Da Nang – a very picturesque city, has much more opportunities to become the “resort capital” of Vietnam than the now popular Fangt Viet and Nha Trang combined. In any case, the former glory of the local China Beach is just beginning to be revived. Vietnam’s third largest city, Da Nang continues to be predominantly an industrial and port city. Tourists usually make a stop here for just three sights – the Cham Sculpture Museum, the Mison Monuments, and the Marble Mountains, which are already on the outskirts of the city.
Save on your trip to Da Nang!
During the Middle Ages, Da Nang served as the main port and capital of the Cham principality of Indrapur. The present name comes from the ancient Cham Danak, which means “great estuary.” Throughout its history, Danang has been one of the most important ports of the South China Sea. In addition, the Han River, which flows into Danang Bay, has provided access to the interior of the country. Its advantageous location and other advantages have always attracted the attention of conquerors to Da Nang. Thus, the port was the first bridgehead captured by France in Indochina. In June 1845 the French corvette Alkmena shelled the city for the first time. This was in response to the arrest by the local authorities of Catholic missionary Lefebvre, who had been gathering intelligence of an apparently military nature in the city. The act of intimidation had an immediate effect and the preacher-spy was freed.
Two years later, Admiral Jean-Baptiste Cecil’s squadron again bombarded the city. During their raids, the French sailors kept a close eye on the harbor, which they christened Turan. Very quickly a project matured in France to seize Da Nang and turn it into a counterweight to British Singapore and Hong Kong. Admiral Charles Rigaud de Genouilly, who had 12 French and Spanish warships and a strong landing force, was charged with the task. On August 30, 1858, the Franco-Spanish fleet entered Da Nang Bay.
It was somehow “indecent” to begin an invasion operation without a formal reason.
The occasion was easy to find – it was the execution of the Spanish Catholic missionary Diaz, who, incidentally, had nothing to do with the French intrigues in Vietnam and simply got caught in the heat of the moment. On August 31, the ships opened fire on the Vietnamese batteries, and soon the landing force took the city. In this case, the invaders, accustomed to recent easy victories in China, were unpleasantly surprised by the courage and tenacity of defenders of Danang – the squadron lost in battle about 200 people. Many officers suggested that the admiral send his ships up the Huong River and capture Hue in order to crush the resistance of the uncooperative people once and for all. But Rigo de Genuyi, who had heard about the powerful fortifications of the imperial capital, did not dare to take the risky step. Leaving a small garrison at Da Nang, the admiral set out with a squadron to the south of the country. Taking advantage of this, the Vietnamese recaptured the city, but alas, they did not have time to rebuild the coastal fortifications in time for the return of the enemy’s fleet. May 8, 1859 Danang was retaken by the French, who immediately deployed a large construction. The unaccustomed climate, illness and repeated attacks by the Vietnamese meant that of the first 3,000 Frenchmen who landed in Danang in May, 1,200 had been killed by the fall of that year! Such a percentage of losses did not please the colonizers, and in November 1859 an important decision was made – Danang was abandoned in order to establish French rule in Saigon. The unruly city became part of the French colonies only 20 years later.
After the partition of the country in the mid-twentieth century. Da Nang became one of the most important ports of South Vietnam. During the war the city became very important for the U.S. troops because of the airfield, which existed here since 1958. The air base Da Nang, able to receive the largest transport aircrafts “Hercules” and “Galaxy”, opened the shortest air route to the U.S. bases in the Philippines. Hundreds of thousands of Americans who had fought in the jungles of Vietnam passed through Danang. The city was well fortified and the air base garrison was several tens of thousands of men. In the summer of 1967, Private Oliver Stone, who later became the world-famous director of the American War film trilogy, served in Da Nang.
On March 30, 1975, Da Nang was taken by North Vietnamese troops. The fall of the impregnable base was perceived in Saigon as a sign of imminent collapse. In the 1990s, an international airport was built in Da Nang, which is now connected by airlines to Thailand, Singapore and the Republic of Korea. Since 1997 the city is an independent administrative unit – a city of central administration (the fourth in Vietnam), equal to the province.
Location and Transportation
The route to Da Nang from Hue takes Highway 1 through the Haiwan Tunnel, which is more than 6 kilometers long. The tunnel opened in 2005, making it much easier for vehicles to pass through the Truong Son Mountains. Da Nang is 30 km south of the tunnel, at the mouth of the Han River. The urban areas are mostly located on its west bank. The city’s main streets running north to south are Le Loi, Phan Thu Trinh and Tran Phu. From west to east, the city is crossed by Hung Vuong and Le Duan streets. Hung Vuong Street provides access to the city’s bus station and the airport. The eastern end of Le Zuan Street faces the Song Han Bridge, crosses the river and heads in the direction of China Beach (about 2 km from the center) . Along the western bank of the Han, there is a promenade called Bat Dang. The promenade that runs along the opposite bank of the river is called Bat Dang Dong (East Bat Dang) . The tourist area of the city is sandwiched between Fang You Ching Street and Chang Phu Street, just south of Le Zuan Street.
Da Nang Railway Station (202, Hai Phong St., tel. 0511-823810) is in the western part of the city. From here you can go both northbound (4 trains per day to Hue, 40,000 VND) and southbound (7 trains per day to Nha Trang, 203,000 VND) .
The bus station is located 3 km west of downtown Da Nang (33, Dien Bien Phu St., tel. 0511-821265) . Buses go not only to cities in Vietnam but also to neighboring Laos (to Savannakhet, 14 hours, 250,000 VND) . Buses to Hoi An depart from the local bus station, which is separated from the main one by 200 meters.
Open-tour buses enter the city from the Hoi An side along Trung Nu Vuong St. and usually stop at the entrance of the Cham Sculpture Museum at the intersection with Bat Dang Quay.
Da Nang Airport is located 3 km west of the city center. It receives flights from Vietnam Airlines, Pacific Airlines, Singapore Airlines, PB Air, SilkAir (Singapore, www.silkair.com) , Tiger Airways (Singapore, www.tigerairways.com) .
Vietnam Airlines (35, Tran Phu St., tel. 0511-821130) .
Pacific Airlines (35, Nguyen Van Linh St., tel. 0511-583583) .
Tickets can be purchased at any agency in the tourist area of the city. A cab ride to the airport will cost about VND50,000.
Visiting the city does not take much time for tourists rushing to meet the monuments of Hoi An. Da Nang’s main pride is the Cham Sculpture Museum, opened in 1915 at the initiative of the French Far East College in Hanoi. It’s an easy walk from the tourist area to the museum along Tran Phu Street with a glimpse of the Sacred Heart Catholic Cathedral (156, Tran Phu St.) on the way. The church, with a tall spire topped with a rooster-shaped weather vane, was built in 1923. The city’s Christian community now numbers about 4,000 people, so the cathedral is active and accessible for viewing.
When you reach the southern end of Chan Phu (about 500 meters from the cathedral), turn left and walk another hundred meters northeast along Cheung Nhu Wyong Street – right in front of you you will see the museum building. It was built by French architects Delaval and Auclair in the style close to the ancient Cham architecture. The small museum exposition was quickly enlarged and in 1935 the building was reconstructed and greatly expanded. All the most significant archaeological finds made by scientists in the late 19th – 20th centuries on the site of Champa cities can now be seen in the halls of the museum (7.00-17.00, admission 30,000 dong). The exhibition covers a long period of history of Champa from its heyday in the second half of the 7th century to the final decline in the 15th century. As the name of the museum suggests, the vast majority of its exhibits are monuments of monumental art of Champa. For inhabitants of the ancient power plasticity was inseparable from architecture, therefore in museum halls there are mainly fragments of decor of the destroyed buildings – altar sculptures, carved stone columns, pilasters and tympanas.
In addition to the artistic processing of stone, Chamka sculptors have mastered the curious technique of creating reliefs on the surface of well-cured masonry – this is the main cultural “highlight” of Champa. In order to admire such reliefs, it is necessary to visit the ancient Cham architectural monuments in Mison, Nha Trang or Thap Cham. Without this acquaintance with the cultural heritage of the dead state will be incomplete.
The art history of Champa from its heyday to its decline can be divided into two major periods reflected in the museum’s exhibits. The first period includes works created by sculptors in the 7th and 10th centuries. At that time, the capital city of Champa was located on the territory of modern Quang Nam Province. The sites of the Cham cities of Indrapura, Sinhapura and Amaravati were chosen to represent the heyday of Cham sculpture in all its glory. The second period, marked by a gradual departure of sculptors from the best traditions of antiquity, decadence of technique and impoverishment of images, begins in the 11th century. Most artifacts from the second period in the history of Cham art have been found in modern Binh Dinh province, near the town of Cha Ban. There, in the 11th century, a new center of Cham urban life emerged – Vijaya. The “move” was reflected in daily life and art.
The last rise of the Cham monumental art was in the XII-XIV centuries and is represented in the museum by finds from the excavations in Thapmam on the territory of the already mentioned Bindin Province. The Museum is a very popular attraction for visitors to Vietnamese and the museum is the most popular museum in the province of Binh Dinh.
The museum is extremely popular with visitors to Vietnam. To avoid the tourist crowds, it is better to come to the museum early.
In addition to the Cham Sculpture Museum, the Cao Dai Great Temple, the first sanctuary of this particular Vietnamese religion to be found on the road to the South, is worth a visit in Da Nang. Built in the mid-1950s, this temple is inferior to the main “cathedral” of the Cao Dai faith in Tay Ninh, but is able to give a complete picture of the doctrine itself and its architecture. Kaodaism, which emerged in the 1920s and immediately declared itself a “world religion,” includes Buddha, Confucius, Jesus Christ, and Mohammed in its motley pantheon (see the section on Ho Chi Minh City for details). Their colorful statues can be seen in the temple’s main altar, along with statues of the sect’s new founding prophets. The temple is located southwest of the tourist area, on the corner of Hai Phong St. and Ngo Gia Tu St. . The sanctuary has two entrances: the door on the left is for women and the one on the right is for men. If you are a member of the clergy (no matter what faith), you can go through the central door.
If you have enough time, you can visit the Ho Chi Minh Museum (3, Nguyen Van Troi St., daily 7.00-11.00/13.30-16.30). It is perhaps the third largest and most important museum of its kind in Vietnam, after Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. A copy of Uncle Ho’s Hanoi wooden house is unlikely to interest anyone who has already had a chance to visit the original, but that is not the only thing that may attract the museum. Here you can see a collection of American War weapons and some materials on the history of the Da Nang air base. Fans can view these treasures for free.
The Phap Lam and Pho Da Nang Pagodas, built in the 1920s to 1930s, are of little historical value and are architecturally inferior to Hue’s temples.
Most hotels in Da Nang are concentrated in the urban areas between the airport and the Han River, while the resorts are a little further east, on the narrow strip of land between the river and the South China Sea coast.
Sea food is something that Da Nang undoubtedly boasts. Cafes and restaurants with fish menus can be found everywhere, but most of them to the east of the city, on China Beach. The cheapest place is quite far to the south, behind Furama Resort. It’s Hoa’s Place (tel. 0511-969216), located on My An Beach (Vas My An) . Every night (19.00) right on the beach for guests and all comers a buffet consisting of simple homemade seafood (2 USD, beer 6000 dong).
Surroundings of Da Nang
Before leaving the city it is worth a trip of an hour to China Beach, 2 km to the east. The stretch of soft white sand stretches from Da Nang to Hoi An. This English name stuck to the beach during the American War, when soldiers who survived the war meat grinder were brought here. The Vietnamese themselves divide China Beach into several sections, each with its own name.
Leaving the city along Trung Nhu Vong Street, it is worth stopping 10 km south of Da Nang in the Marble Mountains. The small mountain range, up to 900 m above sea level, has the Vietnamese name Ngihany Son – the Five Element Mountains. The explanation is that the ridge has five major peaks that are named after the five elements (primary elements) of ancient Chinese cosmogony – Tho (earth), Thuy (water), Moc (wood), Hoa (fire) and Kim (metal). Severely destroyed and therefore very picturesque, the Marble Mountains are really made of this valuable finishing stone. The mountains are full of caves, both natural and man-made, as well as picturesque temples.
Da Nang. What to see in and around the city.
Da Nang is the fifth most populous city in Vietnam. By the way, is the twin city of Yaroslavl Region in Russia. Danang is known primarily for its long white beaches, and now even the “hands of God” – a newly built bridge. And also here is the world’s longest aerial tramway. About how to get to Da Nang and where to stay, I told HERE.
View of Da Nang from Linh Ung Pagoda
Da Nang’s main attraction, the beaches, are really not bad. When people ask me where best to go in Vietnam for a beach vacation, I recommend Da Nang and Hoi An in April-September and Phu Quoc in October-March. In the fall, Da Nang starts the rainy and windy season, so it is not suitable for a beach vacation all year round.
But the rest of the sights can be enjoyed all year round))
Attractions in Da Nang
I should point out that you should go here for the sights for a maximum of two days – a day to spend in the city, a day on the outskirts. If you want, you can make it to one day. There is no sense to spend here longer, if you’re not interested in the beaches. It is better to visit the neighboring Hoi An or go to Hue, Phongniu and further to the north.
Linh Ung Pagoda
This pagoda with the statue of the Lady Buddha is probably the most famous attraction in Da Nang. It is located 9 km from the city center, on the Son Tra Peninsula.
Linh Ung is the largest pagoda in Da Nang. The size of its garden and temples are really impressive. The statue of the Lady Buddha, or rather the Chinese goddess Guan Yin, is considered the tallest in Vietnam (67 m high, the diameter of the lotus on which it stands is 35 m, the equivalent of a 30-story building).
The famous Lady Buddha in Da Nang The temple of Linh Ung Pagoda
The only disadvantage of this pagoda is that it is not convenient to get there on your own. You either need a private transportation or a cab.
Address: Chùa Linh Ứng, Chùa Linh Ứng, Hoàng Sa, Thọ Quang, Sơn Trà, Da Nang, Vietnam.
Admission is free any day from 6:00 to 19:00.
Linh Ung Pagoda on the map:
Da Nang Bridges
Da Nang is famous for its bridges. Dragon Bridge, Sail Bridge, Bridge of Love and others. You get the idea)) In the summer of 2018 there was also the Golden Bridge or “Hands of God”. It is really worth a visit, about it below.
And the Dragon Bridge is still worth a visit – on weekends and holidays at 9pm it releases jets of fire and water. We did not get to see the show, but they say it is worth seeing.
One of Da Nang’s bridges at dusk The Golden Dragon Bridge in Da Nang
Da Nang Cathedral
This neo-Gothic cathedral is considered one of the most beautiful Catholic churches in Vietnam because of its amazing architectural features – a building in delicate pink colors, colorful stained glass windows, a tall octagonal bell tower with a rooster-shaped weather vane on top. In my opinion, so nothing special (sorry).
Main Cathedral in Danang
Address: Danang Cathedral, Đường Trần Phú, Hải Châu I, Hải Châu District, Da Nang, Vietnam.
Cathedral on the map of Da Nang:
Asia Park – Sun World amusement park
We went to this park by chance – we just had some extra time. I recommend Cobra roller coaster and the Ferris wheel. The view from it is very nice! And on the train for sure roll))).
Ferris wheel in Asia Park View of the city from the Ferris wheel. In the foreground below is the train that I recommend riding around the park. The amusement park is beautifully illuminated at night.
The address of the amusement park is: 1 Phan Đăng Lưu, Hoà Cường Bắc, Hải Châu, Đà Nẵng, Vietnam.
Opening hours: weekdays from 3 to 9 p.m., weekends and holidays until 10 p.m.
Cost: 150 thousand dong ($ 6.5).
Asia Park Amusement Park on the map of Da Nang:
The following three attractions are the most significant, but placed not in the city, but in the surrounding area of Da Nang .
The Marble Mountains are one of the most famous landmarks of central Vietnam. In fact, they are hills rather than mountains, as they are not very high. However, because of the heat and humidity, you will still get tired walking on them))
The Marble Mountains in Da Nang.
This attraction is five karst mountains, inside which were formed natural caves of different sizes. Inside these “natural rooms” the ancient Vietnamese equipped Buddhist temples. The place is very picturesque, with beautiful lights, numerous stairs, observation deck.
The main highlight of the Marble Mountains – the temples inside the caves (However, there are also many temples outside).
Definitely recommend it to visit. Just make sure you have water, comfortable clothes and shoes and a backpack for things, because in some places you will need both hands to crawl somewhere (of course, it is not necessary, but without “crawl” will not be so interesting))))
The address of the attraction is 52 Huyền Trân Công Chúa, Hoà Hải, Ngũ Hành Sơn, Đà Nẵng 550000, Vietnam.
How to get to the Marble Mountains in Da Nang – more convenient and faster by cab (Grab installed yet?) or by tourist bus (through Klook ticket is cheaper).
Mode of operation for tourists: daily from 7.00 to 17.30.
Cost to visit: 40,000 dong.
Marble Mountains on the map of Da Nang:
Michon Ruins (My Son Sanctuary)
The ruins of “Michon” are quite far from Da Nang (70 km). If you are planning a few days in Hoi An, it is more convenient to go to Michon from there (20 km less).
Ruins of Michon is a historical architectural park on the site of an abandoned temple complex from the time of the kingdom of Champa, once located in what is now Vietnam. It was built and used between the 4th and 13th centuries AD, dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. The temples were then consigned to oblivion for many centuries until restoration began in the 20th century. In 1999 Mishon was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The history of this place at the time of their use was very rich: religious ceremonies were held here with the participation of the monarchs of the kingdom, famous and prominent people of the time. There were a huge number of temples and other religious buildings here, at one time there were as many as 70. Now they are much less, and they are not very well preserved.
The place is very interesting to visit. But if you have been to Angkor Wat in Cambodia, you will not be very impressed.
How to get to the Mishon ruins from Da Nang or Hoi An: faster and easier by cab. But it is not cheap because of the distance. From Da Nang, you can also take the city bus number 6 to Phu Da village. It’s not far from Michonne, so a cab from there to the historical park will be inexpensive. If you don’t have anything against group tours, however, choose this option. You can buy them on the spot or look for them HERE.
Working hours: every day from 6.30 to 17.30.
Cost to visit: 150,000 VND (6.5$).
The ruins of Michon on the map:
Ba Na Mountain and Golden Bridge
A couple of years ago nobody really knew about Ba Na Hills (except Vietnamese fans). But thanks to a new attraction – Golden Bridge “Hands of God” – which has become almost a trademark of the country, this mountain is now on everyone’s ears. Well, the bridge is indeed impressive! And by itself, and in terms of photos for Instagram)).
The famous Golden Hands of God Bridge in Da Nang. Photo from the Internet.
Besides the bridge, it is also worth coming here if you are tired of Asian architecture – here is a village created in the French style, walking through which you really can forget where you are. And there is one of the best amusement parks in the country and the longest aerial tramway in the country.
Where is the Golden Bridge in Vietnam:
How to get to the Golden Bridge on your own – for this you first need to get to Da Nang, and from there one of the options:
- rent a bike;
- by cab;
- as part of a tour;
- find a transfer (for example, here).
Mode of operation: the park is open from 7.00 to 22.00. It is better to arrive at the opening, because at this time there are not many tourists and you can have time to take beautiful pictures. On tour around the park is better to book the whole day.
Tickets cost: VND 728,000 ($31) for an adult and VND 582,000 ($24) for a child under 1.3 meters tall (tickets can be purchased on the Klook web site).
Below on the map are all the main attractions of Da Nang and its surroundings. As you can see, geographically they are scattered very much, so the traditional route will not be. Depending on the amount of time you have, it is up to you to decide what of them is worth seeing and what would be better left for another time.
If you decide to continue your trip to Vietnam, I recommend you pay attention to this article: