David G | Mar 21, 2020 | 0
Cost of Living in Da Nang for Expats (Dec. 2019)
During our motorbike trip around Vietnam, I’ve instantly fallen in love with Da Nang. I remembered one night on the rooftop, my brother and I were daydreaming how cool it would be to live in Da Nang. Fast forward a year, I’ve been living in Da Nang for a bit more than a year and I simply love this beach city. The relaxed vibe of locals, diverse cuisine, beautiful beach, and the surrounding area, affordable prices are just some of the things I love about Da Nang.
Nowadays, I see more and more expats deciding to move to Da Nang for longer periods and I’d like to share my experience when it comes to costs and quality of life in Da Nang.
Cost Breakdown of Living in Da Nang as an Expat
Before we jump into more details about the expenses of living in Da Nang, I would love to show you my average spending so you can get a rough idea of the budget and quality of life you get for your money. I usually don’t drink, but I’m not saving any money when it comes to coffee and other soft drinks.
As you can see, on average, I spend roughly $900 every month. I’m spending more during the dry season (more electricity and water, slightly higher prices, etc.).
p.s. Please take my apologies for the ugly looking table! I hope you aren’t so critical and it helps you with data. 🙂
Probably the first and the most important aspect of expat life is finding the right fitting apartment. Since Da Nang is going through the crazy development phase, construction sites and new hotels/motels (Nhà Nghỉ) are everywhere. It has its good and bad sides. The choices are endless, but it comes with the constant construction noise which is sometimes overwhelming.
I’m living in an Airbnb room on the beachside – An Thuong area. The monthly rental costs me roughly 5 million VND (around $250) with all utilities included. It’s a good bargain for the area, but it comes with some downsides such as small space, no cleaning services, construction sites around, etc. Anyway, I’ve been staying there for more than 6 months and I’m pretty happy with it.
The main advice when it comes to apartment-hunting is to rent for a few nights to check it out first. I’ve met many expats who’ve rented the apartment at first sight and ended up being surrounded by mighty karaoke bars and construction sites. Check Airbnb for the potential prospects, book a few nights and see it yourself.
There are also various Facebook groups where Vietnamese people post different apartment prospects each day, so it might be a great lead:
Just write a post about your needs and budget and soon your inbox will be full with offers from agents.
From my experience, the prices on the beachside for a single-room apartment/studio average from $200 – $450/month. In the Hai Chau district (on the other side, or riverside) the prices are slightly higher. Probably the cheapest option is to connect with expats and figure out a shared house.
Looking for interesting things to do while you’re finding your apartment? Read our 3 days in Da Nang itinerary and get the vibe of the city.
Da Nang offers a lively and diverse food scene where the choices are endless. There are various traditional dishes originating from central Vietnam that you can find on the streets in Da Nang. In general, there are three options for eating: western restaurants, street food and cooking your own food.
Local Vietnamese food is extremely fresh, delicious and affordable. For example, Bánh mì (sandwich with eggs and meat) costs around 15,000 VND, a bowl of Phở around 30,000 VND, a rice buffet (Cơm Bình Dân) will set you full for about 25,000 VND. A huge meal with a drink on the side won’t exceed 50,000 VND. It’s important to mention that local food isn’t vegetarian-friendly, but there are options. Look for ‘Chay’ places which means vegetarian food. I’ve found a very nice vegetarian rice buffet in An Thuong area that will set you for 25,000 VND.
Western restaurants are way more expensive and I’ve found out the food isn’t that fresh. Some people would argue about the cleanness of street food compared to restaurants, but I’ve never had a single health problem with street food (knocking on the table).
If you decide to cook your own food, you can’t miss with local markets. Local markets feature friendly vendors selling the freshest ingredients for affordable prices. It’s crucial that you know the average prices for the food since sellers will usually charge you more for ingredients than usual. You can always negotiate about the prices, especially if you know the average price which will help you not losing the face and being disrespectful. Locals love a good round of bargaining. I love to go for grocery shopping at My An market or Han market. You can find many souvenirs, clothes, kitchen things, traditional cuisine, and more there.
Ways of Transportation
Da Nang features a developed infrastructure that offers various transportation options. If you’re planning to travel abroad, the international airport sits straight in the city and you can score direct flight lines around Asia for great prices. Once you’re in the city, the motorbike is the king. I’ve bought a used Honda Wave for 7 million VND ($300) and drove it for more than a year. Don’t forget to check every detail on your bike while buying. We’ve written a detailed guide for buying a bike in Vietnam, so check it out. If you’re looking to buy a motorbike or bicycle or simply anything second-hand, head over to ChoTot, a Vietnamese online marketplace.
Traffic is chaotic at times, especially during the rush hours (7 – 9 am and 4 – 6 pm), but you can’t compare it to traffic in Saigon or Hanoi. There are also many rental places offering monthly rentals for around 1 million VND.
Please note that it’s necessary to have an international driving license or a local one (easy process if you have a car driving license in your home country). Also, if you drive a bike with an engine smaller than 50cc you don’t need a license (see Honda Cub 50). Police started to enforce it lately, so be sure you’re driving legally not only because of the police but in case of an accident your insurance won’t cover you. You can read our detailed guide on getting a lifetime Vietnamese driving license.
The liter of gas costs around 20,000 VND and scooters usually pass around 30 km on one liter. I love to drive around, so I spend around 100,000 – 200,000 VND per week on gasoline. Don’t forget to include the cost of bike maintenance here which is usually changing the oil (around 100,000 VND every 1,000 km).
Probably the best and most convenient way of transportation is Grab. You can get from the main bus station to the beach for 60,000 VND. Shorter rides will cost you not more than 20,000 VND. If you don’t have the proper documents for driving the bike, go with Grab or bicycle. You can find a used bicycle for 600,000 VND and it will serve you just well (not for long distances). Also, don’t forget to check other useful mobile apps that will help you during your time in Vietnam.
There are also a few taxi companies and public buses, but I’ve never used any of these. Here you can find a detailed bus route map with stations and prices. Also, we’ve written a detailed public transportation guide, so it might be a good read.
Co-Working Spaces & Cafes
If you work remotely, there is a pretty diverse selection of work-friendly cafes around Da Nang. I’ve been already writing about working cafes in Da Nang, so be sure to check out my favorite cafes where you can get some creative and uninterrupted work done. I’m not a huge fan of coworking spaces, but there are a few popular places around the city, mainly in the city center (riverside). The prices vary from place to place, but an average daily pass is around 150,000 VND which includes coffee/tea and water.
Working cafes usually feature a stable and fast internet, ergonomic tables and chairs, loads of power sockets as well as a huge selection of drinks. I’m a coffee lover and so getting the espresso, or Vietnamese iced coffee (Cà phê sữa đá Sài Gòn) is my choice. The prices vary from 20,000 – 35,000 VND. For smoothies or milk teas, you can expect to pay a bit more, about 40,000 – 60,000 VND. In some cafes, you can even order healthy food such as snacks or fresh fruits and vegetables. Expect to pay for a plate of fruits with cereals or omelet around 80,000 VND.
Anyway, most of my time I’m working at my apartment since I have a table and loads of street food vendors a few steps from my doorstep. The internet isn’t the best, but mobile data serves as a great alternative. More on data packages later.
It’s still relatively hassle-free to get a tourist visa in Vietnam, but is it the most convenient thing? I wouldn’t say so. American citizens have the option to get a 1-year tourist visa, but still, they have to leave the country every three months. For other people who’re on a tourist visa, you must leave the country every three months to do an infamous visa run. It’s a pretty simple, but time and nerve-consuming process. There are a few visa run agents in the city that provide a full service. I really can’t recommend Lynn Visa more (I don’t earn any commission, just genuinely love her passion and work). I’ve already written about doing a visa run from Vietnam in detail, so don’t forget to read it.
There are also business visas available, but I’ve heard some bad stories and I wouldn’t recommend getting a business visa from the agency. If you’re working as an English teacher or in any other industry, you’ll most likely get a work permit (harder these days) and temporary resident card which enables you to stay in Vietnam for 2 years. Getting married to a Vietnamese, investing or starting a business can land you a temporary resident card, but still, visa policies are very dynamic and changing all the time, so maybe the best option at the moment is a tourist visa.
For a long time, I haven’t had any travel insurance and that was probably the most stupid thing you can do. I’ve been a few times in a hospital (once doing CT and many checkings) and you don’t want to look at hospital bills without the insurance. Get insurance! Currently, I’m using my Croatian travel insurance that covers my health, transportation changes, and some technology for roughly $30/month. There are many travel insurance companies available, but I’ve seen people recommending World Nomads. I’ve never used it so I can’t tell much about it.
There are a few international hospitals in Da Nang with English speaking staff and modern medical equipment. I’ve been to Hoan My hospital a few times and every time they did an extremely professional job.
You can pick among a few competitive carriers in Vietnam and Vinaphone supposed to be the best one. I’m using MobiFone and their (C90N) data plan with 120GB/month for 90,000 VND. Speeds are pretty good (not for uploading huge files or streaming) and the connection is stable which is everything I’m looking for. The phone number with the data plan costs about 250,000 VND at the airport and 200,000 VND in official stores. Be sure to get your SIM card in the official store where they require your personal information since buying the SIM in local stores can lead to various problems.
Did you know that Vietnam enjoys one of the world’s lowest mobile data costs? According to Cable.co.uk’s research, the average cost for 1GB of mobile data is just $0.06.
For instance, I’ve bought a SIM in a local store without leaving any personal information and currently, I can call people, but no one can reach me out. The carrier explained to me it happens if you don’t update your personal information regularly.
Also, the coverage of MobiFone is pretty good. I was driving on the bus from Da Nang to Saigon and during the whole trip, I didn’t experience any major network problems.
Nightlife in Da Nang
Da Nang is a very relaxed city featuring a different type of nightlife than in places like Phnom Penh or Bangkok. There is a ‘pub street’ with dozens of pubs playing loud music on the banks of Han River. It’s a pretty cool spot to drink with friends, play some pool and enjoy western music. Locals love to have Nhau which translates to drinking and eating without any certain reason. There are countless of Nhau restaurants around An Thuong and beachside area where you can enjoy delicious Vietnamese food with a glass of beer always full. I really enjoy walking around My Khe beach during the night that completely changes its vibe.
If you’re looking for a relaxed atmosphere and live music, I can’t recommend An Thuong area more. There are a few places with cheap beers, a vibrant bunch of people, live music and thematic events. I suggest checking Crazy Cat’s or Heaven bar (literally next to each other). A bottle of domestic beer costs around 20,000 VND in the bars around Da Nang.
Are you looking for a rooftop bar? I recommend Alacarte or Novotel for stunning views, swimming pools, nice music and a good selection of drinks. The beer in Alacarte costs 80,000 VND, but they have a happy hour where you get two beers for the price of one (3 – 6 pm).
Da Nang officially has two seasons – dry and wet season. The dry season starts from February and ends around September while the wet season takes place from October all the way to January. You can check a detailed post about the best time to visit Da Nang to get a better understanding of the weather and seasons in Da Nang.
Usually, tourists start to flock in from April till the end of August. I would say that April and May are the best months for enjoying the beach. From September you can expect changes in weather with more frequent showers. October and November are the months with the most rainfall and it’s usual to experience a few storms and flooding during that period. Also, the temperature lowers down to 15°C.
Also, it’s important to mention that some landlords tend to raise the accommodation prices during the dry season, so be sure to communicate everything in front and put everything in the contract.
I hope this article answers some of your questions related to the costs of living in Da Nang. If you have any more questions or need any help, please don’t hesitate to reach me out!