Danang, also spelled Da Nang, is a port city along the coast of the South China Sea. One of the biggest port cities on the South Central Coast of Vietnam and the third largest city in Vietnam, today Danang is home to just over 750,000 people. For holidaymakers, Danang is most famous for its beautiful white sand beach, known as China Beach, and the nearby Marble Mountains, both of which are located a few kilometers south of the city.
Despite having few attrations of its own its proximity to the sea and its beautiful beach are enough to make you want to stay, though if you are on a budget you may find nearby Hoi An offers more accommodation options, since there is less to entertain the visitor in Danang town itself.
While there is not a great deal in the city in terms of restuarants and bars at the moment, Da Nang has been targetted for massive investment by both the government and private companies alike, and is pipped to be a major destination for both tourism and commerce. It is likely than in a few years time there will be a lot more to Danang for visitors than just the beach and transport options to Hoi An, but for now those are the key draws.
A Brief History of Danang
Danang has been continuously inhabited since 192 AD, when it was first settled by Indonesians. Originally a part of the Champa Kingdom that ruled much of southern Vietnam until the 15th century, Danang has played an important part in Vietnamese history for many centuries. Anyone interested in the history of the area should definitely pay a visit to My Son, located about 70 kilometers west of Danang. The former capital of the Champa Kingdom, My Son is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and considered to be the Angkor of Vietnam.
Danang was colonised by the French in 1858 under orders from Napoleon III. Along with Hanoi, Saigon, Haiphong, and Hue, the French considered Danang one of Indochina's five major cities. In 1936, French archaeologists established the Cham Museum, which today houses the finest collection of Champa Kingdom-era art. Statues, reliefs, and other artwork depicts the daily activities of the locals from the fourth to fourteenth centuries. Hindu and Buddhist artifacts are also housed in the museum, which itself is located in a beautiful French colonial villa with open-air courtyards and fruit trees.
In more recent history, Danang is best-known for its role in the American Vietnam War. The Danang Airbase was a major American airbase, used both by the Americans and the South Vietnamese. Nearby China Beach, named after its beautiful china-white sand, was home to the 510th Evacuation Hospital, where wounded American soldiers would come to recover. China Beach itself was an American in-country R&R spot, nicknamed the “Five and Dime”. The Vietcong, meanwhile, had their own hospital surprisingly close by in the caves of the Marble Mountains.
China Beach and the Marble Mountains
Although the ruins of the American airbase still rest along the beach, China Beach is nonetheless one of the top tourist destinations in all of Vietnam. A miles long, gorgeous white sand beach lies along the edge of clear blue waters, which is rapidly becoming a major attraction for tourists the world over.
There are many major developments springing up along the coast road to Hoi An, and Danang's China Beach is set to become a premier luxury destination for travellers to South East Asia. Already completed are a number of golf courses and even a casino, as well as some incredible five star resorts.
The nearby Furama Resort is one of the best and most luxurious hotels in all of Vietnam. The hotel offers guests comfortable, luxurious accommodations, along with easy access to scuba diving, snorkeling, windsurfing, jetskis, and more. For more relaxing activities, you can check out the resort's Tai Chi classes, play volleyball or tennis in the resort's elaborate gardens, and on rainy days you can stay inside the clubhouse and play table tennis or video games.
Surrounding China Beach is another one of Vietnam's most popular attractions, the Marble Mountains. Honey-combed with caves that have housed Buddhist sanctuaries for hundreds of years, the Marble Mountains consist of five marble hills not far from the beach. Climbing the Marble Mountains is a challenging but rewarding hike. From the top, you'll be treated with a panoramic view of the beach, Danang, and the surrounding countryside.
It was inside the Marble Mountains that the Vietcong had their own base during the Vietnam War. Today, the monastery walls of the ancient Buddhist temples in the Marble Mountains are pock-marked with bullets from the area's far less peaceful recent history. A visit to the Marble Mountains is a great way to spend some time outdoors, as well as a great way to understand both the ancient and recent history of the area.
Getting There + To Hoi An
It's not hard to get to Danang and its famous destinations. As one of Vietnam's largest cities, Danang is home to an international airport that offers regular flights to Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, as well as Singapore, Bangkok, and Taipei. Once you've arrived in Danang's airport, getting to China Beach is a simple 10 minute taxi ride. The train station is central and is on the main line, offering access to all major cities up and down Vietnam, and bus services are frequent.
Many travellers will arrive in Danang by train or plane for onward travel to Hoi An. The town is just a 45 minutes drive from Da Nang to either Hoi An town or Cua Dai beach and can be done by bus or in a taxi for roughly $30.