Offering an array of trendy cafes, lip-smacking street food, restaurants and bars, along with fantastic shopping and historical sights, coastal Danang makes for a fantastic 3D2N pit-stop
Danang (sometimes spelled Da Nang) is a coastal city in central Vietnam, located almost midway between the capital city Hanoi in the north and bustling Ho Chi Minh City in the south. The city, third largest in the country, is often thought of as just a quick stopover for tourists on their way to the three famous UNESCO World Heritage sites: Hoi An ancient town, My Son temple ruins and the former imperial capital Hue. However, Danang is worth exploring on its own. It is rich in culture with more friendly locals, is peaceful with a lot less traffic and boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in Vietnam. The city is also well-known for its sumptuous seafood and in recent years, an increasing number of beachfront resorts and golf courses.
Start your day early with breakfast at the market where you can sit elbow-to- elbow with the locals. Several makeshift stalls pop up alongside the market in the morning and you just have to point out the noodles you want. Han Market (119 Duong Tran Phu), located within a short walk from Bach Dang street, is the easiest to get to.
After breakfast, make your way to Linh Ung Pagoda, located on a hill about 30 minutes north of the city. The main highlight of the temple is a 67-metre statue of the Goddess of Mercy. You can easily spend a few hours there exploring the temple grounds, said to be the biggest in Danang. From there, you can catch a panoramic of the beach and the city.
Just 10 minutes (7km) further up along the coastal road is InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort (www.danang.intercontinental.com) where you can break for lunch and explore one of the best resorts in Danang. One of their outlets, La Maison 1888, is an award-winning French fine-dining restaurant.
After lunch, head back to the city and make your way to Marble Mountains, located just 20 minutes away. This popular tourist attraction is home to several Buddhist and Hindu grottoes and you will get a good workout climbing up and down the hilly slopes. To save time, you can also take the lift up to the top and make your way down from there.
From Marble Mountain, you can head back to the city and check out the nearby My Khe Beach. The beach is a favourite among locals especially after work hours and around sunset for people- watching, taking a stroll along the beach or a dip in the sea. If you prefer fine-dining, do check out Blue Whale (www.bluewhale.com.vn), a popular beachfront seafood restaurant in that area.
Besides My Khe Beach, another popular place where locals gather after work for an evening stroll is along Bach Dang Street, which features a promenade that runs alongside the Han river. At dusk, the area takes on a carnival atmosphere and you can take a break at one of the many restaurants and cafes along the strip. The highlight there is the Dragon Bridge, which is lit by colourful lights in the evening. If you can’t get enough of the Han river, book yourself a dinner onboard a boat at Han River Dragon Boat Restaurant (www.duthuyensonghan.vn). They have two dinner cruises nightly, at 6pm and 8pm.
If you’re looking to party after dinner, check out Sky36 Club (sky36.vn) at Novotel Premier Danang Han River, said to be the highest sky bar in the country.
If breakfast is not scheduled in your hotel, make your way to Bun Cha Ca 109 (109 Nguyen Chi Thanh St) which serves the most authentic fish cake noodles in town. Other options are Mi Quang Ba Mua (19 Tran Binh Trong St) or Quang Noodle (5 Hai Phong St), where you can try Danang’s quintessential noodle dish called mi quang. Most of the local restaurants are open by 6.30am, so don’t worry about being too early.
After breakfast, plan at least half a day to explore Sun World Ba Na Hills (banahills.sunworld.vn/en), located about two hours west of the city. The theme park is a top tourist attraction with highlights being the cable car ride, a replica of a French village, the newly-opened Golden Bridge featuring two stone hands holding up the structure, and a Fantasy Park with indoor games and amusement rides.
If you’re back in the city by midday, plan a visit to the Danang Museum where you can learn more about the history, culture and people of Danang. Other museums worth visiting are the Buddhist Museum located within the grounds of Quan The Am Temple and the Danang Museum of Cham Sculpture which houses the world’s largest collection of Cham art. The Cham people were an indigenous race who inhabited Vietnam’s coastal region in ancient times.
If you don’t mind the tour groups, Apsara Restaurant (222 Tran Phu St) serves good traditional Vietnamese dishes in a Cham setting. They even have live singing and traditional dances. For something more casual, you can dine at Quan Com Hue Ngon (65 Tran Quoc Toan), famous for its authentic Vietnamese BBQ dishes at affordable prices.
What better way to round up your stay in Danang than with a dose of wellness on your final day. Start your day with a relaxing breakfast of traditional Vietnamese dishes and local coffee at Truc Lam Vien (8 Tran Quy Cap). The restaurant is set in a tranquil house with a garden surrounding a pond.
After breakfast, make your way to Than Tai Hot Spring Park (www.nuithantai.vn), an hour (32 km) west of the city, where you can soak all day long in the therapeutic natural mineral water. You can also take a dip at a huge bath carved out of natural stone or soak in an outdoor jacuzzi, among other water-themed activities. They even have Japanese-style ‘onsen’ bath inside your room if you are staying at their Ebisu Resort.
If you prefer to be near the city, you can also book a spa session at one of the resorts such as Fusion Maia Danang (fusionresorts.com) or Naman Retreat (www.namanretreat.com). These resorts pride themselves in offering the best wellness experiences in the region.
To end your final day in Danang, reward yourself with a sumptuous dinner at Lam Vien Restaurant (88 Tran Van Du St) which features traditional Vietnamese dishes and wine in an intimate setting. Other options are Bushido Restaurant (90, 2 Thang 9 St), famous for its Japanese and Korean dishes, Pool House at Hyatt Regency Danang (www.hyatt.com) if you love dining by the beach or The Rachel Restaurant & Bar (166 Bach Dang) if you want to dine with a bird’s eye view of the Dragon Bridge across the Han river. For more casual local-style dining, try Com Nieu Nha Do (176 Nguyen Tri Phuong St).
TIPS FOR TRAVELLERS
The best time to visit Danang is between March and September. It can get quite chilly between January and early April and hot between May and August. The tropical storms hit the coastal region from late September to December, so it’s best to avoid these months. The best way to get around the city is by taxi, with the green-colour Mai Linh taxis among the favourites. You can also use the Grab e-hailing app to get a ride. Otherwise, if you can plan a day ahead, booking transport or local tours at your hotel’s front desk is also easy.
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