Staying in Da Nang, I wanted to explore some of the neighboring areas since Da Nang doesn’t really have much to offer in term of interesting places to visit for the tourist. Sure, there is the church and the different bridges, but that’s about it. The city itself isn’t that pretty and after walking around for a couple hours, I’d seen about all I cared to see and was ready to move on to Hoi An.
About 20 minutes south of Da Nang is Hoi An. The town is a tourist mecca as an UNESCO site and oozes charm unlike Da Nang. It’s small enough that a day trip can easily be done to see everything you’d like to see in this town. However, you could certainly spend more time here and enjoy the different local activities outside of the main touristy area as well.
Getting there was simple enough. It was about a 30 min Grab ride and cost $190,000VND (about $8 USD). My driver dropped me off at one of the main “entrances” into town. You could also take a bus but when I looked into it, it looked like it was going to take much longer (I believe around 2 hours) and I would still need to get to the bus stop so I decided to take a Grab. To get back, I was forced to take a Grab Taxi which cost $280,000 VND (about $12USD). Either ride was very simple and fast. You might be tempted to hire a drive for the day but that really isn’t necessary since you’ll just be paying for the driver to sleep there and you can always find a taxi back to Da Nang.
So this was a first for me. This is just a town where people live and work so it isn’t like an amusement park or something that’s gated and locked up after a specific time. I guess that’s what caught be off guard because I don’t think I’ve ever visited a city where there was an entrance fee to walk around an actual town.
When you’re there, you’ll have to buy a ticket to enter the main town. The cost is $120K VND (about $5 USD) and these tickets are sold in these small yellow roofed huts (for lack of a better word). The thing is these huts are kind of difficult to spot especially if you’re not looking for them since they tend to blend in with the colorful surroundings.
With your entrance fee, you’ll receive a sheet of 5 tickets to be used at any 5 museums or points of interest within the city. I only used 1 during my time there (and that was only to escape the rain for a bit) but then again, I’m not really a museum person. But they can be redeemed for different attractions throughout the town so hopefully you’ll find something interests you.
All this said, I was never stopped by anyone to check if I had a ticket or not. The ticket gives you “access” to the city but without anyone stopping to see if you bought a ticket, I’m not sure if it’s really necessary. To be honest, if you didn’t know where ticket offices were, you could very easily walk past them since they’re small huts that blend in with the rest of the town. You could certainly take your chances and not buy a ticket but for $5, I don’t really think it’s worth it.
Things To Do
The town itself is actually pretty small and is really only a few blocks long. For me, I thought the town was lovely but very boring and extremely touristy. A lot of the shops there seemed to be selling all kinds of cheap knockoff goods and although there were some stores that sold “unique” gifts, I’m sure they were just mass produced items that were made to look local.
Also, there are tons of eateries in that area but I noticed most if not all of the restaurants were overpriced and completely catered and marketing to tourists. I just didn’t find much value in that so I decided to pass on it. But if you’re really hungry, you’ll certainly have your choice of places to eat.
I spent maybe 3 hours there total and I thought that was more than enough time for me. To be honest, many parts of that time were spent trying to get out of the heavy rain. I also only went into 1 of the attractions.
Are the attractions really worth it? It’s a resounding “no” for me. The attractions were smaller and very museum based so that just really isn’t my style. I guess it could be worth it those who are really into that sort of thing but I feel like the Hoi An tourism board was trying to justify charging $5 for tourists to walk and visit their city.
Also, I really didn’t think the city was all that great to begin with. Yes, the area is small but a lot of the shops there just have cheap knockoff goods ranging from purses to wallets to shirts. To be fair, if you only want to buy fake and (not so ) cheap (if you don’t haggle) goods, you can probably find a place closer to home that would check all those boxes.
Hoi An is a much more beautiful city to visit than Da Nang. However, that really isn’t saying much in terms of offering any type of comparison. It would be like saying watching a movie is much better when watching on a tv vs. having no tv at all. Of course it’s better but that doesn’t mean it’s good. However, if you’re in the area, do I think it’s worth the trip? Absolutely. Even if it isn’t a goal of yours to visit UNESCO sites, it is pretty cool to visit and stick that feather in your hat. Also, in terms of accessibility, this is a really easy town to get to so check it out and have some fun. The only way you regret it is if you spend too much money on some useless crap.