Dec 8, 2018
30-Day Mini-life in Danang
Goodbye and Thank You
Hotel Checked-in: Sea Sand Apartment and Hotel
Location: 46 An Thuong 3, phuong My An, quan Ngu Hanh Son, 550000 Da Nang, Vietnam
This has been my 2nd visit in DaNang. The first visit was promising, and this 2nd visit was a kind of validation of that promise. DaNang has been building quite rapidly since my last visit 3 years ago. What used to be empty sandy lots by the beach are now a row of hotels and restaurants. The boom is still in full swing - construction for new hotels are everywhere. I could imagine that in the next 3 years, DaNang's landscape will radically change.
City, Beach and Mountain
This only confirms the popular vote that DaNang is the most livable city in Vietnam. Passing travelers are lured to stay indefinitely - and indeed, they have. I've met a lot of them who decided to call this home. Why? Many reasons!
- city - DaNang is clean, manageable and peaceful - not too big and crowded like HCMC or Hanoi
- beach - DaNang is a city by the beach. Very few cities have that proximity to the beach
- mountain - the mountains are just a short motoride away offering tranquility and a panoramic view of the city itself
- low cost of living - foodwise, this is cheaper than Bangkok or HCMC. I could get a generous bowl of Hu Tieu soup (noodles with pork hocks) for less than $1 - VND20k
- people - locals in DaNang are more laid-back
Here in DaNang, most of my time was spent working - finishing-off the Adventure Hostel website, developing the German Deli website from modular code snippets from W3School and revising the ASL landing pages to be responsive (gratis). Those were a handful, but I must say I've become sharper with my "web-responsiveness" skill. I could almost infinitely tweak a webpage according to layout and formating depending on screen resolution. With this, I became more aggressive knocking on business doors offering web development for a steal. Surprisingly, no takers.
Pho and Hu Tieu
Every VND counted and I had to spend them exclusively on cheap filling meals. I had 3 staple places for that - Pho Hanoi, and 2 Hu Tieu places. They didn't even have a name. They were just street carts who would be there when the sun sets. For VND 20k, I could get a good Hu Tieu. If they were still closed, I'd get the VND 25k Pho. I became a regular face to the vendors. DaNang is not expensive. Streetfood-wise, it's even cheaper than Bangkok. One thing I vouch for, whatever food you eat in Vietnam, at whatever price, is bound to be good. Like Bangkok, you can't get bad food in Vietnam.
Last Full day
Dec 7, my last full day before my visa expiry, I had to decide my next destination. Air fares have doubled-up for the holidays and none of them excited me. Thailand is usually $40, now it's $93. Hong Kong is the cheapest at $77 but HK is outrageously expensive. With cash down to VND120k ($5) and Baht 570 ($19), my hands were tied. I might get a little money 3rd week of Dec...but that's still 2 weeks away.
Having listened to Sasha about a forest monastery in the north of Thailand close to the Myanmar border, I decided to take it for my next destination - the Wat Pa Tam Wua Forest Monastery. I could use 10-days of meditation where I don't have to think of where the next cash comes from.
I don't know, but despite diligently covering my grounds, I always hit an Immigration snag, or a check-in snag. This time, while Vietnamese Immigration was looking at my passport, I was told that I had no visa and asked to take a seat and wait. What???? I passed through Immigration upon my arrival, had my passport stamped until Dec 8 and it's still Dec 8! I didn't understand what was happening. Much later on, someone attended to me and explained that I overstayed despite being within the time frame of my visa date. What??? It was getting bizarre. His English was broken so I'm not sure I fully understood what he said, but my understanding from him was that as a Philippine passport holder, I could not stay more than 21 days in Vietnam. But I stayed 30 days because the date stamp allowed me up to Dec. 8. Whose fault was it? Mine? He didn't give me hard time, but said that next time, I should only stay 21 days. He let me off the hook without any fine (unlike Thai Immigration who fined me B1000). Had I been fined, I would have been in deep trouble since I was down to my last Vietnamese Dong.
30 days in DaNang....what can I say? It's been an experience of contrasts - abundance and austerity, socializing and solitude, web work and bar chillouts, etc. In all these moments, I kept aware that I was going through a white-knuckle roller coaster ride. I had to remain mindful to keep the balance of my mind. Otherwise, I could get sucked-in with its emotional peaks and valleys. I may sound complaining, but really, I know I live a privileged life. Not too many get to live this kind of life - not the poor and not even the rich. To all the trials, tribulations, upswings and downturns, I am grateful.
Thank you DaNang! Thank you, Vietnam! And thank you to all the wonderful people who made the magic happen!
YOGA by Gigit | Learn English | Travel like a Nomad | Donation Bank
(Dec 11, 2018) "not the poor...and not the rich ". I like it. Has a zing to it (like your lifestyle)
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Next stop: Bangkok with $19
Da Nang (city), Vietnam
RESTO | BAR
DA NANG BLOGS
- 30-Day Mini-life in Danang, Goodbye and Thank You Dec 8, 2018
- The Universe Provides Dec 8, 2018
- Pampered Living at Sea Sand Apartment and Hotel Nov 14-Dec 8, 2018
- Thich Nhat Hanh in Hue, Vietnam Dec 7, 2018
- Goodbye Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 Dec 8, 2018
- Beer, Burgers and Friends at CohibaR DaNang Nov 25 - Dec 6, 2018
- Friendship, Beer and Sausages at the German Deli Nov 20 - Dec 1, 2018
- Beach Yoga in DaNang, Vietnam Nov 17, 2018
- Danang Wall Art Nov 8 - Dec 8, 2018
- The Wonderful People I met in Danang, Vietnam Nov 8 - Dec 8, 2018
- Revisiting DaNang, Vietnam Nov 8, 2018
- Backpacking Da Nang, Vietnam Jan 12-16, 2015
Da Nang International Airport (DAD) to Downtown Da Nang
- the airport is practically on the edge of the city center about $3 by cab. Taxis from the airport taking you to the city will try to charge you VND 10,000 "airport fee" in addition to your fare. Don't pay it. The passenger coming in to the airport already paid for this. But drivers don't pay this when going out. We were victimized by a Mai Linh taxi in this manner.
FYI / Tips
- Da Nang doesn't seem to have a backpacker area like Bangkok's Khaosan Road. The establishments are spread out within the city but most of them are lined up along the river between Han River Bridge and the Dragon Bridge
- XeOm or moto taxis are cheap and not aggressive
Hanoi to Da Nang
- plane - Jetstar takes you there in 1 hour, 15 mins. Da Nang Airport is just on the outskirt of the city center...about $3 by cab
- bus - a bus may take 15-16 hours from Hanoi's Giap Bat station
- train - the Reunification Express makes a stop in Da Nang
How to Get around Da Nang
- there are no tuks-tuks in Vietnam but you can rent a motorcycle, take a cab or hire a XeOm single motorcycle
- most of the places within the city center can be reached by foot - recommended as you see more of the city on foot than on a motorbike
- still, the best way to see Da Nang is on a bicycle. VND 50,000, it is not as cheap as Cambodia ($1), but it's still not bad. Or, you can check-in at a hotel that offers it for free - like Sanouva Hotel
Things to do, Places to go in Da Nang
- Lady Buddha - a 67m white marble statue on the slope of Monkey Mountain, similar to Rio de Janeiro's Christ the Redeemer
- Linh Ung Pagoda - same location as the Lady Buddha. Built in the 18th century and rebuilt by Minh Mang, the second ruler of Vietnam's Nguyen Dynasty
- Cham Museum - world's largest collection of Cham artefacts from the 7th to 15th century
- Danang Museum - free admission. Depicts life in Central Vietnam from 14th century
- Marble Mountains - see marble making at its finest together with an assortment of fine marble handicrafts. You can also explore the area for its many tunnels, caves and grottos
- Monkey Mountain - at 693MASL, it offers a stunning vista of Da Nang. You'll pass by the Lady Buddha on the way to the top
- My Khe Beach - fine white sand beach that stretches all the way along the eastern coast of Da Nang going to Hoi An
- Man Thai Fishing Village - a fishing village still using traditional methods
Da Nang Cost Index
- VND 12,000 1.5 liter drinking water
- VND 300,000 one hour body massage
- VND 10,000 banh mi (baguette sandwich)
- VND 25,000 noodle soup with meat
- VND 10-12,000 coffee
- VND 50,000 bicycle rental, 1 day (not readily available)
- VND 30,000/kilo laundry
- VND 380,000 sleeper bus to Da Nang from Hanoi (as of 2012)
- VND 100,000 dorm bed
- VND 200,000 double bed in a fan room, shared toilet
- VND 3,000 internet cafe
- VND 80,000 taxi from airport to city center by the river
- VND 460,000 Jetstar flight from Hanoi to Da Nang (no baggage)
- VND 150,000 seafood pasta in a decent restaurant
Vietnam FYI / Tips / Dos and Don'ts
- Hanoi Grapevine HCMC Update - for the latest events in Vietnam
- Vietnam establishments will not accept US dollars, unlike Cambodia. You have to use Vietnam Dong (US$1 = Vietnam Dong VND 23,255 = Php 53.20 as of Aug 1, 2016)
- Vietnamese smokers will smoke in air-conditioned establishments, air-conditioned buses packed with people including women, children and babies. They also smoke inside hospitals with no smoking signs.
- Vietnam ranks almost the same as Thailand and Cambodia for cheap price. Laos, Myanmar and Malaysia cost more
- internet speed is generally fast and reliable but during important events like Tet holiday, election, etc., it slows down
- Vietnamese generally do not speak or understand much English. It will be a challenge.
- best to dress appropriately, not revealing too much skin (Saigon is an exception - the ladies there set the trend in very short shorts)
- remove your shoes when entering a home or place of worship
- ask first before taking someone's picture. If they say no, don't persist or offer money
- best to carry your hotel's business card with you when going out. You can just show it to the cab driver or XeOm driver if they don't understand English
- leave your valuables, passport, travel tickets, etc. with the hotel's safety deposit box
- when lying down, don't point your feet or the soles of your shoes to anyone or to a family altar
- carry only enough cash for your needs that day
- don't lose your temper in public - Vietnamese people are warm, generous and polite. They look down on people who lose their composure
- don't take pictures of military installations - you can go to jail
- refrain from taking videos of minority people until permitted to do so
Lesser-Known Vietnam Destinations
- Phu Yen Province - by the beach
- Hoa Binh Lake - locals' alternative to Halong Bay
- Ninh Binh - Trang An Grottoes, Tam Coc, Mua Caves, Bai Dinh Pagoda, Van Long Nature Reserve
General Travel Tips
- avoiding scams - as a general rule, I ignore the touts or anyone I don't know who call out to me. The calling comes in many forms - "Hi! Where are you from?", "Excuse me! Excuse me!", "Where are you going?". I don't look them in the eye and I remain non-verbal with them. If you reply to them, you just gave them an 'in' to hound you. In order not to look rude, I smile and wave the 'not interested' hand to them, without looking at them.
- power bank - hand-carry your power bank. Do not check it in. You can be called in when you are already inside the plane to go all the way to the loading dock so you can personally remove the power bank...and chances are, you'll have to surrender it to them. And you might delay the plane departure!
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