Friday, May 3, 2024

[Food Guide] Itinerary to Da Nang (岘港)/ Hoi An (会安古城), Vietnam (越南) 2024.

Low-cost, good food and many places of interest are some of the reasons why Malaysians choose to travel to Da Nang; in addition to that- there are 3 airlines offering direct flights from Kuala Lumpur to Da Nang (namely AirAsia, Batik Air and Malaysia Airlines). The flight time is approximately 3 hours from Kuala Lumpur. Nestled along the central coast of Vietnam, Da Nang is in a strategic location to allow tourists make short trips to Hoi An, Hue and Bana Hills. 

Fun Fact: Da Nang is like a small Korean town, the place is thronged with Korean tourists and you will find signages in Korean language every where. For a moment, we thought Da Nang was colonized by Korean.

1) Madame Lan Restaurant
Service Charge: No
Government Tax/ VAT: No
Address: 04, Bach Dang, Thach Thang, Hai Chau, Da Nang, 550000, Vietnam.
Business Hours: 6:30 am to 10 pm. Opens Daily.
Contact Number: +84 905 697 555

Beef Pho/ Sirloin (VND 76,000)

Grilled Beef wrapped in Betel Leaves (VND 162,000)

Traditional Glutinous Rice (VND 138,000)

Madame Lan's Signature Char-Grilled Fish (VND 310,000)

Tropical Fruit Sweet Rolls (VND 45,000)

Water Chestnut and Jelly Sweet Soup (VND 48,000)

Highly rated on Google, Madame Lan appears to be our favorite restaurant in this trip. The restaurant is clean, spacious and cozy. On the menu, it has a lot to offer- mainly Vietnamese delights of course. Expect the prices to be restaurant-standard so yes, slightly above the average rate but same goes for the quality as well. We enjoyed every single dish we ordered- starting with the Beef Pho... clean-tasting meat broth with silky smooth noodles and tender meat; served with heaps of fresh Herbs. It was not our first experience with the Beef wrapped in Betel Leaves but Madame Lan nailed it. The winning recipe was the accompanying Rice paper wrap and various fresh condiments like raw Mango, raw Starfruit, Basil and pickled Radish. But my personal favorite was the Glutinous Rice. The seasoning was spot on and they did not skimp in adding ingredients- with a generous amount of Lotus Seeds, dried Shitake Mushrooms and Lotus Roots. Extra marks for the addictively chewy Glutinous Rice (not over or under cooked). 

2) Moc Quan Seafood Restaurant
Service Charge: No
Government Tax/ VAT: No
Address: 26, To Hien Thanh, Son Tra, Da Nang, 550000, Vietnam.
Business Hours: 10:30 am to 10:30 pm. Opens Daily.
Contact Number: +84 905 566 5058

Grilled Squid (VND 310,000)

Grilled Oysters with Scallions (VND 70,000)

Grilled Sea Eels (VND 180,000)

Boiled Clams (VND 70,000)

Seafood Porridge (VND 89,000)

Mango Smoothie (VND 25,000) and Melon Smoothie (VND 25,000)

It is not exaggerating to say that Moc Quan is the busiest Seafood restaurant in Da Nang, the place is basically thronged with tourists and big crowd every evening. We were there early (arrived at 6 PM/ without reservation) and were told to wait. They have good numbering system and it took us approximately 40 minutes for the table (for 2 pax). The menu is big and has a lot to offer- all sorts of Seafood and Vietnamese stir fries. Speed is their winning recipe, backed by reasonable charges. None of the dishes disappoint. All of our orders were freshly cooked and we could taste the freshness of the Seafood. The servers understand and speak basic English, definitely a tourist-friendly place. Recommend to put this place on the list if you are keen to have a good, inexpensive Seafood meal in Da Nang.

3) Wonderlust Bakery & Coffee
Service Charge: No
Government Tax/ VAT: No
Address: 96, Tran Phu, Hai Chau, Da Nang, 550000, Vietnam.
Business Hours: 9 am to 10 pm. Opens Daily.
Contact Number: +84 236 3744 678

Red Velvet Cake (VND 55,000)

Avocado Coco (VND 85,000)

There are quite a handful of pretty cafes in Da Nang and Wonderlust is probably one of the easily accessible ones. A short walk from Han Market, Wonderlust can be a spot to stretch your shopping leg or take a rest from the sultry hot tropical weather. The interior decor is picturesque- with natural lights flowing in, making every corner of the cafe ideal for photography. The food was never our reason to visit- more to chill out and kill time. None of our orders disappoint- the Avocado Coco was creamy and not overly sweet. The Red Velvet cake was delicious too, the Cream Cheese frosting was nicely done. 

4) I Love Banh Mi
Service Charge: No
Government Tax/ VAT: No
Address: 100, Tran Phu, Hai Chau, Da Nang, 550000, Vietnam.
Business Hours: 8:30 am to 8:30 pm. Opens Daily.
Contact Number: +84 905 778 492

Vietnamese Grilled Pork Banh Mi (VND 70,000)

Fried Chicken Banh Mi (VND 70,000)

Few doors away from Wonderlust Bakery and Coffee is I Love Banh Mi, a Banh Mi joint meant for tourists. But it is not exactly a trap, the dishes are fine-tuned to foreign palate and you get to find Western elements like Fried Chicken, Mayonnaise. The portion is huge with a generous amount of filling. Each Baguette could fit 2 petite eaters. We had the Fried Chicken and Grilled Pork; the latter one was better with a tender, juicier bite. The Fried Chicken was too dry to our liking.

5) Bun Cha Ca 109
Service Charge: No
Government Tax/ VAT: No
Address: 109, Nguyen Chi Thanh, Hai Chau, Da Nang, 550000, Vietnam.
Business Hours: 6 am to 10 pm. Opens Daily.
Contact Number: +84 945 713 171

Fish Cake Noodles with Crab Cake (VND 50,000)

We were not convinced with this place as we were caught in a whiff of uric acid upon entering the premise. We thought about it a while and decided to give it a try (since we were there and no harm trying). It turned out to be the urea smell from fresh Bamboo shoots. Bun Cha Ca 109 is an old-establishment and considered a specialist when it comes to Da Nang-style Fish Cake noodles. We were glad that we have made the right decision- it was delicious! The broth carried a subtle umami-ness and the Fish Cakes were bouncy. The extra Crab Cake added the salinity and boosted the seafood sweetness. There were some fresh Bamboo Shoots in our bowls too but we did not mind, they were all good. If you are game for some local Da Nang delicacy, give this a try (it is probably one of our favorite dishes this trip)!

6) Trinh Ca Phe
Service Charge: No
Government Tax/ VAT: No
Address: 25, Pham Hong Thai, Hai Chau, Da Nang, 550000, Vietnam.
Business Hours: 6:30 am to 1:30 am. Opens Daily.
Contact Number: +84 932 453 811

Avocado Smoothie (VND 36,000) and Avocado Ice Cream (VND 39,000)

Korean Cream Cheese Bun (VND 35,000)

Having tried quite a few Avocado Smoothies around Da Nang/ Hoi An, it is safe to declare that Trinh Ca Phe offers the best Avocado drink (be it Smoothie, Coffee or Ice Cream/ probably one of the cheapest ones too) in the region. The brand has a few outlets scattered in Da Nang but the menu is pretty much similar. The one we visited was within walking distance from Han Market. The Avocado Smoothie was delicately creamy with a gentle touch of sweetness. The winning recipe is probably the desiccated Coconut, which adds a crunchy bite to the creamy drink. Forget about the Cream Cheese Bun though. The Avocado drink is good enough to provide a valid reason for your visit. 

7) Thien Kim Restaurant
Service Charge: No
Government Tax/ VAT: Yes 5%
Address: 166, Bach Dang, Hai Chau, Da Nang, 550000, Vietnam.
Business Hours: 10:30 am to 9:30 pm. Opens Daily.
Contact Number: +84 773 566 882

Hoi An Chicken Rice (VND 98,000)

My Quang (VND 98,000)

Flat Steamed Rice Dumplings (VND 98,000)

Visited by some Korean celebrities (when they were filming for Vietnamese food in Da Nang), Thien Kim made itself well-known to the Korean tourists and it attracts a big Korean crowd every evening. Strategically located in the heart of Da Nang city (opposite to Han River), Thien Kim makes it a good option for any Korean tourists looking for good Vietnamese dinner. The menu has Korean translations, making it easier for Korean tourists to read. The offering is pretty much standard for a Vietnamese eatery in Da Nang but the restaurant offers a cozy, air-conditioned and sophisticated setting. We enjoyed our moments there but can't really say the same for the food.

The Steamed Rice Dumplings we had were okay- not too shabby but not the best ones around. The dumpling skin was chewy and the meat filling was reasonably seasoned. Good thing- they were served to us piping hot. My Quang (or Mi Quang) is a popular delicacy in central Vietnam, basically some Rice noodles served with meat broth (separately). In this case, we were served with some super greasy Pork Belly with Prawns in it... as well as some fat Rice Noodles. The broth was bland and overly greasy, we struggled to finish this dish. The Hoi An Chicken Rice was.... just Chicken Rice, nothing out of the ordinary. This place is more for the dining ambiance than absolute taste. 

8) Lotte Mart Supermarket
Address: 6, Hai Nam, Hoa Cuong Bac, Hai Chau, Da Nang, 550000, Vietnam.
Business Hours: 8 am to 10 pm. Opens Daily.

Lotte Mart Supermarket is the place to go to if you need to stock up some food/drink supplies during your stay in Da Nang. Lotte Mart has everything you need- from local produce to imported stuff, especially Korean products (like Soju, Beers, Instant Noodles etc). You can also find some nice, presentable gifts to bring back as souvenirs too. They accept credit cards, so it is safer and more convenient to shop in establishments of such scale. On top of the shopping, you can also find some restaurants in the mall (mostly Korean restaurants though). Interesting one would be the one offering Toppokki Buffet but unfortunately, we did not have the time to try it out.

9) Han Market
Address: 119, Tran Chu, Hai Chau, Da Nang, 550000, Vietnam.
Business Hours: 6 am to 7 pm. Opens Daily.

Han Market (or known as Cho Han) is the de-facto shopping place in Da Nang city. You will find plenty of tourists in this place (especially Koreans). The 2-storey market houses vendors that sell fresh produce, dried food (like Cashew Nuts, Coffee, Dried Mango etc) and garments. You will be spoilt for choices when it comes to dried food (to be brought back as souvenirs) on the first floor while the garments are on the second floor. The dried food corner is pretty much standard and probably the same in the whole Vietnam (Cashew Nuts, Vietnamese Coffee, Dried Mango, Dried Lotus Seeds etc) but what is more interesting is on the upper floor (second floor). 

You get to find bargains on garments, if you don't mind counterfeits but functional sports tees, you can basically get a good quality ones at less than VND 50,000 each (ask for discounts if you are buying more). On top of the tees, you can also find Socks, Hats, beach wear, Ao Dai (traditional Vietnamese wear), Shoes, Bags/ Luggage etc. They can even tailor-fit the Ao Dai in less than an hour. We've also bought a big hand carry item at VND 300,000 (a really sturdy one) as well as a pair of couple-matching beach wear (dress + shirt with shorts) at VND 350,000. Remember, if you are buying more, do ask for discounts (though they are generally cheaper than most places in Vietnam).

Da Nang Cathedral

10) Sun World Bana Hills
Address: Hoa Ninh, Noa Vang, Da Nang, 550000, Vietnam.
Business Hours: 7 am to 10 pm. Opens Daily.

Perched high on the Trung Son Mountains near Da Nang city (approximately 45-60 min drive away from Da Nang city), Bana Hills is a hill station with resort complex, accessible through a scenic cable car ride (bagged accolade like Guinness World Record for the longest non-stop single track cable car). Visitors can arrange their own transportation and purchase the entrance tickets on the spot. We did not want the hassle and booked our trip with KLOOK. There was a shuttle bus to send us there and the e-tickets were ready before our departure. Almost like Genting in Malaysia, Bana Hills can be chilly. Every corner of Bana Hills is a good photograph opportunity, the French Village is huge enough to explore for half a day. There are some theme-park activities to partake but they usually come with a queue. 

The cable car from the main entrance of Bana Hills will land you at French Village first. Should you wish to visit the Golden Hand Bridge, you will need to find your way to the other side and take ANOTHER cable car track. Once you are done with the Golden Hand Bridge, you will need to take the return trip (via the same cable car track) and back to the French Village. To exit Bana Hills, take the ORIGINAL cable car track back to the entrance. Unlike Genting- the cable car track offers multiple stops, the one at Bana Hills does not. You will need to switch between the cable car tracks, not hopping on different stops. So do plan your trip accordingly. 

Is it worth to go Bana Hills? If you have not visited the place before- Yes, you need to visit this place. You get to take thousands of photos and enjoy the chilly-windy weather. Kids would love the place.  

View from the top of Meditation Corner

Vietnamese Noodle Corner


Vietnamese Spring Rolls and Condiments

Vietnamese Cold Cuts

Salad Bar

Grilled Chicken

Fresh Juices- Guava and Mango

Bread and Pastries


What and Where to eat is a common question at Bana Hills, many travel packages include Buffet Lunch as part of their itinerary. There are several restaurants offering buffet lunch options (which usually priced at VND 350,000 per pax); if buffet is not your thing, there are other available options but they don't come cheap either (expect to pay like VND 200,000 per pax). If you have a good appetite, it is probably wiser to go for buffet lunch. For us, we had ours at Mercure Danang French Village Bana Hills (Restaurant La Crique). The price is VND 350,000 Nett per pax for Buffet Lunch and being an Accor Plus Member, we've got ourselves 50% discount on the rate... which was a no-brainer why we opted for this. The spread was good enough (though not extensive) but offered a good variety of both international cuisine and Vietnamese delights. The restaurant is strategically located in the heart of the French Village (Bana Hills) and has a good dining atmosphere. 

Where to stay in Da Nang?

We have stayed in different hotels in this trip and we would recommend Pullman Resort Danang. Though it is slightly out of the city center, the resort has its own private beach- only open to in house guests. You get to enjoy the privacy you like and of course, the serenity. The room rates fluctuate but generally, you get what you have paid for. We regretted for staying here just for a night, we should have stayed for another night. 

The room is spacious with full amenities... of course, expect nothing less for a Pullman-rank resort (check out the highlights of my IG Stories for more photos). The resort itself has many activities for guests to partake- Yoga class in the morning, Beach Volley Ball in the evening, swim in the big pool or sauna. They even have free shuttle to go to Hoi An daily (from the resort of course)!

Do not miss their breakfast buffet- with a lot of options available, from international choices to local Vietnamese delights. You can even concoct your own Cocktail! The breakfast buffet costs VND 550,000 net per pax.

Hoi An:

Inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Hoi An tops the list of as one of the top travel destinations in Asia. Only a short 50 minute drive away from Da Nang city, Hoi An Old Town is often a destination for visitors when visiting Da Nang. It is most recommended to spend at least one night or two at Hoi An for site seeing. If you are hiring a Grab/ Taxi/ Driver to go to Hoi An from Da Nang, the rate should be in the range of VND 300,000 to VND 350,000 one way (as at March 2024).

1) MOT
Service Charge: No
Government Tax/ VAT: No
Address: 150, Tran Phu, Cam Chau, Hoi An, Quang Nam, 560000, Vietnam.
Business Hours: 8 am to 10 pm. Opens Daily.
Contact Number: +84 901 913 399

Mot Specialty Drink (VND 18,000)

It is common to see everyone holding a paper cup with a name "Mot" written on it in Hoi An old town. It is essentially the must-have in Hoi An; a cup of these costs VND 18,000 and because of the price, why not? It is a refreshing drink that consists of Lemongrass, Licorice, Ginger, Chrysanthemum, Lotus Leaves etc; basically a type of local drink to combat the tropical heat. Is it worth to go all out for this? No. More for the novelty experience, a concocted drink that we can never find in Malaysia.

2) VY's Deli by Taste Vietnam
Service Charge: No
Government Tax/ VAT: No
Address: 41, Nguyen Phuc Chu, Hoi An, 560000, Vietnam.
Business Hours: 9 am to 10 pm. Opens Daily.
Contact Number: +84 235 392 6929

Beef Pho- Hoi An (VND 85,000)

Cao Lau Noodles (VND 75,000)

Banh Xeo Hoi An (VND 95,000)

Huda Beer (VND 55,000)

VY's Deli by Taste of Vietnam occupies a very strategic spot at Hoi An old town (right at the landing spot of the connecting bridge) and under the same group as Morning Glory (another famous dining outlet in Hoi An). VY's Deli gets very lively in the evenings, with many tourists enjoying their pint of beers and local delights in the restaurant. The restaurant has a big menu- offering both local Vietnamese delights as well as some international dishes like Pizza, Pasta etc. Dishes are reasonably priced but the flavors are fine-tuned to suit the foreign taste buds. We had some dishes, they tasted alright but lacked the Vietnamese punch (like muted in terms of spiciness and herbs).

3) White Rose Dumplings
Service Charge: No
Government Tax/ VAT: No
Address: 533D, Hai Ba Trung, Phuong Cam Pho, Hoi An, 560000, Vietnam.
Business Hours: 7:30 am to 8:30 pm. Opens Daily.
Contact Number: +84 903 010 986

White Rose Dumplings (VND 70,000)

Deep Fried White Rose Dumplings (VND 100,000)

It is hard to miss the name- White Rose Dumplings when you are travelling to Hoi An. It is a type of local delicacy- a type of Dumplings with the recipe being kept secretly by a family (up to today). All of the White Rose Dumplings in Hoi An are being supplied by the same family. White Rose is the restaurant owned by this family and it is safe to say that this is the place of origin for this local Vietnamese delicacy. Unlike traditional dumplings- the meat filling is encased in dumpling skin; White Rose has a different look... almost like a flower holding the meat filling in the middle, presenting the dumplings in the form of Rose. The restaurant menu only offers 2 items- Steamed White Rose Dumplings or Fried ones. We had both. The steamed version has a chewier but translucent skin (think of chewier version of Chai Kueh) with the Prawn filling in the middle, served with classic Vietnamese dipping sauce (Nuoc Cham). The Fried version has a completely different look and taste. The Dumplings are served with some sweet and sour sauce with huge Prawns; like the local Chinese fried Wan Ton but with sweet and sour sauce. 

4) Madam Khanh- The Banh Mi Queen
Service Charge: No
Government Tax/ VAT: No
Address: 115, Tran Cao Van, Phuong Minh An, Hoi An, 560000, Vietnam.
Business Hours: 6:30 am to 7 pm. Opens Daily.
Contact Number: +84 777 476 177

Vegetarian Banh Mi (VND 25,000)

Mixed Banh Mi (VND 30,000)

Avocado Smoothie (VND 40,000)

There are a few popular Banh Mi places in Hoi An old town and Madam Khanh is one of them. The place is especially famous amongst tourists, visit the Banh Mi joint any time during the day and there will be a crowd. We visited the place early (like before 10AM) and fortunately, the crowd was small. We had no luck with Chicken filling and only left with Pork and Vegetables. The Baguette was fine but the filling/sauces were nothing out of the ordinary; definitely not the best ones that we have had. The savior was the Chili sauce on the table- we can top up as much as we like. Can't complain much for that price though.

5) Memories Brunch & Cafe
Service Charge: No
Government Tax/ VAT: No
Address: 30, Nguyen Thai Hoc, Hoi An, 560000, Vietnam.
Business Hours: 7 am to 10 pm. Opens Daily.
Contact Number: +84 983 369 995

Tropical Fruit Yogurt Bowl (VND 75,000)

Sugarcane, Coconut and Pandan Juice (VND 75,000)

Another cool thing to do in Hoi An would be to visit a cafe in the Old Town that has roof top access. You can then take a helicopter view on the Old Town (or a picture with yourself in it). One of them is Memories Brunch and Coffee. The cafe is housed in a 3-storey tall building, the menu is pretty average cafe offering but it offers a cozy space for a quick respite from the tropical heat. You can also take the opportunity to go to the roof top for photography.

6) Huong Xuan Tailor
Address: 8, Le Loi, Phuong Ming An, Hoi An, 560000, Vietnam.
Business Hours: 9 am to 9 pm. Opens Daily.
Contact Number: +84 935 443 043

Adjustments are made on the spot

Tailored Dress for my missus (VND 1,000,000)

2-pc Suit for myself (VND 3,750,000/ excluding the shirt)

Hoi An Old Town is home to many tailors and it is a popular place to tailor any outfits (be it suits/ dresses/ shirts etc). One will be spoilt for choices, not knowing which one to go to. I've been to a few bigger establishments in Hoi An (like Be Be Tailor, Yaly Tailor) and we were not being warmly welcomed. The starting price (for a 2-pc suit) for Be Be Tailor is USD 140 and USD 150 for Yaly. The designs and requirements are very basic, it will cost more if you have more requirements and opt for better materials. 

While we hunt for better bargain, we stumbled upon Huong Xuan Tailor. We were warmly welcomed and the lady answered to our questions promptly (with patience). The starting price for a 2-pc suit is USD90 but the quality is really poor. The better range materials are in USD 120, USD 150 and USD 200. I was happy with the USD 150 quality and opted for it. The design was really basic, unlike a full bespoke experience where you get to choose the types of button, design for the trousers, lapel etc; you don't get these here. It would be easier if you can show them the design you want and they will just quote you accordingly. The inner lining is monotonous in color and if you wish for fancier design, you will need to top up VND300,000. My missus opted for a casual dress which costs VND 1,000,000. Not fancy but at least it was tailormade according to her body size and she got to choose the materials, colors and designs (we showed the staff what we wanted and fine tuned from there). Our first visit was around 6PM and we were asked to come back for fitting on the next day at 11AM. Afterwards, they needed extra 2 hours to fine tune and complete everything. We've collected the dress/suit at slight past 1PM the next day (literally less than 24 hours). While not top-notch, but you get what you have paid for. Also a good, novelty experience (and get yourself a souvenir from Hoi An).

Have Fun Exploring Da Nang and Hoi An! 

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