Oftentimes when someone returns from a trip and tells me about their vacation travel, I ask if anything went wrong. A lot of times those seem to be the best stories. If someone were to ask Nicole and I that question, thus far our answer would be choosing to spend ten days in Da Nang! (oh that dang Da Nang)
We'd heard a lot of good things about Da Nang's beaches, so our expectations upon arriving were high. Then we pulled up to our hotel. Nicole and I looked at each other thinking, no bueno! Or more correctly không tốt! How could we have booked this for nine nights?
To be sure, the hotel was nice and had spectacular ocean views. But on the downside, the location seemed dreary, nothing was within walking distance, and most of the beach in front of the hotel was dirty and being used to store construction materials and equipment.
What to do? In these situations, Nicole and I like to each spend an hour or so pouting. So we did that over lunch. (We can't walk anywhere, the beach is dirty, is this going to be what the rest of the trip is like?)
Then, I am happy to report that we regrouped! First, we realized that we were going to need some wheels. So we booked a motorbike for more easy riding. It made sense that after my initial foray on the motorcycle, I was now ready to ride in a city of a million people. Next, we asked our hotel if we could cut the stay short and get our money back which they agreed to. (I'm convinced that tourists here hold a lot of power as long as there is the unspoken threat of a hostile Tripadvisor review.) Finally, we got over our prima donna selves and had some fun! Among other things, we picked dinner out of live tanks at a seafood joint on the water, took a field trip to the largest Buddha in Vietnam, and I managed to kill the motorcycle twice within a span of ten feet during rush hour traffic near the busiest bridge in Da Nang (Both times we had to come to complete stops in the middle of bananas traffic to get the motorbike restarted -- I have no idea if a complete stop is required on all motorbikes or if I was just doing something wrong, but it was awesome! :) )
Best of all, we moved to an Airbnb located directly on top of a cool coffee shop that was much more our style and cost 2/3 as much as the hotel. There was a sweet taco shop a block away and we could walk to excellent beaches. The barista at the coffee shop wrote us a list of a few of her favorite places to eat in the city so we got to try bun mam (noodles topped with a fermented fish paste -- not as bad as it sounds! :) ) and an assortment of goodies at Bahn beo ba be. We also had an incredibly memorable rain-soaked night listening to a local restaurant owner tell us her memories of the American war which is a whole other blog post in itself.
So in the final analysis, I would advise anyone travelling to Vietnam that ten days in Da Nang might be too many especially when there seem to be so many other great places to see. Nonetheless, we grew to like Da Nang. We learned a lesson about being flexible with our plans and also brought our travel expectations back down to earth. We are in Nha Trang now (which is awesome) but when we arrived we weren't necessarily thinking it had to be perfect in order for us to enjoy it, which was a good thing.
Like this post? Want to read more about Travis and Nicole's travel adventures? Check out Our Overview And Observations From Travelling For Two Months Through Vietnam.
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