Đà Nẵng, a big city in Central Vietnam, has been overshadowed by its smaller neighbour, Hoi An, as far as tourism is concerned. However, the city has a lot to offer: clean, relaxing beaches, modern architecture, beautiful temples and remarkably untouched natural sights. All these diverse places and sights, as well as the proximity to Hoi An and the My Son Temple Ruins should make Đà Nẵng a top priority in every visit to the country.
Đà Nẵng offers very affordable accommodation. Budget travellers should look into the Hachi Hostel. The staff is very competent, the rooms clean and the location quite central. Beds are available for around 6 USD.
The city itself might remind you of Saigon, just smaller, but just as modern. Đà Nẵng „only“ has some 1 Million people and definitely comes across less chaotic than Ho-Chi-Minh or Saigon. The streets are compareably clean, the buildings look modern, and you can just sense that the important port city serves as a storefront for the New Vietnam. This can also be seen in a central landmark: the Dragon Bridge, which was finished in 2013. At night the dragon-shaped structure is colourfully illuminated and even breathes fire on special occasions.
Like Saigon, Đà Nẵng also has a big market that is popular with tourists: At the Han Market you can find food, clothes and all kinds of souvenirs. The variety seems endless and thankfully the vendors come across less agressive than at the Ben Tan Market in Ho-Chi-Minh.
Strolling throuh the city centre, you can also visit the Cathedral of Đà Nẵng and Pho Da Pagoda. Entrance is free and you can marvel at the beautiful interior without having to share the view with masses of tourists as this spot is relatively hidden.
Come nightfall, you should absolutely visit Trần-Thị-Lý Bridge, another architectural masterpiece close to the Dragon Bridge. At night the structure is illuminated by a mezmerizing night show with changing colour patterns. The quiet beachfront with the glittering skyline in the background is the perfect location for a romantic night-time walk.
An absolute must on every trip to Đà Nẵng is the Marble Mountains. This is a series of small mountains in the South of the city. The five mountains represent the elements Metal, Fire, Earth and Wood, and are made mainly of limestone and marble. The latter gives the mountains their name. For hundreds of years masons have sculptured beautiful statues out of marble here – even though the material is mainly imported from China and Pakistan nowadays. The mountains also feature Buddhist shrines and temples that were carved into the rock.
Of the five mountains, only Thuy Son can be visited by tourists. The entrance fee is 40.000 VND (1,8 USD) and visitors can take the stairs of the elevator to the entrance of the temple.
Up there you should first visit the main cave, which is also the most beautiful one. If you arrive here in the early morning, you can truly experience the piece and quiet at this place of worship. The large Buddha statue, beautifully decorated shrines, the serene ambience and the smell of incents makes a visit to this cave a most profound and humbling experience.
However, do not expect the atmosphere to stay that serene. Like clockwork, at 9 AM busloads of tourists start to arrive at the mountain, filling it with chatter and buzzling activity. The other caves are still worth a visit, though not as scenic as the main one. There are also some view points where you can enjoy a nice panorama of the city and the back-country of Da Nang.
My Khe Beach
If you are under the impression that Vietnam´s beaches are not as nice as in the neighbouring country, you might be in for a surprise at My Khe Beach, or, to be more precise, its southern strip, Sơn Thủy Beach. Here you will find a clean, almost deserted beach with cold, but clear water and a nice view of the city´s skyline. As of March 2018, a lot of construction was under way though, so this strip might not stay that deserted and quiet in the near future.
Looking into the distance, you can already see another landmark of Đà Nẵng: the „Lady Buddha Statue“ at Linh Ung Pagode, 5 miles away from the beach. This is a 220 ft high representation of Guanyin, the Boddhisatva of Compassion. Being a motherly deity, often compared to the Virgin Mary in Christianity, Guanyin is a popular object of worsip in Vietnam. The statue was finished in 2010 and is now watching the bay, protecting the sailors and fishermen beneath her.
On the way from the beach to the statue lies another sight of Đà Nẵng: the Green Lake. Although the water is not as green as its name suggests, the lake is nonetheless a beautiful natural sight, mostly frequented by locals who go fishing there.
If you want to see a truly scenic lake, however, you should consider walking to the Lady Buddha statue from Green Lake, which takes about one hour. After 20 minutes, you will see a small hiking trail that you can take. Here you will have a beautiful view of the bay and marvel at the untouched lake amidst lush greenery.
Linh Ung Pagoda
The temple comples of Linh Ung is relatively new. It was finished in 2010, although a Buddhist shrine has been there for much longer. Here you can see the Lady Buddha statue, and also a beautifully decorated temple and an impressively tall Pagoda.
When planning my trip to Vietnam, I was advised to stay in Hoi An for 2-3 days and only plan one day in Vietnam. However, after my visit I would suggest everybody to stay in Đà Nẵng for at least 2 days. The city may not be known as a hotspot for tourists, but it features amazing sights that will keep you occupied for some time.
I found the city large, but not crowded, very modern and clean. One thing that is missing, though, is the night life. Do not expect a large backpacking scene or a buzzling walking street like in Saigon. The city is mainly an economic hub, and although there is a wide variety of bars and clubs, I found the streets at night rather deserted, at least on the weekdays. However, if you are looking for a place with all modern amenitys, interesting sights and beautiful nature just outside the city, Đà Nẵng might be just the place you are looking for.
Like most of Vietnam, Đà Nẵng is fairly cheap to stay at, and you do not need a large budget to enjoy yourself here. An average day, including a bed at a hostel, three meals, entrance fees to the Marble Mountains and the occasional Uber-ride should cost you about 570.000 VND (25 USD).