Da Nang was an unexpected stop. James thought it would be good to stop here for a night before travelling to Hoi An to experience somewhere else and it was the airport we were flying into (closest to Hoi An).
To persuade me, he chose a 4 star hotel (for a bargain – obviously) for us to enjoy!
But before getting there, we had to endure a scary flight in. All was well and the pilot advised us to take our seats for landing in 10 minutes. 30 minutes later and we have inclined again (after a slight decline) with turbulence and dark grey clouds all around us.
No further announcements about what was happening, and my nervous brain instantly goes to worst case scenario of hijack or crash. At one point all the emergency exit signs lit up and my pulse went dangerously high! Anyway, we eventually landed in torrential rain, fog and a very wet runway – the probable reason for our delay.
Now, I have no issue with the delay, but I would prefer to be informed of the reasons rather than let my mind go into overdrive!
We ordered a Grab from the airport and was shocked to see how much the roads had flooded – James even took a video!
Where to stay – Ngoc Lan Hotel
We were very happy to get to our hotel. We were welcomed in reception and got to our room which had a massive bed (2 twins together), big TV showing Hollywood films and a lovely overhead shower.
Considering the weather, it was nice to have a bit of luxury as we wouldn’t be going far! It seemed more like a 3 star than 4, but for £11 a night you definitely can’t complain!
Visit Dragon Bridge
It was a shame we came for a day in Da Nang but couldn’t really sight see (because of weather) – we were keen to go up marble mountain and maybe see the beach but there was no chance!
We decided to brave the elements (still bucketing it down and flooded roads) at night to see the Dragon bridge. It was about a mile away but at weekends there is a light and fire show for 5 minutes at 9pm!
We borrowed a hotel umbrella and wore flip flops knowing it was likely we would be in puddles up to our ankles (which we were) to find the bridge.
We passed a walkway with heart lights which was very sweet and romantic!
The dragon bridge itself was pretty cool – its body twisted to make the bridge with his head on one side of the river and his tail at the other. It was very pretty, changing colour every minute or so, but disappointingly, no fire show – very possibly due to the weather!
We gave up after about 15 mins of waiting! It was worth a look, but I am sure it would be much more enjoyable with less wetness!
Take a day trip to Ba Na Hills
We decided to see the main event from Da Nang and booked a day trip to Ba Na Hills – come rain or shine! And boy did it rain!
We didn’t let it stop us though! Armed with rain jackets and plastic ponchos we were ready! We were picked up by our guide Ling and rode the 45-minute journey to the summit of the hill.
The price of the tour from Hoi An was over double the price – so it was well worth staying in Da Nang!
The name ‘Ba Na Hills’ originated from where the French inhabited the area for 100 years. They enjoyed the climate as it was cooler than the main land. Due to the amount of banana trees, they named the area Banane Hills – Vietnamese cannot pronounce this, hence it now being known as Ba Na Hills. You are welcome for the information…
Anyway, we travelled up to the theme park in a Guinness world record holding cable car that travels at 7 meters per second!
Unfortunately, due to the heavy cloud, there wasn’t much of a view – it was actually quite scary being surrounded by mist and not being able to see anything!
We reached the first stop to see the Golden Bridge. This bridge was only completed this year and it already quite famous and a ‘must see’ in Vietnam. I actually had no idea it was here, even though I had seen pictures of the bridge before online, so was rather excited to tick it off the bucket list!
It is a golden metal bridge held up by 2 enormous hands symbolising the ‘Hands of God’. It was pretty spectacular!
Again, visibility was a little poor because of the weather, but it did add a mystical and spooky edge to our photos (every cloud…)
James was a bit gutted he wasn’t able to take photos with his profession camera – stupid rain – but we took numerous phone pics! It was still really busy, but having multi coloured ponchos in your photos is fun too!
French Style Gardens
Following on from the bridge, we walked around to the numerous gardens, fountains and statues the complex held.
Again, it would have been even more beautiful in sunshine, but weather can’t be helped!
We found temples and Buddhas, a massive marble chess set (the queen was as tall as James!), grass cable cars, painted saxophones as garden features and a wicker wine bottle and glasses sculpture! We only had an hour to explore, and it wasn’t enough!
Provincial French Village
Another cable car up to the top and we were met with an artificial French style Village in memory of the previous occupants! The main square consisted of fountains and Christmas decorations and a big ‘Sunworld’ globe (the owning company) looking like the well-known universal studios symbol!
It was very odd, but so interesting! There was a fake church (strangely with wedding photoshoots taking place), fake shops as well as statues and street lamps! We came across souvenir shops, hotels, spas, restaurants and even a beer plaza!
Again, due to the very wet and misty weather, there was such an eerie and bizarre feel to the place! It was so much fun looking around and taking selfies in our ridiculous ponchos!
It was actually the Church that spurred a little Déjà vu for me – this park is actually featured in Jack Whitehall’s “Travels with my father”. James and I watched it together earlier in the year and I remember him saying “I really want to go there” but he had completely forgotten! I had to find the episode on Netflix as soon as we got back to the hotel!
We spent a couple of hours in here after lunch (quick note – buffet lunch was incredible too, and came with a free glass of wine!) as it was inside.
It was a 3 floored amusements arcade, but most rides and activities are free! So, we played on a laser ride (I won), went in a 4D cinema and on a swing ride!
At 2.45 we were back with our tour group to make our way back down in the cable car. James and I had a great day here and could have spent longer exploring and having fun.
I would definitely recommend visiting Ba Na Hills – but maybe during summer months to save yourself a drenching!
Next on the itinerary is Hoi An, and I have heard nothing but good things – can’t wait!