to have been pretty lively. The Son Tra Night Market is no exception.

Son Tra Night Market

Son Tra Night Market

The market was packed full of people, and had a lot of interesting looking food. I had already eaten earlier though and was still pretty full, so I only walked around to see what was there.

Son Tra Night Market

That was pretty much it for my first day in Da Nang. I’d say the morning half of my day was meh, but the evening was pretty fun. But that’s what travelling is all about right? You visit different places and see what you like and don’t like.

Da Nang at Night


Day 12

Marble Mountains

On day 12 I wanted to head to the Marble Mountains. I didn’t bother to book a tour as I didn’t really see a point, although that’s definitely an option if you want to go that route.

Instead, after picking up some pork banh bao and boiled eggs for breakfast and inhaling them at my hostel, I called for a Grab bike to the Marble Mountains.

Price: 40,000 VND

The ride from my hostel to the mountains was pretty quick, only about 20 minutes, so it’s not too far from the city.

When you get to the mountains you can just purchase your tickets right there at the ticket booth. I checked if they had a website to purchase tickets online, but they don’t seem to. The tickets are cheap anyway, so it’s not a big deal.

Entrance fee: 40,000 VND

There are 5 Marble mountains, but I believe I only visited one of them. I’m not really sure how to access the other mountains, but I went to the one the Grab driver brought me to, which is the highest of the 5 and I believe the main one.

You have two options to climb this mountain - the stairs or the elevator. I opted for the stairs, which is a pretty long climb, but not too bad and you can always stop and rest on the benches on the landings between sections if needed.

A warning though, it’s not exactly an easy climb, especially in high heat. So bring plenty of water if you plan to climb the stairs.

Marble Mountains

Marble Mountains

Marble Mountains

As I noted, you can opt instead to take the elevator. It’s on the opposite end, and I believe the price was 15,000 VND, but as I didn’t take the elevator I don’t recall exactly.

Marble Mountains elevator

After the first few flights of stairs, you come to a landing area. If you head left, there’s a temple and several buildings, as well as a few more steps to climb to a lookout point.

The views from the lookout point are pretty awesome. You get a great view of the ocean and the city of Da Nang.

Marble Mountains

If you head right instead, you’ll have steps up to another lookout point with views from a different angle/side of the city.

If you continue on ahead from the lookout point, you’ll reach a temple. There are a few on this mountain, including I believe 2 inside caves in the mountain.

I entered the first cave, which is easy enough to get into. However, as it had rained in the morning, there were some pretty slippery areas inside the cave, so you need to be mindful of that.

Marble Mountains

Marble Mountains

Marble Mountains

The second cave however, the initial steps outside are easy to climb, but the steps just inside get very uneven, sloped, and slippery, so I decided not to go in. I didn’t want to risk slipping and falling as the shoes I had worn didn’t have great grip, and I’m sure I’d have had trouble getting back out again.

Marble Mountains

Some others were braver then I was however and were able to make it in. The 2nd cave I believe is where the waterfalls are, so I was actually pretty bummed that I hadn’t worn better shoes. 🙁

After that I continued on towards the other areas, where there were some interesting sculptures and a few other buddhist statues and temples.

Marble Mountains

Marble Mountains

Marble Mountains

I ended up spending about 3 hours climbing the mountain and exploring the different areas. The views of the city from the lookout points were awesome, and the cave I managed to explore was quite cool as well (literally, as it was nice and cool inside the cave!! 😆).

On my way to the cave from my hostel, while I was on the back of the Grab bike, a local Vietnamese woman started chatting with me from her bike. She seemed very friendly, and was insistent that she drive me back when I was done exploring the mountains. I was hesitant at first, but she owned a shop right near the entrance to the mountains selling jade and marble statues and things, so I figured she was just trying to drum up some business.

I figured I’d just call a Grab bike again on the way out, but sure enough when I got down, she was there waiting for me. 😂
So I went with her to her shop, and bought a set of marble candle holders I liked that didn’t set me back much. That said, it’d still have been cheaper for me to just call a Grab bike, but oh well! So we chatted while she drove me back to my hostel, and she was very friendly and new a lot about Canada, and even had family in Toronto.

Stroll along My Khe beach

On my way to the Marble mountains, we drove past My Khe beach. I had wanted to make time to get to the beach, but didn’t initially know where it was, so I was happy to see it on the way to the mountains.

After getting back to my hostel, grabbing some lunch and relaxing for a bit, I headed out to the beach by foot. The walk was only about 20 minutes from my hostel, so wasn’t far.

My Khe beach

My Khe beach

The beach was pretty empty when I got there, but it was also quite windy, and as such the red beach flags were up, indicating that it wasn’t safe to swim. Being alone, and with my bag containing my cash and phone, I wasn’t planning on swimming anyway, so I just relaxed on my beach towel and got a bit of sun.

I got out to the beach probably around 5pm, so it wasn’t long before the sun was setting and I decided to have a walk along the boardwalk to check out the rest of the beach and surrounding area.

My Khe beach

That pretty much wrapped up my 2nd day in Da Nang. My girlfriend was coming to join me that evening, and we planned to head out to Ba Na hills together the next day.


Day 13

In the morning, after picking up some delicious breakfast banh mi sandwiches from a street vendor next to the hostel, we rented a motorcycle and we headed out to Ba Na hills.

Breakfast banh mi price: 45,000 VND for 2 sandwiches

Motorcycle rental price: 100,000 VND for the day

Ba Na Hills

I can’t recall exactly how long the drive to Ba Na hills was, somewhere around 40 minutes to an hour I think.

Driving to Ba Na Hills

I got a bit confused as I thought we had to drive up the mountain to the actual top of the hills - which I think is what Google nav was trying to get us to do, but thankfully my girlfriend knew better and drove us to the motorcycle parking right opposite the entrance to the cable car and ticket booth.

Arriving at Ba Na Hills

The entrance area, where you can purchase your tickets if you didn’t purchase them beforehand online (which would likely be the cheaper option), is quite a large area, but it’s also really beautifully set up.

Entrance fee onsite: 600,000 VND per adult

Arriving at Ba Na Hills

After purchasing our tickets, we headed towards the cable car to make our way up. As you pass through the various areas and structures to the cable car, there’s a real calm feeling thanks to the waterways and general zen-like atmosphere.

Arriving at Ba Na Hills

Arriving at Ba Na Hills

The cable car ride up brings you high up in the mountains, nearly 1500m above sea level at the highest point. The ride is about 20 minutes long, and the views are absolutely stunning.

The Ba Na Cable Car, opened on 29 March 2013, holds the world record for longest non-stop single track cable car at 5,801 metres (19,032 ft) in length
Wikipedia

It really is amazing what technology has allowed us to do, as the cable car ride up really is an amazing feat of engineering. It’s also quite relaxing, as you watch the mountains pass under you, and the trees and greenery all around you.

The original buildings and structures were built by the French in the early 1900s as a vacation spot for French tourists.

Once you start getting closer to the top, you’re likely to start entering the clouds, which is quite a cool experience as well. As far as I’m aware, there’s generally always lots of fog and clouds at the top of the mountains, so it’s not something you can really avoid, but it’s pretty damn cool, so I’m not sure why you’d want to!

Ba Na Hills

After reaching the end of the first cable car, there are a few other cable cars and even 2 funiculars that you can take to get to the various areas of the park. I believe there are 6 cable cars in total, including the first main one that brings you up from the ticket area. We decided to take the funicular from this point, which takes you to D’Amour flower garden, old Debay wine cellar, and Linh Ung Pagoda, however we then took one of the cable cars from there to get to the main area of the park.

Ba Na Hills

Ba Na Hills

The buildings are gorgeous and really have that old French feel to them, and the whole area is really well designed and maintained. I’m not sure if any of the original French buildings from the early 1900’s still remain though, and Ba Na Hills is definitely a “tourist trap”, so keep that in mind if that’s not your thing. But it’s a heck of a beautiful tourist trap!

Ba Na Hills

Ba Na Hills

Ba Na Hills

You can spend hours here, going from one spot to another via the cable cars and funiculars, and there’s a lot to see and do. There are also a lot of restaurants and cafes, and even a few hotels, so you can even stay overnight or longer if you want to.

They famously say that you can experience all 4 seasons in one day at Ba Na Hills, and that was definitely true for us. It was quite cool when we first arrived, and then it got hot and sunny, and then it got cool again later in the day. So definitely bring a jacket or something warm with you, as it can get quite chilly.

Ba Na Hills

Ba Na Hills

Ba Na Hills

There’s not only things to see and do for adults though, as there’s quite a bit for children as well.

I didn’t take many pics of the inside “Fantasy Park” area, but there are a bunch of rides and games for adults and children alike, and there’s even a wax museum, which we didn’t bother checking out.

Ba Na Hills

Ba Na Hills also has two coasters, including the “Alpine coaster”, which is the one we went on. You can’t take pics while you’re on it (for safety reasons), but they have automated cameras that take pics of you while you’re on the ride, so you can always purchase those afterwards if you want to.

The second coaster, which I don’t recall the name of, was closed for some reason when we tried to access it. So we didn’t get to try that one unfortunately. 😟
The Alpine coaster was really fun though, so I’d definitely recommend giving that one a go!

Next up we took another cable car and headed over to the Golden Bridge, AKA the “Hands” bridge, which is one of the main attractions at Ba Na Hills. It’s generally packed with tourists, so you’ll have to be patient if you want to get a good shot of it without anyone else in the frame.

Ba Na Hills

Ba Na Hills

Once you pass over the bridge, you can make your way over to the flower gardens, old wine cellar, and Linh Ung Pagoda, which we skipped over on our way up. So we headed over there at this point to check them out.

The Pagoda is quite beautiful, and there’s a huge statue of Buddha that you can see from the cable car on your way up to the park. I didn’t realize until much later though that Da Nang actually has 3 separate Linh Ung Pagodas in different parts of the city.

Ling Ung Pagoda

Ling Ung Pagoda

After spending about 6 hours at Ba Na Hills, it was starting to get dark, and we decided to call it a day… an awesome day at that.

Ba Na Hills

Ba Na Hills looks really gorgeous at night, but I didn’t actually realize at the time how late it remains open, nor that there are hotels you can stay overnight in.

Ba Na Hills


And that wrapped up my 3 days in Da Nang. The following day we’d be heading out to Hoi An, which is about an hour away from Da Nang. We spent about 3 days there, and had an absolute blast!

Until next time,
michael 😀

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