Where would you like to go with Indochina Pioneer?
Please click on the countries below to read more about your desired destinations in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. These pages provide first-hand local travel information regarding transportation, accommodation, attractions, food & drink, entertainment ... together with some suggestions on ready-made tours to and from those places.
Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon, is frenetic Asian city of markets, street clogged with scooters, street side food stalls, as well as foreig…
The name Nha Trang is a Vietnamese pronunciation of a Cham word Eatran or Yjatan. Ea or Yja means river, and tran means reed. According to the loca…
This is one of the best laid-back getaways in Vietnam. The town of Phan Thiet itself is a bustling little fishing port -- quite picturesque and goo…
120km (75 miles) W (over sea) from Rach Gia (Rach Gia is 250km/155 miles S of Saigon by road). The same size as Singapore, the island of Phu Quoc l…
Hanoi is relatively small and runs at quite an unhurried pace for a capital city. Resting in the Red River delta region, the centre is a mixed of t…
Taking a cruise on Ha Long Bay -- or the Bay of the Descending Dragon -- for many represents the pinnacle of their experience in Vietnam. eas…
The ancient town of Hoi An is located 30 km south of Da Nang on the banks of the Thu Bon River. Occupied by early western traders, Hoi An was one o…
Siem Reap Siem Reap is a cluster of villages with a French colonial centre, and the gateway to the Temples of Angkor. These majestic temples in…
A small market town that has been a gathering spot for many local hilltribes for nearly 200 years. Hmong and Dao people, among others, still come h…
Vietiane With a troubled recent history, Laos has only recently openned to the outsite world and is one of the most untouched countries in Asi…
Set on the banks of the Perfume River, Hue was the capital of Vietnam between 1802 and 1945 under the Nguyen Emperors, and later French colon…
The fourth-largest city in Vietnam, is one of the most important seaports in the central region, and the current booming Vietnamese economy has see…
Located 173 kilometres from Saigon, Can Tho is considered as the heart of Vietnam's Mekong Delta. The city, regarded as "Western cap…
Known as "Le Petit Paris" by the early builders and residents of this hillside resort town, Dalat is still a luxury retreat for city dwel…
Quy Nhon was officially founded more than 100 years ago, although its origins stretch backs much further to the 11th-century Champa culture, the T&…
Luang Prabang Luang Prabang is regarded by many as the most attactive cities (or town would be more accurate description) in Asia, if not the …
Phom Penh Cambodia’s capital city is awakening from a turbulent recent past to become a busy and fernetic Asian city of Southeast Asia. …
Vung Tau is the tourist and commercial center of Bà RịVũng Tàu (an industrial province in Southeastern Vietnam). The whole city ar…
Sihanoukville is all about the ocean, located on the Gulf of Thailand. The pristine beaches, the sparkling clear water, the cooling sea breeze, the…
The fourth-largest city in Vietnam, is one of the most important seaports in the central region, and the current booming Vietnamese economy has seen an economic growth (GDP) rate in busy Danang as high as 14%. As the most convenient deep-water port in the region, Danang is now greeting more and more international cruise ships along with the glut of trade vessels.
The city played a prominent historical role in the Vietnam War. It was the landing site for the first U.S. troops officially sent to Vietnam on March 8, 1965. On that day, 3,500 soldiers in beach assault vehicles joined more than 23,000 U.S. advisors who were already in the country.
Danang has nothing in the way of charm and there aren't any major attractions except for the Cham Museum, which has become just a quick stop on the tourist-cafe buses between Hoi An and Hue. But Furama Resort, a short ride from the city center, is one of the finest high-end resorts in Indochina, and there are some excellent-value hotels in town (some use this as a budget base to explore nearby Hoi An).
The untouch My Khe Beach or American R&R beach, is worth a stop. This former U.S. recreation base has a light-sand coast with excellent views of the nearby Marble Mountains, and it's beginning to draw more and more international tourists, as well as weekend visits by Danang's growing expat community
Airport: There is no international airport in Hoi An. The Domestic Da Nang Terminal center is located right in the centre of the capital city. You can be connected either at Noi Bai Airport in Hanoi or Tan Son Nhat Airport in Ho Chi Minh City. Taxi is available outsitde the airport.
Clothing: Lightweight cotton and linen clothing is advised for much of year, although warmer clothing is sometimes needed during the winter between Octobers to Febuary. Rainwear is advisable in any season.
Electricity: Electricity: 220V, 50 Hz AC (some 110V, 50HZ AC). Two-pin plugs are in use, however sockets are different from those found in most countries and an adapter socket may be needed. Outlets for 110 volts for small appliances are found in most hotels.
Health: A yellow fever certificate is required from travellers over one year of age arriving within 6 days of leaving or transiting countries with infected areas. For the latest immunisation requirements please contact your GP.
Language: Vietnamese is a difficult language to learn. Based on tonal variations, it is difficult for a short term traveler to speak easily. It comes from the Chinese, although the two languages have diverged. Vietnamese has six tones, so a word can be said six ways, imparting six different meanings. There are also regional variations, so what is polite in Saigon may be just the opposite in Hanoi. In the 17th century, Alexander de Rhodes. Jesuit scholar and missionary, created the romanized script which was used only by the educated. In 1954, under Ho Chi Minh, the romanized script became the official written script for the Vietnamese language. Today, English and French arethe most common second languagesin Vietnam, so someone is sure to help you out. And, even though it is a difficult language, give it a try. your efforts will be appreciated!
Tipping: If you are happy with services provided by your local guides and drivers, a tip, though not compulsory, is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it is of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, it inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across destinations. Here are our suggestions;
- Meals (restaurants):the average amount is $1
- Guides: We recommend $2-$5 per day for local guides (depending on group size),
- Drivers: You will have a range of drivers on your trip. Some will be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for few days. We would recommend a higher tip for those more involved with the group however a base of $1 to $2 per day would be appropriate (depending on group size).
- Bellboy: the average amount is $1
- Chambermaid: the average amount is $1 per day. For larger groups and adventure trips you may want to increase this. But please remember that it’s totally up to you, these are guidelines only
Visa Requirements: Almost all visitors to Vietnam need a visa to enter the country, although some qualified exemptions apply for citizens of those countries with bilateral reciprocal agreements with Vietnam. Depending upon the nationality and passport of the applicant, a tourist visa may be granted for either a fifteen (15) or thirty (30) day stay in Vietnam.Click here for more details…
Best Buys: The list of bargains is endless, but to whet your appetite, here are a few examples: Painting, silk sheets, silver jewelery. Hoi An is most famous for tailor-made silk/cotton clothes. There are hundreds of tailor shops, plus the tailor market . Just get a whole new wadrobe for yourself…….!
Places to see
The Cham Museum was established in 1936 (originally the Ecole Française d'Extreme Orient) to house the relics of the powerful Hindu culture that once ruled vast tracts of central Vietnam. The museum has the largest collection of Cham sculpture in the world, in works ranging from the 4th to 14th centuries, presented in a rough outdoor setting that suits the evocative, sensual sculptures well. The more than 300 pieces of sandstone artwork and temple decorations were largely influenced by Hindu and, later, Mahayana Buddhism. Among the cast of characters, you'll see symbols of Uroja, or "goddess mother," usually breasts or nipples; the linga, the phallic structure representing the god Shiva; the holy bird Garuda; the dancing girl Kinnari; the snake god Naga; and Ganesha, child of the god Shiva, with the head of an elephant.
The sculptures are arranged by period, which are, in turn, named after the geographic regions where the sculptures were found. Note the masterpiece Tra Kieu altar of the late 7th century, with carved scenes telling the story of the Asian epic Ramayana. The story is of the wedding of Princess Sita. Side one tells of Prince Rama, who broke a holy vow to obtain Sita's hand. Side two tells of ambassadors sent to King Dasaratha, Prince Rama's father, to bring him the glad tidings. Side three is the actual ceremony, and side four depicts the celebrations after the ceremony.
The "mountains" are actually a series of five marble and limestone formations, which the locals liken to the shape of a dragon at rest. For the Vietnamese, it is a place of significance; which means you are often climbing with loud tour groups who are trying to elbow past you. The hills are interlaced with caves, some of which are important Buddhist sanctuaries. The caves at the Marble Mountains, like so many in the country, served as sanctuaries for the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War. Each peak is named for an element: Hoa Son, or fire; Mo Son, or wood; Kim Son, or gold; and Tho Son, or earth. The highest mountain, Tho Son, is climbable via a series of metal ladders beginning inside the cave and extending to the surface at the top. Ling Ong Pagoda, a shrine within a cave, is a highlight.
Non Nuoc Beach
is a white sandy beach on the outskirts of Đà Nẵng is renowned for both its spectacular beauty and for its history as an R&R destination for American troops during the Vietnam War, when it was known as My Khe Beach". Today, it is home to expensive resorts, surfing and entertainment facilities.
Bà Nà Hills
is a mountain resort with a 5 km-long cable car system which carries guests up to Bà Nà's peak at 1487m above sea level. Visitors will enjoy the cool climate at the summit due to the elevation difference.
Bach Dang Riverside Hotel
This big riverside hotel that's long been a popular expat address has already fought its battles and is pretty beat up. But rooms are tidy and there are lots of amenities that are well maintained. Staff is quite helpful and you'll find lots of shops and local dining options in the esplanade out front. Nothing to write home about, though.
Bamboo Green Hotel
The best choice in Danang proper, Bamboo Green is operated by Vietnamtourism -- this one's the best of its three properties in town (Bamboo Green II and III are comparable but less luxurious). Rooms are large with clean beige carpets and are well furnished (except for the hideous polyester bedspreads). The good-size marble bathrooms with hair dryers look brand-new, and rooms are as cozy as at any midrange U.S. chain.
Furama Resort Danang
Just a short ride southwest of Danang and elegantly situated near a beautiful sand beach, this popular upscale gem greets you in style with a grand lobby that is more or less the gilded frame to beautiful scenery: sand, sun, and sky. Whether you're a sailor, a beach bum, or a comfort junky, you'll find what you want here. There are two gorgeous swimming pools: one a multitiered minimalist still life overlooking the open beach, and the other a faux lagoon, complete with small waterfall and bridge, a romantic hideaway.
Royal Hotel Danang Review
An old business hotel just off the central riverside drive, Royal has good basic rooms and a helpful English-speaking staff but little else
Saigon Tourane Hotel
Popular with European tour groups, you can expect comfort at a low cost in this nondescript, friendly hotel on the north end of town. Carpeted rooms are clean, with tidy, good-size bathrooms; some have good city views from upper floors. But it's certainly not luxurious: The general atmosphere is marked by failing neon signs and worn carpets that speak of the volumes that pass through. Saigontourist owns this hotel and can make any necessary arrangements with little hassle.
Life Resort Da Nang
Sitting on 4 hectares of the Bac My An Beach, this beach front property is only 3km from downtown Da Nang and 30km from Hoi An. A pair of four-storey hotel blocks house most of the resort's rooms with villas flank one side of a long pool corridor splicing the middle of the resort.
The best way to get around Da Nang is by motorcycle or taxi. If you are not confident of braving the chaotic traffic yourself, or riding pillion on Xe oms (motorbike taxis), taxi is a better choice. Be sure to negotiate a price in advance. With rates at just over $1 per 2 km, taxis are definitely worth considering for hopping about the city. Note the prices are metered in Dong, though it looks like dollars.
Peak hour is from 6:30-8:00am, midday and from 5-6pm in the evening.
Eating and drinkings
For Vietnamese dining in a more upscale setting, your options are limited. Da Nang's sole fine dining establishment is Apsara Restaurant, located on Tran Phu Street. However, though it is set in an attractive colonial building, the Cham-themed decoration inside (think stone urns and archaeological murals) verges on being tacky. Despite this, the food is very good, though prices are higher than you'd find elsewhere. It's very popular with Da Nang's up and coming (or already arrived) hi-so crowd.
Au Lac is another interesting choice -- it has a huge, funky, modern interior and an attentive staff, favoured by those who find Apsara a bit pretentious, and many claim the food here is better. The wide-ranging menu include Japanese dishes, such as sushi, and Western food such as burgers, pizza and spaghetti, in addition to the standard repertoire of Vietnamese dishes, and specialty options like dove, goat, duck, tortoise, and crocodile…
Da Nang city itself has a notoriously small Western expat community, which means that Western-style offerings are at a minimum, but can be found with a little industrious exploration. Centrally located on Tran Phu Street across from Minh Travel, the Cool Spot and Christie's restaurant is the longest-running and most obvious choice, but not always the best. The Cool Spot is a hole-in-the-wall bar noted for its ice-cold beer -- Christie's is the restaurant upstairs, under the same ownership -- you can also eat down at the bar if you like. They serve predominantly Western and Japanese food -- decent if you really have a craving that needs to be sorted out, but it's overpriced, and the dark interior isn't exactly appetizing. This is probably a better spot for a cold drink. And, even then, on any given day, the place has a tendency to attract gloomy, older expats brooding over their beers.
Bread of Life, on Tran Phu near the intersection with Le Hong Phong, employs deaf workers and proceeds help support projects for the deaf. It has an excellent cafe atmosphere, offering fresh-baked bread and cake, fried chicken, and divine sandwiches -- try the tuna melt or the pastrami and cheese. If you happen to know any American Sign Language, the Vietnamese version is similar (both derive from French sign) and you might actually be able to communicate here better than trying to speak Vietnamese. At least one hearing staffmember is always on duty to translate orders for customers. They no longer offer WiFi or Wednesday night movies, and the big breakfasts have moved to their other store, Pizza Plus, around the corner.
Indochina Garden Frog, fish, eel, pigeon? Go for it! Housed in a dolled-up faux colonial (a 1960s-era bank building), the Indochine Garden is the only restaurant that draws tourists in Danang. The staff is friendly and greets you at the door in flashy ao dai dresses for the women and snappy local costume for the lads. Nobody speaks English, but everyone smiles and nods and the good English menu does most of the talking. The high ceilings with rattan ceiling fans swirling is a nice effect, and the Vietnamese classical music is soothing.
Nightlife and entertainment
If you're looking for a good party spot where you can mix it up with other tourists, you'll have to head down to Hoi An. Otherwise, Friday and Saturday nights at the Cool Spot tends to be the one place where local Western expats congregate, though the rest of the week it has a reputation for attracting nothing but older sullen expats and war vets. Red Hot on Nguyen Van Linh was pointed out to us as a possible hang out -- it looks exactly like a Thai girlie bar, complete with girlies, but it offers good music, a nice bar and pool table, and couples and groups could easily spend a fine time here, in addition to single guys looking for inordinate amounts of female attention.
Bia Tiep Tulip on 2/9 Street, just west of the Nguyen Van Troi bridge. It has a great air-con beer garden atmosphere and the highlight is the delicious, microbrewed, dark Czech beer -- the next best thing to Guinness Stout we've had in Southeast Asia. The food here is great too -- stuffed clams, steamed fish, whole crab, BBQ pork ribs, T-bone steaks -- definitely try to show up with a group and share a mess of dishes.
There's another Czech microbrewery on My Khe Beach, next door to the My Khe II Hotel. Van Xuan offers a pleasant atmosphere across the road from the sea, cold, fresh Czech beer, and a standard seafood menu. The vegetarians in our group were alarmed to find a live crocodile in one of the tanks. These crocs are raised on farms specifically for consumption and aren't endangered. The 'automatic music' show here, projected onto a jumbo screen, is strangely mesmerising.
Otherwise, your options go thumpa-thumpa-thumpa-thump, with several discotheques around town, offering expensive drinks, techno music, laser light shows, and crowded dance floors. Tourists are usually pointed to the Camel Club on Ly Thuong Kiet -- it's a fine disco with a good sound system -- you can feel the beat without loss of hearing -- and there's a continuous laser light show, but it's notoriously the most expensive. New Phuong Dong discotheque on Duong Da Street is just around the corner: It's just as good and the dance floor was packed. Both of these places are notorious pick up joint.
A small, less seedy venue right on the Han River is Number One Disco, on the west bank close to the southernmost bridge, at the end of a line of restaurants.