Da Nang: Vietnam’s Third Largest City
After we left Hoi An, we took a cab north to Da Nang. Along the way, we drove past large resorts and golf courses. There seemed to be so much new construction and we saw so many billboards advertising luxury apartments, resorts and country clubs — all coming soon. Alex wondered: Is there going to be a glut of hotels in a few years? He joked that we should come back and take advantage of the to-be-cheap hotels. I pointed out our visa was only good for a year (I am not going to pay $135 for another visa) and the tickets from the U.S. would make it cost prohibitive. (And, now that the WHO advises against travel to Southeast Asia because of the Zika virus, I really don’t think we’ll be going back in the next few years! 😦 )
Our friend Amelie recommended the hotel she stayed at when she was in Da Nang over the Lunar New Year. Most of the hotels along the beach in Da Nang are all tall and narrow, and the Fusion Suites Beach was no exception. Located in the northern stretch of Da Nang’s coast, it’s kind of isolated from the hubbub of the hotels further south. Good: it was more quiet and the beach was empty most of the time. Bad: this meant we had to take a cab anytime we wanted to go to a restaurant (it was much too hot to walk anywhere!).
After doing a bit of research on TripAdvisor on Da Nang’s restaurants, I was perplexed when most of the highest-rated restaurants were not Vietnamese. In general, we were quite disappointed with the food in Da Nang. Having just come from Hoi An, it seemed like we did a complete 180! Prices were higher than in Hoi An and the food was just… lackluster.
A few highlights:
My Casa: This Italian restaurant, located on the first floor of a house, would never be found if not for TripAdvisor. It’s located down a dark street, right next to a construction pit, with no through traffic. Alex had the carbonara with homemade pasta and I had meatball stuffed peppers. The food was quite delicious, but it was pretty expensive for Vietnam (about $10 USD per entree), especially since there was no AC and the wall behind Alex definitely had a layer of mold (because of the humidity). The owners were an Italian woman and a Spanish guy. We chatted with the woman for a while (she said she loves living in Da Nang and traveling around Asia).
Cong Caphe: This cafe, with a view of Da Nang’s Han River, looks like a dive bar. The seating was eclectic (lounge chairs, camping chairs, even a birdcage type space with two metal chairs). The coconut coffee is their specialty — rich and creamy. It would have been a nice spot to hang out and people watch, but Baby M was getting impatient for lunch.
Lady Buddha statue: We took a cab around 7 AM to see this site (which was visible from our hotel window and the beach), rated #1 on TripAdvisor. It was really peaceful to walk around the temples so early in the morning. Since we were in the mountains, there was a great view of Da Nang city and the coast. Only complaint: the mosquitos. Alex and I didn’t get a single bite before coming here on our last day, and we both left with a dozen bites!!
Alex and I really enjoyed the breakfast buffet, daily foot massages (details in my hotel review below), and our large room with ocean view. Baby M enjoyed the pool and beach, but unfortunately had tummy trouble and teething pain for the majority of our time in Da Nang. I felt like there wasn’t too much to see or do in Da Nang, and again, the food was a big disappointment! I don’t think we’ll be back in Da Nang, especially with Hoi An (and Hue) close by.
Review of the Fusion Suites Da Nang Beach Hotel:
First off, Alex and I each had a daily 45 minute foot reflexology massage that was included in our hotel package. At times painful (but not as painful as the foot massages we had in Taipei, Taiwan!), these massages were quite enjoyable (especially for me — I scheduled mine for 9 PM, after Baby M went to bed, so it was a nice daily wind-down!).
The food at the breakfast buffet was great — wonderful selection of Vietnamese food too. The pastries were delicious as well. Downside were the tiny (shot glass-sized) juices… it made it really hard to have more than a few sips of fruit juice. A bummer, especially after the unlimited fresh juice at our Hoi An hotel.
Our suite, with an ocean view, was awesome. We had a kitchenette, and Baby M had her own windowless room (which was better because she slept later due to the lack of sunlight in the mornings!). The open floor plan allowed us to see the ocean from our bed (waking up to the sunrise never gets old!).
A few negatives: The pool and beach were both across the street from the hotel (but there was always a staff member to escort us across the street). The pool was on the smaller side. The biggest disappointment for me was that there were no lounge chairs/umbrellas on the beach (the receptionist had said the hotel was in the process of acquiring a permit from the city…). It was so incredibly hot AND sunny (90 F by 7:30 AM) that we stayed in our room until 4 PM each day, before heading to the beach (we did go to the beach one time at 7:30 AM and it was already unbearably hot!). We only had drinks at the Zen Rooftop Lounge at the hotel (great view), but we tried the sandwiches in the restaurant on the lobby floor, and they were… meh. And expensive. There weren’t a lot of restaurants in the area, so we ended up taking cabs (and getting take out for a meal the next day).
Also, in our experience, when we’ve asked about a late checkout (for late night flights), the hotels (if there is vacancy) usually either let us keep the room or let us use another room to freshen up/take a shower, all at no extra charge. And, we’ve previously not really needed the room (when it was just Alex and me). However, now that we have Baby M, it definitely makes sense to stay in our hotel room for as long as possible. So, it was sort of a surprise when we arrived at the hotel, and saw a poster with what the hotel charges for early check-in and late check-out!! The Fusion Suites charges 90,000 VND (about $45) for a 6 PM check-out, and 150,000 VND (about $75) for a 9 PM check-out. Pretty steep! It definitely wasn’t high season, so there was definitely vacancy! We ended up paying the 150,000 VND for a 10 PM checkout (our flight left at 00:20!), with the only consolation (besides letting Baby M sleep in her pack and play for a few hours) being an extra set of foot massages.
Read about our time in Hoi An, Vietnam: