Today is the last real Saturday in Da Nang and my last week in Vietnam. Next Saturday I fly back to Saigon for one night which I spend at an airport hotel and then fly to Phnom Penh on Sunday. Its been six months here and sometimes it seems the days have just flashed by. A Vietnamese friend asked me my most memorable city and experience. I think the most memorable place has had to be a few so I cannot nominate just one:
- Hanoi. I have come to realize that Hanoi is a city to experience in different ways. If you travel the thin corridors of the old quarter, you will miss the other parts. Only stay around Hoan Kiem Lake and you will not see the bigger West Lake. Travel to the historic Long Bien Bridge and it opens a new vista for you on the history of Vietnam. You can walk from the bridge to West Lake and then on to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and park if you like walking. Probably would take you 30 minutes but you get a view of a city that opens up with tall buildings, still crazy traffic and government buildings where armed security guards tell you “no photographs”. Anyways, I think Hanoi is to be experienced and to do that you have to be on foot. Buses or motorbikes take you at another speed. Walking the city gives you another view of its wonder, sometimes strangeness, and expanse.
- Ho Chi Minh City. I think this place has to be seen to be fully valued and perhaps shocked at sometimes. Its just huge. To walk the city’s myriad districts is to take in multiple cities with old buildings giving way to crowded little streets and Hems that take you through to the old Saigon with the little shoppes and emporiums and places you will wonder at.
- Hue. The imperial city! The home of a palace and outlying tombs. You can wander the palace grounds and get completely lost they are so big. You find yourself in gardens and beautiful buildings and wondrous art.
- Da Nang. I list Da Nang not only for the city but for the wondrous Ba Na Hills and the Golden Bridge, the tour to Cham Islands, the beauty of the riverfront, and the nice beaches a stones throw away. I wandered all over Da Nang or at least I think I did :-). Its a nice town with very nice people, great food and bars and warm temperatures. If you come here expecting cool sea breezes you may be disappointed.
You will notice Hoi An is not on the list. I was not that taken with Hoi An. I liked it at night but there is not the depth of difference of the ancient town compared to the other places I feel. I would not go back to Hoi An. I would return to the above four. I guess if you want a romantic stop or a trip to the beach you could do Hoi An but honestly, Da Nang has more to offer with its riverfront life, downtown areas with cheaper restaurants and nice bars. I also did not list Da Lat as a favorite. I did enjoy tremendously wandering Da Lat, the tours, the natural beauty and the varied and different lifestyle in the highlands. Its just not a place I would return to.
Other places I went were Nha Trang and Vung Tau. I liked both for getaways but I would not return to either. Nha Trang is too touristy and the food is expensive. Vung Tau is pretty but Cham Islands is much nicer.
Since I will be closing out my time in Vietnam, I was thinking of a blogpost with all the links to all the photo albums on Google Photos next week before leaving. I have so many different albums I’ve maintained. Thank goodness Google Photos is free!
That’s about it for now. More to come the final week when I go to Marble Mountains for a day and my final days of wandering the city. Probably one more beach day too since I can walk there.