Travelling alone can be profoundly empowering (and incredibly daunting) especially if you’re: A) a female, B) venturing into a country that you’re totally unfamiliar with. Now, it may seem like an impossible feat if you’re not entirely daring, but if you’re willing to take a step out of your comfort zone, chances are, you’ll have an amazing experience. That being said, travelling alone isn’t always easy and planning the right itinerary is of utmost importance to make the most out of your trip — because let’s face it, you wouldn’t want to be stuck in your room scrolling for places to visit, and eventually going to a place that’s a stone’s throw away from your hotel right?
So if you’ve read the title you would’ve figured which country I’ve jetted off to. That’s right, Vietnam. To be more specific — Da Nang. Da-what? For the unfamiliar, Da Nang is located North of Vietnam where the streets are a little less busy, and comes across as a city that’s more… “chill” in comparison to its neighbours.
Sure, destinations such as Japan or South Korea may seem safer for solo female travellers than countries like Vietnam, but that’s where you’re wrong. As I embarked on this solo trip, I felt a little sceptical about the whole idea of exploring a country on my own — for obvious reasons. But truth be known, after travelling solo in Vietnam for 5 days, I have to admit that Da Nang is relatively safe for anyone out there who’s up for an adventure.
I jetted off and arrived in Da Nang in the afternoon where the weather was perfectly sunny and a tad bit humid — just like the weather here on our sunny island.
COLLECTION OF SIM CARD
Before making a move to my Airbnb, collecting my SIM card that I booked through Klook’s app, was the first on my to-do list here in Vietnam. I couldn’t imagine navigating through the streets without any data, so finding the place to collect my SIM card was of utmost importance. Thankfully enough, there were detailed instructions on the app to direct me to the cafe. It’s literally right outside the arrival hall at the airport — pretty hard to miss if you ask me.
Upon arrival, all I had to do was to flash my booking via Klook’s app and the rest was settled. The transaction was seamless, and there were no queues too.
Address: Trung Nguyen Legend, The Life-Changing Cafe, Hòa Thuận Tây, Hải Châu District, Da Nang 550000, Vietnam
Opening Hours: 7AM to 2AM, daily
Book Here: 4G Vinaphone SIM Card (DAD Pick Up) for Vietnam, $7.35
Travelling to and fro my Airbnb was made easy. Before my trip, I made a booking on Klook for an airport transfer to my Airbnb itself so I didn’t have to go through the hassle of finding a cab driver to send me to my exact location (also due to the fact that I can’t converse in Vietnamese at all). Besides, getting lost was the last thing I wanted to experience on my first day.
And so, the driver picked me up and drove straight to my Airbnb, which was a 20-minute drive away from the airport, located right beside My Khe Beach (how convenient).
STREET FOOD AND SIGHTSEEING TOUR
As I settled in my Airbnb in the late afternoon, I got myself prepared for the next activity that was up on my itinerary — the Sightseeing and Food Tour! Unlike many other tours, this was particularly different.
I was greeted at the lobby of my Airbnb apartment by a Vietnamese lady named Nhi, donned in the brightest áo dài outfit — we’re talking about an electric blue and yellow ensemble — which I thought was pretty hard to miss amongst the crowd. And yes, the tour involved riding on a bike because getting around town on one makes it so much easier to travel from one place to another.
With the sun setting in the horizon, we ventured to the different stalls, as we feasted on local delicacies like Bún Bò Nam Bộ, coconut pudding and Bo La Lot (swipe over the pictures to find out more about each delicacy). The best part about the tour is that the package is inclusive of transport, food and a friendly tour guide who can converse with you in English.
Aside from stuffing our faces with loads of food, we went on to explore some of the monuments in the city. Example — the Dragon Bridge.
Whether you’re taking a stroll or crossing it on the highway, the Dragon Bridge is a sight not to be missed. Legend also has it that those who have been single for a long period of time will find their true love if they get splashed by the water that comes out from this dragon — could it really be true? Well, there’s only one way to find out.
There was also a Love Bridge located along the banks of the Han River. And just like the ones you’ve seen at the Nam San Tower in South Korea or the Bridge of Locks in Paris, the concept remains the same — you hang a lock with you (and your partner’s name on it) and then throw the key into the river. Probably something you wouldn’t see yourself doing on a solo trip but hey, there’s no stopping you if you want to join in the hype!
Book Here: Food and Sightseeing Night Tour with Aodai Rider in Da Nang, $55
BA NA HILLS TOUR
It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for. If you’ve heard the buzz of this latest instalment here in Da Nang, then you’d probably know about the Golden Hands Bridge. Opened in 2018, the bridge has gained lots of traction over the last few months, which has attracted the likes of tourists and locals alike with its god-like stature, that stands 1,400m above sea level on Ba Na Hills. To see this monument, visitors are required to take a 10-minute cable car ride that ascends up the hill.
But if you’re visiting Ba Na Hills, come prepared with a bottle of water to hydrate yourself with, and lots of patience because the place will be teeming with lots of tourists.
One of the other most visited spots in Ba Na Hills is none other than Le Jardin d’Amour. Filled with lush greenery and flora, the flower garden here commands for lots of shots to be taken. At the top of Ba Na Hills, you’ll also find a French Village that brings together French-inspired architecture and Da Nang’s natural landscapes in the horizon. Here, you’ll get to watch live performances and other attractions like the Fantasy Park (which has yet come to completion).
It’d fit perfectly well into your itinerary if you’re travelling with your family (especially with kids) but as a solo traveller, would I recommend it? Only if you’re into touristy attractions.
There were far too many tourists and it was tiring to avoid all the selfie sticks that were swinging into my face — it felt like I was playing Neo in Matrix. Sure, the experience of being able to see and walk on the Golden Hands Bridge was surreal but aside from that, there was nothing much for you to do besides taking in the scenic views of the landscape.
Address: Hòa Vang, Da Nang, Vietnam, Sun World Bà Nà Hills
Book Here: Ba Na Hills Day Tour with Golden Bridge, $53.85
2-DAY CUSTOM TOUR
DAY 1: DA NANG — MARBLE MOUNTAINS
For the next 2 days, I had a private day tour which included a driver to take me to all of my destinations. And what’s a trip to Da Nang without a visit to the Marble Mountains? As a solo traveller, I enjoyed the fact that I could travel around at the leisure of my own time without having to worry about waiting for the other party or having to compromise your itinerary for the needs of others. (I sound really selfish but hey, I’m just saying that it’s just one of the pros when you’re travelling solo.)
At Marble Mountains, you’ll have different caves, shrines, and temples to explore. To get to the top of the mountain, you can opt to walk up the steps or take an elevator for the price of $5 — of which I settled for the latter because I could foresee myself walking (and climbing) more during the course of the trail — and also partly because I was a tad lazy that day.
On a side note, I’d recommend wearing comfortable shoes and an airy set of clothing because the weather in Vietnam is just as unforgiving as Singapore’s, plus you’ll have to scale through steps, rocks, and other obstacles throughout the trail. Exploring the monument may take approximately 1.5 hours but that depends on how fast you’re able to climb through the different obstacles of course.
LINH NAMH CAVE
The first few caves I crawled into was called Linh Namh Cave. Although it might not have much history behind it, this cave, like many of the others on Marble Mountains, is definitely a sight to behold.
Upon entering into this small grotto, you’ll notice a small shrine with a standing statue of Buddha where visitors can come to pay their respects to.
Besides, that, you can also take a step deeper and climb up the steep steps of the cave that opens into a wider part of the cave. Yes, it’s all rubble but I guess it makes for a great spot for you to take an OOTD shot as well too!
HUYEN KHONG CAVE
When exploring Marble Mountains, I’d also suggest taking a snap of the map so you won’t miss out on any of the caves. I’m saying this because I made the mistake of taking the wrong turn, and I ended up going down the mountain (and going back up again), because I missed out on the iconic Huyen Khong cave that everyone was there for.
The majestic infrastructure of Huyen Khong cave was as magnificent as I had pictured it to be. Narrow shafts of sunlight plunged into the cave. And believe it or not, the hole at the top of the cave through which the light cascaded down from was in fact, a result of a natural bomb! A remarkable feat if you ask me.
HOA NGHIEM CAVE
Located right outside Huyen Khong Cave was Hoa Nghiem Cave. Here, you’ll see a carving of Guan Yin. Unlike the Buddha carvings in Huyen Khong Cave, the grand statue of Guan Yin that stands at this cave was carved out a few hundred years ago.
Entrance fee: 15,000 VND, additional 5,000 VND (lift)
Address: 52 Huyền Trân Công Chúa, Hoà Hải, Ngũ Hành Sơn, Đà Nẵng 550000, Vietnam
Opening Hours: 7am to 5.30pm
Klook: Custom Tour of Hue, Hoi An and Da Nang
DAY 1: DA NANG — LINH UNG PAGODA
Perched atop the Son Tra Peninsula is none other than The Lady Buddha.
Located 10km from the centre of Da Nang’s city, marvel over the magnificent structure that’s known to be one of the biggest pagodas in the charming coastal area of Vietnam.
Address: Hoà Phú, Hòa Vang, Da Nang, Vietnam
DAY 1: DA NANG — NON NUOC BEACH
At first mention, you’d never picture going to Vietnam for a beach holiday instead of other places like Bali, Australia, etc. But truth be known, the beaches here in Da Nang were comparable to that of Bali’s — in fact, some were actually more impressive. Serene landscapes, pristine beaches, sapphire seas, and lesser crowds to deal with — what more could you ask for?
After venturing into caves and scaling up and down Marble Mountains, I decided to take a break by Non Nuoc Beach. As I walked down the stretch, I came across a beach resort — Meliá Danang Resort, to be exact — and decided to settle there for the afternoon.
There was no one. Not literally, but you could barely see any crowds within the area. It’s a good thing of course, especially if you’re looking to spend some quiet me-time by the beach, listening to the waves crash against shores, while you bask in the sun’s warm rays. They had daybeds laid out on the beaches, of which you didn’t have to pay for as it was reserved for hotel guests and customers — so I’d recommend getting a drink or some tapas from their menu. There’s also happy hour from 2pm to 5pm so you’d probably be able to get a cocktail like a Pina Colada for 12 SGD for 2 glasses — what a steal!
Address: Melià Da Nang Resort, 19 Trường Sa, Hoà Hải, Ngũ Hành Sơn, Đà Nẵng 550000, Vietnam
DAY 2: DA NANG — LA BICICLETA COFFEE
Vietnam is very well known for their coffees — so trying some of their local cuppas is a definite must.
Now, you may have already been familiar with the ever-so-popular civet coffee otherwise known as Kopi Luwak — which some of you might find uncomfortable drinking because you’re technically drinking cat poop. Nevertheless, this time ’round, I tried something a little more different — I’m talking about Egg Coffee. It was a tantalising treat for my tastebuds — it’s sweet, extra creamy and you could really taste the raw egg but it was a surprisingly good blend! It isn’t exactly your normal blend of coffee but I’d definitely come back for more.
Address: La Bicicleta Coffee, 31 Trần Quốc Toản, Phước Ninh, Hải Châu, Đà Nẵng 550000, Vietnam
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday — 7am to 10pm
DAY 2: DUY XUYÊN — MY SON SANCTUARY
In the late morning, I headed to My Son Hindu Sanctuary (pronounced as Mee Sern), a historical monument that was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999. The archaeological site is made of a cluster of abandoned and partially ruined temples that dates back to the 4th to 13th centuries CE that were used by kings from the Champa Kingdom for religious ceremonies. During this period, there were over 70 temples at My Son Sanctuary but most of them have deteriorated from erosion and the bombing during the Vietnam war.
The drive to My Son from Da Nang’s city took around 30 minutes despite the traffic as it’s located a bit far off towards Hoi An in Vietnam. Admission into the site was 250,000VND and you can purchase the tickets at the main entrance. Unfortunately, this didn’t include a tour, so I found it a little tough exploring the area on my own.
Address: My Son Sanctuary, Duy Phú, Duy Xuyên District, Quang Nam Province, Vietnam
Opening Hours: 6.30AM to 5.30PM, daily
DAY 2: HOI AN — AN BANG BEACH
Afterwards, I made a stop at An Bang Beach, which was at least a half hour’s drive from My Son Sanctuary. The beach was rather crowded as compared to the one at Non Nuoc beach. There were a lot more tourists and daybeds, and not to mention more options if you’re looking to play some water sports. The beach is also an outpost for local seafood with a wide selection of eateries for you to choose from.
Address: Hai Bà Trưng, Tp. Hội An, Quảng Nam, Vietnam
DAY 2: HOI AN — THE FAIFO FACTORY
For a quick pick-me-up, try The Faifo Factory. You can find this aesthetically pleasing cafe along the streets of Hoi An and it’s a great place for you to grab a quick cuppa or a pit stop for you to sit back, relax, and unwind as you take in the scene that overlooks the busy streets of Hoi An. Here, I tried their traditional Vietnamese Iced Coffee which was served in a cup with a bowl of ice on the side. Taste-wise, it was strong, bitter, with a sharp aroma that you can distinguish from your usual cup of coffee.
Address: Phường Minh An, Hội An, Quang Nam Province, Vietnam
DAY 2: HOI AN — HOI AN ANCIENT TOWN STREET
So what’s there to do in Hoi An you may ask? Enter Hoi An’s Ancient Town Street. Decked out in bright yellow hues, trees growing aplenty along the streets and lanterns hung from one end to another, the Ancient Town Street is filled with shophouses selling items of all sorts, from souvenirs, jewellery, while it also offers a wide selection of cafes to choose from as well — think of it as a larger version of your typical Haji Lane aesthetic.
An Instagram haven for many, this unique heritage site is no doubt a tourist spot, so if you’re planning on a trip down, be prepared to hustle your way through the crowd, especially in the evenings.
Nevertheless, the Ancient Town still manages to live up to its sobriquet with a well-preserved landscape that’s reminiscent of the days in the past.
Aside from locals and tourists prancing around in their traditional áo dài, you can also find a lot of souvenir shops selling items influenced by pop culture, silk shops where you can customise your own áo dài, and quaint little shops selling furniture like this one by Sunday in Hoi An.
Nestled at the top of one the shophouses, you can find quaint little cafes like this one by The Chef. I was attracted to the cafe for its rooftop cafe concept. Unfortunately, upon arriving, I was told that access to the rooftop was restricted, and so I settled for a short break to refuel on the second level of the cafe while overlooking the streets of the Ancient Town.
Address: 166 Trần Phú, Phường Minh An, Hội An, Quảng Nam, Vietnam
Opening Hours: 8AM to 10 PM, daily
SET LANTERNS AFLOAT
Later on in the evening in Hoi An, I strolled past the banks of the Hoai river where I came across boats that were filled with lanterns. By the riverside, I had to barter for a single trip on the river which cost me 100,000VND per person — considering it was quite expensive for an individual but negotiating was not one of my true traits.
It was a 20-minute boat ride of which I was entitled to one paper lantern. I’d say it’d be best to take the boat ride later on in the evening so you can witness the beautiful fairy lights that trail along the French colonial shophouses while basking in the beautiful atmosphere with (or without) your loved ones. Oh, and of course, don’t forget to make a wish!
The Lantern Festival happens almost every month of the year — check out all the dates here.
Book Here: Custom Tour of Hue, Hoi An and Da Nang, $110
In conclusion, would I recommend Da Nang, Vietnam as a solo traveller? Yes, if you’re planning on a solo trip to relax and unwind. Sure, you might occasionally find yourself being catcalled along the streets (which could already be a red flag), but I’d say it’s still safe to roam around on your own, even at night. On top of that, it’s pretty easy to converse with the locals too — so you won’t have to worry much about the language barrier!
Book tickets through Klook and use our code “NYLON10” to get $10 off for first-time users!
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