As promised, I am going to share my summer holiday trip to Da Nang, Vietnam. It is my first time visiting the country and I would have loved to do a long trip but because of other commitments, I was unable to and settled for just a short stay in Da Nang. However, from my first impression, the history, culture, nature and food is worth another visit! This post has been split into two parts just so I could give each place enough attention 🙂 so here goes Part 1!
Where we stayed
Da Nang is located in central Vietnam and the main reason we ended up there was because I wanted to stay at a Banyan Tree resort. Probably not a criterion that one would consider when deciding a family holiday but I wanted a bit of luxury and a place I knew I would be able to relax. My parents had visited the region previously and spoke highly of it. Asking other friends and colleagues who have visited Vietnam before, I was comforted that many said it was one of the prettiest regions in the country. With that in mind, we went ahead with our stay at Banyan Tree Lăng Cô; which is part of the Laguna Lăng Cô resort.
Honestly, it is one of the best resorts I have ever stayed at. I am a big fan of the Banyan Tree group, and as usual, the service was impeccable and we had a “villa host” take care of us and all our needs throughout our the stay. I mean we had her Whatapp number so we could ping her a message!
From Da Nang airport, the hotel provides a complimentary shuttle service from the airport (at scheduled times) and it is c. 60-90 minute drive to the hotel. Originally we had booked a two bedroom villa for the 4 of us but was upgraded to the three bedroom villa with the best view of the resort. It was HUGE (260 sq meters) and with our own private infinity pool. It was paradise and, quite frankly, there was no reason to leave the room! Unlike me, my dad left the villa to play golf in the late afternoon sun; so for those who are keen golfers, you can play an 18-hole, par-71 championship course designed by Sir Nick Faldo. He said it was amazing and a really well maintained and designed course (if you take his word for it).
I really recommend this wonderful resort for those who are looking for something special and luxurious. I would go back again to take advantage of the many activities that are available at the resort and because it is conveniently located in central Vietnam with various UNESCO World Heritage Sites, there is no excuse not to go back!
Where we visited
As you are aware now, I am not one to just sit by the pool all day (much to the dismay of my parents and sister). I can’t truly say that I have been to a country if I have not at least learnt and seen a bit of history and culture. Given that I love Vietnamese cuisine, I couldn’t wait to get out and try some street food as well (more in Part 2).
Unfortunately, given the relatively remote location of the resort, for ease of planning, I used the tour service organised the hotel for our day trips. They ended up being a private tour which is always special as I could ask as many questions I wanted! Our first stop was the infamous Marble Mountains which are a group of the five limestone and marble hills in Ngu Hanh Son District, each representing a basic element: Kim (metal), Thuy (water), Moc (wood), Hoa (fire) and Tho (earth).
At the foot of the hills is the Non Nuoc village where generations of family skillfully carve statues from marble (now imported from other places in the country as it is not possible to mine in the area). Though I found the shops more of a tourist trap, the temple at the top of the Thuy Son (the water mountain) is worth the elevator up and the very long climb down. For those who have bad knees, I would not recommend the climb down, my sister (who had knee surgery a year ago) and mother really struggled. I believe it is possible to take the elevator down but it is a large circle round; so do let your tour guide know if you have difficulties or if you are organising the walk yourself, you have been warned!
Thuy Son is a popular destination with many visitors, and it is not surprising. At the top of the mountain, you are greeted with this spectacular view of the valley.
What is most surprising and unexpected were the peaceful temples located in the caves and crevasses of the mountain. It is not something that I had experienced before, wandering around the caves whilst bats rested above our heads. Remember to bring your camera as every turn was a surprise. The caves were also a respite from the scorching summer heat!
Linh Ung Pagoda
Our next stop on the tour was another Buddist temple, the Linh Ung Pagoda which is considered as one of the largest in Da Nang City located in the Son Tra Peninsula on the top of a mountain. This meant it provided one of the best views of Da Nang City. The most striking feature of the temple is the tallest Lady Buddha statue in Vietnam overlooking the peninsula. Even for those who are not religious, the architecture and gardens of the temple are worth a visit.
Da Nang City
We arrived back into Da Nang City in the late afternoon, to stop at Da Nang Cathedral. Coming from Europe, I would consider it more of a small church than a majestic Cathedral, however, it is on the map for tourists because it is pink and very Wes Anderson-esque. To the locals, it is warmingly known as the “Rooster” because of the weathervane that sits on top of the church. Unfortunately, by the time we arrived, we were unable to go inside as it was time for Mass. It is worth stopping by to admire the French architecture and a reminder of the colonial past of Vietnam.
I hope you enjoyed this instalment on the Pineapple Chicken Blog, can’t wait to share more on my trip to Da Nang!
With Sweet & Sour Love,
Pineapple Chicken x