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Home >> Vietnam >> Central Vietnam >> Da Nang

Da Nang

Overview

Da Nang tends to be passed over and neglected because of the pair of cities by its sides, Hue and Hoi An. Located on the east coast of Vietnam, Da Nang is a seaside town that is starting to receive some notoriety. As the fifth largest city in Vietnam, Da Nang has much of the same amenities that Saigon and Hanoi have, though it has a much more tranquil and coastal vibe. Encompassed by mesmerizing views, a breathtaking inland of mountains, and beaches full of soft sand over the shoreline, the city is transitioning into a tourist destination.

Da Nang is a place where people come to vacation in, but it wasn’t always a peaceful getaway. When Vietnam was plagued by wars, the city went through tremendous upheavals and challenges. The people of Cham established Da Nang in the year 192 A.D. Visitors continue to find ancient relics and temples all over the kingdom to this day. During the second century, the kingdom of Cham was overthrown by the Viet people, who subsequently seized control of it. Minh Mang, who was a stern Confucian King, went on a mission to thwart the European missionary influence in the year 1835. As an aspect of his endeavors, the king banned European ships from conducting all business activities in every harbor…with the exception of Da Nang. As such, Da Nang came to be a populated hub of trade, the patrons of which migrated from Hoi An. As a result, Da Nang became Vietnam’s central port of trade, taking the moniker from Hoi An.

France seized control of Da Nang in the year 1888, as relinquished by King Dong Khanh. As per the newfound French influence, Tourane replaced the name “Da Nang.” Using European technology and infrastructure, development of the city commenced. Tourane became the point of contention between the Vietnamese and the French. When Tourane was seized in 1958, the city’s French name was replaced with “Thai Phien City” as a tribute to a Vietnamese hero who rebelled against the authorities of France. The Thai Phien name didn’t stick, as it was renamed back to Da Nang when Ho Chi Minh released the Vietnamese Declaration of Independence in the year 1945.

Unfortunately, more war ensued in the year 1965, as Marines from America came to Da Nang, building a sizable military base on the rubble of destruction caused by battle. Inhabitants of the region left the city fearing for their lives, only to be assembled into refugee camps. In 1975, the liberation of Da Nang was achieved, beginning a grueling, lengthy rehabilitation process.

Most of the region was in ruins because of the impact of the war, the damages of which are still present. Gradual restoration of the city has been successful over the years, though. A boost in the city’s economy can be attributed to the tourism industry. A number of remarkable resorts and hotels have been (and continue to be) constructed along both the city and the coast. Da Nang’s rebirth is symbolized by the Dragon Bridge, a 666-meter attraction that covers the Han River. The bridge was built to commemorate the 30thanniversary of Vietnam’s freedom. At nighttime, Dragon is lit up by vibrant lights, creating the illusion of fire emitting from the creature’s intimidating mouth.

Da Nang’s rebirth has led to a greater interest in the town. The amount of people who travel to this Vietnamese city increases by the year. Each visitor is attracted by Da Nang’s tranquil environment and fascinating, natural beauty.

Sunset in Da Nang Vietnam
Sunset in Da Nang Vietnam

See & Do

One of the biggest attractions in Da Nang are its elongated beaches, with its white sand reaching across the peninsula. My Khe is the most frequented beach in Da Nang. Close to the city center, the beach becomes lively when the sun rises as people come to practice mild exercise and tai chi. As the sun illuminates the sky, its rays strike through the white sand. Natives tend to leave at this point, while travelers often remain. The sand stretches out over the beach, decorated with circular weaved boats and palm umbrellas, making the place an actual paradise. There are other pieces to explore, too, all of which have their own appeal. Less populated and developed beaches can be found north of Da Nang. One of them is Lang Van, which can only be accessed by a route off the Hai Van Pass.

The city has a handful of fascinating museums displaying artifacts that can be traced back to the Kingdom of Champa. At the Museum of Cham Sculpture, the skill and creativity of those who once called Da Nang their home is showcased. The exhibits depict Hindu gods that used to be prayed to in this place. Da Nang’s history is promptly covered at the Da Nang Museum, too. The variety of artifacts in this museum convey the history of the town, and explain the way of life of its inhabitants. You can also learn about all the battles fought against the invaders of Da Nang at the Zone 5 Military Museum. Military automobiles from that era are parked along the museum’s exterior. Last but not least, there is an entire museum dedicated to Ho Chi Minh, which is next to the Military Museum.

Golden Bridge in Bana hill - Da Nang Vietnam
Golden Bridge in Bana hill – Da Nang Vietnam

Hillside, away from the town, is Ba Na Hills, which is 1487 meters over sea level. Visitors are lifted over towering mountains via the longest ongoing cable car in the world. Travellers are carried over dense blankets of forestry and through puffy white clouds. The sights taken in along the way are extraordinary (particularly the coastline views). The actual park has a number of gorgeous pagodas and temples, regularly maintained gardens, a French village, and several other attractions.

The Hai Van Pass might be the best area to take in the area’s natural beauty and features an amazing road stretch. The Hai Van Pass was off-limits for years, but today, the mesmerizing road stretch is a route full of scenery for those traveling by lorry and motorbike. Now that a tunnel has been built to take travelers literally into the mountains, most of the traffic on the road no longer travels upwards, creating a more enjoyable and safer commute. At 496-meters high, the Pass Summit is the sole sightseeing point in this place, though it does provide unparalleled panoramic perspectives that tourists have a hard time pulling away from. Inside the peak you’ll find small fortresses ridden with bullets – a harsh reminder of the devastation that this area plagued by. Visitors can take in mountains rich with greenery that gracefully fall over the city. They’ll also be in awe of the shoreline, specifically the crystal waters which cut off the land. Across from the Hai Van Pass on Da Nang Bay is the Son Tra Peninsula. This enthralling and bucolic place extends into the water and is blanketed by curved mountain roads and dance forestry. The transparent waters of the ocean blends well with the soothing, sandy beaches bordering the coast. Several wildlife species live within the jungles, such as the endangered douc langurs, which are red-shanked. Some spectacular coral reefs can be found in the encompassing ocean.

View from Marbel Mountain
View from Marbel Mountain

There is a colossal statue of Ling Ung in the Tra Son Peninsula. The 67-meter-high statue of the Goddess of Mercy sits over a Lotus platform looking out to sea. Inside the statue are 17 stories to climb, all of which tourists can take in coastline views from. The statue’s dominance in contrast with the striking views needs to be experienced to be truly appreciated.

The Marble Mountains are situated south of Da Nang city, slightly away from the coastal road. Each of the five elements – fire, metal, wood, earth, and water – represent the five intimidating mountains. Sharp structures tear through the sky, accompanied by pagodas and temples. You’ll find plenty of marble-carved sculptures in the villages at the ends of the mountains. Each sculpture is hand-carved, making them as unique as it gets.

Thuy Son – the Water Mountain – is the biggest of the five mountains. Visitors are welcome to visit the mountain and enter its temples, many of which started as Hindu shrines before converting Buddhism places of worship. They are situated in ambient grottoes and caves scattered all over the mountain. In addition to providing a backstory of the area’s religious practices, the mountain’s sights are astounding.

Culture & Arts

Da Nang has an assortment of multicultural worship sanctuaries. The Cao Dai Temple is one such place – the vibrant yellow architecture is opulent, while a painted Divine Eye looms over the entryway. The temple’s interior isn’t any less impressive with a slew of religious symbols, gold features, and vibrant tones. About 50,000 people can attend religious services in the Cao Dai Temple.

The Phap Lam Pagoda is a sight to behold. Worshipers of the Buddhist religion sit in a peaceful garden in the pagoda surrounded by rows of gorgeously-maintained potted trees. A 1.1-meter-tall Buddha statue sits in the courtyard beside the Dai The Chi Bodhisattva and the Goddess of Mercy. A golden Buddha statue can also be found in the courtyard. Phap Lam Pagoda’s ambiance becomes lively once the monks who reside in the temple finish their daily chants.

Because of the prominent influence of Europe – in addition to the missionaries who have called Da Nag their home since the wars ended – a large number of patrons visit the Catholic Cathedral, which is quite large. Louis Vallet, a French priest, had the cathedral constructed in the year 1923. The pink, one-of-a-kind structure has been immaculately preserved. Several daily services conducted in various languages transpire in the cathedral, accommodating a fair amount of Catholics not only from Da Nang, but it’s neighboring regions as well.

While the city of Da Nang might come across as developed, a number of areas here maintain a traditional lifestyle. Located a mere 15-kilometers away from Da Nang is the Tuy Loan Village, though it might as well be a universe away. The rural village houses time-honored temples, bubbling rivers, and green rice fields. In Tuy Loan Village, the cultural production of rice paper stimulates commerce, a trade that is passed from one generation to another. The rice paper made in the village is special because of the way it integrates condiments and spices. Rather than using a sun-drying approach, natives in the village use charcoal to dehydrate the rice paper to stop the formation of mold. The circular white discs are positioned on wooden frame rows, the white tones of which mirror the sun’s warm glow. My Quang noodles are a local specialty produced in this village. Needless to say, Tuy Loan is a wonderful area to experience a non-technological lifestyle.

 

Temple Pagoda in Marbel Mountain
Temple Pagoda in Marbel Mountain

Festivals & Events

Several modern and time-honored festivals are held in Da Nang all year long, celebrating an interesting part of local culture. The Fisherman’s Festival (a.k.a. the Cau Ngu Festival) takes place after the new lunar year, which is the start of the upcoming fishing season. At this event, a ceremony is held to worship whales, giving patrons a chance to pray for safety and tranquility. In Vietnam, no animal is more sacred than the whale. “Mr. Whale” is a respectful name because of the belief that the large mammal has come to rescue several ships in dire situations. People pray for safety and fortuitous catches in the fishing season to come. Tug-of-war battles and fishnet weaving contests are but some of the classic activities and games that transpire at the festival. People are adorned in cultural costumes as they bring their energy to the streets, creating a parade that looks like a color palette from afar. Boats can also be seen in such gatherings, decorated as colorfully as the attendees of the festivities. You’ll be able to take in the fishing community’s powerful sense of togetherness and appreciate local fishing culture firsthand at the Cau Ngu Festival.

The Guan Yin Festival is a yearly event, though it was put on hiatus 29 years after 1962. Sometimes referred to as Avalokitesvara (the Goddess of Compassion), Guan Yin is said to have the ability to help everyone, human and animal alike. The yearly event transpires on the lunar calendar’s 19thday in February and lasts for 72 hours. The Guan Yin Festival begins with light-welcoming rituals that invite purity and intelligence. From there, a prayer ceremony is held to wish for national security, safety, and peace. When all the ceremonies are complete, a festival takes place where people can have fun at carnivals, view art, singing folk songs, and learn how to cook vegetarian dishes. These are just some of the activities to engage in at the festival. Patrons come together to shine lights on the river, appreciating the beautiful display of flickering light on the water. People are encouraged to discuss compassion and peace at the Guan Yin Festival.

Da Nang Beach - One of the most beautiful beach in the world
Da Nang Beach – One of the most beautiful beach in the world

The International Fireworks Competition held in Da Nang is a contemporary festival addition. Launched in the year 2008, this competition starts on the last week of April and finishes in the middle of June. It has become one of Da Nang’s most anticipated events! Participants from the UK, Switzerland, Japan, Italy, China, Austria, Australia, and Vietnam compete to see who can put on the greatest fireworks performance. The theme of the competition changes annually, and when the shows start, the skies come alive through exploding colors and sounds. The Han River banks are where the event is held, and during this time, breathtaking imagery is cast over the Dragon Bridge.

Food & Drink

Da Nang, much like with all of Vietnam, has several delicious specialties that every tourist should sample. The most popular dish of Da Nang is the My Quang, which was created in the Quang Nam province. Dense rice noodles are covered with a combination of succulent shrimp and meat, rice crackers, peanuts, and fresh vegetables, as well as some turmeric seasoning. In contrast to other classic noodle meals, a small portion of broth comes with the dish. My Quang’s colors, textures, and flavors all compliment each other, producing a tasty meal.

Bun Cha Ca is also a specialty of Da Nang. Noodles in this dish come with a pleasant-smelling broth. It is flavored with shrimp paste (Mam Tom), fresh herbs, pineapple, and pumpkin. Fish dumplings are the core ingredient of the meal, which contain an assortment of fish species.

Nam O Sashimi is a strange dish served in Da Nang. This seafood meal is comprised of raw fish doused in hot sauce. It is made in a modest fishing village at the Hai van Pass’ base. Spices, salt, and herbs are used to marinate fresh anchovies and herrings before being rolled in smashed peanuts. Fresh vegetables and aromatic herbs balance out the dish. Rice paper is used to roll them up before they are covered with a flavorful sauce.

The rice paper dish known as Banh Trang Cuon Thit Heo is rolled in a similar way, but with pork instead of fish. Customers can customize their food with fresh vegetables, rolled pork, and rice paper. Both the rice paper and the pork are soft, perfectly paired by the crisp, fresh bite of each vegetable.

Mi Quang Rice Noodle - Special of Da Nang Vietnam
Mi Quang Rice Noodle - Special of Da Nang Vietnam

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