The sting of wet, humid air stifled my senses as we stepped off the train into the crowded station. Our scenic fifteen hour train ride from Hanoi filled our adventurous spirits with thoughts of exciting experiences to come. We departed the train in a town near the coast called Da Nang. It was shocking to me how much I had missed the sight of the ocean after only three weeks. Not only that, this was new coastline for us to explore in unknown territory.
Da Nang to China Beach Via Motorbike
Arriving in Da Nang was like most other train stations we had experienced in Southeast Asia. Dozens of taxis and motorbikes are vying for your money and attention as soon as you step out the doors of the station. In situations like these, my usual course of action is to pass the crowd of people and take my chances with the taxis who are not a part of the masses. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. In this case, there was only one other taxi waiting on the main street outside of the station and his price seemed expensive for the 15-20 minute ride to China Beach.
By the time we got back, most of the crowd had already dispersed and we were approached by an older Vietnamese man dressed in black slacks and a button up shirt who offered us a ride. We negotiated a price of 100,000 Dong and followed him to the side of the train station building where we believed our car would be waiting. Our transportation turned out to be two motorbikes, one of them being a Harley. I was a little unsure whether I wanted to hop on the back of a motorbike in Vietnam after I had witnessed how the Vietnamese drive and the impact of being struck by a motorbike in Hanoi was still fresh in my mind.
I got a good feeling from these two men, so after a little coaxing from Scott, we strapped our luggage on the back of the bikes and held on! It wasn’t long before we were out of the city and cruising along the first uncrowded street I had seen in Vietnam. My anxiety slowly faded as I took in the sights of China Beach and listened to my chatty driver explain, in perfect English, the history of each place we passed. His kindness and careful driving put me at ease and before I knew it we were at our destination.
Our drivers dropped us off at Hoa’s Place, which is a small hostel right on the beach. We were greeted by a friendly Vietnamese man who informed us the rooms were $9 US per night. The rooms were nothing special, but $9 is a decent price for Vietnam lodging. After settling into our room, we grabbed some lunch at Hoa’s restaurant. In addition to the exceptional food at Hoa’s restaurant, the prices are insanely cheap. For our entire stay which included four meals and four kilos of laundry service, we paid $10 US. The owner, Hoa and his wife have a friendly disposition and it’s quite obvious they are not out to rip anybody off. I highly recommend anybody who is visiting China Beach to stay here. In the evenings everybody gathers at 7 pm for a communal dinner full of local Vietnamese cuisine. We dined on spring rolls, grilled fish, vegetables, fried noodles, salad, soup and other tasty dishes.
There are a few things to see in China Beach, which include the long stretch of beach, The Marble Mountains, and Non Nuoc Hamlet. If you are visiting between the months of November and March you may be lucky enough to find a wave or two. You can rent surf boards at Hoa’s place for just $5 and they will let you keep the board all day. Most people don’t stay in China Beach for more than a few days and they usually move on from there to Hoi An.