Danang, My Son, Hoi An
KL -> Danang
19.8: Danang -> Hoi An
20.8: Danang -> My Son
22.8: Danang -> Kota
Planning and overall impression
This was a short, four day
trip to Danang, a big city in central Vietnam. My wife had the
idea to come to this place, apparently because her brother had been
here an liked the city.
Danang actually is a big tourist centre with
countless hotels, receiving large numbers of visitors primarily from
other Asian countries (mainly from South Korea and China). The beach is
ok, but the seawater is not very clean. The main reason to come to
Danang is to visit the UNESCO world heritage sites in the region (Hue,
My Son, Hoi An). Danang itself is a quite modern city with practically
no heritage areas. It's rapidly developing, with new skyscrapers added
all the time.
Competition keeps hotel rates in Danang quite low and it's
possible to stay in good hotels for moderate rates. Otherwise the cost
of living in Danang is more or less in line with that of Malaysia, or
to put it differently, Danang is neither very cheap nor an
expensive place where to spend a holiday.
Food in Danang disappointed me a bit,
because having read about the Vietnamese cuisine I was actually
expecting a bit more.
There is also a dearth of eateries and
restaurants in the shopping area along the Han river. We ended up
eating a couple of times in the food courts of the shopping malls and
in the restaurants of hotels.
Countless hotels in Danang, especially in the strip of land
between the Han river and the sea. Rates are quite moderate, probably
due to the fierce competition.
Money / Exchange rate
Euro = 26800 VND
1 Euro ~ USD 1.18
phones and prepaid cards
I bought a SIM card from Viettel at the airport, with 3.5GB of data and 10 minutes of calls for 5
USD. For a few USD more there is a SIM card with unlimited data. Very
We had free WLAN Internet access in the hotel and outside used the mobile phone to connect to the Internet.
We had mostly good weather, with blus skies and strong sun. High temperatures up to 34°C. Not much rain.
Health / Vaccinations
Probably the typical set of tropical vaccinations is needed in Vietnam. We didn't get any immunisations specific for this trip.
VISA / Entry requirements
This year German
nationals (and probably nationals of other developed countries as well)
enjoyed visa free entry into Vietnam. Nationals of ASEAN countries can
also enter Vietnam without a visa.
Danang seems to be a very safe place.
- The Marble mountains complex with its temples and caves is very interesting.
- The archaeological site of My Son
- The picturesque city of Hoi An
Things to avoid
- The Ba Na hills site is an overpriced nonsense. The theme park with
replicas of European buildings might be interesting for somebody
who has never been to Europe, but not somebody who has seen the real thing.
We used taxis to get from one place to the other. These are moderately priced.
Hotel Merry Land, Danang. 1.085
million VND for a nice room with attached bathroom. Adjustable A/C,
flat screen TV, fast WLAN, fridge, nice furniture, tea making equipment
and instant noodles (not free), electronic safe. The hotel is in a
skyscraper in the strip of land between the river and the ocean. The
room is on the 12th floor. Breakfast included.
Weather: overcast in the morning in
KL. A mix of sunny, then overcast and rainy in Danang. Very strong sun
I get up at 7:30am, then leave the hotel at 8:30am. Some traffic jam,
so the expected arrival time at the airport is shortly before 9am. In
fact it's just one short section of the road and one roundabout which
I reach the airport and immediately find the rental car parking. Then I
lose quite some time looking for a parking slot, because all Mayflower
parking slots are full. In the end I park the car in the Asia Car
parking slot because I have no more time. Then it takes some time to
figure out how to get to the Mayflower car rental counter, because that
is not so obvious.
When I'm finally at the counter, there is no staff. I call the hotline,
some discussion, in the end I drop the car key in the key drop. Then I
rush to the check-in counter. At the Air Asia check-in there is a queue
and it's already 9:20am. I ask an Air Asia staff and am directed to a
counter. There the friendly guy checks me in without discussion.
Boarding at 9:55am I'm told. I reach the gate at 9:40am - extremely
long walk to the gate. The layout of KLIA2 needs to be improved -
check-in area too far away from the gates.
At the gate I meet Shirley, her mom and the kids. Boarding starts late
at 10:05am (late arrival of the previous flight). The plane, an Airbus
A320, starts rolling at 10:45am and takes off at 11am (25 minutes of
delay). The plane is quite full (perhaps 80% full).
We land at 12:13pm local time, reach the passport control 10 minutes
later, and then wait for a while. Once outside, I buy SIM cards. Mine
is from Viettel, has 3.5GB of data and 10 minutes of calls, and costs 5
USD. For a few USD more you can even get one with unlimited data. Very
The local time by the way is one hour earlier than Malaysia, i.e. in
Malaysia the time is one hour ahead.
By 1:30pm we are in a taxi on the way to the hotel. The airport is only
a few km from the city centre. We reach the hotel at 1:40pm and check
in. The area around the hotel consists of modern buildings, many many
hotels, lots of development ongoing.
Around 3pm we have some lunch in the hotel (food is unimpressive). Then
at 3:40pm we take a taxi to the Linh Ung Buddhist temple, which is on
the peninsula overlooking Danang. Danang has a long sandy beach and a
nice skyline of skyscrapers, but the seawater looks a bit dirty. Not
sure I'd want to swim here.
At 4pm we are at this temple, which is really very, very nice and
photogenic. Some kind of large complex with several buildings and
structures, including a Chinese pagoda and a huge, white standing
Buddha statue. Lots of people coming here today to visit the temple,
but not many non-Asian visitors. The temple seems to be relatively new,
because it is quite immaculate and I can't find much about it in the
We spend some time exploring the temple, but soon it starts raining
quite heavily at 4:20pm. We wait for a while for the rain to end, then
after 5pm take a taxi to the Han market in central Danang, arriving
The Han market is an indoor market (but no A/C), selling lots of
traditional Asian things, food, clothes and other stuff. Prices by the
way are not low. Not just in this place - all over Danang everything
seems to be quite pricey. Food is not cheap, taxis are way more
expensive than in Malaysia. Only the hotel is cheap. Not sure why this
is the case. Perhaps there is a lot of competition among the hotels.
Many motorbikes on the streets, you even see a complete family of
father, mother and two kids on one motorbike.
This would suggest
local people are not that wealthy, otherwise they could afford cars, as
for instance people in Malaysia or China. Perhaps it's the exhange rate
or the income is very unevenly distributed.
Anyway, after some time in this market we walk along the street, and
after a while end up in the Indochina mall. Sort of flashy modern mall,
but not too flashy, with a food court on the second floor. We have some
dinner here starting at 6:40pm.
Even in this place the food is not good. The Vietnamese chicken noodle
soup (Pho Ga) they make in an Asian restaurant in Munich is much, much
better. I guess if there is good food in Vietnam we haven't found it
yet or have gone to the wrong places.
There don't seem to be too many shopping malls, especially large ones
in Danang. Also not too many (open air) night markets. I only manage to
find one with an Internet search. And I wonder if Danang has a historic
core, because I haven't seen one yet. I wonder if perhaps old Danang
has been destroyed in the war. We are back in the hotel at 8pm.
An -> Danang
Hotel Merry Land, Danang. Seems we are
the only non-Asian tourists in this hotel.
Weather: a mix of sunny and
overcast, but mostly sunny (milky-blue sky, no spotless blue sky).
Quite hot. No rain the whole day.
We get up at 8am and have breakfast. After breakfast we take
a taxi to
the Marble Mountains temple complex, 9km south of the hotel along the
coast. This should be another place full or art and history and with
The taxi transfer costs 140000 VND and we reach the place at 10:18am.
This marble mountain seems to be a complex of limestone cliffs rising
up from the plains. Lots of people,
souvenir shops and
life. There is
an elevator which brings you up to level about 50m above the ground, in
case you don't want to use the staircase. Entrance fee of 40000 VND.
While the ladies take the elevator, I walk up the staircase. On top
there are several Chinese style temples and some caves, interconnected
by paths. One of the caves is narrow and tough to climb. The biggest
cave, Huyen Khong, is quite tall (around 30m high) and contains a small
with statues and an
altar. Lots of shops in the street
selling marble statues, many of Buddha and Chinese topics. Perhaps
Chinese tourists come here and buy these statues.
Then something happens in this place. Shirley negotiates the price of a
bracelet with a salesgirl of a souvenir shop. The price is 30000 VND.
Then Shirley mistakenly gives the salesgirl three 100000 VND bills
(easy to get confused with so many zeros if you don't know the money).
The girl accepts the money without saying anything. It's only later
when I talk with Shirley that she realises the mistake and we manage to
get back the 300000 VND.
But the salesgirl
probably knew she got 300000
VND and didn't say anything. Not very honest, especially
that it's a big difference (270000 VND paid more than needed).
At 12pm we take a taxi to Hoi An. The idea is to have lunch there and
then stroll in the city.
been there years ago already once and am
curious how the city developed. From the Marble mountain to Hoi An it's
less than 20km. Before 12:30pm we are in the historic centre of Hoi An.
Hoi An is a picture perfect and picturesque historic city, perfectly
cute for the tourists along a river. In fact Hoi An today is really
full, almost overloaded with western tourists. And in fact prices are
relatively high, i.e. lower than in Germany, but much higher than in
Between 1 and 2pm we have a lunch in a restaurant along the river. The
food finally is decent (better than what we got so far). After lunch we
continue walking through Hoi An. But actually it's too hot to walk
around, so at 3pm we take a taxi back to Danang.
We reach Danang at 3:35pm. Shirley
and the kids go to
a big shopping
place to buy while I walk check out the beach. Very long sandy beach,
several km, but the sea water is not that clear. By the way, countless
hotels in Danang, everywhere. Makes one wonder if there are really so
many tourists. And new hotels are being built all the time.
I take a taxi to the Linh Ung Buddhist temple to get some skyline shots
of Danang, then get back to the hotel. We get out again for dinner
after 7pm, then get back to the hotel.
Son -> Danang
Hotel Merry Land, Danang.
Weather: mostly sunny with a thin
clouds layer and some clouds. No rain the whole day, quite hot at 33°C.
We get up at 8am and have breakfast. At 10am we take a taxi to the Ba
Na hills. A bit out of Danang the driver stops and tells us to buy the
tickets for the Ba Na hills.
surprise, the tickets cost
650000 VND per person (children 550000 VND), no kids discounts because
even Natasha is already taller than 1.30m. Total for the five of us
3250000 VND, a bit too expensive. It seems that this Ba Na hills is a
theme park with a French city. This may appeal to Asians who have no
chance to go to Europe and can take some selfies here with European
buildings in the background, but it's not terribly interesting for us.
So we change our plans and ask the driver to bring us to the My Son
ruins. On the way, we briefly stop at the Chùa Hung Quang Buddhist
temple for some photos. We reach the My Son site at 12pm.
The driver stops the car in a big parking.
walk to the ticket
counter and buy the tickets. Kids luckily don't pay, regardless of how
tall they are. It's 150000 VND per adult + two times a 30000 VND
service fee. We get in, walk a bit and soon reach the waiting area for
the shuttles. These are electric vehicles with about 10-12 seats which
bring visitors to the site. Well, actually they drop you off at the
starting point of a trail which brings you to the ruins. It's about a
10 minutes walk (around 1km).
The My Son site (Mỹ Sơn in Vietnamese) consists of several groups of
ruins of Hindu temples built between the 4th and 14th century AD,
named according to letters of the alphabet. It's sort of a
veraion of Angkor. Today the site is full of Chinese tourists.
We are at the site until 1:40pm, then walk back to the shuttle and get
back to the parking. At the parking we then have some lunch in a
restaurant. The food is not bad, better than what you get in the food
courts of shopping malls in Danang.
Then, around 3:30pm we drive back to Danang, arriving at
drop off Shirley and her mom at the Cho Con market, then I drive back
to the hotel with the kids. The total cost of the taxi is 1300000 VND.
I wonder if the
cost would have been lower had I negotiated a fixed
price for the trip (BTW, this car has a km cost of 16000 VND for the
first 31km, and 12000 VND afterwards).
Around 5:40pm I get out again and walk to the bridge on the Han river
for some blue hour shots. There are actually some good views around
this river and I manage to get some good shots. After that, I walk to
the Vincom Plaza mall, where everybody went. This Vincom Plaza is a
nice and flashy mall, not giant, but very nice inside. There is a
supermarket, several Korean and Japanese shops, a food court on the
fourth floor and even a skating rink next to the food court. We have a
simple dinner here and do some shopping. Then we walk back to the hotel.
Hotel Merry Land, Danang.
Weather: sunny, blue sky the whole
day. Best weather so far, almost spotless blue sky. No rain. Quite hot
Day spent in Danang, visiting the city and again some places
have already been. After breakfast, at 10am I take a taxi to the Marble
mountains to visit the Am Phu cave, which I had skipped the other day
and to take more photos of the Huyen Khong cave.
I'm at the Marble mountain around 10:45am and look for the entrance to
the Am Phu cave. To get in, you need to buy a separate ticket for 20000
VND. The entrance is near the elevator at the street level. There is a
staircase going up and this cave is in reality a complex of caves, some
very big. I spend almost one hour and a half in this cave complex.
There are many different caves, connected by staircases. One staircase
leads to an exit on top of the Marble mountain from which there is a
view of the coast. Lots of Asian tourists (mostly Chinese and Korean)
At 12:45pm I reach the Huyen Khong cave. There I spend 45 minutes
taking photos of the cave from different angles and
I walk out and take a taxi to the Vincom mall where I meet the rest of
my group and have some lunch. We leave the mall around 3:30pm, taking a
taxi which brings me to the Cham museum, while Shirley and the others
go back to the hotel.
The Cham museum is
along the Han river next to the Dragon bridge.
Inside (entrance: 40000 VND, I'm allowed to bring in my camera bag)
there is a collection of statues and stone artifacts collected at
various Champa sites in southern Vietnam. Some pieces are quite
interesting, but overall the museum is not terribly impressive. The
interesting thing however is that in southern Vietnam there apparently
is a multitude of sites like My Son, most not very well known.
I leave the museum
at 4:15pm and since it is still a bit early for the
sunset, I slowly walk along the Han river promenade. This is very
pleasant and nicely set up. I also explore the lateral streets a bit.
Tourist territory, many bars and pubs and many massage parlours, but
not so many places selling food and no convenience stores or bakeries.
The few restaurants I find are all priced for foreign tourists.
Around 5:20pm I discover a place selling sandwiches, the Mi AA Happy
Bread. Weird place run by Korean (?) ladies, most customers are Korean
girls and women. The place is full, lots of business. I have a sandwich
there and a drink, then at 5:50pm I get out and walk towards the Han
river bridge. I'll be in the area until 6:30pm taking blue hour shots,
then walk back to the hotel.
Alissia has some intestinal upset, so we cancel the plan to go to the
Asia park and instead have dinner in a restaurant opposite the hotel.
Hotel Five 2, Kota Kinabalu. RM 105
for a small (10-12m²) room with A/C, a table, TV, phone attached
bathroom with shower and nothing else. The hotel is conveniently
located in the centre of KL. The only problem is that there is no
elevator (have to carry my 24Kg suitcase and other bags to the 3rd
floor). Fast WLAN in the room. Bed hard like a stone, shower has only
Weather: sunny, blue sky with some
very thin clouds layer in Danang. Quite hot. In the evening it's
raining in Kota Kinabalu.
We get up at 8am, have breakfast and pack our stuff. In my emails
find the confirmation that my car booking is ok. I have now a car for
one week (23.8-30.8) in Kota Kinabalu. Yesterday evening I
the hotels in Kota Kinabalu and in the Crocker range national park.
Dinisiah from the Maliau Basin studies centre is expecting me in her
office tomorrow, so I'm all set up for my trip across western Sabah.
Shortly after 10am we check out and take a taxi (110000 VND) to the
airport, arriving at 10:20am. Then we check in. Airasia doesn't allow
batteries in the check-in luggage, so I have to remove the powerbank.
Fast, free WLAN and smooth procedures at the airport. Before 11am I'm
at the gate. There are A/C power sockets using the UK/Malaysia plug.
The Airasia flight to KL is delayed. The plane starts rolling
12:43pm and takes off at 1:06pm,
with half an hour
of delay. This is
tricky, because in KL I have 2:20 hours to chenge flights and I have to
go through passport control and check in again.
We land in KLIA at 4:35pm (20 minutes of delay). Then I'm one of the
first to leave the plane, because the Airasia staff reseated me in
I quickly get to the passport control. There is
only a short
queue of 5-6 people. Then I manage to quickly retrieve the
(mine is one of the first to come out, sheer luck I guess) and at
4:57pm I'm at the check-in counter of Airasia. Since it's not so late
and the queue doesn't look so long, I just queue up.
When it's my turn I'm told that for domestic flights I should have
checked in first at the machine and got a boarding pass. Never mind. By
5:11pm I have the boarding pass and can walk to the gate. Pretty smooth
operation - 36 minutes to go through passport control, retrieve the
luggage and check-in again.
The 6:35pm Airasia flight is delayed. It takes off at 7:15pm with 40
minutes of delay, but luckily lands in Kota Kinabalu at 9:35pm, with
just 20 minutes of delay. I get out, retrieve my luggage and take a
taxi to the hotel, arriving there at 10:18pm.