Welcome to the Vietnam Is Awesome Podcast. We’ll help you discover the real Vietnam with awesome experiences.
I’m Niall Mackay, your host. I’ve lived in Vietnam since 2016, and I’m the host of a Vietnam podcast, A comedian, and now a brand ambassador for Vietnam Is Awesome.
I came to Vietnam for a two-week vacation and was immediately taken by the beauty, friendliness, energy, and even all the quirks of Vietnam. I came back in 2016 with my wife for just six weeks, and six years later we’re still here.
I’ll be talking to people from all over Vietnam working in tourism, bars, resorts, hotels, nightlife and more to share with you experiences that prove, Vietnam Is Awesome.
In this episode my guest is the Editor-in-Chief of Vietnam Is Awesome.
Also having lived here for 6 years, he has travelled to many iconic and off-the-beaten-track locations in Vietnam with some stunning photos to show for it.
He’s also married and lives in Da Nang with his wife Phuong and his little dog Lilly.
My guest today is Alan Brownbridge.
We’re going to be talking about Da Nang and Central Vietnam today…
- Why Danang is a good central point and where can you explore from there?
- How has Covid and the weather affected the region?
- Why photography tours are such big things to do in Vietnam.
Things To Do
- Hikes and beaches on Son Tra Mountain
- Discover the temples in Marble Mountain
- Get lost in colonial architecture in Bana Hills
- Scale Hai Van Pass on a motorbike
- Enjoy the view from Lady Buddha
- Take iconic selfies at Golden Bridge (the bridge with the hands!)
- See the Dragon Bridge breathe fire
Bars To See
- The Trip
- Seven Bridges Brewing Co.
- The Workshop
- Easy Rider motorbike tours
- One-of-a-kind photo tours
Places To Go To Next
Niall Mackay: [00:00:00] Welcome to the Vietnam is Awesome podcast. We’re gonna help you discover the real Vietnam with awesome experiences. I’m Niall Mackay, your host, and I’ve lived in Vietnam since 2016. I’m the host of A Vietnam Podcast, a comedian, and a brand ambassador for Vietnam Is Awesome. I came to Vietnam for a two-week vacation in 2015 and was immediately taken by the beauty, friendliness, and even the quirks of Vietnam. I came back in 2016 with my wife for just six weeks, and more than six years later, we’re still here. In this podcast, I’ll be talking to people from all over Vietnam, working in tourism bars, resorts, hotels, [00:01:00] nightlife, and more to share with you experiences that prove Vietnam Is Awesome.
In this episode, my guest is the editor-in-chief of Vietnam Is Awesome. He’s also lived here for six years and he’s traveled to many iconic and off-the-beaten-track locations in Vietnam with some stunning photos to show for it. He’s also married and lives in Danang with his wife Phuong and his little dog, Lily. My guest today is Alan Brown Bridge.
Thanks for coming on your own podcast. Thanks for having me here. So you’ve been here six years the same as me. So how did you end up coming here?
Alan Brownbridge: I came here first because my friends told me that it was a great place to live, and before that I was living in Canada. and that was coming to an end. My visa was coming to an end there, so I needed to have another adventure.
When I landed in Ho Chi Minh City, I Thought, oh, I’ll just be here, do my teaching certificate and then I’ll be off somewhere else.
Niall Mackay: And then how did you end [00:02:00] up Being the editor-in-chief of Vietnam Is Awesome.
Alan Brownbridge: I dunno how I came across it, but I came across the Vietnam Is Awesome social media group. I guess I needed advice to travel and live in Vietnam and somebody suggested I join this.
And I was just a, a bystander for a while. Posted some photos, things like that. But then the editor-in-chief at that time, he wanted some travel writers and he posted on the group that anyone like to write for. Vietnam Is Awesome. And I took a chance. I wasn’t really that confident as a writer. I’d never been a writer before, so I started writing and I just got more and more into it, more and more passionate about writing and I started taking photos for my articles and then I started writing more and I started taking photos for my articles as well. And I guess Vietnam Is Awesome. Just thought that I’d be a [00:03:00] good fit for the team, and that was a few years ago now, and I’ve really loved my role in this company.
It’s very exciting to be part of this. I get to talk to people like you and I get to help other people travel in Vietnam. That’s really a passion of mine.
Niall Mackay: So as a, an expert and a sometime tourist then tell people listening. People are hopefully listening to this podcast cuz they want find out more about Vietnam.
They’re thinking about coming here. They want to hear from the people like you that are on the ground. Tell someone why should they visit Da Nang? What is it they do when they come to Vietnam? Well, when they come to
Alan Brownbridge: Da Nang, I think first thing people should do is go jump in the ocean. It’s absolutely beautiful.
It’s very clean. One of the cleanest speeches I’ve. in the world and almost definitely in Vietnam. It’s really stunning and it’s got great views of the mountains around it. But if you’re not really into the beach, then there’s some hiking you can do in Sơn Trà Mountain and there’s another [00:04:00] small temple area called Marble Mountain.
So if you feel quite active, you can hike up , a couple of mans, and see some great views from. And there’s also loads of restaurants and bars that are alongside the beach that are amazing to have a date at night. There’s also some really, there’s a really good live music scene here as well. My favorite is the bar called The Trip on a Thursday night.
Niall Mackay: Very good.
Alan Brownbridge: It’s mostly rock music. The people that come to expats like me, it’s usually the same people and they’re just absolutely amazing musicians.
Niall Mackay: Now, Da Nang City itself, I’ve been many times. I feel like it’s almost two cities in one, but correct me if I’m wrong, because you’ve got the main Da Nang city. Which I have barely spent a minute in.
And then you have the beach side area with the expat area, and I’m a, I’m an expat immigrant, whatever you want to call that. And so when I’ve been there, I’ve been, mostly because I’ve been near the beach, but then over the last couple [00:05:00] years I’ve watched this. Expat area grow, which to me just means more kind of Western bars and restaurants, coffee shops and things like this that sell smashed avocado.
I mean, that’s the definition of an expat area. As soon as you see smashed avocado on toast and a cappuccino being sold, and you’re in the expat area. What’s that area called again? Mỹ An. So explain to anyone listening cuz am I correct in seeing that there’s almost two cities within Danang? There’s like one side of the river and one and then the other side.
Alan Brownbridge: that’s right. And I’m the same as you. I haven’t really gone into the city side that much. I have sometimes my wife’s business is located there, so I go to a small part of that area. But there’s still so much to explore there and I’m kind of not really that interested in it. I’m more interested in the beach side.
Has the expat bars and restaurants, but there’s also a lot of Vietnamese, really good Vietnamese restaurants and bars in. And around the expat area. Mỹ An.
Niall Mackay: So you said you don’t really go to the other side of the city that [00:06:00] much cuz you love the beach. But what is the to-do in there or or is it just mainly when tourists come to Da Nang, they really only see that Beachside Mỹ An area or again, am I wrong on that?
Alan Brownbridge: right on that. But I think it does depend on the sort of traveler a lot of. Travelers will go to the beach side, the Mỹ An area. There are a lot of business travelers that will go into the city side and they like to stay around the river. There’s some really good things to do around there.
There’s some river cruises you can do. There’s some art galleries and things like that as well. I think usually Western tourists will come into the area. But I have seen a lot of, um, Koreans and Japanese. There’s some like Korea towns and Japanese towns in that cityside that cater for those sort of tourists.
Niall Mackay: And Danang is known, if I can remember correctly, the city of Si bridges. Is that right? That’s right. Oh, they answer is probably obvious, but do you [00:07:00] want to tell us about why it’s called the city?
Alan Brownbridge: I guess it’s because there’s seven bridges that cross over the Han River and each one is stunning. I think the architecture in Da Nang is really nice.
They’ve spent a lot of time to think about the infrastructure here. because I think the government really wanted to develop a lot in the future and to be commercial center and a tourist center as well. And uh, yeah, those bridges, they are, there’s a lot of investment into those bridges because of the trade that comes through Da Nang from the ports and things like that.
But yeah, every time I drive over the bridge, I just look around. It’s just beautiful. One of the best bridges and the most famous is the Dragon Bridge. And I bet anyone that’s done any research on Vietnam War or Da Nang has seen this bridge is not the, it’s not the one with the hands, not that one. That’s Golden Bridge.
That’s another famous one. But the Dragon Bridge is in the center of Da Nang. It crosses over the Han [00:08:00] river and it has this like massive statue of a dragon that kind of goes up and down. His body goes up and. Along the bridge and at the, at one end there’s a tail. The other end there’s a head, and on Friday and Saturday night at about 9:00 PM the dragon will breathe fire.
Niall Mackay: Amazing. It’s unbelievable. It’s so, it’s just definitely one of the coolest bridges you could ever imagine. You’re in this city and it’s suddenly there’s this beautiful dragon.
Alan Brownbridge: Mm Yeah. And if you’re there at nine o’clock and you can watch it, there’s loads of bars nearby where you can sit and have a beer while you watch the fire show.
You can almost feel the heat coming from the dragon’s breath. It’s very exciting.
Niall Mackay: Yeah, for sure. The last time I was there, I watched it from one of my favorite breweries. If anyone knows me, I’m a big craft beer fan. It’s, and their name, you can tell where they’re from. Their name is Seven Bridges Brewery.
Mm, so they’re a Da Nang based craft brewery, and I think that location [00:09:00] might have moved again. Things moved so quickly. I think the last time we were there, it wasn’t there anymore, but last time I was there, we, they had a location right on the river. You could sit at the bar, have a beer, and watch this fire show coming out of the dragon’s mouth and you’re just like, this is.
This is incredible. But you also mentioned the golden hands, so it kinda leads me into my next question, but, so the next question I was gonna ask is, one of the great things about Danang is you can explore so many different areas around this. So not only is it an amazing city to, to visit and to live in, it’s a great point to explore from there.
So tell us some of the other areas around Danang that you can travel to, uh, and including, as you mentioned, the famous Golden Hands Bridge
Alan Brownbridge: with the, uh, Golden Hands Bridge that’s up in Bana Hills. And that’s like a, kinda like a theme park. And that’s quite a good day trip. It’s a whole day trip to go up there, but I would, if you go up there, I would bring a jumper or a jacket with you cuz it’s much higher than the rest of Da Nang and you’ve got a good view from there.
And you can spend the whole day there. Go [00:10:00] into little like themed areas and they’ve got some games there as well. I know the day trip is to go to Hoi An from Da Nang. That’s only about 30 minutes drive away.
Niall Mackay: So I’ve been to Bana Hills and you are underplaying it. It is absolutely spectacular. It is one of the most amazing places I’ve ever been to way high up in the mountains.
You’ve gotta get a massive cable car up there. There’s not just some game , there’s like an amusement. There’s roller coasters, there’s, uh, luge raid, and then one of the, the most amazing things I think is they have a French village. I’ve been told about it and I’ve been told it’s cheesy and it’s gaudy and it’s rubbish.
And then we went and I just was blown away by it. It’s obviously fake, but it is still amazing. And then you have to think in the context. Not many Vietnamese people are gonna go to France or Eastern Europe. See that style of architecture? So, to be able to provide that for them, that they can come and see what a French village would’ve looked like and to experience it and walk about.
When we did it, it was really [00:11:00] cloudy. We stayed overnight up there, so we were walking about in the clouds and it was all moist and damp and wet, and I just thought the people who talked down upon it, I thought it was just a bit snobby. I thought it was an unbelievable experience. It was cool. And if you think of the context of people from Vietnam don’t travel much, then I think it’s even.
Alan Brownbridge: Yeah, I think you’re right. I mean, I do think it is cheesy, but it’s not so bad. It’s not a negative thing, and I think it is somewhat authentic. I think Bana Hills was a French barracks or something like that in the past, and it, it was like a retreat area for the French.
Niall Mackay: and then, The Golden Hands Bridge itself as well is one of the most iconic images of Vietnam now, which again, the speed of development in Vietnam.
I’m pretty sure that didn’t exist when I first came here six years ago, seven years ago when I first came here. It’s as amazing in real life as the pictures. That’s what when we got there, we were like, whoa. Like you, you see the pictures of the hands. They are massive. Again, it’s [00:12:00] fake stone, but it doesn’t look that fake.
The bridge is spectacular, and the view from the bridge is unbelievable. So one of my recommendations would be think about staying the night in. There’s a, I think there’s only one hotel up there, maybe two if you can stay the night, because you can get up first thing in the morning before the first cable car comes and before the tour, the day tourists start to come up.
And when my wife and I were there, we got the whole bridge to ourselves. So again, spectacular pictures. You can. Enjoy it all by yourself. And so yeah, the bridge is definitely one of these things where it’s an iconic tourist picture, but it’s is every bit as good as what you in pictures. Mm. Yeah.
Alan Brownbridge: The view from there is great, isn’t it?
I think you don’t, and when you see the pictures, you don’t get the whole context of the, the French colonial town behind you, and you’re right on the edge of a mountain side that overlooks all of Da Nang and the whole region. I think on a good day you can see the beach from. But it must be like a hundred kilometers away or more.
Niall Mackay: Yeah. But, and as I said, as we were [00:13:00] also there when it was cloudy, so you couldn’t see five feet in front of your face. So it’s, yeah, it’s, you have to, to get the good view, you need the clear there as well. So then tells us what else is around arounds. We’ve got Bana Hills. Yeah. Then we have,
Alan Brownbridge: Hoi An is another iconic place in Vietnam that I’m sure if you’ve done any research about Vietnam, you would’ve seen this, probably the first pictures you would’ve seen.
It’s famous for lanterns. And really traditional style houses that I think 500 years old. There’s a famous, another bridge there, the Japanese Bridge. That’s what, four or 500 years old and, uh, still going.
Niall Mackay: If anyone has any Vietnamese money to hand check the 20,000 dong note. And it’s the bridges on the back of that, which I always love.
Take people there and get a picture holding the note with the bridge behind you. But obviously so Jok, it’s so famous in itself. I think we could do a whole podcast just on Hoan, but so what else can you explore from Danang? From Da Nang? [00:14:00] You
Alan Brownbridge: can go and get a train to. , which is the old Imperial city of Vietnam.
That’s where the kings and queens used to rule the country from. And there’s a lot of architecture there from that time. That’s only three or four, three hours on a train. I think it’s quite comfortable. Or you could drive there. If you drive there, you’d go over the Hải Vân Pass, which is another one that we should talk.
Niall Mackay: Yeah, yeah. Tells the famous high van pass. It sounds scary, isn’t it?
Alan Brownbridge: But it is a bit like when you’re driving up there, you have to have a good mobile to drive up there and it’s twisting and turning and going up and up and there’s, and you look down in this old untouched jungle and untouched beaches below.
and you keep going up and then you’re in the clouds. And then when you start coming down, you’re freezing cold, and then you come down and at the bottom there, there’s a really nice little town and you can have [00:15:00] some really good seafood there. And then when you come and then come back and there’s another, that’s probably about another half, that’s a half day trip.
Niall Mackay: And be prepared for that weather, for the cold and the rain. Because I’ve had, I’ve actually not done the full Hải Vân Pass, but I’ve had friends do it and it was miserable because they were, they just got so cold and wet from doing that.
Alan Brownbridge: you at the bottom and you, and it’s sunny and warm and you’re wearing t-shirts, and then by the time you get to the top, it’s like you’re in a different season.
So another thing you can do, and you don’t need much time for this, is to go to the lady. On Peninsula, you can see Sơn Trà Peninsula and the Lady Buddha when you’re on the Mỹ Anh Beach and the lady Buddha is this huge statue. I’ve never, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a big, a huge statue like that before. And it’s epic.
And she stands on the mountain side and she prays for everyone in the bay. [00:16:00] I think that’s the story behind. Yeah, she looks over everybody who’s swimming in the bay, and I think she was built to give Danang some good luck because that side of the bay was where a lot of people used to invade from, like the French, and I think the Chinese invaded from there.
And so the Lady Buddha was put there to protect people. So you can go up there to the pagoda and walk around and just see some nice views of the city from there where you can drive up. There is the best way. You can get a taxi, but I recommend renting a motorbike and taking it out there, and Sơn Trà continues on after you get to the Lady Buddha, and you can just go and probably get lost in there.
There’s some hikes in Sơn Trà too, but I will ask someone who’s local before you start hiking there. I’ve heard of some stories of tourists getting lost up there for the.
Niall Mackay: I remember my first trip in Danang was we, uh, rented motorbikes and went all the way up [00:17:00] there and, but one of the coolest things to do in that region is there’s lots of motorbike tools,
Alan Brownbridge: right?
Yeah. There is. Easy Rider is a well-known name, and if you don’t fancy drive in your own motorbike, they’ll supply you with the driver and you sit on the back and you can relax and take photos if you’re not very confident in.
Niall Mackay: But um, aren’t they? Yeah,
Alan Brownbridge: they are. But if you’re confident driving, it’s one of the best ex best things you can do in Vietnam.
Niall Mackay: Now, also tell me as well, we can’t talk about anywhere in Vietnam without talking about the food. Now. I, it’s definitely one of the reasons I’ve been in Vietnam so long. The food is amazing, everyone talks about it, but. From what I’ve learned, there is three different distinct areas, regions of Vietnam when it comes to food.
Now, the Saigon in the south, the food’s a little bit sweeter. In the north, in Hanoi, it’s saltier, and then in the central region it’s spicier. Yeah,
Alan Brownbridge: I’ve heard that too. I don’t think it’s really that spicy in the middle. Yeah. Some flavors are different. I [00:18:00] know it is sweeter and Saigon .
Niall Mackay: Yeah, I remember I was in there, I was having lunch with a bunch of Vietnamese colleagues and one guy had just moved down from Hanoi and he couldn’t eat the food.
They had the hot pot and he was, this is just too sweet. And I’d never really noticed it cause I’m just so used to it. But when I was in Da Nang, we got bun thit nuong. Which is one of my favorite dishes, and I can say it was spicier. It was a lot spicier. I added the fish sauce and the chili like I would normally do, just dosed it on, and then I was eating it.
I was like, oh my goodness, this is so hot. So at that, I think it is a lot hotter. And then the language is different as well, right? It’s a different Vietnamese, not even a dialect, like a different language almost in the central region, right? Yeah, I think that’s right.
Alan Brownbridge: My wife can’t understand some of her friends who are local to here sometimes and she switched to English so they can get clarification.
Niall Mackay: I’ve had that. I would, when I was there with my friend Kim, she was trying to speak to the server in Vietnamese and they couldn’t understand each other. So switch to English is amazing. So for [00:19:00] tourists, you don’t worry about it. Cuz let’s be honest, I’ve been here six years and Alan’s probably the same and barely speaks a lot to Vietnamese cuz it’s so difficult.
So if you’re a tourist, you’re not gonna be able to speak Vietnamese in the south and north or the central. But if you have picked up some words in Saigon or Hanoi, they’re probably not gonna be useful in the central region. So just be aware that the language is different.
Alan Brownbridge: Yeah, I’d agree. But I mean, tourists usually learn basic ones like Hello and beer and things like that, and that doesn’t change so much.
Niall Mackay: No, I know that Danang and Hoi An. and the whole region up there has been massively affected like the rest of Vietnam, not only by Covid, but really affected by the weather recently, and it’s had a huge impact on the tourism industry. So you’ve been up there. What does that mean for, what has that meant for the tourist industry and what does it mean for tourists who are maybe listening to this and thinking, is it, should I go back to Danang and Hoan?
Is it ready to, is it ready to accept tourists?
Alan Brownbridge: Yeah, absolutely. [00:20:00] It’s ready to accept tourists. We have had a few bad storms this year and last year there was some too, but it doesn’t really affect the service. The services in Da Nang and Hoi An. When it floods, it’s only, it seems like it’s only a problem for a week or two and everything.
Everyone cleans up really quickly, so the weather isn’t really something that you have to worry. You’re not gonna be stuck in a flood, in a flash flood or anything like that, but it is quite wet around this time of year for a couple of months. It’s pretty much raining every day. And so I wouldn’t come to Da Nang in this season, in December and January.
I’d wait until February to come to this region, to the central region.
Niall Mackay: So just reiterate that when is the best time, because it is really important to know when to go somewhere. So when is the best time to go to Da Nang and Hoi An, Central Region?
Alan Brownbridge: Yeah, I absolutely agree with you. I think it’s [00:21:00] really important to know if, uh, when to come, because if you did come at this time, I think you’d be quite disappointed.
You wouldn’t, you wouldn’t really be able to swim in the ocean and do things like that. So I’d wait until in the summer, in July and August is very hot. I think probably the best time would be March, where the rainy season has gone. It’s a little bit cooler. Has finished as well. Tet is the Vietnamese new Year.
A lot of places in Da Nang shift for that time and people go back to their hometowns. So yeah, after Tet, which is in early February, late January after that. So March is the best time.
Niall Mackay: And then, One thing you may, I mentioned in your introduction you’ve done, you’ve been to off the beaten track locations and you’re in this over touristed world.
Some might say lots of tourists want to get off the beaten track and they want to find the hidden gems. They don’t want to go to all the places that everyone else goes to. So what are some hidden gems in Da Nang and the central region that you think tourists maybe miss and that [00:22:00] you could advise people to go to?
Alan Brownbridge: My favorite place in Vietnam is Ke bang, the area where they have the world’s biggest cave. and it’s like Ha Long Bay? But undiscovered, largely undiscovered. That’s a good one. Yeah. Yeah. It’s beautiful. It has the same kind of limestone mountains, but the, and it’s a bit like Ninh Binh too, but funk seems to be still off the beaten track and every time I’ve been.
it’s been quite empty and I can do a tour with just a couple of people and
cheap and not, not very, um, touristy and developed. There’s still a lot of homestays and things like that there that you can stay in. And if you’re heading south, you can go to Quy Nhon and that’s quite a nice beach town. And if you keep going, you get to Nha Trang and Mui Ne and these little cities are really lovely just on the coast.
[00:23:00] And they’re great Stop off locations as your head south.
Niall Mackay: No, that’s good. Those are great recommendations. I, I haven’t been to Phong Nha yet. It doesn’t have an airport. Once it has an airport, that’s when it’s gonna get too busy. Yeah, that’s
Alan Brownbridge: right. It doesn’t have an airport, but if you wanna get to Phong Nha then you can get a train to Dong Hoi and then you can take a taxi.
It only takes about 40 minutes from Dong Hoi. I think you can fly to Dong Hoi as
Niall Mackay: well. But that is a great, in a hidden gem, cuz those. You know when people are booking their trips, it’s Yeah. Da Nang, Hoi An. And it’s easy to get to those taxis and, but as soon as you start to move away from those main centers, it starts to get a little bit more difficult.
You know, you can’t get a grab maybe out there, you’ve gotta get a taxi, you’ve gotta get a homestay. But those, that’s where the, that’s when it gets really exciting. So not that’s a good one as well. And then the last thing I want to talk about is, we mentioned about when you were doing, when you’re writing and one of your passions is taking photographs.
This was something that not surprised me, but I didn’t know about before I came to Vietnam, was how [00:24:00] big a thing it is to do photography tours in Vietnam. And I’ve, I know photographers, I’ve seen the images, some of them are famous worldwide. So why is it, why is it such a big thing to do photography tours in Vietnam?
Alan Brownbridge: I, I think photography tours a really popular in Vietnam, I think, because I think Vietnam is still enough, the beat. Location country compared to say, Thailand, where you can speak English to almost anybody there. And in Thailand, I feel like the tourism industry is really used to tourists going around and taking photos.
Whereas in Vietnam, I think. Tourism is not developed in the same way, and maybe people feel a little bit nervous to be walking around with a camera, especially going into places where they might not feel welcome. But to be honest, that’s just their, that’s not accurate. I think [00:25:00] Vietnamese people are really welcoming.
They’re just not so used to tourists walking around with big cameras and things like that. So I think a photography tour is really helpful for people. Cause on a photography tour you can meet people. I did a photography tour in Danang with a company called Vietnam. Is Vietnam in Focus. and we offer these tours through our website too, and the guide took me to some places I didn’t even know existed in Da Nang, and if I was alone I might have felt a bit nervous, but the tour guide had spent a lot of years doing this route on the tour and getting to know locals that are often there.
And so it was really great for me. Talk with them too, and for an insight into their daily life, which if I was alone, I wouldn’t have had the confidence to go up and talk to people and get my camera in their [00:26:00] face.
Niall Mackay: And I know people who’ve run photo tours and yeah, it sounds amazing. And because I remember one of the, one of the guys who was telling me he knows a little bit of Vietnamese and has that confidence, like you say, to walk up to somebody.
In a hot in a field and say hello, and just that little bit of pleasantries, you’ll get invited in for a cup of tea, sit down, maybe even have a beer or some rice wine. They’ll let you take pictures and you just wouldn’t get that experience without a tour because I mean, if you just rocked up in a rice paddy with your camera and just started walking about taking pictures on your own.
You’d definitely get some strange looks and it would take a lot of confidence to do that by yourself. So when you go on a tour, from what I understand, I’ve not been on one, but from what I understand, you can get some just stunning pictures. So what is it about the imagery in Vietnam that makes it so stunning?
Alan Brownbridge: Good question. It’s still a wild country. There’s still a lot of wild areas, and it hasn’t been tamed by tourism. There’s still people. Doing some [00:27:00] crazy things in every corner, especially in Ho Chi Minh City in the big cities. I think it is. Got so much depth to it too. I traveled in Singapore recently and doing photography there was quite fun, but it was just a bit like going around London except with nicer weather.
But I think in Vietnam there’s, and sorry, just to go back to that, in Singapore, obviously they’ve still got their, their strong cultural. Things, but I think it’s a lot stronger in Vietnam. People are still very traditional here. They have a lot of traditional practices that they do. That you can see when you walk on the street.
In terms of, in terms of the nature that is here, like I said, there’s a lot of wild areas that that haven’t been developed, and you can get some really raw and unique imagery from the scenery here.
Niall Mackay: And for me as well, it’s just like the colors are so, so bright and so stunning. Like you’ve got to a rice pad at the right time.
And the green is, I [00:28:00] remember thinking, did that adjective, verdant green. You don’t use that for any other color, right? Like it’s only used, you only associate verdant with green. But it’s just the best adjective to describe these glowing, verdant green rice patties. And then you’ve got the sun coming down and there’s the beautiful colors of orange.
And then, or if it’s in the data, in the sky, so blue, so you’ve, and then maybe you’ll have purple flower or you’ll have somebody wearing traditional dress. So that’s always for me is that imagery as well as just really bright, bold colors that look really good in the. .
Alan Brownbridge: Yeah. And really unique to Vietnam too.
The traditional clothes and traditional food and traditional ceremonies and things like that, they’re not hidden away. They’re, they’re out on the
Niall Mackay: streets. We’ve covered a lot in the central region. Where can people find out how to book tools on Vietnam Is Awesome. What should people do? Where should they go?
Alan Brownbridge: So going to VietnamIsAwesome.com, click on book [00:29:00] experiences, and then you can filter through different cities depending on where you want to have a tour. And you can filter through different travel styles as well. If you like fast paced or if you are. Into museums or food tours. We have a great way to filter to find exactly what you need through there and looking as easy.
Niall Mackay: And then also, as you mentioned right in the beginning as well, you went on to the Vietnam Is Awesome Facebook page and the group, and you went in there for advice. So tell Travelers listening to this, what kind of questions can they ask? What can they find on the social media piece?
Alan Brownbridge: So yeah, if you join the Vietnam group, you can.
You can ask for recommendations for where to stay, where to go, when to go. There’s a lot of expats there, so if you wanna know something more detailed, if you wanna know where the best cocktail is in Ho Chi Min City, someone on the group will know. If you are here and you traveling alone, you could post on [00:30:00] there and say, Hey, is anyone traveling?
Is anyone traveling in Hanoi? I’m alone. Would you like to travel together? I see that sometimes you can post your photos on there or you could go back.
Niall Mackay: I love it when people post the pictures cuz you get to see so much more of Vietnam and some and people just take stunning photographs these days. It’s basically when you just need, your camera is a stunning, sorry, your phone is a stunning camera.
So it’s always good when people share those pictures, so that’s always a good one to do as well. So yeah, check out the Vietnam Is Awesome Facebook page. Check out the website and to get more information about where to go. So before we finish, we’re gonna finish with the same four questions I’m gonna ask every guest at the end of a Vietnam awesome podcast.
Number one. What is a good 24 hour itinerary in Danang?
Alan Brownbridge: If you have 24 hours in Danang, I would start with some specialty foods from the region. Either a mi quang or a cao lau. Cau lau is my favorite. The best place to get cao lau is in Hoi An. So [00:31:00] if in the morning I would go to Hoi An while the, while it’s not too hot, take a little boat ride along the river and then af after you’ve walked around the old town there and had your breakfast and had an egg coffee.
Then come back to Da Nang. Hoi An’s not so far away, so it is easy to do it if you have limited time. So after hok, you come back to Da Nang around lunchtime. That would be a great time to go to the beach and have some lunch next to the beach. And when you, and then after you finish you right next to Son Tra Mountain, you can go up to the Lady Buddha , walk around.
There’s also a, an art museum quite close to Lady Buddha , like a historical art museum there. Quite interesting. And then you would. Be ready for sunset, and if you continue around the side of Son Tra Mountain on your motorbike, there’s a few little areas where it’s quite nice to have a picnic [00:32:00] and you can see the city from there.
And then at night I would go and have Mi Quang or cao lau again, and try to enjoy some live music. You’ll probably hear it if you walk through the street in My Anh, you’ll find it.
Niall Mackay: What’s one of my favorite places they call is the workshop. And we’ve done some comedy shows up there, Chris, up. There’s a great guy.
It’s a great place to go. So check out the workshop. That’s always good. And then one of the things, so Mi Quang is actually one of my favorite foods. And where I live in Saigon, there’s a Mi Quang restaurant across from my front door. And I go there at least once a week. And it’s one of these strange Vietnamese foods that, I don’t know if it’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner, because I can literally eat it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
And I went by it just this morning and at breakfast time. I was like, wow, how’s it so busy? And my wife’s, cause it’s a breakfast food. And I was like, oh yeah. So it is because I, but then you go at lunch, it’s packed at lunch. You go at dinnertime. It’s packed. At dinnertime. It’s just one of the most, yeah, it’s one of the most flavorful Vietnamese dishes there is.[00:33:00]
Alan Brownbridge: Yeah. I think it’s quite friendly for travelers. It’s not so, the flavor isn’t so strong. It’s not, it’s not. It’s not a fish saw. It’s quite palatable for travellers.
Niall Mackay: Yeah, for sure. It’s non offensive, shall we say it? You don’t need to be too brief to try mi quang. So next question, what is life like for locals in Danang?
It’s quite relaxing.
Alan Brownbridge: It’s a lot slower pace than Ho Chi bin City and Hanai for sure. A typical day off is spent going to the beach or walking along the river. I have a dog, so it gets me out and about quite a lot. It’s a great place if you like, walking and enjoying the outdoors.
Niall Mackay: And what’s the main economy for locals up?
Alan Brownbridge: There is in this region, there’s a lot of international trade. There’s a lot of textile areas, textile, um, workshops and factories. There’s also an industrial park here with a big technology park. A lot of people do that. There isn’t a lot [00:34:00] of people who are involved in tourism, but I think that’s gonna change in the next 10 years.
But I, I think in the future that would be the. Source of income for Dunno, but it’s probably not there yet.
Niall Mackay: So what you’ve obviously, you obviously like living there, so why is that a good place to live?
Alan Brownbridge: There’s a lot of space. A lot of space to live, to breathe, to run, to do sports, and to swim and to get outside.
That’s my kind of thing. I know people like the big cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh, where there’s lots of restaurants and bars to go to. But in Da Nang you have less options. That, but a lot more options for camping and hiking and outdoorsy kind of stuff.
Niall Mackay: That’s why I like living here and I can someone listening from say, Australia or someone like that, maybe like, what do you mean there’s more space?
The space. But I can tell you’re seeing this from the perspective of someone who’s lived in Ho Chi Min City, where if you’ve been to Ho Chi [00:35:00] Minh City, there is no space to do anything. It’s one of the densest cities in the world. You can’t go camping, you can’t go hiking, you can’t run outside cuz there’s too much pollution.
So I can see why Da Nang would be a very good place to live. And last question. We’ve convinced someone listening, they’re gonna go to Danang. Where should they go next?
Alan Brownbridge: In Vietnam, we talked about it before. My favorite place Phong Nha that. That would be the next place I go to. It depends where they’ve come from.
If they’ve come from the north and they’re on their way down south. I would go to some of those towns along the coast, like Nha Trang. But I think another one that we should definitely mention is Da Lat And I would go there before, before I finish my trip. It’s a mountain town with a lot of beautiful lakes and flowers, things like that.
Niall Mackay: Beautiful. That leads in nicely. Maybe on the next podcast will have to be about Da Nang. We’ll see. But if you have enjoyed this podcast, thank you so much for listening. Thank you to Alan for joining me today and sharing his experience of Da Nang. It makes me want to go back up there. I do love Da Nang as well, so I want to go back up there soon.[00:36:00]
So thank you very much for coming on the podcast today.
So I’m Niall Mackay. I’m your host of the Vietnam Is Awesome podcast. We are here to help you discover the real Vietnam with awesome experiences. So make sure you go check out our social media pages, Vietnam Is Awesome, and go to the website, VietnamIsAwesome.com so you can see more about tools.
Read the blog, see pictures, give you everything you need to know about your trip to Vietnam. If you have enjoyed this podcast, don’t forget to follow. Subscribe, all of that good stuff. Share it with people, send us any questions that you have, and we’ll be more than happy to help you. So Alan, cheers. Cheers.