A Travellerspoint blog

Vietnam - Central Region - Hoi An, My Son and Da Nang

Hoi An, My Son Sanctuary, the Marble Mountains, Da Nang & crossing the Hai Van Pass. Happy to be back on the beach, but we are here to eat

large_feeda620-ccad-11ee-a800-e500537b7739.jpg

Once again we use Booking.com to organise a taxi pick up and it works very well, sometimes they work out cheaper and you can pay online by card. We wake up at 1.30am as our taxi is booked for 3am, our Viet Jet flight to Da Nang leaves 5.30am and arrives at 6.40. Another taxi ride and at 8am we arrive at the Hoi An Blue River Hotel (11 euros including breakfast and it has a pool, only in Vietnam...). Our room is not ready, so we go for a wander around and quickly get ourselves reacquainted with this atmospheric city, we were here in 2011 and loved it. Hoi An Ancient Town is an exceptionally well-preserved example of a South-East Asian trading port dating from the 15th to the 19th century. Its architecture reflects a wide range of influences, mostly Chinese and Japanese and later European, that have combined to produce this unique world heritage city. We stop for lunch and try some of the local must eats in the region with a few cold beers and fold for the day. On the second day we walk around admiring the pink and yellow houses, temples, pagodas and markets, all lit up with the traditional Hoi An lanterns which are the trademark of this town. We then go for lunch at the absolutely “we couldn't recommend it more if we tried” Bale Well Restaurant. There’s no menu as they only serve a delicious set menu of rice paper rolls to be filled with prawns spring rolls, BBQ pork skewers and Banh Xeo (a vietnamese pancake) served with fresh leaves, herbs and dipping sauces. The waiter will show you how to roll the first one and in which order, no rocket science, really but delicious, check out our photos. We walk around this beautiful city, visit the local markets, the extremely busy but still incredible Night Market, and then do a 15km hike to An Bang Beach. Then we take a walk along the river marvelling at the amazing architecture of the old town under the romantic glow of the colourful traditional lanterns which also glow on the river boats making the evenings here a little extra special.

One afternoon we arrive back at the hotel and there’s blaring Karaoke music from different places outside, it’s truly maddening. After a quick google search we realise its the beginning of Tet, which is the most important celebration in Vietnam, lasting for 7 days and leading up to the Lunar New Year, so, it’s officially party time. I have to say there are so many things I love about this country but karaoke music is definitely NOT one of them.

So next day we hire a scooter to explore both My Son (its pronounced Me Soon) Sanctuary and the Marble Mountains. Mỹ Sơn is a cluster of abandoned and partially ruined Shaiva Hindu Temples in Central Vietnam, constructed between the 4th and the 14th century. The temples were dedicated to the veneration of Shiva and it’s a very unique Hindu complex in a very Buddhist region of South East Asia, a fascinating archaeological site. Our second stop is the gorgeous Marble Mountains complex (we were here in 2011 way before they built the elevator, yes, you used to have to climb up all the steps....). The Marble Mountains, AKA the Five Elements Mountains (the 5th element is wood in case you were wondering) is a cluster of five marble and limestone hills. All of the mountains have cave entrances and numerous tunnels, and it is possible to climb to the summit of Mount Thủy. Several Buddhist sanctuaries can also be found within the mountains, making this a great destination for both tourists and locals. After another fabulous lunch, we make our way back to the hotel, return the scooter and go for a bit of well deserved R&R. After seven fabulous days and a last memorable evening meal at the Vietnamese Chopsticks Restaurant, try the fried chicken please, its time to say “tạm biệt Hoi An”.

After another smooth taxi ride we arrive at the Golden Rose Hotel (11 euros for an excellent deluxe room, great location near the fabulous My Khe beach) in Da Nang and, of course, instead of paying for an early check-in, we choose to have a few beers on this beautiful beach to celebrate. As I said, it’s a stunning beach destination but we’re seriously more interested in food and chilling as this city is meant to be extremely relaxing as far as Vietnamese cities go. In the morning we find the best Banh Mi of this entire trip and it’s very close to the hotel, it’s also where the owners bake the baguettes, so we have fresh, out of the oven Banh Mi every morning and Paul loves watching the baguettes being made. We decide to try a Korean BBQ restaurant for lunch again just to confirm we really don’t like it. It’s our 4th try, so we consider we gave it a fair go. We paid much more than usual for lunch and I end up with food poisoning from a non Vietnamese restaurant, first time ever in this country, never again, back to tried, trusted and loved Vietnamese food.

We hire a scooter, 6 euros, as Paul want to cross the Hai Van Pass. The Pass is one of the most important ones in Vietnam and a must do for motorbike enthusiasts and over enthusiastic cyclists. We ride across on the scooter and cross the pass with the incredibly beautiful coastal scenery for company. When it gets too misty and visibility is compromised at the highest point, all the scooters stick together behind a big truck, it’s kind of an interesting ballet. Along the way we see beautiful lakes, rivers, Chinese fishnets, and lovely, empty beaches, coves and bays. On the way back we cross the Pass again and it’s still as misty as before, just amazing views. We then make our way to see the massive Lady Buddha statue back in Da Nang before a quick stop for some pho (traditional beef or chicken soup) for lunch. We walk across the Dragon Bridge, visit the Han market and try to find a very famous dim sum restaurant just to find out it’s closed as are so many Viet/Chinese businesses on the lead up to the New Year.

Da Nang is kind of another side of Vietnam, its clean, it has wide avenues, a skyline, lots of famous hotels and the traffic works, there are roundabouts, traffic lights and people stop or slow down for you to cross the road, the chicken has a shot here. Housing seems to be pretty good even when you’re out of the touristy side and the standard of living seems, in general, pretty high. The majority of tourists come from Korea or Japan and the enormous seafood and BBQ restaurants seem to cater to them. The beach is long, the sand white and the water is blue and clear. We learn very quickly that to eat decent local food you need to get out of the touristy beach areas (My An or the other side of the river, behind the Han Market) and were rewarded with brilliant local food as soon as we started doing it. Lunch today was Banh Cuon, rice paper pancakes filled with pork, garlic and mushroom) just delicious. We also visited the Fresco Village, a small hutong style village, with a very impressive urban art open air gallery. Another day, another perfect lunch, we make our way to Thia Go restaurant, Paul has the Ban Bo Hue (traditional beef noodle soup from Hue) and I have a delicious bowl of Ban Thit Xao/Bun bo nam bo (prawn noodle salad). We also share a portion of fresh prawn spring rolls Goi Cuon, everything is absolutely perfect, will definitely go back and highly recommend. Our time in Da Nang and Vietnam is coming to an end after 21 fabulous days filled with fantastic food, so on our last day we end our time here the same way we started it, having a cold beer on the beach, check out our photos and till next time.

My Son (10)

My Son (10)

My Son (6)

My Son (6)

My Son (2)

My Son (2)

My Son (20)

My Son (20)

My Son (4)

My Son (4)

My Son (8)

My Son (8)

My Son (21)

My Son (21)

My Son (19)

My Son (19)

My Son (13)

My Son (13)

My Son (1)

My Son (1)

Marble Mountains (6)

Marble Mountains (6)

Marble Mountains (10)

Marble Mountains (10)

Marble Mountains (4)

Marble Mountains (4)

Marble Mountains (2)

Marble Mountains (2)

Marble Mountains (12)

Marble Mountains (12)

Marble Mountains (11)

Marble Mountains (11)

Marble Mountains (7)

Marble Mountains (7)

Marble Mountains (1)

Marble Mountains (1)

Marble Mountains (5)

Marble Mountains (5)

Da Nang (17)

Da Nang (17)

Da Nang (39)

Da Nang (39)

Hai Van Pass (2)

Hai Van Pass (2)

Da Nang (2)

Da Nang (2)

Da Nang (34)

Da Nang (34)

Da Nang (23)

Da Nang (23)

Hai Van Pass (1)

Hai Van Pass (1)

Da Nang (41)

Da Nang (41)

Hai Van Pass (4)

Hai Van Pass (4)

Da Nang (49)

Da Nang (49)

Da Nang (28)

Da Nang (28)

Da Nang (44)

Da Nang (44)

Hai Van Pass (10)

Hai Van Pass (10)

Hai Van Pass (7)

Hai Van Pass (7)

Da Nang (40)

Da Nang (40)

Hai Van Pass (3)

Hai Van Pass (3)

Da Nang (24)

Da Nang (24)

Da Nang (30)

Da Nang (30)

Da Nang (18)

Da Nang (18)

Da Nang (50)

Da Nang (50)

Da Nang (19)

Da Nang (19)

Da Nang (13)

Da Nang (13)

Da Nang (20)

Da Nang (20)

Da Nang (22)

Da Nang (22)

Hai Van Pass (6)

Hai Van Pass (6)

Da Nang (14)

Da Nang (14)

Da Nang (10)

Da Nang (10)

Da Nang (1)

Da Nang (1)

Da Nang (45)

Da Nang (45)

Hoi An (26)

Hoi An (26)

Hoi An (40)

Hoi An (40)

Hoi An (14)

Hoi An (14)

Hoi An (20)

Hoi An (20)

Hoi An (24)

Hoi An (24)

Hoi An (29)

Hoi An (29)

Hoi An (32)

Hoi An (32)

Hoi An (37)

Hoi An (37)

Hoi An (38)

Hoi An (38)

Hoi An (30)

Hoi An (30)

Hoi An (23)

Hoi An (23)

Hoi An (39)

Hoi An (39)

Hoi An (21)

Hoi An (21)

Hoi An (12)

Hoi An (12)

Hoi An (4)

Hoi An (4)

Posted by Pauluiza 09:21 Archived in Vietnam

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents

Be the first to comment on this entry.

This blog requires you to be a logged in member of Travellerspoint to place comments.

Login