Take the sleeping bus they said, it will be fun they said. Sixteen hours of constantly slamming on breaks, endless hooting, and speeding like they were a Gesell running from a Lion, It was quite a horrible bus ride but it seemed to be their way and we enjoy experiencing the differences the country has to offer. It had to be one of the worst buses we have ever taken, but at least you can lay down and sleep (if you’re not a very tall person) and we are all up for those once of a lifetime experiences. We made it safely to this coastal city known as Da Nang which is located on the eastern coast of Vietnam.
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Day 1 in Da Nang, Vietnam
Our Hotel in Da Nang
We took a grab taxi from the bus station to our lovely hotel. A small boutique hotel that we found on booking.com called Animor Green House, Hotel. We arrived about four hours too early to check-in. We quickly decided to rent a scooter for the five days we were going to stay here. It cost 150,000 Dong per day. It was the best thing we did especially in this city because most things are widely spread apart.
You don’t need a scooter to get around, you can get a GRAB taxi which is very affordable and convenient. We were excited to be close to a beach again that our first stop was Khe beach. We got on the scooter. Jon did the driving and I just kept my eyes closed for most of the ride. I mean have you seen the roads in Vietnam, lucky Da Nang isn’t as busy as Hanoi. What we weren’t used to was driving on the right-hand side of the road. In South Africa, we drive on the left so it took some getting used to.
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Da Nang Beach
We made it to the beach in one piece. Paid for our parking. Grabbed our towels and made our way down to the beach. With a white sandy beach right in front of us, we kicked off our slops to feel the sand between our toes, but we quickly put them back on because it felt like we were walking on fire. We finally reached that safe part on the beach. You know, that small part between where the dry sand ends and the sea begin. The part where toes can run freely without being scorched to death, yes you know that part.
Waking into the sea, we saw that the water was sparkling and we were intrigued by it. After a closer examination by the not-so-professionals, myself and Jon, we found that it wasn’t the water that was sparkling but the sand. We have no idea why it’s like this. Maybe Vietnam has glitter in their sand or maybe it’s a sign of pollution. We don’t know, but the water looked clear to us so we assumed it wasn’t pollution. If anyone knows why the sand is sparkling like this please let us know in the comments below.
Finding something to eat in this town was a struggle. Most of the restaurants in the area where we stayed only sold seafood. As much as we like seafood it just doesn’t quite fall within our budget since we are budget travellers. We decided to just get on the scooter and drive around to see what we can find. We came across a small Thai restaurant which we just couldn’t resist.
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Day 2 in Da Nang, Vietnam
Cho Han Market of Da Nang
On the second day, we decided to head into the main town for some sightseeing. We had to quickly stop at the ATM. We have to do a lot here since the ATMs in Vietnam only let you withdraw around $130 at a time and charge a 1,8% to 3% transaction fee on every transaction. With some money in our pockets, we were ready to hit Cho Han Market.
We made it through the market relatively quickly as the market mostly sells clothes, shoes, coffee, and fruit. We weren’t looking to buy any of those things but we did come across something called an Apple Mango. So because we haven’t seen them before, we just had to try them.
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The Pink Cathedral
After the market, we slowly made our way back, but just one more stop, the dragon bridge. It was just too hot to be outside today, so we made our way back. On our way to the Dragon bridge, we drove past this very unique pink cathedral. We just had to go back and explore a bit. Like most cathedrals, you aren’t allowed inside the building but the pink outside is beautiful. We would recommend getting there early because it gets busy after lunch. After buying some water at the small shop by the cathedral, we were off again to the main attraction on our list, the Dragon bridge.
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The Famous Dragon Bridge of Da Nang
The Dragon Bridge is one of the biggest attractions in Da Nang and is popular around the whole of Vietnam. This is due to its unique design. It’s easy to see why it attracts so many people including us. We first drove to the tail side of the dragon, but we were unable to see much from this side. So we decided to drive over the bridge to view this bridge from the head side of the dragon. The best place where we were able to capture the whole dragon bridge in one picture would have to be from the love bridge.
After a busy and warm day, we made it back to the hotel. Time to try our Apple Mangos. We started to wonder if this was maybe just a sales pitch from the lady at the market and it’s just a deformed mango. After promising the receptionist and the owner of the hotel that we weren’t going to kill anyone with the knife, they finally agreed to give us a knife. Just kidding they didn’t even ask what we needed the knife for (evil face).
As we started cutting into the mango. We strongly believe that we got tricked into buying these mangos, but when we took our first bite, we could see the difference between a mango, an apple, and an apple mango. The apple mango tasted like a mango but the texture was the same as that of an apple. After too much sun, 2 apple mangos, and dinner, we called it a night.
Day 3 in Da Nang, Vietnam
We decided to go to the beautiful Marble mountain. This mountain is known all around Vietnam and is the main attraction in Da Nang. It was quite a ride there on the scooter. On the way there we met this nice local lady. quick meaningless conversation on a scooter ride is kind of the thing they do around here, so we decided to participate. After sharing where we are from and what our plans are for today, she said goodbye and off she went. We didn’t think much of it at the time, but it was strange.
About 10 minutes away from the mountain to our surprise there she was again. This time we knew something fishy was going on. She was very determined to help us even though we didn’t want the help. We decided to just go with it and hopefully, we don’t have to pay her for showing us where to park and showing us to the ticket booth. Even more surprising she just said when we are done we should come past her shop and see what she has. If we like anything maybe we will buy something.
Before we arrived at Marble mountain, we agreed to take the lift up the mountain and take the stairs down. Because to be honest, the last time we took stairs up a mountain in this country with 70% humidity, we almost died. We don’t know how many stairs there are, but we will rather pay the 15,000 dong extra for the lift. When we got to the top of the mountain, we start exploring. The top of the mountain is so much bigger than what we expected. We saw all 15 spots from pagodas, highest peaks, caves, temples, and hikes.
We do almost everything in flip-flops. Everyone seems to have a different name for this type of shoe, so hopefully, you know what we are talking about. For this trip, I would recommend shoes with more grip. Most of the mountains consist of slippery marble rock. After about 3 hours of walking around, we’ve seen everything. We were ready to take the stairs down. They did it so perfectly that there are only a few stairs to take down. So if you want to save some money take the stairs up. It isn’t as bad as we thought.
As we promised, we went past her shop and had a look around. There are so many beautiful things in the shop but all made of marble and wood. They had many beautiful ornaments, but our bags are already overweight, so we didn’t buy anything. We said thank you and started walking to our bikes, but they didn’t appreciate that very much. We got some dirty looks, and they even had some words for us. “You don’t come in here and look around, you buy”. At that moment, I was ready to punch her in the face when Jon quickly put me on the scooter and drove off before I could jump off.
There aren’t a lot of things that make me mad, but that did. I found it very disrespectful, but one thing travelling has taught us is that not everyone is the same and stereotyping is wrong. We just want to tell you to be careful with people like her. They do it all the time, and they do expect you to buy from them. If you aren’t interested in buying something, I would recommend avoiding them entirely.
The Dragon Bridge Breath fire
We read on the internet, that over the weekend the Dragon bridge breathed fire. We had to go see that. It was busy and crowded. We couldn’t believe how many people there were just for the dragon that breathes fire, but we quickly saw why they were there, for fireworks! We didn’t see the dragon breathing fire, but we did see some beautiful fireworks.
For our last day, we took it very relaxed and enjoyed the best Da Nang had to offer. However, in the afternoon we decided to take a ride up Monkey mountain or Son Tra mountain. It was so beautiful and not many people do it so also very quiet.
While driving up the mountain we could see the sea most of the time. The best part of the ride had to be when we could stop and enjoy the beautiful view. We enjoyed the ride so much that we tried to go even higher. Even though there were more roads to take, it seems like all of them were more like off-road types of roads. As much as we wanted to do it we decided rather not to go there. It’s not our scooter and the biggest problem of all is we don’t speak the local language so who do we call when we break the scooter. We can’t explain how beautiful this road is so maybe the pictures can help you.