It’s no secret solo travelers have been flocking back into Southeast Asia now that the region has fully lifted all of its border curbs.
The world capital of backpacking tourism, the subcontinent is famous for its tropical atmosphere, vibrant culture, warm and welcoming people, and affordability, with tourist dollars stretching a lot further here than they would in the Western World.
Interestingly, it’s a lesser-known coastal port that seems to be stealing the limelight lately, drawing in a growing number of young adventurers:
Da Nang Is Southeast Asia’s Unsung Tropical Getaway
Da Nang is a large city straddling the central coast of Vietnam.
Though it has never been as widely popular as Nha Trang, the bustling resort destination further up the coast, nor the country’s two largest metropolises, Ho Chi Minh City (alternatively called Saigon) and Hanoi, it’s been gaining traction lately among budget travelers.
It’s really no secret Vietnam is a world-class budget destination where you can survive on as little as a hundred dollars for a week, but little is said about Da Nang specifically:
Historically, Da Nang traces its origins back to the ancient Kingdom of Champa, established as early as 192 AD along the coastline of modern-day Vietnam.
Essentially a fishing village throughout its early days, Da Nang grew in relevance following Western contact when Europeans set up trading posts on the coast, leading to the region’s rapid development and urbanization.
The Gateway To Central Vietnam
Nowadays, it is a large regional capital with a population of over 1.3 million residents, famous for a landmark ‘Dragon’ Bridge that spans a fast-flowing river, clusters of towering skyscrapers, and its multicultural community.
Da Nang is just as vibrant and exciting a city break as Bangkok, with comparable electric nightlife and a vibrant social scene.
It is bordered by stunning natural reserves, much like Ubud, in Indonesia’s Bali, and it is close to the ocean.
At the same time, Da Nang can be much cheaper and less crowded than these aforementioned places, which are already quite affordable themselves.
Da Nang Is Hugely Affordable
Believe it or not, a single person’s monthly costs in Da Nang are estimated at a mere US$453.30 per month (without rent), as the cost of living in the metropolitan area is fairly low, and consumer prices are hugely affordable.
According to Numbeo, a modest meal at an inexpensive eatery in Da Nang – most likely a kerbside food stall – is a negligible one dollar and sixty-three cents, while a more elaborate, three-course meal for two people at a mid-range restaurant is as cheap as US$22.39.
Numbeo‘s figures need to be taken with a pinch of salt, as their data is not peer-reviewed and relies on contributions from unverified sources, but having been to Vietnam ourselves, including Da Nang, we are able to confirm it is not too far from the truth.
To give you a better overview, BudgetYourTrip‘s average daily cost for a trip to Da Nang is US$47 per person, while the average hotel price is US$39.
These are still affordable in the grand scheme of things, but bear in mind their median numbers may be overestimated, as they are more commonly based on the expenses of vacationers or short-term visitors with money to spend on luxuries, as opposed to natives and the local lifestyle.
More often than not, solo travelers travel on more limited funds and make budget-conscious decisions, especially in Southeast Asia, a backpacking hotspot and multi-country destination.
There are numerous affordable B&B stays and three-star hotels in Da Nang for under US$30 a night, and youth hostels for much cheaper, even though we wouldn’t recommend them unless an AC system is installed, as the heat and humidity can be overwhelming at times.
Da Nang is the perfect destination not only for eating cheap and shopping but also exploring the unspoiled Central-Vietnamese nature.
What To See In And Around Da Nang
It is the gateway to the world-famous Marble Mountains and the majestic Bà Nà peaks, and it is a popular homebase for visiting some of the country’s top cultural attractions.
These are the Golden Hands Bridge, a crossing suspended by two giant hands amidst dense, green foliage, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hoi An, a yellow-colored historic with an eclectic Old Town, combining elements of both Indochine architecture, and Japanese and French colonial city-building, and Hue, the former Imperial City of Vietnam.
The Hue Citadel is an impressive fortification jam-packed with ancient temples and stately palaces.
Also, not far from Da Nang, precisely 27 miles from the city center, lies the ruined cluster of temples of Mỹ Sơn, yet another UNESCO-protected zone established as early as the 4th century.
If you’re looking for beaches, the best ones within short driving distance of Da Nang (usually half an hour), with satisfactory rates of cleanliness, and with soft, golden sands are My Khe, Phước Mỹ Beach, and Man Thai Beach.
Da Nang Is Remarkably Safe For Foreigners
Finally, yet another reason why solo travelers love Da Nang is its high level of safety.
Much like other major Vietnamese cities, it may not be the cleanest, and traffic can feel hectic at times, but you will soon learn you are under no risk of falling victim to urban violence, and even petty crimes are not a common occurrence.
The Vietnamese are incredibly welcoming people, and other than the odd street vendor, if you ever get approached by a passerby, it will be out of sheer curiosity and with friendly intent.
How To Get To Da Nang
Da Nang International Airport hosts flights from a number of destinations in Asia, including Kuala Lumpur International in Malaysia, Seoul-Incheon in South Korea, Manila in the Philippines, and Singapore, making it easy to travel for backpackers country-hopping around the continent.
Regrettably, no nonstop flights are scheduled between the North American continent and Da Nang.
In order to get there, U.S. citizens must first travel to an intermediate Vietnamese destination or Asian country, usually via Singapore, Seoul, Tokyo in Japan, or Taipei in Taiwan, which are all served by nonstop flights from the States.
Alternatively, travelers can land in either Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam’s two main entry points, and board an overnight train to Da Nang.
In order to enter Vietnam, they will also need a tourist visa, which can be obtained online in advance and lasts for three months.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com