As our plans evolve the more questions turn up. We have 3 days in central Vietnam and would like to know the best place town to stay at, Hue, Danang or Hoi An? The criteria for the Mrs is primarily beach/sun relaxing and I like to wander with the camera and explore.
I don't need a new suit or shoes made and buying crafts don't really interst us, I'm looking more at 'the vibe' of Vietnam coupled with a nice beach for snorkelling (if there is such a place around the area). We are looking to travel there in June.
#1 Benno has been a member since 18/1/2012. Posts: 36
Hi Benno. I wrote a long answer to your other question last night (basically saying it's do-able but I'd suggest cutting out either Sapa or Halong and look at flying to and/or from Danang) and the internet crashed. Probably didn't like my rambling. Anyway, if you want beach then that rules out Hue. Danang has beach but the town's just a town, so I'd suggest Hoi An. The beaches are beautiful but if you want snorkeling you'll need to go out to Cham Islands on a day trip. I don't think the snorkeling is amazing but it's there. And the town is perfect for exploring - just make sure you get out of the main centre a bit, and I'd highly recommend a bike ride. The weather in June should be lovely - as in very hot and sunny, so maybe not so lovely for walking around but lovely for the beach - in that part of the country then.
I agree with Sarah - Hoi An would be the way to go. I regret never making it to the beach, but I hear it's pretty good. Even if you aren't into the custom-made shopping experience, Hoi An is fantastic from a photography perspective as there is so much to capture: the heritigate town itself, the people, the local market near the bridge, the village on the other side of the river, and the countryside all make for great photo opps.
If you are game, you can also hire a motorbike and head up to Danang for a day trip. Go to Marble Mountain, then stop along China Beach on the way back and enjoy some freshly cooked seafood at the local beachside restaurants.
June is a good time to be in the area, there will still be rainy days so snorkeling on the Cham Islands will probably be a little murky. If you are looking for a real Vietnam vibe I'd recommend Da Nang over Hoi'an, as it is a real city and not so touristy, you'll get the feel for what it is like for people living day to day who don't rely on tourism for income. As well, with a motorbike you've got a day trip to Monkey Island or Marble Mountains and if you stay on the west side of the river you're only a ten/fifteen minute bike ride to China Beach , very quiet and I found it much cleaner than the leg of beach down by Hoi'an. You can also stay fairly cheaply within a 5 minute walk from China Beach (see my review of Da Nang/China Beach when they get posted by somtam). That way your wife can relax on the beach while you can take a day trip on motorbike down to Hoi'an to dodge the throngs of tourists and cut through the stalls selling trinkets and take some pictures for the afternoon.
'Danang has beach but the town's just a town,'
Normally I would agree with you Sarah but I have to stick up for Danang as it's one of my favourite cities in Vietnam.
Danang has the Cham sculpture museum and at night it has a beautifully lit riverside almost reminiscent of Paris.
The beach is excellent with lots of places selling the freshest seafood. It's so fresh because they keep it alive in tanks and you choose what you want.
I've spent time in both HoiAn and Danang and they really are very close to each other. With a hired motorbike it's less than one hour.
I'd say you'd probably get a better deal for hotels in Hoi An but if you like the idea of being off the tourist trail and meeting ordinary Vietnamese rather than those who work, one way or another, in the tourist industry I'd go for Danang.
#6 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557
Try to visit Bamboo bar on the riverfront about 5 minutes walk along from the Cham museum towards town.It's not really a bar more of a cafe run by a very nice Vietnamese lady.It has a very friendly crowd consisting of locals and ex-pats.The food is good and the ambience is great, very easy to make friends and it's very safe.It has tables and chairs on the pavemenrt outside and after dark the trees are lit up with multi-coloured bulbs reflecting on the river.It's very charming.
#8 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557
There is more to Central Vietnam than just the heavily touristed areas you ask about. The Central Highlands are basically still somewhat undiscovered (except for Dalat), and you will not see tour buses bumper to bumper as in Hoi An or Hue. Did I mention that the Highlands are also a tad cooler than the rest of Vietnam in June?
#9 daawgon has been a member since 17/4/2007. Posts: 1,112
Hi there, I am a photographer and currently on a trip through SE Asia, if photography is your thing then Hoi An would be my pick out of those 3 destinations, I didnt like Hue , which isnt to say you wont but I just wouldnt recommend it, if the wife want to relax on a beach then it's not for you anyway, Da Nang is nice but again I was not overly impressed, my hotel, the Hoi An Glory Hotel was quite nice and had a 50% special on Agoda, they have a nice pool and close to some nice restaurants, they had free bike hire and I rode from the hotel to the beach with no probs,or there are some resorts closer to the beach, I then rode for about 30klms in to the countyside and met many lovely locals and got many great images from the area, there is also a photographer in the area you can do photo tours with, I cant remember his name but he could take you to meet some locals if you are not keen to explore on your own, I had no problems though, I only stayed one night as I was sick and went to Hue to get medical attention (perhaps that's why I dislike Hue so much!) I would recommend about 3 days in Hoi An, if you wanted to travel further down then Nha Trang is nice for the beach and snorkelling but much busier with more tourists being a bigger area, hope this info helps, enjoy your stay wherever you end up and happy shooting!
#10 Katty has been a member since 1/3/2012. Posts: 6
My apologies, Nha Trang had snorkelling & diving tours advertised all along the beachfront, I didn't go so perhaps it's not that good but I liked the beach more than any of the 3 locations mentioned, as far as photography is concerned if that's the main point then I still say Hoi An & it has a nice beach to keep your woman happy
#12 Katty has been a member since 1/3/2012. Posts: 6
Hoi An is a resort town, Danang is VN's 3rd largest city, and Hue is the small, former capital city and educational center of VN. The American Marines had a huge base just south of Danang - that area is currently being overdeveloped into luxury resorts and golf courses. Seems like people either like Hue the best or Hoi An the best (very few would pick Danang). Hoi An is probably the most relaxing place in all of VN - one reason is the pedestrian-only streets in the center of this small town, and the large number of excellent hotels and restaurants/cooking schools as well as custom tailor shops. The major downside to Hoi An is the fact that it's becoming too popular with tourists - a new international terminal at Danang is bringing in new flights nonstop from Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, etc. I consider Hoi An to be a suburb of Danang - just down the road 40 min. Hoi An's beach is very nice, but the town itself is located on a canal a few miles inland (I recommend staying in town rather than at the beach, and riding a bike out to the beach - best way to get around Hoi An).
#13 daawgon has been a member since 17/4/2007. Posts: 1,112
I forgot to add that both Hue and Hoi An are prone to major flooding in the fall since typhoons hit the S. China Sea (the Philippines and Vietnam's Central Coast are especially vulnerable). Anyone coming to that area in October or November should watch weather reports carefully.
#14 daawgon has been a member since 17/4/2007. Posts: 1,112
Daawgon, you miss the conversation above where several of us stated our affection for Da Nang (and myself clearly stating that of the three I liked Da Nang best).
When I was there in February I would not refer to Hoi'an as relaxing - as the pedestrian only streets were fairly full of tourists gawking at the same trinkets you can buy everywhere from Singapore to Beijing. Also, I found the beach front to be rather rubbishy and noisy in Hoi'an while the long expanse of china beach up by Da Nang was much quieter and cleaner.
The over-development to the south is largely for Chinese casinos and such, these tourists may clog up some of the restaurants around Sunrise Bar but they rarely make it into the city or even that far north on the beach - which is where more independent travelers who choose to stay on the eastern part of the city would find accommodation.
As above distance between Hue and Hoi An make day trips between a bit difficult! Their are the most interesting and about three hours apart by road even if you travel directly by car and go through the tunnel. So a return day trip from one to the other would involve six hours of travel.
If you are arriving at Danang it would make sense to first go to Hoi An for few days and see My Son from there, then travel up to Hue and Hoi an for a one day and see sights there..
#17 cacanh has been a member since 15/4/2012. Posts: 1
We are traveling to Vietnam with 4 children 2 adults, from end of September to start of October. Are there villas to stay in and what would be the best spot for kids?
#18 NickCharlie has been a member since 23/8/2014. Posts: 1
I think Hoi An would be the best spot to choose. I did a vespa tour (via vespaadventures.com) through the countryside and loved it so much I also did the night time one and it was a really awesome way to see the cute little town! Definitely relaxing town.
#19 lindsayruss93 has been a member since 4/9/2014. Posts: 5
Hoi An would be the pick of the lot. Although the town is small, it has a very snug and cozy feel about it. I was there for 2D/2N with my wife and we had a very pleasant stay. The old town really lights up at night and is a photographers delight. You can easily walk around the old town and we did not rent out push bikes (basically owing to the fact that my wife can't cycle and I didn't fancy riding double in the crowded streets) but I suppose it has its charms. We rented out mobike and drove around the town. It has two rather small beaches An Bang Beach and Cua Dai Beach, both are rather small and crowded. Personally Nha Trang would be the best place to visit a beach. If you want, you can ride out a few kilometers outside the town towards Da Nang on the Hoi An - Da Nang Highway and then cut right towards the beach through any of the fishing villages. We found the beach completely empty apart from a few local fishermen going about their job. We skipped Cham Islands. Do note that Hoi An does not have a night life and the town closes pretty early around 10 pm. Some locals I chatted with told me that before tourism came in, people used to shut businesses and head home by 5-6pm and back in those days, there were no traffic lights also. We found the food in Hoi An a bit sweeter as compared to the rest of VN. We also enjoyed a fwe of our meals at an Indian Restaurant called Ganesh on Tran Hung Dao Street. Hoi An was really nice.
We had saved Da Nang for a day trip from Hoi An but never got around to it. Except from the Marble Mountains I doubt if it has anything special to offer but then I may be wrong. We skipped Hue because of out limited time bound itinerary in VN. Do not miss Hoi An. Highly recommended.
#22 rbthakuri has been a member since 1/4/2015. Posts: 1
I agree with rbthakuri.
In additionally, you are able to visit both Hoi An Acient Town and Da Nang city.
Da Nang to Hoi An takes about 30 minutes by Car and beautiful road along the beaches.
Hue is all about history, and far from Da Nang, Hoi An, take approximate 3.5 Hours to go.
#23 Mounfem has been a member since 3/5/2015. Posts: 2