8 Days 7 Nights Central Vietnam Tour – Danang, Hue and Hoi An – Day 3 (May 2015)

Day 3 – Danang Train Ride via Hai Van Pass to Hue

After so much fun the day before at the resort and the luxury we enjoyed in the junior suite, there was no point getting up early going anywhere this morning. We still had a train to catch to Hue in the afternoon so we just took easy. It was already quite late in the morning when we finally decided to get up after having sufficient enjoyment of our fantastic room. There was no need to rush for the buffet breakfast in the restaurant as we would be having lunch early in order to check out to go to the train station later.

The coconut tarts desserts we brought back the previous night was good enough for breakfast. We also made ourselves some great coffee with the espresso coffee maker. The coconut tarts was very delicious and went very well with our coffee. The living room was a great place to start our morning with some light TV programs. The room was fresh and bright with sunlight coming in from the balcony. It was indeed resort living over here.

Beautiful water feature
Beautiful water feature
Hotel Wing with rooms facing swimming pool and beach
Hotel Wing with rooms facing swimming pool and beach

As we still had some time, we decided to head to the beach to hang out before lunch time. The sky was still as blue this summer morning and the beach still as nice and quiet in front of Pullman Danang Beach Resort. The beach was practically empty. It was so nice just to relax on the beach chairs to enjoy the breeze and peace on the beach. Having had enough quiet time on the beach, we went back to our suite room.

Towel collection station
Towel collection station
Bar by the beach
Bar by the beach
Perfect place to enjoy the sun, the sand and the sea
Perfect place to enjoy the sun, the sand and the sea

So calm and peaceful over here
So calm and peaceful over here
A great place to relax on the beach
A great place to relax on the beach
Beautiful day in Danang beach
Beautiful day in Danang beach
A very fine beach in Danang
A very fine beach in Danang
Pullman Danang Beach Resort from the beach
Pullman Danang Beach Resort from the beach
Clear water and nice beach in the morning
Clear water and nice beach in the morning

Since a Jacuzzi was included in our suite room, we put it to good use. Instead of swimming in the swimming pool, a dip in the Jacuzzi would be just as great. Furthermore, we could still watch TV in our room while enjoying our dip. Shower followed immediately after our dip in the Jacuzzi. It was time to pack up and get ready for lunch and then check out.

Our train leaving Danang for Hue was at 2.13 pm. Travelling time from the resort to the train station would not take more than 30 minutes. So we called reception to request for late check out at 1.30 pm so we could eat our lunch at the restaurant first and it was granted. So we proceeded to the restaurant which was again quite empty. The ambience in the restaurant was much nicer at night than during the day. As we had a train to catch, we ordered our meals from the a la carte menu and the cost for lunch came up to just under 280,000 VND after our Accor Plus member’s 50% discount. Our lunch was good and should keep us going till we arrived at Hue later in the late afternoon.

A quick lunch at an empty restaurant
A quick lunch at an empty restaurant
Empty Restaurant during lunch
Empty Restaurant during lunch

With lunch over, we went back to our room to collect our bags and returned to lobby. During check out, we were assisted by Doan again. It was a delight to have her served us with her hearty smiles. In a short moment, our check out was completed. We also asked Doan to help us get a taxi to the train station. So Doan went to look for concierge staff and it happened that one of their staff, Tien, was going to the airport and he told us he would send us to the train station first and then pick up his guests from the airport after that. This was simply great news. So we hopped on to the very nice van and soon we were on our way to the train station and thus ended our wonderful stay at the Pullman Danang Beach Resort.


It was again a very hot day and the air-conditioning in the van was up to the task to keep us comfortable. After about 20 minutes, we arrived at the train station at very good time before 2 pm. We thanked Tien and tipped him generously and we parted company.

Front of train station in Danang
Front of train station in Danang
Old Train model on display in front of Danang train station
Old Train model on display in front of Danang train station
Entrance to train station in Danang
Entrance to train station in Danang

The train station was quite crowded by the time we arrived with many passengers waiting for the train to arrive and we had to stand with other passengers who did not have a seat inside the train station. The air-conditioning in the train station was barely sufficient to keep the hall cool from the afternoon heat. An announcement was made that train arrival would be delayed for another 15 minutes. So we had no choice but to wait which was quite boring to say the least.

Passengers waiting for train arrival
Passengers waiting for train arrival
Boring wait at the train station
Boring wait at the train station

Finally, the train arrived. Everyone moved out to the platform and looked for the correct car number to get on. A train attendant was stationed at the entrance of every car to check train tickets. Our car number was 6 and it was not far from where we stood. The steps up the train were quite steep from the platform ground but we managed to carry our bags up without much trouble.

Train just arrived with attendant waiting at car entrance
Train just arrived with attendant waiting at car entrance
Passengers boarding train heading north to Hue
Passengers boarding train heading north to Hue
Train corridor outside cabin
Train corridor outside cabin
Train corridor with big windows outside cabin
Train corridor with big windows outside cabin
Train Cabin with lower hard bed messed up
Train Cabin with lower hard bed messed up

So we began to look out for the cabin with our bed number on the lower deck and found the two beds were already slept on by others though no one was on our beds. A guy came out and he was one of the train staff who was not wearing uniform who checked our tickets and then let us in. There were six beds to a cabin and we booked the lower beds which cost more but they were already messed up while the other four beds above were still neat and tidy.

Soon, the train left the station and another train attendant in uniform came into the cabin and he and the other guy went to the upper beds and slept. We were not sure whether they knew the lower beds were already booked but for their own convenience they probably had slept on our beds earlier and did not have the courtesy to tidy up before we arrived. Well, there was no point confronting them and we tried to enjoy our train ride to Hue.

As the train was pulling away from Danang City, the landscaped soon changed. There were no more houses, buildings and roads but vegetation and hilly plains. It was going uphill as well. I stood outside the cabin corridor to watch Danang City disappearing in the distance. Soon a beach appeared below with Danang City in the very far away distance. It was quite a nice view. Beside myself, there was another passenger standing next to me taking pictures of the scenery.

Beautiful beach appearing after leaving Danang City in the far distance
Beautiful beach appearing after leaving Danang City in the far distance


Another view of beautiful beach appearing after leaving Danang City in the far distance
Another view of beautiful beach appearing after leaving Danang City in the far distance
Landscape changed after leaving Danang City
Landscape changed after leaving Danang City
Land merging with South China Sea
Land merging with South China Sea
Beaches could be seen along the coast line
Beaches could be seen along the coast line
Horizon with land mass further away
Horizon with land mass further away

As the train gained altitude, more of the landscape could be seen in the far distance and the contour of the land with the sea with occasional stretches of pristine white sandy beach was a joy to behold. Some boats were also seen not very far from land. The horizon could hardly be seen with the blue sky and blue sea merging into one body in the far end as far as our eyes could see.

Train on a higher plain heading north
Train on a higher plain heading north
Rumbling along upward to Hai Van Pass
Rumbling along upward to Hai Van Pass
Beautiful view with pristine sandy beaches below
Beautiful view with pristine sandy beaches below
Paradise on earth on the sandy white beach
Paradise on earth on the sandy white beach
Fantastic view of the beach from the train ride to Hue
Fantastic view of the beach from the train ride to Hue


Another great view of the beach and coast line from higher ground
Another great view of the beach and coast line from higher ground
Boats out at the sea not very far from shore
Boats out at the sea not very far from shore

The train began to slow down at turns and also at steep incline up Hai Van Pass. The view from the top was really spectacular. It was made more beautiful on a summer day with clear blue sky which was perfect for taking pictures.

Great coastal view from train ride to Hue
Great coastal view from train ride to Hue
Great train ride with great views to Hue
Great train ride with great views to Hue
Beautiful coastline from train ride on high ground
Beautiful coastline from train ride on high ground

Along the way at the top, we passed by a water body which could be the top of a waterfall. The endless terrain covered with green vegetation and wild flowers showing its curvy landscape merging with the deep blue South China Sea was very refreshing and calming. In fact during this two over hours, I hardly slept on my hard bed. The scenery was so captivating and I would gladly forgo the short nap than to give up this once in a very long time great train ride over some beautiful scenery.

Top of waterfall on mountain top
Top of waterfall on mountain top
Crystal clear water near shore
Crystal clear water near shore


Very nice view of the shoreline from above
Very nice view of the shoreline from above
Thin far horizon between deep blue sea and clear blue sky
Thin far horizon between deep blue sea and clear blue sky

After some time, the train began descending and we knew Hue City would not be very far away. This was when I spent some time in the cabin to rest for a while, mentally trying to recollect the amazing scenes we went past. It would be so nice if we had the opportunity to spend some time at those pristine white sandy beaches with no one around. The water near the beach was also crystal clear as viewed from our train ride from above. It must be another paradise on earth in an unspoiled beach.

Rocky shoreline below
Rocky shoreline below
Another view of rocky shore below
Another view of rocky shore below
Crystal clear water near rocky shore
Crystal clear water near rocky shore

As the train rumbled along, we soon passed a very long bridge back down to near sea level. Soon some buildings and roads could be seen with vehicles and human traffic became the norm after we left the green vegetation and highlands behind. The sun was getting lower and it was becoming too glaring to look outside. So the last stretch of the train ride was meant for resting before arrival in Hue.

Descending towards Hue City
Descending towards Hue City
Getting nearer to Hue City
Getting nearer to Hue City
Beautiful long bridge towards Hue City
Beautiful long bridge towards Hue City

Eventually, the train came to a stop and many passengers including ourselves were already gathered at the train exit. The train attendant in our cabin was still sleeping and he woke up to a rude shock when the train came to a halt. Without adjusting his untidy uniform, he pushed his way through all of us to get down the train first in order to perform his duty.

Train Station in Hue City
Train Station in Hue City

Finally, we got down from the train and exited the train station and it was almost 5 pm. We had already arranged with Serene Palace Hotel to send a staff to meet us at the train station. The hotel didn’t seem to have their own vehicle. So the deal was they would send a staff to meet and greet us at the train station and get us into a taxi to go to the hotel and the cost was US$4.

Front view of train Station in Hue City
Front view of train Station in Hue City
Buildings just outside Hue train station
Buildings just outside Hue train station
View from car park outside Hue train station
View from car park outside Hue train station
Buildings outside Hue train station
Buildings outside Hue train station

Soon we found a young man in smart red uniform holding a card with my name. We went up to him and he greeted us with a big smile. He took our bags and I noted his name Brian from his name tag. He went to the car park and tried to get us a taxi. He managed to get us a taxi and he gave the taxi driver direction to the hotel. He helped us get in the taxi with our bags and then he went to get his bike to ride back to the hotel.

Shops and cafes outside Hue train station
Shops and cafes outside Hue train station
More shops and cafes outside Hue train station
More shops and cafes outside Hue train station
Food and eating places nearby train station
Food and eating places nearby train station
Another view of food and eating places nearby train station
Another view of food and eating places nearby train station

Along the way, we passed by the famous 5 stars La Residence Hue Hotel & Spa, an Accor Hotel which we originally intended to use our complimentary night to stay two nights but we changed our mind because of our late arrival in Hue and early departure to Hoi An in two days’ time. So we booked Serene Palace Hotel at under US$36 per night instead. We drove along the main road by the river and soon reached the tourists backpackers’ area. The taxi driver didn’t seem to know where Serene Palace Hotel was and he stopped by the road and asked some people. The hotel was just a little further ahead but the hotel was not along the road. So we alighted and walked a little distance into a small lane and we arrived at Serene Palace Hotel.

The hotel staff came and carried our bags and front desk staff greeted us and sat with us by a sofa at the lobby. Welcome drinks and cold towers were given which was a great relief for us suffering under the heat of this summer day in Hue. This hotel staff’s name was Tina and she sat with us to explain to us about the hotel and tour arrangements.

Hotel lobby area
Hotel lobby area
Welcome drinks and fruits
Welcome drinks and fruits

Most tourists would consider a visit to some tombs for a day tour out of Hue but we were not keen, not to mention the heat in Central Vietnam during this time. So we booked a private boat tour on the Perfume River on the way to visit the famous Pagodas for the next day. The boat ride would include a return trip to the market near town but we requested to be alighted midway at the Citadel instead and we would make our way back to the hotel on our own. The cost for this private boat tour was US$15 for the two of us.

We also booked bus tickets back to Hoi An at US$5 each instead of taking a private transfer to Hoi An where we could stop and visit places along the way which cost US$65. We felt we had seen enough during the train ride through Hai Van Pass so there was no need to spend extra and take up extra time on the way to Hoi An. In fact we hoped to arrive Hoi An as early as possible to enjoy the sights over there so a bus ride to Hoi An would be all that we required. We would be departing between 8 and 8.30 am in two days’ time and would arrive Hoi An around noon time. So this arrangement was perfect for our travel plans.

City view from room balcony
City view from room balcony
Nice City view from room balcony
Nice City view from room balcony
Another City view from room balcony
Another City view from room balcony
Front view of City from room balcony
Front view of City from room balcony
Dressing table with computer for guest use
Dressing table with computer for guest use
Sofa set at the corner of the room
Sofa set at the corner of the room

So with our travel arrangements settled, and our welcome drinks drank and some fruits eaten, Tina showed us to our room on the sixth floor. The hotel seemed to be rather quiet with not many guests when we arrived and Tina told us it was their low season in May. When exited from the lift, our room was just on the right. This hotel was still using normal lock and key type of system and not those electronic card key door locks. We were also required to return the key to front desk whenever  we leave the hotel.

So Tina unlocked the door and showed us inside our room. The room was very nice and clean with a balcony facing east. The furnishing in the room was fine and the bed looked clean and comfortable. A computer was also provided in the room for guest use. TV and wifi and most importantly, the air-conditioner worked well. Likewise everything in the bathroom was in order. We were happy with the room and so Tina left us after that.

Nice and clean bed
Nice and clean bed


Bedroom view near balcony
Bedroom view near balcony
Nice bedroom on the 6th floor
Nice bedroom on the 6th floor
Bathroom in good condition
Bathroom in good condition

It was such a hot summer day coming all the way from Danang to Hue, so a quick shower to cool down was necessary. After this, we unpacked and rested for a while with the TV as our added companion as well as connecting with our children back home with the excellent wifi provided by the hotel. It was good to be able to stretch out on the bed for some relaxation before dinner and other night activity.

Wall mounted TV with many channels
Wall mounted TV with many channels

When it was about sunset time, we went out to the balcony and enjoyed the sunset show. The sun was partially hidden behind some clouds and with sun rays piercing through edges from the clouds, it was a great sight to behold.

Sunset view from room balcony
Sunset view from room balcony
Silver lining in the clouds
Silver lining in the clouds

So in every cloud there was a silver lining was being displayed before us when nothing bad had happened thus far. Gradually, the sky turned darker and with a hue of orange, the sun blasted its last glorious presence and disappeared and soon darkness took over Hue City.

Sun shinning through the clouds
Sun shinning through the clouds
Sun partially hidden by dark clouds
Sun partially hidden by dark clouds
Sun bowing out for the day over in Hue City
Sun bowing out for the day over in Hue City
5 course dinner promotion on traditional Hue food
5 course dinner promotion on traditional Hue food

We then went back to ground floor to have dinner at the hotel restaurant. The hotel was offering a five course set dinner for two persons at 259,000 VND and we took up the offer happily. This five course dinner was traditional Hue food with a pomelo salad, grilled pork in lemon grass, rice cake with shrimp, grilled pork fresh spring rolls and Hue traditional noodle soup with either beef or pork. We also ordered fruit juice being such a hot day we went through.

Refreshing and yummy  banana fruit juice
Refreshing and yummy banana fruit juice

Our food arrived and they were unique in taste. They were a little different from North and South Vietnamese dishes but they were delicious. We were so full after dinner and for the price we paid for this dinner, it was worth every cents and sense.

Though this was not a posh restaurant, the restaurant staff were very friendly and helpful and we really had a great time at the restaurant. Their service standards were commendable for a restaurant in a 3 stars hotel.

Tasty pomelo salad
Tasty pomelo salad
Grilled pork in lemon grass
Grilled pork in lemon grass
Rice cakes with shrimp
Rice cakes with shrimp
Fresh spring rolls
Fresh spring rolls
Traditional Hue noodle soup
Traditional Hue noodle soup
Entertainment business next to Serene Palace Hotel
Entertainment business next to Serene Palace Hotel

So it was time to head out for a walk at the night market by the river. We got more information from front desk and also took another city map. After getting direction from the hotel and with our bearings right, we left the hotel for our night activity. We turned right from the hotel entrance and walked out to the main road and then turned left and followed the road. We soon reached the river after passing shops, restaurants and cafes all nicely lit up.

Entrance to Serene Palace Hotel
Entrance to Serene Palace Hotel
Restaurant near Serene Palace Hotel
Restaurant near Serene Palace Hotel
Restaurant on the main road near the hotel
Restaurant on the main road near the hotel

Along the river, dragon boats were berthed waiting for passengers for a river cruise at night. The walking paths were part of a park by the river where many locals young and old, male and female came out to have a great time. They seemed so happy with kids running around in the cooler evening during summer where the temperature would be near 40 degrees Celsius in the day.

Dragon boats by the river
Dragon boats by the river
More dragon boats berthed on the river
More dragon boats berthed on the river
Louts restaurant beautifully lit up at night
Louts restaurant beautifully lit up at night
Colour changing lights at the lotus shape restaurant
Colour changing lights at the lotus shape restaurant


River cruise near the restaurant
River cruise near the restaurant
Lotus restaurant under purple lights
Lotus restaurant under purple lights
Restaurant promotional information
Restaurant promotional information
Nice louts shape entrance to restaurant
Nice louts shape entrance to restaurant
Locals enjoying a night out by the river
Locals enjoying a night out by the river
River front park near the night market
River front park near the night market

As we walked on, we soon reached many cafes, restaurants and shops all very nicely lit with lanterns. The ambience was quite romantic where young couple would no doubt be happy to spend some time over coffee by the river alfresco style chatting the night away.

Front stretch of the night market by the river
Front stretch of the night market by the river
Nice lighting along the pavement next to the river
Nice lighting along the pavement next to the river
Nice walk at the nice market by the river
Nice walk at the nice market by the river
Romantic ambience at the night market along the river
Romantic ambience at the night market along the river
Nice cafes and restaurants by the river
Nice cafes and restaurants by the river


Nice alfresco dining by the river
Nice alfresco dining by the river
Nice cafes and restaurants by the river
Nice cafes and restaurants by the river
Good time for a romantic night out by the river
Good time for a romantic night out by the river
Beautiful lighting at the night market area
Beautiful lighting at the night market area
Watching river cruises at night
Watching river cruises at night
Busker soliciting for donation
Busker soliciting for donation

Further ahead at the night market, a lone busker all dressed up in gold was standing like a statue hoping for donations to come his way. He changed his posture a few times while we were there. We didn’t find him very entertaining. A small crowd gathered but we didn’t see anyone giving. Perhaps he might have better opportunity in Europe than in this part of the world doing this kind of stunt trying to impress and amuse passersby.

A lone busker hoping for some donation
A lone busker hoping for some donation
Patient busker working for donation
Patient busker working for donation

As we walked along, the river was a hive of activities with river cruises plying back and forth and passengers boarding and alighting. Further ahead the river near the bridge, many little burning lights were released into the water floating along and the river was glittering under the many little lights.

Long bridge over the river to market area
Long bridge over the river to market area
Lotus flowers on Perfume River
Lotus flowers on Perfume River
Little lighted lanterns released from boats
Little lighted lanterns released from boats

We kept walking and soon reached the end of the lighted shops and restaurants. After a while looking out at river activities, we turned and walked back. We had had a very sumptuous dinner and were in no mood to eat more so we skipped all the cafes and restaurants while walking back. We looked at some souvenir shops and arts and crafts shops but didn’t make any purchase. We went into a leather shop selling made to order leather belts at very good price where the belt could be ready in a short while with many leather skins to choose from. The shop was a little busy so we decided to come back the following evening.

Souvenir shops along the river
Souvenir shops along the river
Art and craft at the night market
Art and craft at the night market
Art and craft shop at the night market
Art and craft shop at the night market
Art and craft shops
Art and craft shops
Souvenir shop
Souvenir shop
More souvenir shops
More souvenir shops

This night market was more of a local affair than foreign tourists centered attraction. Perhaps we came during their low season where we did not see many tourists here. However, I was particularly pleased to see the locals with young and old enjoying their night out at the park by the river. This reminded me of a time when I was a kid where my dad brought my siblings and me to play at the park along Queen Elizabeth Walk by the sea near Clifford Pier. We could just run around play hide and seek and we enjoyed ourselves in the evening followed by supper at the Satay Club. So I had this nostalgic feeling spending time with the locals here and it was a great time for us as well.

Nice walk back from the night market
Nice walk back from the night market
Perfect ambience for a romantic night out by the river
Perfect ambience for a romantic night out by the river
Passing by shops again on the way back to the hotel
Passing by shops again on the way back to the hotel
Shops doing roaring business at night
Shops doing roaring business at night
Relaxing the night away by the river
Relaxing the night away by the river
Another nice restaurant at night
Another nice restaurant at night

After walking past the entire stretch of night market along the river park, we were near Serene Palace Hotel. The hotel was conveniently located near the backpacker’s area and at night, this place really came alive with cafes, restaurants and shops all nicely lit up. So we walked a few streets to survey the place and looked at some shops selling clothes but didn’t buy anything as well. So we went on to find our way back to Serene Palace Hotel.

Busy streets at backpackers area
Busy streets at backpackers area


Nice restaurant near Serene Palace Hotel
Nice restaurant near Serene Palace Hotel
Many shops along the road
Many shops along the road
Another nice restaurant near Serene Palace Hotel
Another nice restaurant near Serene Palace Hotel
More shops and restaurants nearby
More shops and restaurants nearby
More shops and restaurants near Serene Palace Hotel
More shops and restaurants near Serene Palace Hotel
Many restaurants and cafes at the backpackers' area
Many restaurants and cafes at the backpackers’ area
Busy night at the backpackers' area
Busy night at the backpackers’ area

Eventually we reached Serene Palace Hotel. Though it was a casual and leisurely night walk, we were tired and were perspiring quite a lot so we went straight to the restaurant. The restaurant staff were happy to see us again. We ordered fruit juice from a combination of pineapple and mangoes to chill out before returning to our room. The juice was so refreshing and this was great for us as we rested our tired legs and aching bodies.

View from room balcony at night
View from room balcony at night


Another iew from room balcony at night
Another iew from room balcony at night

Soon we were back to our room. We needed a shower badly to cool down as the air-conditioner was shut off when we left the room with the room key. After shower and the temperature in the room back to human comfort level with the aid of air-conditioning, we finally could get to bed to rest and watch TV programs. Chatting with the children back home and showing them the beautiful pictures taken during the day and night over whatsapp took us to late night. We then decided to let the children go to bed and we likewise snoozed off in great delights over the events of the day that went favourably our way.


Continue to Day 4

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