The coastal city is a rising tourist hotspot with its white sand beaches, UNESCO World Heritage sites and world-class golf courses.
Da Nang, Vietnam's third city, is fast becoming one of Southeast Asia's newest tourist hotspots. The potential of the long, white sand China Beach combined with the area's UNESCO heritage sites has finally been realised and a series of big name resorts have opened.
Alongside the 5-star resorts, the Central Coast now plays host to three world-class golf courses, each designed by big names in the game, including Nick Faldo. Offering quality play at low prices, Da Nang offers some of the best value golf in the region.
Every inch the laid back coastal city, Da Nang itself has had a facelift and several distinctive bridges now cross its rivers, providing a colourful light show by night. Da Nang also has its own unique cuisine, a chilled out café scene and some of the best seafood in the country.
A centre of Vietnam's ancient Cham culture, this is a base for visits to the ruins of My Son, a series of Cham temples that date from the 4th century. Meanwhile, the fantastic Cham museum is the place to learn more about this centuries old civilisation.
Just minutes from town is the forested Son Tra peninsula, which is capped by Monkey Mountain, a name bestowed by American GIs during the Vietnam/American War. Da Nang was the major Rest & Recuperation; post for American soldiers troops and the images of fleeing soldiers and civilians at the war's end were some of the most poignant captured, with desperate souls falling to the sea from plane undercarriages.
Today's Da Nang is a world away from those scenes. Along with the instant charm of nearby Hoi An, the Central Coast city has become a seriously enticing destination.
The best of the hot and dry weather is between January and August. Temperatures can hit the mid-thirties or even higher in July and August, so avoid these times if you suffer in the heat. Over the winter months, notably in October and November, the rains pick up and typhoons are not uncommon.
Singaporeans and citizens of other ASEAN member states can visit Vietnam for 30 days without a visa. Visitors arriving directly from other countries must arrange for a visa in advance.
Vietnam Dong. There is an ATM in the airport. In town, ATMs can be found easily, while almost all banks offer a foreign currency exchange service.
The best way to reach the city from the airport is via taxi. Numerous firms wait outside - look for the green and white Mai Linh company vehicles. These are always metered. The downtown of Da Nang is very walkable, but for longer journeys taxis - again, use Mai Linh - are necessary. The other option is the xe om motorcycle taxis that can be found on many corners. If you dare to use one then haggle the fare first and always wear a helmet.
Da Nang is a very safe city and the reports of robberies and other issues that plague Nha Trang don't occur often here. Some taxi companies are less reputable than others so stick to the Mai Linh cabs. It is not advisable to drink tap water, but ice is generally fine. Da Nang is not malarial, but there is a small risk of Dengue fever, so take standard bite prevention measures.
|How are you?||Moi vi-uhk te nao?|
|Fine, thanks||Van tot, kam urn|
|Excuse-me! (to get attention, to get past)||Sin choo i!|
|Thank you||Kam urn|
|What's your name?||Ten ban la ji?|
|My name is…||Ten toi la…|
|Pleased to meet you||Rat voo-i dew-urk lam kwen|
|Are you on Facebook/Twitter?||Ban ko Facebook/Twitter kog?|
|Where’s an internet café?||Internet cafe ur doh?|
|Where can I get a taxi?||Toi ko tei goi se taxi ur doh?|
|Where is the bus/train station?||Tram se boo-yit/tram se lur-a ur doh?|
|A one-way/return ticket to…||Mot ve mot chi-yoh/koor hoi den…|
|Do you have a room for one/two?||Ban ko fog kog cho mot/hai gew-ur-i?|
|When's check out?||Ki nao tra fog?|
|Can you recommend a good restaurant/bar?||Ban ko te jur-i ti-yoh mot na hag/kwan rew-uru gon kog?|
|A table for two, please||Sin cho mot ban cho hai|
|A menu, please||Cho sem tur-k dur-n|
|The bill, please||Voo-i log cho sem hwa durn|
|Where's the toilet?||Na vei shin ur doh?|
|Help!||Kur-ew toi vur-i!|
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UNESCO listed My Son, nestled under the green slopes of Cat’s Tooth Mountain (Nui Rang Meo), is the site of Vietnam’s most important Cham monuments. It is one of the most atmospheric locations anywhere in the country, with the crumbling ruins set in a verdant jungle. Chosen as a religious sanctuary by King Bhadravarman I in the 4th century, many temples and towers (kalan) were built in this area. There are 11 designated temple groups in My Son, and there are likely to be other groups of ruins that are either unpublicised or undiscovered. Book a tour in Danang and wear comfortable shoes and a hat.
Hoi An Ancient Town
Just 30 minutes from Da Nang, Hoi An Ancient Town is a UNESCO listed site and one of Southeast Asia's prettiest and most beguiling places. The town is famous for its tailoring, and those in the market for anything from a simple blouse to a three-piece suit will be well served here. However, Hoi An's real draw lies in simply taking a lazy wander around its quiet streets lined with merchant houses. The river front is a particularly special place to enjoy a cool glass of bia hoi - local fresh beer. The local cuisine is delicately flavoured and distinct from Danang's. Countless food stands and restaurants in town serve knock-out dishes.
China Beach is the name given by American servicemen during the Vietnam War to the 30km (19-mile) stretch of white-sand beach extending from Son Tra Peninsula past Danang all the way east to Cua Dai Beach near Hoi An. The Vietnamese refer to specific stretches of China Beach by different names, like My Khe, Bac My An, Non Nuoc, An Bang and finally Cua Dai just east of Hoi An. The section closest to Danang called My Khe is busy morning and night with locals out to play football, swim or simply bury each other in the sand.
Museum of Cham Sculpture
For an insight into Vietnam’s ancient Cham civilisation, visit the Museum of Cham Sculpture. Established in 1915 by the Ecole Française d’Extrême-Orient as an open-plan colonial structure embellished with Cham-inspired motifs, the museum contains the largest display of Cham artefacts in the world. Each room is dedicated to a different Cham era and city of origin. In total, the rooms cover over 1,000 years of Cham history. Perhaps the most famous of all the carvings is the exquisite dancing apsara of Tra Kieu (late 10th century). Visit here before a trip to My Son.
Son Tra Peninsula
The Son Tra Peninsula, also known as Monkey Mountain to US servicemen during the Vietnam War, is a beautiful nature reserve just northwest of Danang. The mountain is best explored by motorbike or bicycle, taking the new road winding around steep cliffs and dense rainforest. Macaques and civet cats are among the wildlife sometimes spotted. A number of beautiful beaches line the coves and simple seafood restaurants with individual seating platforms offer superb fresh seafood. A huge white Buddha now watches over the bay at the start of the peninsula road and a series of steps can be climbed for a closer look.
Of all the places to bring kids in Vietnam, Danang is one of the easiest to keep them entertained.
First up, spend the early morning on China Beach. Every day, countless games of football and volleyball strike up on the sand and your kids will be more than welcome to get involved with the local players.
Kite flying is also popular and a sure-fire way for them to score some new friends. The surf is usually quite gentle, but do look for the safety flagged areas for peace of mind.
Afterwards, take a cab to the Marble Mountain, which always proves a hit. The largest peak, Thuy Son, is covered in caves, winding paths and stairways that are great fun for little ones to explore. They'll also love the climb up to the highest cave, Huyen Khong. To reach it, duck along a narrow tunnel. From the peak the views out to the ocean and across the paddy fields are spectacular.
Next, hail a cab (use Mai Linh company) out to Ba Na Hills. This was originally a French Hill station built as a retreat from the heat, but there is now little evidence of its existence. Instead, a truly amazing cable car ride takes visitors high above the densely forested slopes of the mountain to reach the top.
The ride is undoubtedly the highlight of any trip, but the fantasy theme park is also a winner with kids. The huge complex includes a dinosaur park, a drop and twist slide, bumper cars and a 360 degree cinema.
China Beach, Marble Mountain, Huyen Khong, Ba Na Hills.
For a long but rewarding day, head out of the city for the coastal roads and national parks. The truly adventurous could hire motorbikes, but it will be far easier and safer to opt for a private car and maybe a tour guide.
Start very early and strike north over the Hai Van Pass. Widely regarded as one of the most breath-taking drives in the country, the road is a tourist attraction in its own right. It passes Lang Co Bay, which has white sand, crystal seas and a stunning jungle backdrop. This a picture postcard image of Vietnam.
Continuing north you will reach Suoi Voi, or Elephant Springs. If time allows, stop here for a dip in a series of crystal-clear swimming holes and the cool mountain stream.
Turning inland, Bach Ma National Park is about 30 minutes further on. A treasure trove of flora and fauna, with numerous species unique to Vietnam, it is home to nine species of primate, including various macaques, langurs, loris and gibbons. Tigers and leopards may also still lurk in remote areas.
One of the highlights of the park is the Rhododendron Trail. Reasonable fitness levels are required to tackle the 689 steps down to a spectacular cliff-side waterfall that plunges 300 metres (990ft). Alternatively, take the Five Lakes Cascade Trail for a series of waterfalls and pristine swimming areas.
If you're happy to arrive back in Danang late, then consider the Summit Trail within the park, where you can catch one of Vietnam’s most spectacular sunset vistas
Hai Van Pass, Lang Co Bay, Suoi Vo (Elephant Springs), Bach Ma National Park.