As I'm writing this article, I have been in Da Nang for about a month.
Da Nang has been one of the best cities that I have lived in thus far in my life. It's the perfect mix of a city (that hasn't grown too big yet) and a beach town... the best of both worlds.
The best part is that living here is extremely cheap. The abundance that I feel is here is unrivaled due to the cost of living and the high quality of food, living, activities, and collective energy that I get in return.
So far, I have also lived in the Bay Area, Philadelphia, Melbourne (AU), Seattle, Ko Samui (TH), Guadalajara (MX), Puttaparthi (IN)... and now I'm here in Da Nang (never been to Vietnam before this)!
Some notes to elaborate on from my video:
I have been staying here in Sala Apartment, about 15 minutes north of the main city center. There isn't too much activity around this area, except for some restaurants and cafes. I can see the view of the city from my apartment window, but none of the noise comes in either during the day or night. It's super easy to ride my motorbike to and from the city.
The amenities are hardly used, even though it seems that many of the rooms are being rented. This is nice, as I get to use the pool / sauna / steam room / gym during permitted hours, and chances are no one will be there.
The owner is friendly and attentive. I can text her on WhatsApp with any problem or question and expect an answer within 30 minutes.
The cleaning lady comes once a week and does a great job! Very grateful for this service.
The garage keeps our bikes and helmets safe.
The walls are bit thin (I can hear conversations or phone calls next door sometimes), but generally, noise is no issue here.
I usually stay in the apartment in the mornings, go out for the afternoon and evenings, and come back at night. This apartment is truly one of the most comfortable and snug places that I have ever stayed in, aside from my parents' home.
My favorite (and most visited) place to come to is The Hideout Cafe!
I come to this cafe almost everyday to work on my Little Bo Piggy brand. Today, I'm sitting with Mr. Honey and my good friends who have come to visit us from Ko Samui.
This is one of the most comfortable cafes I have ever worked at.
It seems like the cafe culture here is pretty big - I drive by many cafes in the city, and they all seem to be populated.
The Hideout Cafe always attracts a nice mix of locals and digital nomads here to stay for just a few months.
The biggest plus of this cafe is that they serve us bottles of water constantly, for free.
Here, I feel more creative than I do in other places, which really helps me with Little Bo Piggy.
There aren't too many great restaurants around where I live, as like I said, my apartment is about 15 minutes from the more concentrated part of the city where most of the restaurants are.
But I really lucked out... the one vegan / vegetarian place that I found within a few minutes of our apartment is the best restaurant that I have found in all of Da Nang! (Mr. Honey is vegetarian, so we spent the first few weeks looking for restaurants with high quality vegetarian options). No other restaurants have come even close.
This family-owned restaurant is called Quan Chay Gia An.
The owners are all very sweet, kind, and abundant. Each time we go, they encourage us to take more food, all for the same price of 35,000 VND (about 15 cents).
They also play calm Vietnamese instrumental music to create a relaxing mood.
All places have a frequency, and the whole restaurant carries a very high, positive, "clean" energy!
Other notable mentions: Loving Vegan and Pizza House - they are next door to each other, and I actually see the owners of each occasionally eating at the other's restaurant... so cute!
I rent my bike at a local shop for 1.4 million VND / month (about $58 / month).
The driving style here is CRAZY! There seems to be a general disregard for traffic rules, though most people intuitively understand how to follow the natural flow and order. Personally, it's harder to drive here than in Thailand, as I really need to pay attention to the road here.
The streets are wide, and there isn't too much traffic where I live, but it's definitely more concentrated in the city center.
If I need a car to get around, I'll call for a Grab. I haven't taken Grab enough times to understand the general prices, but one of my 15-minute rides on a Saturday night from a club was about $4.
I would highly recommend renting a motorbike here to get around.
1. Linh Ung Pagoda - Mr. Honey is an avid (and very good) meditator, who has visited many temples in his life all around the world. He says that this pagoda at the top of the hill carries a really powerful spiritual energy that he could even "see," accompanying a feeling of deep calm. I went inside and though I couldn't feel the temple in the same intense way, it felt very nurturing and peaceful.
2. Lady Buddha - she sits on a mountaintop (where the Linh Ung pagoda is) overlooking the city. The view from there is beautiful, especially at sunset!
3. Hoi An - the city is very historic and has a lot of character and color! Definitely a "wow" moment when I first saw it. There are lots of nice little shops and restaurants and cafes lined up on each street. I've heard that there is a nice expat community over there, but never felt very drawn to moving there. Unfortunately, the experience of walking in peace down the streets to explore was blocked by all the people there trying to sell their products / services... big bummer.
4. Ba Na Hills - what a FANTASTIC trip that was!! I took a cable car up to the top of the mountain on that foggy day and:
- walked the Golden Bridge to the other side and explored the garden, maze, chess board, etc.
- saw all the sights of the French Village (a replica of a romantic French village)
- rode a laser-gun-shooting ride
- watched a short 3D film
- rode an "around-the-world" simulation ride
If I had more time (and worn more layers on that sunny-turned-windy day), I could have explored much, much more.
5. My Son Sanctuary - honestly, this sight wasn't too memorable. It was raining that day, and it seemed like a lot of the sites were reconstructed. We walked around for about an hour, took pictures, and then drove back home in the pouring rain. I also wasn't aware of the history of the sites at the moment, so I wasn't sure exactly what I was looking at... But overall, I'm happy that I still went.
6. Marble Mountains - this is a group of 5 mountains, each named after an element. Various caves and tunnels can be found in the mountains. The steps are made of ... marble? I only explored one of those mountains, I believe, and I got really sweaty walking up all those steep steps.
6.5. Huyen Khong Cave - this was the first cave I have been in, and WOW!! There were statues in there, mini-pagoda-type structures, large incense bowls... and many sweaty tourists (including myself) taking pictures.
7. Dragon Bridge - this is one of the bridges that connects the east and west sides of Danang over the Han River. This bridge is shaped like a dragon, with lights lit up at night all over the body. On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights at 9 pm, the dragon head spits out fire and then water, lasting a total of about 10-15 minutes.
8. Sun Wheel - this is a prominent and visually appealing tourist attractions in Da Nang, visible from many parts of the city. It's a giant ferris wheel that sits in the Sun World theme park and lights up in many different colors at night.
9. Hue - this is a historic city about a 2-hour drive northwest of Da Nang. The drive there from Da Nang is BEAUTIFUL! You get a great view of the city as you drive up into the mountains, and then you're driving up the curves into the thick forest until you get to the other side. Very serene, relaxing, and cold.... bring a jacket. I honestly don't know much about the city itself - I had to Google a bit about the city after coming back home. It was a nice time, but I would recommend this trip more for the drive than for the city itself.
This... I have no idea yet. I am writing this blog post after a month of arriving, and friends from Thailand had come for a couple of weeks to explore with me. Now that they have left, it's time to make some new friends here!
I really hope that I can call Da Nang my home for many more months!