The nightlife in Danang City, Vietnam seems harmless enough, and it can be, but alas, is that not how all legendary nights begin?
The mid afternoon heat wave descends, while lethargy and swamp ass ensues. Perhaps one chilled Larue beer- only one- imbibed at one of the many local seafood restaurants alongside My Khe Beach will serve nicely to hydrate and replenish after a harrowing day of tourist activities.
Your evening begins as soon as your rump touches down on that child-sized plastic stool beside the road. The first frothy sip tingles the lips and you’re pulled into a trance amplified by traffic beeps and hums, as palm fronds dance and the smell of garlic and BBQ envelops the nostrils bringing you to a safe space as comforting as the feel of your mother’s plump breast against your cheek.
Next thing you know, some 25-year-old Vietnamese banker from the table to the right shakes your hand, practices his English greetings with great fervor and refills your glass of beer, plunking an ice cube in with a splash to commemorate this newfound friendship. Danang is amazing, you think to yourself, then drinking cheers erupt in a burst of lemongrass breath and beer infused spittle: Mot, Hai, Ba,Yo! Giddyup cowboy, this is when your evening takes off galloping towards the horizon without you even realizing it.
Mot, Hai, Ba, Yo!
This old Vietnamese lady with a basket of jackfruit won’t leave your side. In fact, the more you say “no” the more her stare drills into your black soul and your eyes widen in sheer terror because she knows your deepest, darkest secrets; her toothless smile confirming all suspicions.
Mot, Hai, Ba, Yo!
Hold the phone hombre, is this beer? The clear liquid in your glass tastes like the shit you use to bleach sneakers white again…rice wine, is that what this humble refreshment is called?
Mot, Hai, Ba, Yo!
Everything goes black, save for a few blurry flashes of the mouth of the golden Dragon Bridge (Cầu Rồng) spewing flames, the glimmering Han River at night, a guy dressed in a stinking Pikachu get up giving you a shoulder massage and a solemn vision of pale pink N2O filled balloons waving innocently from the hands of the slick haired, inebriated youth. Their gassed up smiles convince you that life exists cradled within the palm of your hand and best lived free, this night is but one and you’ll survive yet again, just take the balloon and give it a little kiss, you’re in Danang, baby… and the deafening Vinahouse jam ebbs and flows through your ears like a heartbeat after fast, sweaty sex with the one you adore most.
Danang nights aren’t as crazy as they seem (or are they?). Perhaps I’m delving a bit too far into the hazy memories of my own alcohol laden nights, but to underestimate the glory of this city’s nightlife would be a crying shame. It’s simply knowing how to approach the evening with emotionless finesse and no expectations, not jinxing yourself like a borderline anorexic sorority chick with a cigarette pinched between two hot pink claws, stating: “I’ll only drink one vodka water and go to bed early, I have to work out with Gunther in the morning.” And finally, knowing exactly where to find the much coveted, most elusive, mighty strong mojito.
This tapas restaurant located close to My Khe Beach in Son Tra offers chill vibes and a laidback community-esque feel that will have you tucking a frangipani blossom behind one ear and making new friends in no time. Kick it in a tropical oasis outside in the garden and relax for hours while sampling a smorgasbord of Italian pastas, Malaysian cuisine & Spanish tapas. An impressive cocktaileria with a buy one get one happy hour refuses to skimp on the amount of alcohol poured. You’ll be feeling summertime fine after one of these magical concoctions- aka the mojitos. Arriba.
Get the reggae vibes you seek at this thatched shack located in My An and people watch as you sip…you guessed it….a XL sized passion fruit mojito. The ambiance of this bar is truly one-of-a-kind, with a pack of rescued dogs and their fluffy puppy spawn running underneath your legs, live music, and an eclectic junkyard collaboration of furniture and decor that will make you feel like one of the Goonies on a serious quest to find One-Eyed Willy’s stolen treasure but of course, you’re only getting wasted instead.
I frequent this street-side hideaway just to catch a glimpse of the owner and legend himself, Mr. Tuat. He literally found a tiny vacant lot on the side of the road, threw up a canopy, and nailed together boards to produce what resembles a 5-year-old’s lemonade stand, then slathered some paint here and there and built tables and chairs from antique sewing machines, car and motorbike parts, giving birth to an extraordinary local hang that is minimal, yet it will satisfy that I-need-a-cheap-drink-and-a-place-to-contemplate-life type of feel.
If you enjoy getting drunk with an added touch of elegance, then head to Fine Wine Paris for a platter of the finest French cheeses and cold cuts, then wash it down with a bottle or two of wine imported from all corners of the globe. The atmosphere is chic and the service is on point. You’ll wonder why you’re not making progress on your first glass of cabernet sauvignon because it’s deftly being refilled by a pack of little gnomes armed with leather wine flasks. Located on a quiet street in Son Tra, you’re a hop, skip and jump away from the madness that your refined self secretly craves and the warmth of wine will help you to discover.