Da Nang, the cleanest city of Vietnam, is one of the emerging prime tourist destinations and also home to the most advanced industries of the country.
Da Nang Bay | photo: Frank Fox (cc-by-sa)
Thanks to tourism-oriented political decisions, beautiful beaches and a relatively clean environment, Da Nang is developing into a world-class city while retaining its cultural charm. While in the centre of Vietnam's fifth largest city high rise buildings and an abundance of casino palaces grow like mushrooms, traditional markets are still present.
Gas Station | photo: (cc-by-sa) Frank Fox
While Da Nang is home to some of the most developed branches of industry in Vietnam, the surrounding areas are full of natural wonders and ancient sites. The French imperialists started their Vietnam campaign right here and Da Nang also worked as a major sea port and airplane hub during the Vietnam War.
Fishing Boats in Vietnam | photo: (cc-by-sa) Frank Fox
The city itself has been founded during the reign of the Champa kingdom in the 2nd century. While Champa is history, the Cham Museum funded by the Cham community is an amazing window to the past of the area. The museum has over 300 artefacts on exhibit, covering the main period of Champa supremacy in the 5th century until the demise of the empire in the 15th century. The building itself is an interesting fusion of French colonial style with traditional Cham elements.
Artful Ornament of Champa | photo: (cc-by-sa) Frank Fox
Bana Hill, a former French hill station in Da Nang has been converted into a tourism paradise with hotels, restaurants, sightseeing opportunities and a fantasy park for the kids. The beautiful beaches of the area offer long stretches of light-coloured sand and opportunities to swim or watch the colourful fishing fleet.
My Khe Beach, also referred to as China Beach is the best strip of sand in the city, and while luxury resorts partially block you from just waltzing directly onto the beach, cheaper hotels in the 2nd row are often worth the detour. Generally with its beachfront hotels and seafood restaurants China Beach is a great place to hang out.
Coracles on the Beach of Da Nang | photo: (cc-by-sa) Frank Fox
The rapid and sustainable development of tourism in this area lets hotels, resorts and restaurants spring up along the seaside and Da Nang may soon rival Nha Trang and other prime holiday destinations in Vietnam.
Da Nang Cityscape | photo: (cc-by-sa) Frank Fox
From My Khe Beach about eight kilometres to the South, you find Vietnam's hub of marble sculpting and artistry. The five mountains, Ngu Hanh Son or Marble Mountains in English have two main sources of income: Stone carving and tourism. The mountains are named after the traditional five elements:
- Kim Son (Metal)
- Moc Son (Wood)
- Hoa Son (Fire)
- Tha Son (Earth)
- Thuy Son (Water)
Marble Mountains Cave Temple | photo: (cc-by-sa) Frank Fox
The mountains are accessible via stairs or an elevator. Between the caves and temples you may find ancient places of worship, Buddha statues and even relics of Hindu gods from ancient Champa. From one of the peaks on Thuy Son, accessible either by climbing through a cave or walking up some stairs, the Viet Cong, hidden in the cave systems had an excellent view on the airport of Da Nang, providing their officers with exact information of arrivals and departures during the war.
Guardians of the Temple | photo: (cc-by-sa) Frank Fox
At the foot of the Marble Mountains you find one stone cutter shop next to the other and if you are out for quality souvenirs - here is the place to get them. Be careful with jade though...
Stone Sculptor Workshops | photo: (cc-by-sa) Frank Fox
North of Da Nang, the Hai Van or Cloud Pass provides a route to the imperial city of Hue. If you are careful and watch out for mad truckers, a mountainbike tour over the Hai Van Pass is a scenic option for adventure travellers.
Another landmark that should not be missed are the Cham Islands. Plastic bags are banned from there and food is wrapped in banana leaves, bamboo or old newspapers. A decision I would wish for entire of Vietnam to get a foothold.
Lizard | photo: (cc-by-sa) Frank Fox
The temple near the Monkey Mountains north of My Khe is a great vantage point to take a look at the city from a different perspective.
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