DaNang is located in central Vietnam along the coast of the South China Sea. With a less-than-two-hour flight from Saigon, we made the trip north and had our toes in the sand in almost no time. Known for its long, sandy beaches, DaNang has a population of more than a million people and is far from just being a sleepy oceanside destination. Venture inland and find plentiful restaurants, night markets, shopping, and museums. It’s also a great jumping- off point for day trips to the Unesco World Heritage cities of Hue and Hoi An and other sites like My Son Ruins and Marble Mountain.
My Khe Beach
My Khe Beach stretches six miles along the east coast of DaNang. You can swim and sunbathe in designated swimming areas (Tip: Watch for any warnings of riptides – You should also check to see if a lifeguard is on duty.) However, if strolling the beach is more your jam, you can do as we did and walk along the soft sand enjoying the cool, salty ocean breeze. There are also several beachside cafes for a meal or a cold, fresh fruit concoction (great with or without alcohol.)
Sơn Trà Peninsula
The beach also affords a view of the lush Sơn Trà Peninsula and Mountain. At the northwest tip of the range, which ends at the sea, is a 30-story tall, brilliant white statue of the Lady Bodhisattva, Quan the Am. Her name means the goddess who ‘Listens to the cries of the World.’ She shines magnificently in the sun during the day and glows at night, thanks to up-lighting around the lotus-shaped pedestal that she stands on.
Some large international hotel resorts are built right on the beach, but, at this time, a long stretch of smaller boutique hotels like, the one where we stayed (Mandila Beach Hotel DaNang), are across the street from the beach. With no tall buildings or resorts on this part of the beach, still gave us unobstructed sea views.
The Han River and Dragon Bridge
The Han River winds through the center of Da Nang. Strolling the wide, treelined, paved riverfront path provided us with a leisurely and lovely way to spend an afternoon – where the biggest decision we had to make was which of the restaurants or cafes that lined the street to stop in for lunch or coffee.
The riverfront truly comes alive once the sun sets. Smoke rises over the night markets where meat, veggies, and fish are grilled over hot coals. There are also large woks of stir-fry and noodle dishes, and I found one stall offering fresh fish tacos.
Fantastic light installations on buildings and dinner cruise boats reflect in the shimmering water making perfect backdrops for photos and selfies.
The main draw for nighttime visitors is the Dragon Bridge. This whimsical bridge opened to traffic in 2013. It’s a multi-arched structure shaped like a dragon, which, once the sun goes down, glows with lights that change color every few minutes.
On Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, at 9:00pm sharp, the beast “breathes fire” and then sends a wide-arcing water spray into the cheering crowd.
A city that offers peaceful beach walks along the sea, a vibrant urban experience, and close proximity for touring cultural and historic sites? DaNang checks all the boxes!