Five Free Things to do in Da Nang

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Whether your passing through or staying for a while, there is always something going on in this epic city. We’re here to tell you about five free things to do in Da Nang.

No great introduction to any new destination has to start with a hefty price tag and Da Nang is no exception. In fact, Da Nang has the unique advantage of offering both beach and city activities.  That alone, makes it the perfect all-round vacation destination.

Five free things to do in Da Nang


Free walking tours are the best way to get a genuine introduction to this amazing city.

The guides are local university students who are are passionate about their city.  It’s also a chance for them to meet new people from all over and to practice their English.

For visitors, this is a chance to meet someone who can tell you more about the local food, entertainment and living side of Da Nang.

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Exploring Da Nang with an amazing free walking tour

The tour lasts about 2 hours and includes five planned stops. Between those, you get a ton of information on where to explore further on your own. It’s super easy to book too, just head to their Da Nang Free Walking Tour website.

Now, we listed this as a free thing to do in Da Nang as you don’t have to pay for the tour. There is an opportunity to give you guide a tip at the end IF you want to. More on that in the link below.

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Come with us as we explore our first Vietnam destination, Da Nang with an amazing free walking tour

Travel Tip!: Test your haggling skills at Han Market while you have an interpreter there with you. That way you can communicate with the seller and you can come back with a bit more confidence later to buy more.

Free Thing #2 – DA NANG BRIDGES

It’s true! Da Nang, is also known as the city of bridges and for good reason. It has 7 bridges and three of them are super stars with their own history. They are Han Bridge, Dragon Bridge and Than Thie Ly Bridge.

The most recognizable of the three is the famous Dragon Bridge. This one comes alive every Saturday and Sunday night at 9PM. Make sure to check it out as not only is watching the bridge fun, but watching the crowd is fascinating too.

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A real dragon that spits real fire! For real!!

Travel Tip!: Not fond of crowds? Then head down Tran Hung Dao street towards the Than Thie Ly bridge where you’ll find the street side vendors. They’ll prepare you a fresh coconut or sugar juice of your choice on request. All you have to do is grab a seat at one of their adorable tiny chairs and tables with the perfect view of the action. A fresh coconut should set you back about VND35,000 (~USD1.50 / ~AUD2.10) and the seat if free.

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This was one of the neatest things we found in Da Nang and believe is part of a worldwide movement.

Local residents were looking for a way to get tourists and locals to interact more with each other. The idea of a fresco village came about and they set out inviting local artists to be part of the initiative.

Their aim was to transform their labyrinth of narrow alleys and high walls into an outdoor gallery where artists could show their talents and visitors could enjoy the artwork for free.  You just have to find the narrow entrance to let the magic begin.

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When street meets art gallery and you can experience it for free!

You can explore this spot in your own time, admiring the artworks and take as many pictures as you like. Each painting tells its own story and there are so many, you wouldn’t know what to look at first.

The Da Nang Fresco Village isn’t far from the city side of Dragon Bridge and absolutely worth the visit.

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Experience a personalized tour of the Da Nang Fresco Village

Travel Tip!: There is a small ‘outdoor food courtyard’ where you can buy a traditional Vietnamese herbal drink. There are other refreshments and light street food available too. It’s not expensive and the money goes back into the project for maintenance and expansion.

Free Thing #4 – MY KHE BEACH

One of Da Nang’s stand out features is without a doubt its spectacular beach called My Khe, (pronounced Mi KE beach).

One of the best things to do on it is to simply walk along it, no matter the time of day. From dawn till dusk it’s everyone from tourists to locals’ favorite playground. It’s a great place to meet locals to, especially in the mornings.

Along Vo Nguyen Giap road is plenty to do, eat and drink too but it will cost you. Not much, just not free.

Travel Tip!: Find a cheap beach cabana for the day. If you want to experience the most epic chill beach day of your life, then hire a lounger under a beach hut/cabana. It will cost you around VND40,000 (~USD1.70 / ~AUD2.40) but shop around, there are a few options. This way you get a comfy spot for the day and you don’t have to worry about getting fried. Also, where there’s a cabana, there’s usually refreshments too and loads of street food vendors that wander along the beach. Perfect, huh?

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Free Thing #5 – LINH UNG PAGODA (Son Tra)

If you’re sitting on your beach lounger chilling on My Khe beach then you will notice a gigantic white figure standing at the base of the Son Tra Peninsula. What is it you ask?

She is the famous Lady Buddha and she is an epic 72 meters tall. The Lady of Mercy isn’t the only amazing thing about this spot either. It’s perfect spot for sunrises and sunsets, not to mention great photos.

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Say hello to the magnificent 70 meter high guardian of My Khe beach

The complex sits on 20 hectares so there is a lot of room. It is super popular with tourist crowds ! If you want the place almost to yourself, then you need to get in and out, well before 8AM or after 5PM-ish.

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Come meet the mysterious tall lady of Son Tra in Da Nang

There is a small catch with this one. The complex is free to enter but you will need to get there which will either be by GRAB, taxi or a rental bike.

Neither of these options are expensive as it is a short ride out there and well worth a visit! If you do rent a bike/scooter than Son Tra Peninsula is another awesome free thing to go and check out!

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If this is your first visit to our site, then welcome!  Head on over to our Things to do in Vietnam Page where we tell you about more things you should add to your Vietnam itinerary.

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Thanks for reading guys and we’ll see you in the next post…

The Reunification Express – Da Nang to Hue

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The Reunification Express - a top ten train ride !

Trains, love them or hate them, they are still very much a part of our modern society.

The daily commute on the work doesn’t exactly inspire romanticism or a burning desire to go traveling either.

It’s usually more of a ‘get me the hell off this thing as fast as possible’ scenario. I know because I traveled by train to work and back for the better part of five and a half years.

Here in Vietnam though, we rediscovered the fun of journeying by train. This adventure took only 2.5 hours and it’s called the Reunification Express. Here’s why we loved every moment of it.

What is the Reunification Express?

It’s a beautiful sounding name isn’t it? And rightfully so but, here’s the thing, it’s not the name of a train, but rather the line itself.

The Reunification Express line spans approximately 1,726 kilometers. It links the capital, Hanoi in the north to bustling Ho Chi Minh City in the south.

Her trains faithfully creek, groan and rattle their way up and down this beautiful country every day, wooing her passengers with spectacular views along the way.

Views of verdant rice paddies, lush jungles and sublime coastal scenes. Not to mention the hair-raising acts of squeezing through tiny towns with practiced precision.

Main stops include Hue (the last imperial capital of Vietnam), Da Nang (tech and beach haven), Nha Trang (Cancun of Vietnam) and Mui Ne (desert meets beach). A stop for every adventure!

We spent three months living in Da Nang and enjoyed a spectacular few days in Hue. We highly recommend these destinations.

Why is it called the Reunification Express?

Jean Marie de Lanessan commissioned the line as part of his vision for the future of Vietnam.

He wanted to create a train line from Hanoi to Sai Gon, calling it the ‘backbone of Indochina’. A trunk line from which other routes would spread. Construction started in 1899 and finished in 1938.

But it wasn’t all roses and sunshine. Sabotage, bombings and destruction inflicted some nasty scars over the years. Scars that were inflicted from World War II through to the end of the Vietnam war, leaving the line in ruins.

All was not lost though. At the end of 1975, Hanoi made efforts towards making the line operational again. At the end of 1976 she was back in business. Reunifying north with south and thereafter known as the Reunification Express.

Sadly, today she displays the signs of poor infrastructure, planning and maintenance. For such an integral part of the country’s transport infrastructure it’s surprising.

Yet through it all, she still performs her duties to the best of her abilities.

What makes the Reunification Express so special?

Simple. It runs along some of the most amazing scenes you will find in Southeast Asia and the South China Sea. Not to mention, she’s on the list of top ten train rides in the world, and for good reason.

We took the opportunity to ride Reunification Express line between the coastal city of Da Nang and the last imperial capital, Hue.

If you’ve never seen images of the Reunification Express, then picture lush, dense jungle covered peaks on one side with a vibrant blue ocean on the other, sprinkled with colorful rural villages in between.

It’s a feast on the eyes and you get to experience the best parts of Vietnam’s 3,260-kilometer coast line. Yup, it is an epic coastline and we can’t wait to experience more of it!

Sold? Want to know how to get in on the action?


The Reunification Express schedule is on the Vietnam Railways website. It doesn’t just cover north to south and visa versa either.

The overall rail system can get you to most places in Vietnam and you’ll find al the schedules on that website.

Travel Tip!: The Vietnam Railway website DOES NOT accept payment from international credit cards (only Vietnamese issued credit cards). If you want to book with an international card, head on over to Baolau . And another head’s up, they do charge extra for the convenience so check your transactions before you hit OK.

Alternatively, you can buy your tickets directly from the train station (or hit up the link below for more options). We purchased our first round the night before and it pays to take you passport with you as they will ask for it. If you chose to buy your ticket on the day, get to the station well before you want to depart. The ques are long and the crowds vast.

Not sure where to start looking for train tickets, time tables and the like?

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There are four trains running between north and south daily, two in morning and two in the evening. Each full trip can take anywhere from 30 – 35 hours plus. And plan on delays. We’ve done the Reunification Express twice now on two different trips and got delayed twice by an hour plus. Nothing out of the norm for here though.

Our advice is to check for your preferred arrival time rather than departure time (if that’s an option). No point getting to your destination at 04:45 and you can’t check in until 14:00.

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No choice in departure time?

There are storage lockers available at a cost in Hanoi. Head through the main doors and towards the waiting rooms. Walk all the way until the last room, the lockers are in there. We haven’t used this service personally.  Last account we could find of costs were VND 50,000 (~USD 2.00 / ~AUD 3.00) for 5 hours or VND 100,000 (~USD 4.00 / ~AUD 6.00) for 8 hours.

Ho Chi Minh City offers lockers too, but we are unable to confirm the costs or location at this time sorry.

If you have some updated info on the locker situation, feel free to hit us up in the comments with the new info. Thanks, we appreciate it!

There were no storage facilities we could see in Da Nang either but most hotels in Vietnam will store your back until it’s time to check in or you’re ready to leave.


Now that you know what it is, where it goes and how to book it, you probably want to know how much a ticket on the Reunification Express costs. Costs and seats go hand in hand.


On the two trains departing in the morning you have the choice between two options of seats and two options of berths and sleepers.

The prices listed below are for adults as at July 2018.  Children under 2 are free and if they are between 2 and 5 years (and shorter than 1.3 m) they are 75% of the adult fare. They have this strange measuring system for kids here too, we’re not sure what that’s about.

Well, let’s get to it then.

The cheapest option is the hard seats at USD 53.00 (~VND 1,222,000 / ~AUD 78.00) and they are as their name suggests, a hard wood bench seat.

The more comfortable soft seat varies between USD 67.00 and USD 68.00 (~VND 1,545,000 / ~AUD 99.00 and ~ VND 1,568,000 / ~AUD 100.00), they are nice leatherette seat that recline and come with a bit of personal space. The latter is gold when travelling in Vietnam, take it from us lol.

When we booked our last trip, the only seats left were forward facing seats, where you share a table with the seats directly opposite you. What we didn’t expect was ‘ol mate in the seat opposite us using the table it as his personal footrest. Bare feet and all lol! We were trying so hard not to laugh and wake him up.

He turned out to be a sweet old man, accompanying a younger family member all the way from Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi. It was fun talking to them.

Also, there are NO HARD SEAT options available on the evening trains. Only soft seats and the two sleeper options.

Speaking of which.

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All four trains offer a choice of four (soft sleepers only) or six (hard sleepers only) berths.

The hard-sleeper will set you back between USD 89.00 and USD 91.00 (~VND 2,052,000 / ~AUD 131.00 and ~VND 2,098,000 / ~AUD134.00) and we wouldn’t recommend this one for the whole 35-hour journey, but it’s your call.

The soft-sleeper comes with better linen and much softer padding and costs around USD 93.00 to USD 95.00 (~VND 2,145,000 / ~AUD 137.00 to ~VND 2,191,000 / ~AUD 140.00), depending on what time you depart.


Believe it or not, there is a luggage allowance on the train. Although, we never saw anybody try and enforce it lol.

You’re allowed one cabin bag and one piece of luggage up to 20KG. If your sitting in a seat, be it hard or soft, you will need to fight for overhead compartment space. Most backpacks will fit up there or you can squeeze them in under your seat.

The hard seats are first choice for local travelers and you will have to fight for a bit of space to store your bags, but it’s all part of the adventure, ‘wink’.

Hard luggage, especially big suitcases are a bit of a pain in this situation. We had to jam one of ours in under out feet and then watch the other passengers commandeer it as a footrest lol.

The other one was sitting the half in the walk way. This meant we had to hold onto it for the whole trip and move it out of people’s way. Not ideal.

Other things luggage related

Oh, and you don’t board from a tradition platform in Da Nang. You have to climb up into the train then heft your bags up from the ground too. If you’re short like Tash lol, you’ll need help getting up there.

We have since moved to backpacks due to a change in plans. We’re hoping this will work in our favor as we are considering the sleeper option later in our travels.

Talking to others who have done the overnight trip, they say it’s best to try and grab the bottom bunks. That way you can put your bags under them.

If you’re on the top, your luggage goes up there with you so, something to think about. Anything of high value should stay as close as possible to you.

(If you’re considering this option and wondering how to secure your valuables, then head on over to this post.  There we tell you how we keep our valuables secure. It’s well worth the read.)


The first thing we always say is to take is water. We make sure to fill up out trusty 1L water bottles for short trips and take extra on longer trips. You can also buy water and other beverages on board.

Not one for Vietnamese cuisine or dubious about where your meal comes from? Then you’re safer option would be to pack your own snacks for the journey. Not saying the food is dodgy, just that the selections cater more towards local travelers and there is minimal English available on board. For our first journey two years ago, we departed at 02:30 and we had some collapsible food containers with snacks in them.  This time round it was a much shorter journey so we didn’t bother to pack snacks.

If you have had the pleasure of dining on the Reunification Express, please share your experience in the comments. We’re super curious to find out if it’s worth it or not. And we will update this post once we have experienced the things we missed out on.

Is the Reunification Express worth the trip?

Riding along the Reunification Express reminds you of why it used to be so much fun riding the train. Sure, it’s not the cheapest option but there are three very good reasons to consider this train line.

One, flights are cheaper but domestic flights are prone to constant delays, cancellations and disruptions. If you’re short on time then flying is your go-to but you miss out on so much scenery by just flying over it.

Two, buses and sleeper buses  are a popular option too. But if you’ve been in Vietnam for an extended period of time, or like us, travel on the roads yourself you would know why this is a terrifying prospect. If you want examples, head on over to our travel updates page.

Apart from safety there are many scams and perils to consider when travelling by bus. Do your homework is all we’re saying.

Three, if you have time up your sleeve for slow travel, try at least one part of it, if not all. The sights will not disappoint and you’ll end up wanting to do either more or all of it next time. Not to mention, slow travel is sooo much more relaxing and enjoyable.

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Riding one of the top train rides in the world and our introduction to Hue!

If this is your first visit to our site, then welcome!  Head on over to our Things to do in Vietnam Page where we tell you about more things you should add to your Vietnam itinerary.

Don’t forget to subscribe and join our Tribe!  You’ll find us on Twitter, Facebook , Insta  and YouTube too!

Thanks for reading guys and we’ll see you in the next post…

Linh Ung Pagoda – Son Tra Peninsula

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Visiting the most famous Lady in Da Nang at the Linh Ung Pagoda in Son Tra

Is it worth trekking out to the Linh Ung Pagoda when you’re in Da Nang? Lets find out.

Where the Linh Ung Pagoda?

Situated on the Son Tra peninsula north of My Khe beach, the tall white figure looking down the beach is  kind of hard to miss. Furthermore, this religious icon is one of Da Nang’s largest and best known landmarks. Who or what is it? She is the impressive 67-meter tall Lady Buddha (also known as the Goddess of Mercy).

The pagoda encompasses approximately 20 hectares and took six years to construct. Surrounded by lush green vegetation and panoramic ocean and city views, it’s a feast on the eyes. You have that feeling of being in a remote location without being too far from civilization.

Linh Ung Pagoda Entry Fee

This particular pagoda sports nine temples in total and endless gardens to explore. If you love taking photos, you could be here for hours. I loved it, and I would definitely go back again for more (but at an early hour this time). Best part is, it’s free!

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Looking for a place with an electric vibe that is perfect for any traveler at any time? Come find out why you should add Da Nang to you must see list for Vietnam!

Update: I wrote this a while ago and since then we’ve been back. This time we got there at 6:30AM and it was bliss. It was hot, even that early (during April) and there were a couple of other smart people out there with us but not many. For two hours we explored in relative peace and got better photos and footage, much to our delight. Highly recommend going out there early morning, especially in summer as it gets hot fast in the mornings.

This pagoda is unique too in that you can visit it during the evening, unlike others in Vietnam. I’m keen to do this at another time as I’m sure the view back to the city at night is pretty spectacular.

We weren’t sure what to expect from this visit either as neither of us has been to a pagoda and thought it a temple initially.  Turns out, a pagoda is an area with several temples and shires in or on it but isn’t one itself.  Never too old to learn aye? Ha-ha

Why is there a place of worship in a random, semi remote spot?

Legend has it a buddha statue mysteriously washed ashore on the peninsula one day. Locals believing it to be an auspicious sign, named the spot “Bai But” (Buddha’s sanctuary on earth), and erected a shrine.

From there on in, the Goddess or Mercy became their watchful deity. Offering protection and strength from the wrath of storms, and bringing peace to everyday life.

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We can only find a couple of accounts of this story online, but we can confirm it is still the original site of worship. Today it offers a place to pray as well as a unique visiting experience. If you’re lucky enough to speak to one the monks, they might tell you a tale or two about the ancient history of the temples. We hear that is rare though.

How to get to Linh Ung Pagoda

A short ten-minute drive from Da Nang city will get you to the entrance of the park. You could walk there from the city, but it’s a long way and all uphill. Be prepared with good shoes and plenty of water if you do decide to go that way.

Arriving at the entrance you’re greeted by an impressive stone staircase.

At the top of the staircase is the three-entrance gate, hence the name Linh Ung (three gates) Pagoda (an area where there are multiple temples and shires, which this site has many of.)

Once you cross the threshold, you’re surrounded by a serene scene of beautiful manicured gardens, dotted with statues. If that doesn’t impress you, the view back over the ocean certainly will.

What is there to see?

The Goddess of Mercy

The garden won’t hold your attention long though. You instinctively want to gravitate towards Lady Buddha and her calming effect. Even with the selfie-stick wielding crush robbing you of the experience.

(I’ll be honest and say I could only handle the crowd for a short period of time. By 10AM the place was already crawling with busloads of tourists and that’s on us. We did get there later than anticipated and read about the madness. They were running around snapping pictures as fast as they could, then scurrying off to the next spot with little regard for anybody around them.) The best times to go seems to be early morning or evenings. Something to keep in mind if you’re only in town for a short time.

Getting away from the selfie stick brigade

Not quite the peaceful experience you were expecting? Me either but fear not, there are plenty of quiet spots to retreat to.

The Goddess of Mercy is impressive and you can’t help but feel safe in her gentle gaze. She has another treat hidden at the base of her feet though. Nestled inside the 30-meter diameter lotus flower pedestal is a small temple.

Close your eyes and spend a minute here to absorb the cool and tranquil calm, it’s heavenly on the senses. It can be hard to tune out those few that treat it like an amusement park, but well worth the visit.

Finding peace from the crowds

I did take a few minutes outside a couple of the other temples too. Walking past the main temple to the right, we found two buildings joined by an alfresco-ish type roof. It recognizable by the two rows of large wooden statues.

That spot was by far my favorite. It almost looked like an invisible force field surrounded the building. The crowd just seemed to unconsciously flow around and away from it. It was fascinating to watch

I sat there, absorbing the tranquil surroundings. Watching the crowd mill around as the ocean played backdrop to the whole scene.

I’m not sure if it was sheer luck or what? For those twenty minutes I only saw five people enter the space. I was grateful for the opportunity to spend the time with my thoughts. It’s a memory I will always cherish.

Also, on this trip I learnt never to turn your back on a Buddha statue. You should back away while still facing the statue before you turn around and walk away. (Please feel free to leave a comment if you can add to this.) While I’m not a religious person myself, I can respect others beliefs and be mindful of them.

The Bonsai trees and Arhats at Linh Ung Pagoda

The area in front of the main temple hosts an impressive collection of bonsai trees. Flanked by 18 arhats (those who have attained nirvana, but not full Buddhahood) frames this garden beautifully. Each one depicting a different human emotion. I would’ve loved to learn more about these guys but that might need an experienced tour guide.

I’ll keep you posted if I do learn more about them.

Travel Tip!: If you do go into any of the actual temples please be mindful that these are active places of worship. Be quiet and respectful to those inside the temple praying. Take off your shoes (always!), there are signs everywhere to tell you when to take them off. If you’re wearing shorts and singlets, please cover your shoulders and legs. Ladies make sure you carry a sarong or scarf with you, it will come in handy.

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On our walk to the last temple at the back of the park, we found another Buddha statue. Sitting peacefully under the canopy of a rubber tree, accompanied by four others. This spot seemed to go unnoticed by the crowds too. It’s the perfect place to sit for a minute and take in the view.

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A half day visit to the Linh Ung Pagoda in Da Nang

To the side and back of the pagoda is the Tap Sa Loi tower.  I wish I could give you more info but I’m finding it hard to source English info and translating Vietnamese doesn’t help much.

The last find on our Linh Ung Pagoda visit

What we can say is that has a distinct nautical feel to it and give me the impression this is where the maritime worshippers come to give thanks for protection from the elements and abundance from the ocean.

It also has a giant sleeping Buddha below it with another beautiful garden and view. This spot seemed less chaotic and worth a look.

See if you can spot the surprises in the bonsai trees (wink-wink), they are all over the pagoda.

Travel Tip!: Take plenty of water with you. We burnt through a liter in two hours (it was pretty hot). I didn’t see anywhere to buy more (not that I braved the crowded spots). Plus, if you bring your own, you’re not adding to the rubbish that is ever present. My trusty 1lt drink bottle goes everywhere with me and it was invaluable here!

There is a lot to enjoy at the Linh Ung Pagoda and it’s a pleasure to explore.  Volunteers do an amazing job of looking after the place and a dedicated team ensure the beautiful gardens look their best (we salute your efforts). And butterflies! The only other place I’ve seen this many butterflies, was the east coast of Australia. Plenty of birds to keep a keen eye out for too. I can go on and on lol, but it worth seeing if you come to Da Nang.

Wondering what else there is to do in Da Nang?

If this is your first visit to our site, then don’t forget to go to our Things to do in Vietnam Page for more ideas on what to see and do!

 We also have a pretty good library of all our Vietnam adventures on our  Leon and Tash YouTubel channel, perfect for those times where you just want to watch instead of read. Hope you enjoy it!

Thanks for reading and see in in the next post…

Marble Mountain Da Nang Vietnam

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The legend of Marble Mountain Da Nang

Marble Mountain. Sounds majestic doesn’t it?

There is a legend that surrounds this outcrop of hills and it dates back thousands of years. It speaks of a great mystical dragon rising out of the ocean, making it’s way onto the shore of Bãi tắm non nước (Non Nuoc Beach). There it buried and egg before mysteriously returning to ocean.

The egg laid dormant for one thousand days and one thousand nights. On the thousandth night, it hatched and out came a beautiful girl. The shell broke into five pieces. They named after Hoa Son ( the element of fire), Tho Are (earth), Thuy Son (water), Kim Son (metal) and Moc Son (wood).

Those five pieces are what we know today as Marble Mountain. What happens to the girl in this story is unclear. In another tale she is a fairy that hatches from the egg and rises to heaven to marry the Turtle God. Those are snippets of some of the folktales we’ve read about and there are many of them.

What is constant throughout all the stories is the creation of the five hills. Their history is pretty interesting too. There are several accounts of it purpose throughout the years. Some describe it as pilgrimage site, others the marble carving site it is famous for today. There are even the stories of it being a spy spot during the American/Vietnam war. It was a way to keep an eye on the troops who inhabited My Khe beach at the time. Or so it goes.

Getting there

Like most places in Da Nang, it’s an easy spot to get to and only a 20-minute drive from Da Nang city.

There are plenty of tour operators with a multitude of options.  Or if you’d rather wing it on your own, you can hire a scooter and shoot out there or hop on the local bus that runs between Da Nang and Hoi An. This option might be tricky due to the language barrier and ticket purchasing not being the easiest to obtain. We had a friend who took this bus recently and said the funniest thing for her was that she could get on easily but getting off was near impossible lol. Turns out the bus doesn’t have a stop signal and it doesn’t stop unless requested.  Sounds like fun lol. In addition to that, ticket prices are hard to nail down.  We’ve found a lot of variances but can’t tell why that is.

We opted for our usual share ride, Grab and the ride only cost us VND 47,000 (USD 2.07).

Carving masterpieces

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Marble carving is still a big part of the area and the creations are breathtaking. The marble in these hills have long gone. Today the artists rely on supplies from other regions of Vietnam or in some instances China. Irrespective of where the stone comes from, it is all beautifully crafted.

Yeah, even the copies of other statues are impressive. Hey, it’s south east Asia, it’s almost expected lol.

We’ve seen some interesting items hewn from the stone. There are the Buddha statues that are 12 feet high and almost as wide. Plenty of lions and shi shi’s, even small items of jewelry. While the carvings are impressive, it’s Marble Mountain herself that delivers the wow-factor.

And yes, it’s true, there is an elevator. In its defense though, the stairs can be tricky, but more on that later.

First impressions of Marble Mountain

Arriving at Thuy Son (Marble Mountain’s Vietnamese name) can be a bit underwhelming to be honest. She is smallish looking but still impressive.
The thing is, you have to run the gauntlet of merchants trying to sell you their wares first. The merchants we were aware of thanks to a tip from a friendly local the night before. Thanks Tam!

Then you have to fight your way through the never-ending line of tour buses. That and their hordes of passengers. They all disembarking in the same spot. This one was a bit of a surprise at 8 AM as we’d read that the tour buses don’t start arriving until the 9 AM mark. Lesson learnt. To be fair, there weren’t as many tourists at that stage as there was by 10 AM. That was when it got real busy.

And before you run off, give it a minute, she gets better…

This way to the elevator

By 8 AM it was already sweltering too and we decided to take the elevator.

Yup, your eyes are not deceiving you. To allow everybody access to of the mountain, they installed two elevators. The stairs from the ground level are tall and super slippery, a tricky combo, even for the seriously fit and able.

The elevator only eliminates the first section of steps, so don’t too excited lol. You have another two thousand or so steps to look forward to from that point on.

It’s a good bum work out or in my case a good excuse to ditch the morning workout for a sleep in lol. The upside is that you don’t have to be super fit. If you haven’t done a day’s exercise in your life, you might be sore the next day but anything over that and you’ll be fine.

Marble Mountain entry fee

There is a cost to using the lift and accessing the mountain. If you choose to use the lift it will cost you VND 15,000 (approx. USD 0.66) one way, per person. Access to Marble Mountain will cost you VND 40,000 (approx. USD 1.75) per person. For the two of us it came to a total of VND 115,000.

The total confused us a bit because there was an extra VND 15,000 that we weren’t sure what it was for. We tried asking about it but the ladies at the register didn’t speak of word of English. Either we were getting duped or the price had gone up since the day before lol. In the end we let it slide as it was a small amount. It was a little annoying not knowing what it was for is all.

Also, there is another cave mouth at the entrance of Marble Mountain. When we tried to go up to it, we couldn’t go in as it’s not included in the ticket we had and we had to pay another entry fee. We opted not to in the end. If you have been and want to give some insight, please drop us a comment. Thank you.

Buying tickets

The ticket office sits to the right of the elevators and down the hill. Don’t go too far down the hill as you’ll have to run another merchant gauntlet lol.

Our first impression was good. The gardens surrounding the foot of the mountain were beautiful. Lots of ponds and lotus blossoms everywhere and plenty of shaded seating. It has a pleasant and welcoming feel to it. It was surprisingly clean too which was a nice change from the norm. But we were not there to see the entrance. We had a whole mountain to go and explore, so, we set off to do that.

Travel Tips!: 

Take plenty of water. You can buy drinks, fresh coconuts and ice cream but the selections are limiting. It can get pricey too if you’re there for a longer visit. You’ll need a fair bit of fluids on hot days too. In addition, we took some electrolyte tablets with us and that helped too.

If you have one of those cooling towels, that could be a good option too. Ours came in handy inside the smaller spaces filled with lots of people. It can get hot quick.

Comfortable clothing and shoes. There are a lot of stairs and on hot days you’ll be sweating a lot so dress to your comfort levels. Make sure you have comfortable shoes! (High heels work from what we saw but we wouldn’t recommend it as it may limit where you can go). It doesn’t have to be expensive gear either, good grip and support is all you need.

While we didn’t buy anything from the merchants, the advice we got was to haggle hard with these guys. They super inflate the prices and you’re probably not getting the bargain you’re looking for. Work out what you want to spend in your own currency, convert it and stick to your guns!

Meet the mountain

The elevator ride was brief. At the top we soaked in that spectacular view. We watched the shoreline stretching all the way to the south on our right. To our left the four other outcrops completing Marble Mountain. Between the hills are hundreds of older style Vietnamese homes, carved up by the maize of roads. It almost feels like you’ve darted back in time as the whole scene has an old worldly feel to it.

The first stop was the Xa Loi Tower. We didn’t stay long as the area got crowded quick. There were some great photo opportunities of the tower and its gardens, as well as the view out over the ocean.

We found our first set of real marble steps on the way to the Linh Ung Pagoda. These things were as tall as my knee is to my ankle lol. I’m only 5”4’ so it seemed huge!

Again, this pagoda was bustling with bodies and hawkers were not shy to grab you and try and sell you stuff. We side stepped the madness and made our way to the Lady of Mercy statue sitting to the right of the temple.


Hidden walkways

What was cool about this spot was the decorative dragons. Each one adorning the six concrete pillars supporting the pagoda roof.

Made of broken glass and pottery pieces, they were beautiful and almost seemed alive.

The whole area felt welcoming and peaceful. Lush greenery framing a pond and moat with a quaint bridge to the pagoda. It was here, taking photos that we realized there was a discreet walkway to the right and behind the big temple.

Tucked away in a cool, dim corner was this epic 10’ carving of mythical creatures. The detail was amazing. You could see the love and care that went into its creation.

But it didn’t hold our attention for long.

It was the lead in to a brick walkway with a genuine hole in the rock! Slipping through that, we were face to face with our first cave.

The Caves

Thang Chon Cave

Turns out we’d discovered Marble Mountain’s third largest cave, Tang Chon. Inside the space was a cool blissful reprieve from the searing heat outside.

Once our eyes adjusted to the dim light we could see a massive Buddha in front of us. Sitting silently in its alcove observing the crowd. To the right sat a temple. Bathed in light from holes in the ceiling above it looked so peaceful and beautiful.

The Buddha and temple weren’t the only inhabitants of the cave. After exploring the space some more, we found another Buddha. Tucked away in a dark, eyes closed looking serene. This one was smaller and made of metal. The hole in the roof above it had a bright beam of light shining down it, making it look ethereal.

Going up the stairs past the smaller Buddha, we found a neat little surprise. Up the stairs and looking back, we found a great angle of the big Buddha through a hole cut out of rock face. We had to be patient with the crowd to get the right shot, but thought it was worth it.

Lots to explore

More exploring lead to yet another Buddha statue in a smaller cave leading off Tang Chon. This one was about 15 feet high and carved from the rock formation surrounding its base.

What made it so spectacular? It was the way the natural light came streaming through the holes in the rock illuminated the space. Almost like the main focus is to light up the statue only. There were small bats flying around everywhere, giving you a feel for being inside a real cave.

Thinking that was the best part of Marble Mountain we set off looking for more places to explore.

Van Thong Cave

Our next stop was at the top of a decent staircase, designed to test your fitness levels, lol. On the other side was this weird little hole into the side of the mountain. Getting to it proved tricky too as it was slippery with minimal proper stairs to rely on. (I was totally amazed by the women climbing this thing in high heels!)

Navigating the route wasn’t too hard but once inside we realized it was the wrong move. The space was small and filling with people fast. Chunks of smoothed marble was all over the floor, making it hard to walk or stand on.

We didn’t see anything enjoyable about this space so decided to get out. That’s when we hit a snag, the crowd coming up into the space was starting to block both ways in and out.

Let’s get out of here!

We had the choice of standing in line to climb up this tiny space to who knows where or turn around and go back the way we came. We chose to go back the way we came and ended up being stuck there for ten minutes trying to get out.

Finally, we made it out, drenched in sweat and a little frustrated. In the end we had to fight our way past the people who kept coming in a never-ending stream. Why was this a problem? Once you start your climb outside you have no idea what lies ahead. The route twists and turns out of sight and it’s not until you hit the jam that you know about it. But that was the only unpleasant experience of the day.

Heaven’s Gate

Giving up on Van Thong cave, we found this ornate gate with some stairs to the side of it. We walked past a sign pointing to something called Heaven’s Gate. Then followed the stone carved path, eager to found it what it was about.

Sounds lovely doesn’t it? It was but first we had to survive the stairs from hell lol. Tall and slippery going on and on. At one point we were starting wonder if we were actually climbing to heaven lol.

Arriving at the top, we were almost pushed back down the stairs with a wave of bodies descending from above. We had no idea where these people were coming from but there were a lot of them. Turns out it was from a very small hole at the top of this outcrop.

That’s when it dawned on us. This was the hole out of Van Thong cave, the one we thought we managed to avoid. It seems Van Thong had the last laugh. Lol.

Is the schlep up there worth it?

Fighting the crowd was not fun, but we sat on an outcrop of marble taking in the view. What a view it was too! We could see all the way from Da Nang to Hoi An (almost lol). We were up there for a good fifteen minutes. The breeze was refreshing and the amazing view rejuvenated us. With a lull in the crowd, we took the opportunity to climb back down to the ground to see what else we could find.

Heaven’s Gate is the second highest peak on Marble Mountain. Be warned though, it is slippery! The path, smoothed down from years of use and exposure to the elements can get nasty. Thing is, we didn’t find much of this in reviews or from talking to others, which surprised us. We were just glad we were wearing good shoes.

That was the second hardest part of the day.

Hoa Ngiem Cave

We found another ornate gateway and followed the simple pathway to a very tall statue of the Lady of Mercy. (She looked like a replica of the Lady Buddha in Son Tra.)

Further to her left we made our way to tunnel leading to this massive space. Bathed in the same light, pouring from holes in the rock formation turning it ethereal too. Descending down big carved steps, we passed four warrior statues sporting fierce reactions. Painted in bright colors, there were very lively looking.

This experience was amazing. Surrounded by a serene and peaceful vibe as soon as our feet hit the ground, we stood there, absorbing it all. Every person there seemed to be under its spell too. This was the one spot where the crowd seemed happy to respect the energy. It was an absolute pleasure to experience and one of my favorite parts of the day.

We got some awesome shots from this spot too. It was almost like we were there at the perfect time. The light, the vibe, everything just felt right in that moment.

Tam Thai Pagoda

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Leon and Tash Vlog

Come explore this legendary Da Nang attraction as we explore all it's nooks and crannies.

At this stage of the day it was getting pretty hot so we took some shelter. We found this massive rotunda with a gorgeous thatched roof, all to ourselves. Sitting away from the crowds it was a great spot to catch our breath. There were smaller picnic tables scattered around it and buffered with lush greenery.

Seated away from the main flow of the crowd made it the perfect breather spot as nobody else came up there. To the side we watched a couple of ladies selling fresh coconuts and some chilled drinks. We decided to buy a drink each and got a couple of free wet wipes with it which was a nice little bonus.

While we were going over a few things and reloading batteries in the cameras, we made a discovery. The explanation for the extra VND 15,000 (~USD 0.65 / ~AUD 0.90) from the entry fee earlier in the day became clear. The map we had contained a set of postcards with photos from Marble Mountain. In the fine print we spotted the additional charge for the postcards (An not much of a deal either, which made it disappointing because we would have been happy about it if we could actually use them.). A clever, but sneaky tactic used by the office staff to up sell we guessed.

Leon did question the extra charge at the time, and we had to deal with the whole ‘no English’ thing and now we know why lol. So, if you’re not interested in buying postcards, double check your tickets before you pay.

After our break we set off to the biggest cave in the mountain.


Last stop

There was one more stop on the map before we called it a day on Marble Mountain. This spot housed two more temples. Both with gorgeous courtyards and tropical gardens overlooking the valley below. The wind was toying with some wind chimes in one corner giving off a pleasant spiritual vibe.

At this point we’d been there for four hours and thought the temples were the last stop (according to the map). But there was more. After that, we found two more outlook pagodas. Both had awesome views over the ocean and back towards Hoi An.

We found plenty more stairs we thought was the way out. It wasn’t! We had to climb them all back up to where we came from and find the right way out lol.

Luckily for us the way out wasn’t too far from where we made our wrong move.

Overall impression of Marble Mountain

I’ll be honest and say that we weren’t sure how the day was going to go. We read a lot of reviews saying either we wouldn’t be there long or we could spend a few hours there. For us personally though, we had a blast. How many people can say they climbed all over a place of mystic folklore or connected to a real historic connection?

We thoroughly enjoyed our time on Marble Mountain. Taking in the sights, learning all we could and coming away with an awesome video and some kick ass photos. It is whatever you make of it at the end of the day.

Update:  We have since learnt that we missed a fair bit of Marble Mountain.  We opted not to trek out to the caves in the other hills because we didn’t want to get there and then be told we have to pay extra.  While, we thought the ticket we brought covered all of Marble Mountain, we can safely say that was not the case for us.  Whether they try it on with unsuspecting tourists or not we’re not sure either but it sure seems that way.  Consequently, it wasn’t worth the hassle of trying to avoid the hustle. I guess it’s just disappointing having to deal with it especially when you have a genuine interest in supporting their cause.

Would we recommend Marble Mountain?

Yes, if you have three days to a week or so, definitely. Depending on what you find interesting on your travels you might also be able to squeeze it into a short visit too. Either way it’s a good day out.

It’s not just the mountain that is the attraction. The plants and creatures are great too. Loads of flowers (plenty of orchid species) and Leon even saw a scorpion on one of the less crowded peaks. (I didn’t even know there were scorpions here lol). Oh, and heads up, watch where you sit too.

The thing we loved (and in one instance disliked), was that you could go anywhere and touch most things.

With the exception of the temples and some Buddha statues. Keep an eye out for those as you will need to take your shoes off to get closer to them.

Other than that, we could climb in, over and onto pretty much everything as there wasn’t anybody to shoo you away or yell at you. It was that hands on encounter that made it so much fun for us!

What did you think of Marble Mountain?

Well that the story of our visit to Marble Mountain. If you’ve had the pleasure of visiting this unique place and want to share them, chuck us a comment. Likewise, if you have any questions.

And if this is your first visit to our site, welcome!  Head on over to our Things to do in Vietnam Page where we tell you about more things you should add to your Vietnam itinerary.

Don’t forget to subscribe and join our Tribe!  You’ll find us on Twitter, Facebook , Insta  and YouTube too!

Thanks for reading guys and we’ll see you in the next post…

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Da Nang Fresco Village – a painted paradise

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Looking for an artwork experience with a difference?

Then find out why the Da Nang Fresco Village is a must see on your Da Nang itinerary!

What makes the Da Nang Fresco Village so interesting and why should you go see it?

 That’s easy…

It’s a refreshingly different insight into,

  • Da Nang local culture
  • folklore, and
  • meeting talented local artists.


The Fresco Impact

In a city where growth is rampant, you have to give kudos to thinking minds. The face and spirit of Da Nang is rapidly changing with a big impact on local values and culture.

As little as six years ago it was a quiet seaside fishing town boasting simple living. Now there are hotels and resorts sprouting with lightning efficiency. Today there are more foreigners and out of towners than locals and that has a big impact.


Getting to know the community behind the project

The one thing I love most about travel is getting to know the inhabitants of the city I’m in. Beside being in a new destination, you also get to experience a genuine sense of culture, spirit and community. For a brief time you get to live life as someone else. You feel what they feel. You see the way they see and hear what they hear. Those experiences can leave lasting impressions.

Da Nang Vietnam Things to do in Da Nang danang murals paintings

Da Nang is paying attention to these modern methods of introducing tourists to local culture. The city is finding clever ways to introduce the ever-increasing hordes of foreigners to her way of life. No easy feat for any city, let alone one experiencing this level of rapid change. The Da Nang Fresco village is one of these initiatives and it’s well worth the visit!


Introducing the Da Nang Fresco Village

By now you might be wondering what a fresco village is.  A fresco, in short, it’s a painting done in watercolor on wet plaster on a wall or ceiling. The ‘village’ part relates to the neighborhood that scarified the outer walls of their homes to the cause.

So, when I first read about the Da Nang Fresco Village I knew this was going to be something extraordinary. We hadn’t been to a fresco village before and I can see why it’s so popular.

It gives you the sense of an open-air gallery of sorts, almost like a refined form of street art. It has that intimate feel about it. The one where you feel like you’re the only person there. You’re not only seeing the art on the wall, but you’re also absorbing it in the environment around you.

This project was the brainchild of a forward-thinking local community. Some of these families have been here for many generations. While others are supporters who came here, proud and passionate about their new home.

They not only want to preserve their history and culture but they also want to showcase it.

How did they do it? They teamed up with some very talented local artists to create something special. They created Da Nang’s first fresco or mural village.

Where is the Da Nang Fresco Village?

Location: 75 Nguyễn Văn Linh, Phước Ninh, Hải Châu, Đà Nẵng

If you didn’t know exactly where on the map it is, you could easily walk past it and not know it. The small entrance sits off Nguyen Van Linh, not far from the Dragon Bridge.

As soon as you enter the small alley you’re transported to authentic Vietnam. Away from all the resort hustle and bustle.

Best time to visit

Unlike most attractions, this one doesn’t have hours.  The best time to visit is during the day to get the most out of your visit.

It’s neighborhood and you can visit it as long as you are being respectful to the residents.

How did the project come to be?

There is approximately 1,200 square meters of painted alleyways to feast your eyes on. The collaboration between artists and home owners provided a breathtaking labyrinth of murals.

Artists spent three months completing these frescoes. Each one telling its own story. Each depicting something about the area be it historic, cultural, scenic or legend. Every stroke drawing you deeper into the scene. 

It can be a constantly battle between wanting to stay longer or rush to the next one.

The community is proud of this project and eager to share it with anyone. They love listening to comments and eagerly inhale any feedback to continue its success.

An unexpected personal tour

In particular was one of the gentlemen we spoke to at the start of village, who told us about how the project came to be.

Nhan himself, a Ho Chi Minh City native, moved and ended up staying in Da Nang to be a part of this project.

His excitement was so contagious we couldn’t help but get excited with him.

After talking to Nhan for a few minutes, he volunteered to take us around and tell us more about the works. That was an absolute treat!


Hooray for amazing volunteers!

This is purely a community initiative with neighborhood people volunteering their time, services and products to the cause.

It’s not just about walking around and looking at pretty street art either.

The village also features an arts and crafts area for those wanting to explore their own creative side. You will have the choice of painting a nón lá (traditional Vietnamese leaf hat) or theater mask. Don’t want to get your hands dirty?  That’s fine too, you can simply pick a souvenir to take with you.

The food area showcases Da Nang food and those cooking are happy to chat and answer any questions while they cook your dish.  The dishes are simple, fresh and tasty with decent variety for everyone to enjoy.

What is great about the food area too is that the murals in the courtyard are courtesy of the neighborhood kids. Turns out they are just as talented as their adult mentors.At the moment, the alleys are functioning roads. There is a fair bit of scooter traffic zipping up and down so it pays to be vigilant.

Aiming for bigger and better

Nhan also told us that there will be other cultural additions to the project in time. Their hope is to expand the murals further. They want to make it bigger as well as add more cultural activities for visitors to enjoy.

There have been calls to make the area a pedestrian only zone but we haven’t hear much about that since.


These aren’t just pretty pictures

While the fresco’s are beautiful, each one has it’s own tale to tell.  The pink wings for instance. It tells of a mythical creature with a love of earthly things.  On one particular visit she is tricked, causing her to lose her wings, leaving her stranded on earth.

We won’t give it all away, but make sure you ask about them as they include folklore and poetry too.


Something special

Special mention should definitely go to the owner of little refreshment station.

Half way through the village we came across a small seating area offering a drink. There was a sign pointing to a colorful tray displaying all the ingredients.  It was very clever and visually appealing.

Da Nang Vietnam Things to do in Da Nang danang murals paintings

We enjoyed a traditional Vietnamese drink called nuoc mia. Traditionally it’s made from sugar juice, blended with ginger and lemongrass. This brew had a few other herbs and spices added to it and that’s the beauty of it, it too can be creative. A refreshing treat at a small cost and well worth supporting!

Support the Da Nang Fresco Village!

We had a fantastic time here and learnt more about Vietnam, her beautiful culture and rich history. We also met some passionate locals who are happy to make a new friend or two, just like us.

If you would like to learn more about this project, please go to their Facebook page. A massive thanks to all those involved in this initiative, you’ve done a great job!

There is a lot to learn from a local. In fact, we’re excited to see what the future holds for this project. If you do too, please support them, it’s worth it!

Da Nang Vietnam Things to do in Da Nang danang murals paintings

Leon and Tash Vlog

Follow us as Nhan takes us through the village and explains how it came to be and what it means to the local community

If this is your first visit to our site, welcome!  Head on over to our Things to do in Vietnam Page where we tell you about more things you should add to your Vietnam itinerary.

Don’t forget to subscribe and join our Tribe!  You’ll find us on Twitter, Facebook , Insta  and YouTube too!

Thanks for reading guys and we’ll see you in the next post…

Free walking tour intro to Da Nang

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Da Nang's Free Walking tour and why it's the best way to get to know the city!

One of our favorite things to do when we land in a new city is to go on a free walking tour. It’s the best way to get the lay of the land if you are short on time or you just want a quick intro into your destination. The best part is the guide is usually a passionate local, with an astonishing network. They can tell you where to find all the other goodies too like good food, coffee and attractions to mention a few.

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The free walking tour platform is used worldwide with great effect. Each city has it’s own unique way of delivering a stellar experience. Each experience giving you something completely different . We’ve also introduced a few of our travel Tribe to these tours and we can all agree that we are totally hooked.

While you don’t pay to go on a free walking tour, you have the option of giving a tip. If you feel the guide has delivered a good service or you’ve had a satisfactory experience, it’s the right thing to do. But again, not compulsory.

In saying that though, we’ve never come across a free walking tour we didn’t tip for. In fact, we’ve had amazing experiences and met some amazing individuals on all our walking tours so far.

How to find the Da Nang Free walking tour

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We were pleasantly surprised to find a free walking tour in our new home of Da Nang. See, on our previous trip to Vietnam, we knew nothing of Da Nang other than it was the best way to get to Hoi An. Like everybody else, we flew into Da Nang, drove straight to Hoi An and we were back three days later only to leave again.

We spent one day and night in Da Nang and it was a pleasant surprise. But it did make us question why we hadn’t heard much about this city and why there wasn’t much to find. Had we found more, we probably would have stayed longer.

See, even as little as two years ago, this city was pretty quiet. It was only known for a handful of resorts and a small number of attractions. Not enough to make you look at it twice. The city however, has changed a lot since then and this free walking tour is one of many initiatives to put Da Nang on the travel map.

This quiet city with humble fishing origins, has bloomed into a top southeast Asia holiday destination. More and more people are flocking to her shores to enjoy her spectacular offerings. It’s easier to find the abundance in choices of international-class resorts and hotels. Not to mention attractions. All in all, she is becoming a destination superstar.

But what do we really know about Da Nang? As it turns out, not much. But Mai and Vy from Da Nang Free Walking Tours changed all that.

What does the free walking tour cover?

The girls met us at the Da Nang Visitors Center at 9AM sharp and we set off not long after that. This tour covered five stops, three of which we hadn’t been to before. (Anybody that has traveled with us will know we go almost EVERYWHERE by foot. It’s one of the best ways to experience a place on a whole different level, plus it’s easier on the planet and pocket.)



Our first stop was Han Market. This market sits on the main road next to, you guessed it, the Han River. Established in 1902 and it was only accessible to the wealthy at the time. This could explain its small size, but you will still find a lot of great stuff crammed into this tiny space. (Han has a bigger brother called the Con Market which is almost quadruple the size but you need a ton of patience to traverse that beauty.)

Today it is a bustling market for all to enjoy. Here you can find anything from fresh fish, veg and fruit to dried goods. And if you in the market for clothing or shoes, then this is your spot. The second floor is jam-packed with clothing and shoe stalls as well as fabric stalls. Girls, you can even have a traditional Vietnamese long dress made here and for VD500,000 (~USD22.00 / ~AUD30.00). Not bad for a tailor made outfit.

Update: Since writing this post I had a dress made here and it ended up being more than I expected to spend because of the language barrier.  In all fairness though, it was a nice dress and I do love wearing it.

Also, after our last visit to Da Nang in January (2019) I spotted plenty of places on the beach side of the city that offer to make the long dress for much cheaper than the price mentioned above.  Definitely shop around before you hand over cash!

Travel Tip!: If you do buy something here, be prepared to be a bullet proof haggle master. Never accept the price they give you. We were told to half the original price and haggle from there. Best advice we can give you is work out what you are prepared to pay for that item in your own currency first. Then convert it to Vietnamese Dong and go from there. Also, it is their livelihood, so please be respectful. If you stick to a realistic price, then everybody wins. Also, wear closed in shoes. There is a lot of water on the floor in the fresh section  of Han Market and it gets slippery.


The next stop was the Chicken Church. Silly name I know, I’ll get to that in a minute.

I was so excited about this one. As the appointed photographer of our little team, I’m constantly looking to improve my skills. One of the best ways to do that is to look at other photographers work and learn from them. One of the subjects that always pops up in photos of Vietnam is this gorgeous pink cathedral. When I found out  it was in Da Nang and on this tour, I did a little happy dance. This was finally my chance to see it in person!

The Da Nang Cathedral is the largest place of worship in the city. Construction started in 1923 and completed in 1924 and it is still in use today.

Nobody can tell us why it’s painted pink. We think it has something to do with the original French influence but feel free to comment if you know the answer. We do however, know why it’s called the chicken church lol.

After construction was completed, the builders added a wind vane to the tip of the bell tower. At the time weather vanes with a rooster on top were all the rage in Europe but not so much here in Vietnam. The locals, gave it one look and dubbed it Con Ga Church (or Chicken church).

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This one was more of a walk-by due to the admission price. The Cham museum we hear is a fascinating look at the Cham people and their influences on Vietnamese history. We understand that the Cham kingdom use to stretch from central Vietnam as far down as the Mekong Delta.  They eventually became part of Vietnam and why you can see so much of their ancient relics in this area.


We didn’t have to go far to get to our next stop. The famous Dragon Bridge, one of the four most famous bridges in the city. This large, bright yellow scaled creature stretches across the Han River and is hard to miss.

The girls asked us if we knew what shape the eyes of the dragon was. (Bit of a trick question on their part because we were standing at the tail end, lol). We knew the eyes were the shape of a heart, but we couldn’t tell them why.

Turns out the head purposely faces the beach rather than the city (the latter made more sense to us). This position is intentional so the head can welcome visitors into the city of Da Nang. The heart shaped eyes, make it look friendly and welcoming. Upon closer inspection, we realized the creator had hidden hearts all along the body of the beast. 

We also learnt that in Eastern mythology, dragons are good omens. Whereas everybody else tends to see them as scary or a threat. This was the other reason the eyes are the shape of hearts. They represent love and friendship.

That’s not the only cool thing about this dragon. It comes alive too! Yup you read that right. Every Saturday and Sunday night at 9PM, it spits fire for two minutes, then water for three minutes. It’s so much fun to watch.


Our last stop was the Han Bridge. The first of the famous four built in Da Nang. Construction started in 1997 and finished in 1998. While it doesn’t look like much in comparison to the others, it does have its own cool factor.

Every Friday through to Sunday night between 11PM and 12AM this bridge does a dance. She swings on her axis to allow vessels to sail from the ocean into the Han River and vice versa.

Leon and Tash Vlog

Come for walk with us and see what you've been reading about!

After an hour and a half we were sad to say goodbye to the girls. We had such a great time getting to know them and their beautiful city better.

All the guides are uni students who are passionate about the city they life in. They enthusiastically share that passion far and wide. It’s also an opportunity for them to practice their English skills, so don’t be shy. If you take part in this free walking tour, get into it, talk to them, engage them. You will not regret it.

We had a great time and great conversations with the girls! (I have to admit too that there were three other girls, but I don’t have their names unfortunately. I suffer from goldfish memory a lot lol)

Travel Tip!: Take plenty of drinking water if you go. We had our trusty 1lt bottles with us and we sucked it dry in no time. 

Tipping Guide

While you don’t pay to participate in the tour, you are welcome to give your guides a tip and we encourage people to consider doing this. Why do we do this?

First off, they don’t get paid to do the tour, they volunteer their time so as to meet new people and hopefully get to practice their English skills.  Our guides certainly didn’t give us the impression that a tip or any compensation was expected.  That made us relax a bit more and we enjoyed the experience more as a result.

We made an effort to speak to them as much as possible, which we knew they appreciated.  (Update: we actually caught up with one of our guides on a social get together months later and we had a blast hanging out with them.  They really are amazing people!)

At the end of the tour we weren’t ready for it to end. We were having too much fun and enjoying the company tremendously.  We walked away just as passionate about Da Nang as our guides and we couldn’t wait to explore it more.  Plus, we were armed with locations for good local food and coffee to fuel our future explorations. Bonus!

We were more than happy to give the girls VND100,000 (~USD 4.30 / ~AUD6.00) each as we felt they delivered beyond expectation.  And really for that price you couldn’t get a tour that great at that price if you tried!

One thing to note, the guides work in pairs for safety reason, hence why we tipped twice.  Both were instrumental in delivering a top notch experience and we had no qualms about tipping them both.

This was a great way to get know the city and give a little back to those who are passionate about it. 

If this is your first visit to our site, then welcome!  Head on over to our Things to do in Vietnam Page where we tell you about more things you should add to your Vietnam itinerary.

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Thanks for reading guys and we’ll see you in the next post…