Without a tourism wharf, travelers who dock in Da Nang have to cross dangerous makeshift bridges to reach the mainland.
Tuyet Lam, a tourist from Ho Chi Minh City, said "I was stunned for a couple minutes" when she arrived at a street along the Han River to board a boat.
"In order to get aboard, tourists have to step on a wooden plank hung loosely between the river dyke and the boat," Lam said.
She said that she wanted to cancel the tour then and there, but her guide talked her into it.
"That might be the only time in my life that I ever go on a boat tour in that city," she concluded.
According to figures from Da Nang Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, 13 tourism boats operate in the city, which has provided these boats with two temporary wharfs that can only hold a total of three to four boats.
The city has planned a new wharf and tourism boat shipyard worth VND60 billion, but investors for the project have yet to be found.
The city's Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism has also asked the city government to allow tourism boats to anchor at an old fishing port, but the proposal was rejected.
Such conditions prompted the Hai Au 01, one of few well-built tour boats in the city, to leave for Nha Trang further south.
MTV Lam Phu Gia Company invested nearly VND2 billion (US$96,126) in the three-star boat, and yet it was never able to dock the boat properly in Da Nang.
Nguyen Van Lam, deputy director of the company, said that the boat had sent four letters asking local authorities to arrange a wharf for the boat. But Lam said no reply had been given in six months of letter-writing.
Lam said the ironic thing was that the boat has been fined twice by local marine traffic officials for not anchoring in the right place.
He claimed that when he asked a local official where "the right place" was to park his boat, the official said "I don't know."