Thursday, 18 October 2018

TRAVEL - The Best Hostel In Da Lat - Mr Happy


My Happy Hostel, perfectly located in a quiet area of Da Lat, Vietnam, is one of the most fun, sociable and cleanest hostels you will find in all of South East Asia. The hostel is run by Mr Happy himself, who knows exactly what travelers are looking for in our hostel stays: Clean rooms, amazing food, fast internet and he even has karaoke in the dinning area!



The hostels atmosphere is so homely, with a warm orange color theme throughout, pictures of fellow travelers on display and personal posters drawn by travelers from all around the world cover the whole of downstairs. It really shows just how much everybody who stays here appreciates the hostel. 




The hostel includes one dorm room, with 10 beds and the other rooms are all private - which makes a huge difference to the atmosphere of the hostel. It shows that Mr Happy cares more about quality than quantity. The beds are by far the comfiest beds we've had so far on our trip around Japan and Vietnam. Meaning we've also had the best nights sleep here to!

The hostel is great regardless of what your looking for during your stay. It's in a quiet location, so no cars honking to disturb you, the walls are thick so you can't hear others around the accommodation. If you're looking to socialise you can head downstairs to the dinning area, if backpackers are downstairs they are usually more than happy to get to know you and share experiences of their travel, or if you want to chill on your own there is plenty of room around the roof top for some peace and quiet.



There's always something going on, whether it's a cooking class, family dinner, free night walk or organised bike tour. Everyone is so friendly and you may even meet people to continue travelling with. (You can even book those buses from the hostel!) Mr Happy knew that we loved to explore traditional Vietnamese traditions and enjoyed trying places where tourists wouldn't normally go - himself and K took us on a bike ride around the city and let us try some local food to ensure we had the best experience of Dalat.

 



With prices starting at just over £2 for the shared dorm, and including a good breakfast free you get more than your moneys worth here. You can see why they have such a high rating on Hostel World! 
What I found so special about the Mr Happy Hostel is how they really got to know their guests and went above and beyond to make sure everybody was happy. We really felt at home here - Mr Happy even organised a birthday gathering for one of his guests! Which included teaching Michael and I how to make a hot pot, setting up the table for all of the guests to celebrate together and even included a personalized birthday cake! 


It didn't stop there though, he also organised to take the birthday girls and other guests out to a local karaoke bar to sing late into the night, and finally took us to the famous Crazy Bar to end the night. A personal touch like this will be remembered forever. 

Overall, Mr Happy Hostel exceeded our expectations and was an excellent value for money and cultural stay! Even though it is low season the friendly and hilarious staff more than made up for it! We've made some new friends along the way. If you have the opportunity to visit Da Lat I would highly recommend staying at Mr Happy's amazing hostel - there really is no better place to stay. You will not be disappointed. 

You can book Mr Happy's Hostel a number of different accommodation booking sites, here's the LINK to Hostel World's page where you can view all of their wonder reviews to. I'm not the only one who enjoyed the stay! 

Stephanie xoxo

Monday, 15 October 2018

TRAVEL - What To Do In Da Nang, with Memory Hostel.


Da Nang is the third biggest city in Vietnam, although it's not as popular as Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi, it is still worth visiting for it's beautiful beaches and amazing forestry. It's an up and coming destination with tourists - and with it still developing to foreigners, it's still very cheap!

As I said in my previous post, we stayed at the fantastic Memory Hostel and their staff were able to help us have a traditional Vietnamese experience and just an all around good time! Here is a list of things we got up to thanks to Memory Hostel, and a list of things you should do during your time in Da Nang.

Day 1.
Try Traditional Food


Image may contain: 3 people, including Tran Xuan Quy, people smiling, people standing and outdoor

I just want to say again how amazing Memory Hostel was to us. From the moment we stepped through the door we were welcomed with open arms and smiles - the staff became like family from the get go and you'll see why in this post.

Firstly, we were taken to a traditional Vietnamese food at the famous Mi Quang Ech, where we enjoyed a feast with two members of staff. Ngoc (Nom) and Quy were great hosts - they taught us how to roll traditional rolls and tried four different types of noodle dishes... including Special Noodles (Frog!) We got to know each other over food and they gave us a real insight into life in Vietnam.



After heading back to Memory Hostel, our hosts went back to work while Michael and I headed to the roof for a few quiet drinks on our own before heading to bed. We'd had a long day, and food makes me super sleepy. I needed some beauty sleep to ensure I was ready for a busy day tomorrow.

Day 2.

The next day we woke around 9am and headed downstairs for our breakfast. As if I didn't eat enough food the night before, food was on my mind and I was pretty excited to see what they had to offer. We could choose from a list of food and drinks that were made freshly for us. Quy was coming to the head of his shift so prepared my fried eggs with salad and bread - Michael had the traditional noodles and egg in soup. 



Once our breakfast was finish, we made our first tourist trip to go visit the Lady Buddha at the Chua Linh Ung Pagoda. We quickly ordered a Grab, which cost 100k VND. The temple grounds are astonishingly peaceful. Although busy with tourists, it was still easy to stroll around aimlessly and take in the stunning beauty of the gardens, tiered pagoda, Buddha and panorama views of Da Nang from above.

Lady Buddha, Bodhisattva of Mercy as she is nicknamed is said to have protected the wonderful bay from natural disasters from the moment she was built back in 2010. You can spend a good hour and a half walking around these temples, it was a highlight of our trip in Da Nang! 



Thankfully, our Grab driver waited for us to finish walking around the temple and took us to our next destination.
 My Khe Beach



Did you know that Da Nang is referred to as the Hawaii of Asia? and we can see why. My Khe Beach is voted in the top 6 of Forbes Magazines best beaches in the world! With over 30km of beaches that stretch all the way to Hoi An - and some of the nicest white sands I've ever witnessed. The Da Nang locals don't enjoy sunbathing so don't head to the beach until late after. So if you're like me and love to bath in the hottest sun possible to get my tan on, you'll have the beach to yourself most of the day! It'll cost around 40,000 dong per person for the entire day, so a no brainier would be to dedicate a full day to this beach!

After a few hours at the beach we headed back to our hostel to get ready for the day. Memory had a pretty import day on at the hostel filming their latest promotional video, so we were asked to join them at around 9pm. So we headed out for some drinks to fill the gap. I can highly recommend trying to Westernised bars to get a little taste of home.

Check our the bars

Da Nang has some great nightlife! The road parallel to the river is full of pubs, clubs and restaurants serving every type of food imaginable. We opted to try out the local tourist favorite bar Bamboo 2 . Sitting on the table adjacent the river with a stunning view of  the Dragon Bridge we ordered a few drinks and some burgers. A little bit pricey compared to the traditional Vietnamese restaurants, but 120.000 Dong for burger and chips isn't going to break the bank for most travelers. 



See the Dragon Bridge at Night

After finishing food we headed back home to join in with the promotional video for Memory Hostel. which was probably my favorite part of the trip. We joined the staff on the roof top and laughed all night while appreciating the best view of the Dragon Bridge from above.



We were also treated to a BBQ using local ingredients, such as meat and fish - I even had a go at cooking the shrimps myself! We joined in with the video, sang 'Hotel California' A LOT and drank Mojitos with our new family. 



Day 3.

Day 3 was my favourite day of our trip to Da Nang. We headed to the local Han Market with the adorable Grace and Mrs Spring (Memory Hostel Chef) to pick up some local, fresh ingredients for today's activity.

Have a cooking class

Choosing the best ingredients available at Han Market was a new experience to me. Ms Spring lead the way and would give us options to what we could prepare in the hostels roof top kitchen. They made the experience really special to us as we were able to choose vegetables we have never seen before and experiment with different tastes. I loved how the Bitter Melon looked like a lumpy cucumber and Grace helped us alter their traditional meal to help us try it!


The market was amazing! So many options, you could find anything here! It's absolutely huge, you will more than likely get lost - but it's great to see all the local produce coming in. The fish is caught locally by the fisherman of Da Nang and delivered late in the evening so we know the fish is fresh. As we're not locals, stalls would often try and over charge us. Luckily we had Grace and Ms Spring with us who are professional bargainers and pretty soon we had everything we needed to make a variety of traditional dishes.



Once back at the Hostel, Grace, Michael and I started to prep the ingredients, we had ALOT of spinach - so it did take all three of us a while to prep it. Ms Spring shown us how to traditional cook the rice using coal and a metal cooking pot on the roof. Very similar to lighting a BBQ at home, use wood, paper and a little bit of lighter fluid. After prepping, Grace told us we were going to make quite a few different meals, and all at the same time. 


Starting with stuffed bitter melon. We cut the pork, mushrooms, garlic and onions into small pieces and Michael mixed them together by hand in a separate bowl. Once mixed, we cut the bitter melon in 4 inch pieces and began to stuff them with our mixture. While also cooking spinach and garlic in a frying pan, the rice in the cooker and preparing our fish to! There was a lot going on but it was really fun working with the ladies in the kitchen. Never a dull moment and felt like we knew them for years.





Once the rice was finished in the cooker, we added the stuffed bitter melon into the pot to boil until cooked. We also had plenty of meat left over so made some meat balls to and added them to the pot! After everything was complete we headed down to the lobby to enjoy our food with all the staff and there was plenty to go around!


The Marble Mountains




After food we took a 20 minute grab to one of the main tourist attractions in Da Nang, Marble Mountain. There are 5 different mountains located at the destination, but only one mountain is actually open to the general public and that's Mt. Thuy. All five mountains are made of marble and limestone and all are nicknamed after the five Asian elements - Earth, Fire, Water, Wind and Void.


The breathtaking landscape was formed from volcanoes that had erupted from below sea level. Apparently if you look closely you can still see fossils in the cliff face. Mt. Thuy is the tallest of the five mountains, and offers a panoramic view of Da Nang which is not to be missed. ou can see the concrete jungle and endless horizon of the beach.



What I enjoyed most about Marble Mountain is that there are so many different things to see - if I headed back again I'm sure there would be things I had missed previously. These includes incredible caves you can get lost in, Pagodas, Giant wheel of Karma and my personal favourite a giant Buddha that was carved from a single slab of limestone back in 1875.


Another big thank you to Memory Hostel for their giving us this experience during our trip - It wouldn't have been the same without them. Remember, if you're interested in staying at Memory Hostel, email Sale@memoryhostel.com and quote STEPHANIE for 10% off your stay and the best room available! You will not regret it :)

Have you been to Da Nang? What was your favourite thing to see and do?

Stephanie xoxo

Sunday, 14 October 2018

TRAVEL - Memory Hostel, The Best Hostel In Da Nang, Vietnam

Are you thinking of travelling to Da Nang, Vietnam soon? If you're reading this blog post then chances you are; and I don't blame you! Da Nang is a rapidly growing destination for backpackers and we can see why. Bordered by stunning jungle mountains on one side and an endless horizon of the East Sea on the other, Da Nang is a travellers paradise. It's an amazing part of Vietnam, which offers something for everyone! From Marble Mountain to the amazing My Khe Beach you'll have plenty to do during your stay in Da Nang.




If you're looking for a place to rest your head then look no further than the Memory Hostel! Situated in the heart of Da Nang, you'll find yourself in the perfect location to enjoy the best attractions and activities the city has to offer. The hostel is surrounded by shops, restaurants, traditional markets and so much more. With prices starting at just £5 PPPN, and that's including a super tasty, traditional breakfast you get so much more for your money! (Also, as a treat for you all.. If you email to book your stay and quote STEPHANIE you'll receive an extra 10% off your booking, and if available, have the best room!) 





I am very grateful to be able to work alongside Memory Hostel to show you why this beautifully thought out accommodation could be your home away from home. Memory Hostel does exactly what it's name suggests, it offers a memorable Vietnamese family experience - while still managing to work around it's Western visitors demands. The staff are second to none, they welcomed us with open arms and truly gave us an unforgettable, rewarding experience that I will tell you all it later in another post. You'll never want to leave! (I'm getting emotional thinking about it)




The building itself is stunning, the unique architecture is breathtaking! The bricks are constructed beautifully uneven - differently to your average building which makes Memory Hostel stand out from the moment you see it.  Decorated throughout with these funky patterned tiles, it gives a real feeling of nostalgia, and of course look amazing in all of your travelling pictures.


I stayed in a shared dorm on the 5th floor. Everything about our room was perfect. Amazing view of the Dragon bridge, Comfortable beds, everything was spotlessly clean and the bathrooms are just WOW! Traditional concrete basins and still keeping the tiles throughout. 
The room offered everything we needed, storage boxes big enough to fit people in, bed lights, plugs, wifi, AC and fans for those extra warm nights and the most amazing view of the Dragon Bridge and river in the area.


There are 5 floors for accommodation within the hostel. They include dorms, single rooms, and double rooms too. Making the hostel great for everyone. Doesn't matter if your a solo traveller wanting to make friends in dorms, or wanting some alone time Memory Hostel has you covered.

You can even enjoy the roof top bar area, it's pretty quiet in the day if you just want to head up and chill out in the sun - at night it brings a fun, social atmosphere - have a few drinks, play some card games or join in with the hostel activities for the night. Just take in the views and enjoy the music all around you.




Keep an eye out for another post about my wonderful time at Memory and everything we got up to! It's a must read if you're heading to Da Nang and want an authentic experience!


Remember, if you looking to book Memory Hostel, you can recieved 10% off by sending an email directly to sale@memoryhostel.com and quoting STEPHANIE.
Or, to make it easier.. just follow this link to their Booking.com page  :)



What do you think of Memory Hostel? Where have you stayed? 

Stephanie xoxo.