We made it to Hanoi on an overnight train last night and are enjoying the lack of humidity in northern Vietnam. Temperatures are in the high 70’s-80’s and are very comfortable – especially when the sun ducks behind the clouds. It is the first time since we arrived in Southeast Asia about 5 weeks ago that we were not pouring with sweat within shortly after leaving air con.
On our way to Hanoi via the train , we made two transit, overnight stops in Nha Trang and Da Nang. We did not spend much time in either spot but enough to appreciate the two locations.
Nha Trang is another Asian party spot, appreciated by locals and visitors and not without a fair amount of backpackers. It is set on a beautiful coast with a beach that stretches out for kilometers. While it already has a large downtown with resorts and hotels, it is growing fast. There are many large hotels being developed. It looks like the Russians are here in a big way – most restaurants and hotels offer directions and details in three languages – Vietnamese, Russian and English. At night, there is no shortage of young and older Russian tourists running around and being merry (usually with a beer or Vodka in their hands).
We opted to stay 5K north of the city in a location heavily developed by Russian interests and one close to a quiet beach. It was perfect. We found a modern (and new construction) $35/night hotel room with rooftop pool, a full ocean view from the room and a location just a block from the beach and boardwalk. (If you find yourself there, check out SeaSing.) We were actually able to sneak in a beautiful 10K run along the beach one morning without too much scooter traffic – the first opportunity to run outside since we left the States. We were thrilled to plod along the seaside in the early AM avoiding the heat, dodging the fisherman and early risers out for a swim or some Tai Chi, and all the locals that gawked at the two strange, sweating Westerners.
Nha Trang was originally a way point for a trip to the islands (Whale Island), but we made a change in our schedule so that we could include more time to see Hoi An, Hanoi and Ha Long Bay. So we just spent a night there, and then another quick stop in Da Nang before it was off to a few days in Hanoi.
Da Nang is another booming city. Those familiar with Vietnam’s history will know that Da Nang played a central role in the war. After the war, the city was hit by very hard times and was quite poor for some time. One would never know that today. The city is filled with business and entrepreneurs and growing quickly. Its coastline is astonishing and also developing quickly. Many of the large Western hotel chains have resorts here, and it is quickly growing into a golf destination. It apparently has some decent surf breaks as well (maybe Charlie does in fact surf)
In hindsight, we may have skipped Nha Trang for some more time on the coast of Da Nang and/ or Hoi An and would recommend considering that if you find yourself traveling the Vietnam Coast. In either case, Hoi An, which is just a 30 minute drive from Da Nang is a must! A separate post on Hoi An to follow.