Should Hué and DaNang be included on your itinerary? Most definitely!
One city is old – one is new.
DaNang is Vietnam’s fifth-largest city, one of the country’s largest ports and said to be the fastest changing city in Vietnam.
Although we have only stayed 3 days, DaNang has turned out to be a favorite. We love where our hotel is situated and the variety of coffee shops, bakeries, eateries and restaurants within walking distance – and the beach. DaNang has a super relaxed vibe and beautiful beaches.
The guidebook says there isn’t much for tourists to see in DaNang and directs everyone north to Hue and 15 miles south to HoiAn. That’s going to change. There is a lot of construction underway all over – many of which are new luxury hotels. It reminds me of Waikiki – as it probably was once upon a time.
The soft white sands of My Khe Beach were once listed in Forbes Magazine as one of the ‘World’s Most Luxurious Beaches.’
We debated where to stay – along the Han riverfront or the 20 mile stretch of South China Sea beachfront? We wanted restaurants and cafes within walking distance. The blue dot is where the Cosmos Hotel is located, surrounded by many other hotels. It turned out to be a fantastic location especially for visiting the beach.
During the Vietnam War, what is now the Da Nang International Airport was a major air base used by the South Vietnamese and United States Air Forces. The 20 miles of beach around My Khe Beach was nicknamed “China Beach” by American soldiers and was used for R&R. Wikipedia
I am reading on my Kindle app a journal of Derrick Wolf’s 1970 tour of duty to Vietnam.
Wolf tells of the grim daily routine of a tank crew near the De-Militarized Zone. From the near constant rain during monsoon to the unbearable high temperatures and humidity of the dry season, life becomes a series of long periods of boredom and hardship interrupted abruptly by deadly situations. Amazon
Presently DaNang it is a great value beach destination. Hotels along the beach highway (across the road from the beach) start at $50 a night and go up – way up. Whatever your taste, I think you can get it for less here. Our hotel at the new Cosmos Hotel was only $35 a night for a fabulous large ocean-view room on the 10th floor with 3 large French balcony windows (and another in the bathroom.)
Hue – pronounced “whey”
The main reason we decided to go to Hue was to visit the Imperial City. We were also told it was known for its good food. The traffic and crowds were not as bad as Hanoi or Hoi An, although it appears to be a popular destination for a younger crowd.
Bicycle tours, food tours, city tours with boat trips as well as tours to visit war sites are all available. Hue is situated 56 miles south of what was the DMZ during the conflict between the North and South.
The heart of Hue was the Imperial City, built between 1804 and 1833. Heavily fortified, with thick walls, a moat and 10 gateways – it was the capital of the 1000-year-long Nguyen dynasty.
A visit to The Citadel takes several hours. One has the option of purchasing a single entrance ticket to the Imperial Complex or a 2-day combination ticket that includes a discounted entrance to 2 different sites of Emperor’s Tombs located further afield.
Note: Lonely Planet suggests the complex be toured in a counter-clockwise direction. Don’t! Tour in a clock-wise path and you will exit on the far right wall – and not retrace steps. There is a nice air conditioned Highlands Coffee outside the exit.
Some of the nine Dynastic Urns, cast between 1835 and 1836, each dedicated to one Nguyen sovereign.
No flushing toilet paper in Vietnam (until you get to newer properties like our place in DaNang.)
Most beds are comfortable and I’ve slept better in Vietnam (than in Greece.)
Vietnam currency has no coins – only banknotes: 500,000, 200,000, 100,000, 50,000, 20,000, 10,000, 5,000, and 1,000, the later two are worth .22 and .04 US cents.
You don’t drink the tap water.
The temperature in February was 90 degrees with 88% humidity.
There are “noseeums” that bite in the coastal areas.
Most Asian countries (China, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Myanmar) use their own writing script, but not Vietnam. Vietnam originally used Chinese writing script, but we can thank the French for making the switch to the Latin script. One can at least sound out the words, if not truly read.
Latin script is the most widely adopted writing system in the world (commonly used by about 70 per cent of the world’s population). Wikipedia
Want to know how much it all costs? The “Cost of Travel in Vietnam” is coming soon!