Da Nang/Hoi An

In Vietnam, Da Nang is viewed favorably mostly for its quality of living. It does, however, have a small but lively cultural scene and there are regular live music performances by local and visiting bands in such venues as Waterfront and Seventeen Saloon. Hoi An is more highbrow. There are a few decent galleries, and visiting international bands and DJs liven up the atmosphere at venues like Soul Kitchen on An Bang beach.

Late January to mid-February is a good time to visit if you want to breathe in the excitement of Tet, the lunar new year. The lead up to the celebrations sees Da Nang, Hoi An, and surrounding towns and villages come alive with displays of moon cakes, red banners, joss sticks, and red envelopes for giving lucky money (mung tuoi) to children. Hoi An’s full moon/lantern festivals, meanwhile, are another seductive reason to visit the ancient town throughout the year.