WHAT TO SEE IN DA NANG
- Cham Museum
The Chams, Hindus originally from India, were the rulers of large areas of central Vietnam between the 2nd and 15th centuries. The Cham Museum, housed in a classical French colonial building in Danang, has the finest collection of Cham sculpture in the world, much of it originating from the My Son site.
- Marble Mountains
Right on Danang’s doorstep is Non Nuoc Beach with its miles of golden sand beaches and home to a luxurious beach resort complex. Another popular site in the Danang area is the Marble Mountains, five sacred marble and limestone hills. Many shrines and temples have been constructed over the centuries both on the hillsides and in the spectacular natural caves concealed within the hills.
- Bana Hill station
The site was first developed by the French in the 1920s, who escaped the summer heat for its cool, mountain air. After a brief heyday in the 1930s the resort was abandoned and soon fell victim to the ravages of war and the encroaching jungle. Thanks to a high annual rainfall together with temperatures at a constant 17–20°C, dense forest growth cloaks the mountain, which is home to over five hundred species of flora and 250 of fauna. In the past few years the local authorities have poured money into Bana, converting some of the old French villas into guesthouses and restaurants, laying forest trails and a new access road and even putting in a cable car – a great hit with the locals, who come up here at night to admire the lights of Da Nang twinkling far below.
- Hai Van Pass
This thousand-metre-high barrier forms a climatic frontier blocking the southward penetration of cold, damp winter airstreams which often bury the tops under thick cloud banks and earn it the title Hai Van, or “Pass of the Ocean Clouds”. These mountains once formed a national frontier between Dai Viet and Champa, and Hai Van’s continuing strategic importance is marked by a succession of forts, pillboxes and ridge-line defensive walls erected by Nguyen-dynasty Vietnamese, French, Japanese and American forces. A new road tunnel funnels traffic on Highway 1 through the mountain, leaving a more peaceful journey for those that choose to take on the pass. From the top of the pass there are superb views, weather permitting, over the sweeping curve of Da Nang Bay, with glimpses of the rail lines looping and tunnelling along the cliff.
- Hoi An Ancient Town
Hoi An, once known as Faifo, was a major international port in the 16th and 17th centuries, and the foreign influences are discernible to this day. While the serious shipping business has long since moved to Da Nang, the heart of the city is still the Old Town, full of winding lanes and Chinese-styled shophouses, which is particularly atmospheric in the evening as the sun goes down. While almost all shops now cater to the tourist trade, the area has been largely preserved as is, which is unusual in Vietnam, and renovation has proceeded slowly and carefully – it’s mercifully absent of towering concrete blocks and karaoke parlors.