Following the highway to the South of Hue, tourists will pass by the Hai Van Pass and admire the breathtaking view from Hai Van Quan – the highest peak of Hai Van Pass. Then tourists will reach Da Nang – the most bustling city in the Central of Vietnam. This is also the point to get to Hoian - a city has no airport and train station. But Da Nang is more than a jumping point, if tourists spend a little time longer here, they will find out that this city is a beautiful complex between nature and man-made constructions.
During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Fai Fo (the former name of Hoian) was the most crowed and lively city when lots of trading vessels of the Silk Road arrive and depart from here. Then Hoian’s harbor began silting up, and Da Nang, with the French supports, rise up as a major port of the Central.
During the Vietnam war, Da Nang was the US military base, and became the “a small American city”, as journalist John Pilger said. This is the destination of thousands of refugees and people searching for work.
After the US-withdrawal from the conflict, in the final stage of the conquest of South Vietnam by North Vietnam, Da Nang fell to the communist forces March 1975. Nowadays, Da Nang is the biggest city in the Central of Vietnam.
Spend more time in Da Nang, tourists will find unexpected place besides the busy city center:
The Cham Museum
Da Nang was belonged to the Cham Kingdom, this is why tourists should spend an hour to visit the Cham Museum even if they are just passing through Da Nang. After that, tourists can also visit My Son Sanctuary (read our Hoian Travel Guide for My Son) for more information about Cham Kingdom.
The Cham Museum, located on Bach Dang street, was open by French archaeologist in 1916 after they had found and collected statues, friezes and altars of the ancient Cham sites besprent around Da Nang.
The Champa Kingdom is now still helding a lot of mysteries
The Champa Kingdom and its culture
Champa is a former kingdom located in the south and central Vietnam. Cham culture was influenced by Indian, Cambodian and Java (an island of Indonesia) culture. From the ninth century to tenth century was the heyday of Champa Kingdom, before the aggression of Dai Viet (the former Vietnam) and the Khmer Empire.
During its heyday, Hinduism was the most popular religion of Champa Kingdom. Then after tenth century, Islam made its way into Cham community and until seventeenth century, it became one of the most popular religions of Cham people.
The repeated images in Cham art are lions, elephants, Hindu and Buddhist deities, most prominently is Shiva, but also Lokesvara, Vishnu, Brahma, Devi, and Shakti.
The Statue of Shiva at Murudeshwar, India
Coming to the Central and the South of Vietnam, tourists will have a lot of chance to explore the Champa Kingdom and its culture.
Monkey Mountain and Son Tra Peninsular
Son Tra Mountain was known as Monkey Mountain during the Vietnam war to American soldiers. This mountain located on Son Tra Peninsular, where the wildlife still exists among the city center. Monkey Mountain used to be a military area, and now is the place tourists can hide away from the crowd and enjoy the nature.
There will be a lot to see up on the mountain, including Linh Ung Pagoda – for ones who like exploring religion, the rada station complex – for those who love history, beaches and forest – for people love nature.
The spectacular view from Ban Co peak, Son Tra Peninsular
Ba Na Hills
Ba Na Hills is a hill station and resort located to the west of Da Nang city. Was discovered and developed by the French in the 1920s, Ba Na Hills was the place to hide away from the summer heat with its cool and fresh air.
Recently, Ba Na Hills has been recovering and improving, turning into a mountain resort. The view from there is fascinating. Tourists can even see Hai Vong Dai – the top of Bach Ma Mountain on a clearly day, as well as Da Nang city far below, especially sparkling at night. There’s also a Linh Ung Pagoda on Ba Na Hills.
Ba Na Hills Mountain Resort in Da Nang
The Marble Mountains
On the way to Hoian (which will be discussed in our Hoian Travel Guide), tourists will see five mountains rising from the land. Marble Mountains (or Ngu Hanh Son, Nui Non Nuoc in Vietnamese) is a cluster of marble and limestone mountains, located to the South of Da Nang city.
By climbing 156 steps on to the mountain, tourists will visit the (another) Linh Ung Pagoda, these three pagodas form a triangle of spirituality in Da Nang.
Marble Mountains in Da Nang is such an ideal place for Buddhism explorers
Da Nang culture and what to eat
Da Nang traditional food is mostly seafood due to its location. Its culture is influenced by Cham culture, the Nguyen dynasty, as well as the French and American.
But different from Hue, the former capital of Vietnam with rich culture and a regal history, and not used to be a developed harbor city as Hoian, Da Nang is a modern city with lots of festivals and entertainment places.
However, some of Da Nang cuisines are not only well known in the country but also all over the world. This is the place where you can find diverse types of food such as My Quang (Quang Noodle), Bun Cha Ca (Noodle Soup with Fish Balls), Canh Ga Chien Mam (Fried chicken wings in fish sauce), Mit Tron (Jack fruit salad with pork rind).
The Traditional Quang Noodles of Da Nang
How to get to Da Nang
Da Nang is primarily used as a jumping-off place to get to Hoian, as it has a large international airport, Tien Sa harbor, as well as Da Nang train station. So it’s a piece of cake getting to Da Nang.
Da Nang International Airport is the third largest international airport of Vietnam. At this moment, there are non-stop flights to and from Thailand, China, South Korea, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Japan, Cambodia and Taiwan.
The best way to get to Da Nang from Hue is traveling by motorbike through Hai Van Pass, then tourists can enjoy the spectacular view of Lang Co Beach from there. Furthermore, tourists can also take the train, which is one of the best scenic routes in Asia, named by Rough Guides.
Da Nang's port system is the third largest in Vietnam. The number of large cruise ships docking at Da Nang Port has been increasing in recent years.