The fourth largest city in Vietnam, Da Nang is about 3 hours North to Hue and 30 minutes South to Hoi An, which makes it a perfect stop for those who need a break from touristy areas. Though it does not boast French colonial buildings like Hanoi or the hustle-bustle nightlife like Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang has its own charm with pristine beach, magnificent mountains, hospitable locals and excellent dishes. Da Nang, thousand years ago belonged to another kingdom called Champa, which no longer existed on the map of Vietnam nowadays. The name “Da nang” is originally from an ancient Cham word “Daknan”, means “Big river”. Like other cities in Vietnam, Danang has underwent two fierce wars – French war and American War and was extremely destroyed. Hardly anyone can imagine, this city has just developed in the past 20 years, and today it is famous as one of the most livable cities in Vietnam. The city is divided into 2 areas by a big Han river in the middle, naming a down town – administrative center on the west side and the beach – tourist spots on the other side.
What do to and where to go in Da Nang
My Khe beach
For those who crave for more outdoors activities, My Khe beach is a good place to spend time, either by yourself or with your loved ones. Once voted the most glamorous beautiful beach on planet by Forbes Magazine, little do you know before 1975, this beach was known as South China Beach and just reserved for American soldiers for entertaining and relaxing. Todays, it is the most popular public beach for both locals and travellers thanks to its blue sky, smooth white sand, gentle slope, clear & warm water all year round and beautiful areas surrounded by coconut trees. Emerge yourself in the sapphire water, play with the waves or just sunbathe on the fine beach and you will get to relax and unwind after a hard working day. What’s more, a selection of beach games are available on your demand: canoeing, parasailing, jet-skiing, ect, …
Son Tra Peninsula
Located 10 km from the City center to the Northeast, Son Tra Peninsula is considered the old eco-jungle within a young city. With its sea-oriented appearance, Son Tra acts as a giant screen protecting Da Nang from typhoons coming from the sea. It is put under the national protected forest regulation since it is a natural preservation area. The Peninsula is famous for its plentiful plants and fauna as well as the attractive scenery. On this mountain, there still remain more than 30km² of natural forests, including rare animals, especially pygathrix (red-shanked douc) is on the IUCN Red List of endangered species.
Tips: you can rent a jeep and explore around the peninsula to enjoy the nature as well as the spectacular city view from the top of mountain, especially the radar system left by American Army and 1000-year-old banyan tree.
Linh Ung pagoda & the Lady Buddha statue
Situated on Son Tra Peninsula, Linh Ung Pagoda is the biggest pagoda in the city, in both scale and art of architecture, was built in 2006 and finished in 2010. According to an old story, under Minh Mang time – the 2nd king of Nguyen dynasty, the local people here found out a small Lady buddha statue on sea sand and decided to build a temple to worship. Since then, The lady Buddha often appeared to rescue fisherman from death on the sea, that’s why the name of this area is also called the “Buddha land”. At that time, the pagoda had been built by wood and bamboo. And now, the new one was re-built by brick and stone, everything here, from pagoda, statues to bonsai trees, are from donation of many monks, Buddhists and local government. Especially, in Linh Ung pagoda, there’s an Lady Buddha statue which is considered as the tallest one in Vietnam. Da Nang people believe that thanks to the Lady Buddha’s protection, the city has developed so far and has little serious damage of bad weather.
Tips: in order to avoid crowds, hot weather as well as enjoy the most gorgeous sunset on the city , we recommended you to visit here in the afternoon, around 5pm.
Danang city is the city of bridges as there are totally 6 bridges crossing over Han river.
Dragon Bridge was built in 2013 and has become a new symbol of Danang city. Dragon Bridge, with the shape modeling a majestic dragon of the Ly Dynasty flying to the East Sea, a significant power symbol. This inventive design is not only a reflection of Vietnamese customs and beliefs but also highlights Da Nang’s growth and development. On Saturday and Sunday night, the head of dragon will show an impressive fire and water display for tourists, totally free, from 9 – 9.15p.m.
Han River Bridge is one of the oldest bridge in the city and was built in 2000 by the donation of local people. This first swing one in Vietnam was entirely designed and built by Vietnamese. The bridge is associated with the development of the city. It is not exaggerated at all to say this is the great pride of locals because it not only pave the way for transport and tourism potential, waken economic prospects in both sides of the city but is a cultural spot of Danang people today left behind for the future generations. At 23.00 every weekends, the bridge swings 90 degree for about 15-20 mins to let big ships come in the city.
There are so many local markets around the city center, in which Con Market and Han Market are the oldest and the most popular ones. They are “everything market” as you can find everything inside, from cloths, shoes, hats, souvenirs to cooking utensils, farming or fishing tools, daily supplies and specialties with reasonable prices. Touring around these markets and you can find endless outstanding local dishes such as Mì Quảng (Quang Noodle), Bánh Xèo (Fried Pancake), Bánh tráng thịt heo(Steamed Pork wrapped with rice paper and raw herbs) , chè, Kem Bơ (Avocado Cream), Bún Chả Cá (Fish ball Noodles), ect… While Han market seems to be more popular to Korean and Chinese tourists, Con Market is frequently visited by locals and domestic ones.
The Cham Museum in Da Nang is the largest collection of Cham sculpture and artwork in the world, which owns nearly 2,000 items, 500 of them are on display. Located near the tail of the Dragon Bridge, the museum was built by the French in 1915 to display terracotta and sandstone works of art of the Champa Kingdom, ranging from the 7th to the 15th centuries, which were excavated at Cham temples and citadel sites along Vietnam’s south-central coast and in the Central Highlands region. The sandstone sections are the most important and include pedestals, statues of Hindu gods, holy animals and symbols and architectural decorations.. The museum’s exhibits are arranged in a geographic order according to the places where they were found, showing different aesthetic styles of the ancient Cham. The museum opens everyday, from 08:00 – 11:30 am; and 14:00 – 16:30 pm.
Tip: water is not allowed to bring inside.
Marble Mountains and marble sculptures village
Ngu Hanh Son (or Marble Mountains) is a cluster of five mountains, each was named after 5 elements that make the universe: Water, Fire, Metal, Wood and Earth. According to the legend of Cham people, 5 mountains were formed from 5 fragments of the Dragon egg. However, to scientists, this area has been a sea zone with 5 islands. Overtime, regression of sea water has created a big land and 5 mountains like everything you see nowadays. Come to Marble Mountain, you’ll have a chance to visit beautiful caves as well as pagodas and statutes related to region’s historical stories. Also, you can contemplate thousand meticulous marble sculptures exhibited in Marble Sculptures Village, which people have inherited the skillful techniques from the Cham over 300 years.
Ba Na Hills
If you travel with kids and are looking for an ideal place for relaxing with family, Ba Na Hills is the best destination for you to escape from the heat. Located on the top of mountain, around 1400 m from the sea level, Ba Na Hills was discovered by the French in the late 19th century. They have built here many large villas, sports grounds and a range of restaurants. The name “Ba Na” came out due to the fact that this place is full of bananas. For nearly a century, war and time have made this place gradually abandoned. Yet, in 1995, local authorities decided to wake it up again. Cable Car Systems were built to enable visitors enjoy its cool temperature and stunning mountain and jungle view. “Golden Bridge”, “French Village”, or “Fantasy Park” with thousand kinds of games are the “must – not – miss” when visiting here.
Hai Van Pass
Hai Van Pass is one of the most scenic hillside roads in Vietnam. It is like a giant dragon, lying on Highway 1 on the border between Hue and Danang City. The name Hai Van means “Sea Clouds”, since the peak of the mountain is in the clouds while its foot is close to the sea. With sudden curves and blind corners, Hai Van Pass is likened to an arrogant but beautiful girl challenging drivers’ skills. It is considered to be the largest frontier post in Vietnam with the name “De Nhat Hung Quan”, meaning the most colossal frontier post. All of the dangerous curves, impressive mountain view as well as stunning coastal line had made the pass appear on the notable show for roadtrippers alike – the Top Gear Vietnam Special (2008).
*All photos used in this article are from the internet