“Da Nang is the most livable city in Vietnam.” I thought I was the one to come up with this observation—I was pretty pleased about it, actually. But ever since I came up with the phrase, I have heard it again and again from my Vietnamese friends and from expats I’ve met.
“The best part of living here is that it is just a five-minute walk to the beach. We walk to the beach every day,” says Erin Scholnick-Lee, who lives in Da Nang, Vietnam. “Who doesn’t want to live five minutes from the beach?”
“My favorite activity during the warm months is going to the beach in the late afternoon,” says Mel Potter of his new home in the city of Da Nang, Vietnam. “If you want to get away from the rat race and be near the beach, with a decent nightlife, this is the place for you. You can have the lifestyle you want here, even live like a millionaire if you want.” And with monthly living expenses of $600 or less, it’s easy to see Mel’s point. Mel, a retired correctional officer, first came to Vietnam as a soldier in 1967.
I think it’s the slow pace of life and the small-town feel that impressed me most. Battambang, in northwest Cambodia, is a social and welcoming place. No one’s in a hurry. Sitting down, having a cool drink, and meeting new people is a popular pastime. And when I walked around town, people would come out to talk to me and freely share what they enjoyed about living here, or which restaurants they liked the best, or when the latest opening of an art gallery was to take place.