It’s been a little over two months since we arrived in Vietnam. We are settling in and really enjoy it. When we first arrived in Da Nang, we stayed at the Sofiana Hotel. We can’t say enough good thing about this hotel, it was bright, it was well maintained, the room were large, and the staff was amazing! Our room, with a king size bed and private en-suite bathroom was about USD $25 per night and this included breakfast. If you are traveling to De Nang, we highly suggest this hotel.
We stayed at the Sofiana long enough to get to know the area a bit and to find a comfortable apartment to rent for the 6 months we will be here. We did find a nice two bedroom, two bath apartment in the neighborhood of An Thoung, which is an area very popular with ex pats. Our apartment is in a fairly new building, on the sixth floor. Our balcony looks down onto a rather busy tourist street that is crowded with bars and restaurants. At times it does feel a bit like we are living above Bourbon Street in New Orleans, but most evening it is relatively quiet. (FYI, our monthly rent for the furnished apartment is $390, an extra $100 or so per month covers power, water and internet.)
Da Nang is located on the coast in central Vietnam, to get here we flew into Ho Chi Mihn City (formerly Saigon), wandered around the big city for a couple of days, and then took the overnight train (about 14 hours) to Da Nang.
Da Nang is mainly a tourist town, especially the part of town on the beach side of the Han River. The beaches themselves are some of the most beautiful in the world, with white sugar sand and warm clean water. Unfortunately, when Covid hit it pulled the financial rug out from under many businesses in this town. This is especially true since such a huge portion of the tourist dollars came in from nearby China (which is still under travel lockdown). As a result, the hotels and restaurants that remained open are desperate for business. Prices on rentals have dropped, in many places, to a third of what they were previously.
Alas, this also means that many of the functions of the city that were previously driven by a robust tax structure, such as street cleaning and sidewalk maintenance have fallen a bit behind. But even in the two short months that we have been here, we can see the signs of the end of the harsh “winter of covid”, new shops, restaurants and shops are beginning to open. A few more tourist are in the streets and in the hotels, and clean-up projects are more frequently seen.
What has not dimmed or dropped off is the amazing spirit of the people that live here. They are among the kindest, happiest, and most hospitable people we have encountered anywhere in the world. People you pass on the street, always seem to have a big smile and a big Xin Chao (shin chow) which means hello. With few exceptions, they are not trying to sell you something or ask for money, they are just genuinely friendly folks!
George’s sister Morgan was here for Thanksgiving, which we celebrated with a house full of friends. We are really looking forward to showing off Da Nang to more friends who are coming to visits in the coming months.
We will post more about life and adventures in Vietnam over the coming weeks…