Central Vietnam - Beach Resorts, Old World Vietnam and an Amusement park?
Vietnam is an up and coming country where you can maximize the dollar. Vietnam has a plethora of beach side resorts, good food, and inviting people. Da Nang is one such place in Vietnam that foreigners and locals love to visit.
Da Nang(DAD airport code) is a quick 1 hour and 20 minute flight from Ho Chi Minh city(SGN) and with fares as low as $22 each way there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn't visit on your trip in Vietnam.
Airport traveling within Vietnam is relatively a smooth process, the people are willing to help and most semi understand English.
Or at least having a guide helps.
First airport story about Vietnam:
The first time I visited Vietnam, Lewife (still Legirlfriend at the time) went on an earlier flight in order to see her relatives beforehand and prep them for a white boy coming to visit. It went over pretty well. Anyway, I arrived at Ho Chi Minh airport (which still utilizes the name Saigon-SGN airport code...not important to the story but just something interesting about Vietnam. I get off the plane and have to wait to get my visa stamped. For those traveling to Vietnam you need a Visa but you can get it at the airport prior to arriving- Click for Visa info.
After getting off the plane and getting my visa documents ready for review I head over to the visa stamping desk. After waiting in line for awhile I get to the front and give them my passport and visa paperwork. The official, wearing a green police/military uniform, looks at me and my visa. I utilize my vast and extensive knowledge of the Vietnamese language and manage to say "Hello", followed up with a smile. The official starts saying something in Vietnamese and I reply "Sorry, I don't understand", followed up with a smile.
The official takes my documents and goes to the back of the room and calls another person. This goes on for about 35 minutes. I see others getting their documents and leaving the airport, some of those people were even behind me in line. Someone at the end of the line got their visa stamp as soon as they handed the documents over. So eventually I get called and my passport and visa were given back. I head out of the airport and see Legirlfriend and her family sitting on a bench obviously looking bored. Legirlfriend asks me why did it take so long. And I told her that the visa application desk was super slow. She goes on to explain that I would've gotten the visa within two minutes if I offered a little "incentive-$" in the passport along with the visa documents. I guess the saying rings true- you get what you pay for.
Since then we opted to get the visa waiver book which is valid for 5 years.
Must See in Da Nang
There are two things that you need to visit while in Da Nang- the beach resorts, and Ba Na hills.
Located west of Da Nang, Ba Na Hills was built as a French retreat in 1919. It's located on top of a mountain and the best way to access the resort and attractions is by the worlds longest cable car.
Ba Na/ Sun World is a very interesting surprise while visiting Vietnam/Asia. This village on top of the hill has a little bit of everything- old world French architecture, beautiful gardens, and an amusement park. Yes, literally everything. In one section of the town you can be sipping French wine in an underground cellar, and the next minute you can be inside a mountain playing video games. This area is like a little Vietnamese Disneyland, it's fun and cheesy and you will enjoy your day trip here.
Da Nang has a multitude of beach side resorts for every budget(literally any from the most luxurious at $400 a night to $29 a night).
One of the most luxiours rersorts in Da Nang( maybe even Vietnam) is the Intercontinental Da Nang Sun Peninsula Resort. With rooms that cost anywhere from $450 to $1000 a night for a standard room! Needless to say we didn't pony up the dough to stay there, but luxury like this would be in the thousands in other parts of the world.
We stayed a week in the beach town of Nha Trang Vietnam.
Nha Trang is a 1 hour flight from Da Nang (a $26 dollar option) or if you are feeling like an adventure you can take a 9 hour overnight train.
Nha Trang is a little less industrialized and has a lot more affordable options for beach resorts in the area than Da Nang. We decided to stay a week in Nha Trang but we couldn't decide on one resort-so we choose three:
Fusion Nha Trang
Fusion Nha Trang was one of the best resorts that we've ever been to around the world. The rooms offered ocean front views, the grounds were immaculate, the beach was clean and the water was warm, and the price for the resort came with two spa treatments EVERY DAY. Imagine this, you wake up and go over to the spa and get an hour massage. After the massage you change and get some breakfast at the oceanfront restaurant. Following breakfast you relax in the pool, or even go into the warm ocean. Follow that up with lunch, maybe a nap, and get ready for a personal yoga instruction. After yoga maybe go back into the pool, and then head over to your second spa treatment which consists of a cocoa and coffee sea salt scrub. Following the scrub rinse off and enjoy a sunset dinner overlooking the ocean. It's hard to imagine why we thought this was one of the best resorts we've ever been to. And not to mention that the price for two spa treatments, for a group of four, and oceanfront rooms cost $330 makes this a must experience destination.
Following three days of getting pampered at Fusion Nha Trang we moved to an all inclusive resort a few minutes drive down the beach- The Anam. The Anam is a colonial era charmed resort with exposed wood and white lighting. This resort is what you would picture Vietnam in the 1920's. The Anam had beautiful grounds, three amazing pools, and fine dining(one of the most important reasons for staying).
Mia Nha Trang
After two nights at The Anam, we finished our week at Mia Nha Trang. Prior to this experience Lewife had visited Mia Nha Trang with her friend and they stayed at the resort. She had liked it so much from her first experience she made a point to stay at this resort, and even in the same room! Mia Nha Trang located on top of a hilltop overlooks the ocean. The modern room has everything you might want including a personal lap pool over looking the ocean.
Following our week at the beach we took a flight to the old world of Vietnan- Hội An.
Hội An, most known for its lanterns and World UNESCO Old town is a well-preserved Southeast Asian trading port that dates back from the 15th to 19th century.
We had traveled to Hội An previously on a tour around central Vietnam and we wanted to spend additional time in the city.
When we began planning our trip to Hội An we found this very chic hotel just outside of the Hội An town. The pictures made the hotel look tranquil. Imagine a hotel set in a field of lotus leaves and water buffalo roaming around. The rooms look comfortable yet rustic. The time comes when we actually get to the hotel and find the tranquility that was brochured. But when it comes to being tranquil there's one thing they don't tell you...all of the toilet amenities is outside, and it's all uncovered.
Yes that's right the toilet is outside in the open, the shower is outside, and the bathtub is quick walk down a path. What really spoke to us was when we looked at the outdoors toilet and saw two large frogs casually chilling in the shade.
Quickly after meeting our frog neighbors we checked out and went to a newly built hotel right on the outskirt of Old town. It's best to understand your comfort level when you book your hotel room.
Old Town Hội An
Old town Hội An is an amazing little (emphasis on the little part) port side town. The town really comes to life at night when the lanterns and the river gets lit up, it also doesn't hurt when the heat starts to subside. There are many photo opportunities in Hội An that can't be passed up. This is also a great place to get a suit made in a few days for cheap- for the fashionista's out there THEY EVEN HAVE GLOWING RED SNAKE SKIN TUXEDOS!
Following our trip around Central Vietnam we made our way down to Thailand. See our post about Bangkok and Phuket.
Central Vietnam really has some amazing sites and places to visit. We haven't found better beach side resorts than Nha Trang, the charms of Old town Hội An, and the shear randomness and awesome sites of Ba Na. It's pretty amazing that all of this exists in such close proximity in the middle of Asia. Central Vietnam definitely warrants a visit.