Looking for an easy weekend getaway from Hong Kong? I visited Da Nang and Hoi An for the first time in May, and couldn’t believe how painless it was. It’s the best of both worlds: Da Nang’s easy beach resorts make relaxing inevitable, while nearby Hoi An’s heritage has all kinds of cultural charm.
Do: Take a vespa tour! Easily the coolest way to see the sites, a private five-hour “Hoi An Countryside” tour with Vietnam Vespa Adventures took us across the countryside on refurbished vintage bikes. We zig-zagged across a bamboo bridge, flew through rice paddy fields, and stopped into villages to taste freshly made banh dap rice crackers and coffee.
We even passed by a countryside wedding, where partygoers ushered us over to the tent. Our tour leader, Vu, said it’d be rude if we didn’t go… so I got to check “crash a Vietnamese wedding” off my bucket list. The trip ended with a seaside lunch at Ngoc Mai, a bare-bones resto serving up amazing grilled clams.
From US$69 per person, including all drinks, food, pickup and drop off; www.vietnamvespaadventures.com.
Drink: New to Da Nang is A La Carte Hotel, a budget-friendly option for leisure and business travelers. The shiny hotel is well-equipped with spacious apartment-style rooms, but the main draw is the rooftop bar and infinity pool. This breezy space peers up and down the coast, and serves up excellent cocktails to boot.
Rooms from US$85. Corner of Vo Nguyen Giap & Duong Dinh St., Son Tra, Da Nang, (+84) 511-3959-555, www.alacarteliving.com.
Eat: Considered the epicenter of Vietnamese cuisine, Hoi An has crazy good food. I had a great meal at Miss Ly Cafeteria (22 Nguyen Hue St., Hoi An, (+84) 510-386-1603), which is one of the oldest restaurants in Hoi An. The place is most famous for its fish wrapped in banana leaves, but we also enjoyed the open-faced fried wontons.
And don’t leave without trying the monster banh mi sandwiches at Banh Mi Phuong (Phan Chau Trinh, Hoi An, (+84) 905-743-773). This crispy sandwich is packed with spicy sauces, tons of pork, chunks of pate, fresh herbs and an optional fried egg (do it). Find it along Hoang Dieu Street, at the far eastern entrance of the market; the long line should give it away.
Stay: For a totally hassle-free vacation, check out the Hyatt Regency Danang Resort and Spa. It’s a 15-minute drive from the airport and has everything you could possibly need: easy access to the pristine Non Nvuoc beach, half-a-dozen pools, free yoga and tai chi classes, a climbing wall, tennis courts, good Vietnamese food and a luxurious spa.
From $1,628. Truong Sa St., Ngu Hanh Son District, Da Nang, (+84) 511-398-1234, www.danang.regency.hyatt.com.
Getting there: Dragonair flies the two-hour direct flight from Hong Kong for about US$645, three times weekly.