After a whopping 2 months of teaching, it was time for a much needed vacation. So we picked the beach destination with the worst forecast and cheapest flights, and took to the skies. Our first day in Da Nang was a glorious one (for those of us who didn’t return from the bar 30 minutes before we left for our flight at 5:00 AM. Go Jays!).
We checked into our hotel, grabbed some Banh Mi, and laid on the beach for a few hours admiring the view…
That afternoon, I took to the streets exploring the alleys around our hotel for some solo shopping time. Gosh darnit, there are some charming nooks and crannies in this town.
That night, we had a delightful dish only available in the seaside city of Da Nang – Gourmet burgers from Burger Bros. on a tiny side street filled with surf board rentals.
In the morning, we headed out on a rental motorbike to ride up to Lady Buddha.
The rain held off just long enough for us to make the trip and fit in a little exploring further north along the coast.
After a long day on the bike, we decided to binge eat our way along the water, finding some gems along the way including the lovely little Oasis Tapas Bar, moved on to a tourist mecca that resembled a hipster junkyard, and ended on a collection of red plastic chairs over a few bia hoi adjacent to our hotel. (Bia hoi or “Fresh Beer” is quite possibly the cheapest beer in the world. Made on the same day that it’ll be consumed (ideally) and served draught-style, it can be found at street vendors and cafes all over Vietnam. I insist it tastes a little bit like rosemary and garlic. Which is shockingly delicious.)
The next morning we ventured south from Da Nang on a rental bike and made the 30 minute trip to Hoi An. We got a little wet before arriving at our beautiful homestay just southwest of Ancient Town – The Aquarium Villa.
Easily the most spacious accommodations we’ve had in Vietnam (including our own apartment), this place had me near tears with how lovely it was. The views from sunrise to sunset were amazing, overlooking the rural fields and countryside from our patio.
The deck overlooking the koi pond where we were served breakfast was adorable no matter what your state of hangover, and the villa’s enormous dog (Dau) made the stay feel even more like home.
When it wasn’t raining, and especially when it was, Hoi An Ancient Town was an incredible place to wander. We started nearly every morning with coffees at Cargo Club – which makes you feel like an old European aristocrat (despite still spending under $5/meal).
The rest of our days consisted of finding the most appetizing spots with the best happy hours for second-lunch and second-dinner.
Strolling through the markets along the water and haggling for hand-painted/crafted/sewn/ everything was always a thrill, especially when you interspersed trips with a fresh beer or two from the stalls (and of course a banh mi from the Queen – it really doesn’t make sense how she can make the same ingredients taste so radically different).
Part of our days were spent at Kimmy Tailor, because when it comes to custom suits, you know how particular Matt can be. Only the finest cashmere and blue on blue paisley silk lining will do. (Yes, I was permitted to pick it. Best day ever!) He looks quite dapper and you will see photos soon.
We were able to spend a few afternoons at An Bang Beach between the storms, exploring tiny dirt paths to come across luxury dining experiences in the middle of nowhere and attempting to polish off the coconuts so large Matt had to lift them for me to drink.
Other highlights included the outdoor yoga class I took on the water at a beautiful rural restaurant property called The Field. Practicing with a few other expat teachers overlooking the fishermen and gorgeous landscaping on the sunniest morning we were in the city was absolutely perfect, and the bike ride through the countryside to get there was just as lovely.
Though he really wanted to come to yoga, I insisted on having some alone time, so Matthew spent the morning searching for the best coffee in Hoi An along with a good book to go with it.
We were sad to finally leave Hoi An, especially on such a gorgeous day, but the ride back to Da Nang for our final night before our flight was beautiful (though slightly less exciting than the monsoon we went through to get there). Checking into our resort “splurge” of the trip at the Temple Da Nang was the perfect way to spend our last day and night. Splitting a few bottles of wine on our private little beachfront patio with a view of Lady Buddha was for sure a highlight of the trip.
After a last few drinks and fish & chips at any place that would accept Visa (we had 12,000 VND cash to our name after our final taxi to the airport), we caught our evening flight back to Ho Chi Minh.
It’s good to be home.