Hoi An wins hands down over Danang – Ho Chi Minh still the favourite though
As we weren’t doing the Mekong Delta we decided we would walk some of the rest of the city before our 2pm flight. We got the Opera house, Independence Palace, Notre Dame and the Ben Thaet market in before the thunder storms we had expected arrived. It cleared the air a bit and cooled things down too, which was nice respite from the humidity. A caffeine fix at Tran Nguyens coffee house (coffee is way more expensive than beer – does not compute)? Set us up to head to the airport for the 45 min flight to Danang and the next stage of our adventure.
Touch down Danang and immediately fleeced by the taxi driver. Agent said it would be about 100,000 dong so the driver drove round till it was 92 even after pointing out to him where we needed to turn, 3 times we asked him to turn left as we knew he’d gone past it, 3 times ignored. If you happen to be going to anywhere near Phuong Duong hotel it is 65,000 dong on the metre – plus 10,000 airport tax. Our guy had the cheek to still ask for this even after our unwanted extension to the trip.
Danang is quiet, a local town for locals with not a whole lot going on. Definitely advisable to get down to Hoi An ASAP. We stayed and wondered the river road, grabbed a bite to eat at the Golden Pines pub, our company for most of the night being a US Navy crew, so it was pretty loud. We picked up a couple supplies and headed back to the room – which for the price was as big as some people’s apartments in the Dubai marina 🙂 – just over 100aed for the night including breakfast!! Bed time.
Up and a little late for a strange buffet breakfast. The hotel manager was very accommodating and told us we could have anything ‘western’ we liked! Bless, but actually we stuck with the spring rolls and rice.
We’d discussed getting bikes before leaving and now that the day was upon us there was a little bit of apprehension. In the Phuong Dong hotel the guys made a call and 10 minutes later 2 automatic scooters were delivered and we were off 200,000dong ($10usd) for half a day for 2 bikes. Or 300,000 for 2 for the whole day. I’m not a confident rider hence not wanting a pillion passenger adding to my responsibility and I wanted Thera to try it for herself. They are delivered with 0 fuel and so first stop was round the corner for fuel. 50,000 dong put in a quarter of a tank and we were off. Destination Marble mountains – they are about 20 minutes down the road and definitely worth a visit.
There are 5 mountains that look completely out of place and you can either walk up the stairs (15,000dong, $.85 approx) or you can pay 45,000 dong and use the elevator. A bit of exercise was in order so we opted for the stairs. As you go up there are various caves, pagodas and Buddhas to explore as well as some pretty phenomenal views to be had. As ‘luck’ would have it a very helpful lady on a scooter passed us on the way to the mountains and she guided us in and looked after our bikes, for no cost, as long as we promised to come back to the shop 🙂 and come back we did, somewhat warmer and browner (read red) after a couple hours out in sun. And in true fashion ending up buying some marble figurines that are fantastic but not really what you want to carry round with you in a back pack (images of dragons and god of war) they packed them (3) pieces up, one went in my day pack, the other two in a card board box that sat between my feet on the moped on the way back. Drop off bikes at reception, quick pack up and into a taxi to Hoi An.
As mentioned before, we would have been better off going straight down to Hoi An and anyone travelling , DO THAT, Danang is lovely but we made a mistake staying there, would have been better to have 2 nights in Hoi An.
Much more touristy for sure but there is a great vibe in Hoi An, it’s vibrant and busy, full of tourists but Thera and I loved it. We ended up booking ourselves into the Little Hoi An Boutique hotel at the end of the ‘strip’ which was lovely. Great design, cool rooms, friendly staff and a great little pool, we both agreed on the internal layout of any 3 floor house we might own in the future 🙂
As had become custom, we dropped off our bags and went exploring. Hoi An’s main focus area is around the river and you have the market as well as many restaurants on both sides to take your pic from. There are a whole plethora of shops selling tourist tat as well as tailoring services (the area is well known for this) as we checked in we were given 3 business cards of the ‘best’ in town. But with only a day there, we didn’t get to take advantage of them. After a little exploring we headed back to freshen up. It had been a hot day and the humidity levels were up in the high 70’s – quite normal for this time of year.
As with HCMC everyone is trying to make a living and so you do get hassled a lot to buy, helicopters, Spider-Man spinners, postcards, bracelets and lucky charms. So for dinner we decided we would get to one of the 1st floor balconies and avoid the hassle. We found one and had a nice dinner, that funkily enough consisted of sandwiches. Thera is gluten intolerant so usually bread is off the menu, a rather tasty looking pastrami on Rye bread, which you can’t seem to find anywhere in Dubai, took her fancy and a bacon, mozzarella melt grabbed my attention, accompanied with a new local beer for us, Larue. Having said that we spent most of the time trying various different devices on the Hoi An mega net, to book a flight to Hanoi and some accommodation when we got there. We finally sorted it out and dinner was over – so onwards to try some of the nightlife. Unlike dubai, every restaurant is licensed so you usually end up on a table in a restaurant even if you are just having beers. The added advantage being you can order amazing food as soon as the munchies set in. We sat and were entertained for a good couple of hours by one of the girls ‘selling’ helicopters – her name was Gu. 18 with a boyfriend working at the intercontinental in Danang, 3 siblings and her mum. She helps out by selling the candles her and her mum make to place in home made paper lanterns to send down the river – promises long life and prosperity. Next we moved to Good and Cheap Bar – yep that’s its name. It’s neither good nor cheap really. But if you’re 18 and travelling Asia, I’m sure you’ll stop here to rest your head for a very small amount of money! Gu found us again as she was on her way home – more entertainment and she ran home to get us two candle lanterns to take with us. Onwards and into the Backpackers bar. They did shisha which we tried for comparisons sake. They had the DIY home coals and so not up to the standard we are used to in Dubai. We decided we better leave when we were the only ones there and all the staff were eating their dinner (2am). Night night