The regions surrounding Da Nang (My Son, Quang Nam) was founded by the Cham practicing Hindus most possibly 3000 years ago, serving as the capital city and centre of the Hindu Champa Dynasty. Vietnamese invasion into the region in the 17th century significantly halted Cham development and during the Vietnam War, vast monuments and buildings were bombed. Given Danang was the first point of colonial invasion, many vestiges of French architecture are present in the historic buildings. The city has grown rapidly in recent years, and has a 2008 population estimated at 900,000. Until recently, this growth was mostly outward and infill, but now there are high-rises going up. There are many remnants of the "American War" leftover in Da Nang. Each bridge has a different builder, whether they be French, American, or Vietnamese. On the way to the popular tourist spot; China Beach, the ruins of a military base remain in the form of helicopter hangars, although these are now more easily spotted at the airport, which serves both civil and military flights.
The city is often overlooked by tourists but is one of the most friendly to backpackers in all of Vietnam. China Beach, a former R&R destination for American G.I.'s, is now home to a small community of guest house owners, marble statue shops, and other various trades. Some of the most beautiful and isolated beaches in Vietnam are found here, among some of the friendliest people. This is a must stop for the budget traveller.
Until relatively recently, Da Nang was somewhat hostile to foreigners, a consequence of the attitudes of those who then controlled the provincial government. In the early 90s, however, this changed, and since the late 90s the provincial [actually autonomous city] government has been enthusiastically pursuing foreign investment and developing infrastructure. Da Nang has some of the best roads in the country -- the coast road is at least four lanes from northern provincial boundary to southern provincial boundary. Compared to either Hanoi or HCMC, traffic in Da Nang is always relatively light, although huge trucks blare along every now and again and there are brief 'rush hours.' Development is visible and rapid; the city has expanded tremendously in the last ten years, and several multi-story buildings as well as more beach resorts are under construction, and there are now at least three large supermarkets as well as a Metro wholesaler. This also involves redevelopment of areas near the city beaches across the river, with whole blocks of old housing being razed and new roads installed and luxurious villas constructed.
The downside to the very laid back, less serious and frenetic, aspect of Da Nang is that even locals frequently complain that there is nothing to do except drink, which they do a lot. This is not really true -- there is a zoo, a water park,a soccer stadium, many tennis courts and pool halls, several large modern discos/night clubs, etc., and of course the beaches and Son Tra peninsula. However, it is also true that coffee and beer drinking are the most common leisure activities of most local residents.
Da Nang Airport (IATA: DAD) is the smallest of Vietnam's three international airports. There are frequent flights to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City on both Vietnam and Jetstar Pacific, as well as limited services direct to Nha Trang, Buan Ma Thuot, and international flights to Singapore and Bangkok. Aside from a money changer, airport amenities are rather minimal, although some upgrading was done to the airport in late 2007 and early 2008. As of November 2006, international departure taxes should be included in the price of your ticket. Compared to larger Vietnamese airports, Da Nang is a little bit laid back; local travelers often arrive less than 30 minutes before their flights; there are also a couple of restaurants/coffee shops opposite the terminal, which offer more choice, if not lower prices, than inside the departure area. However, the quality of the food leaves a great deal to be desired; this contributor has eaten two of the worst meals ever served him in Vietnam at Da Nang airport! Price of bia LaRue is not particularly inflated, however.
The airport is located within the city, just 3 km south-west of the center of Danang, a 10-minute trip at most. Many travelers now choose to stay in Da Nang as it is considered as a gateway to Central Vietnam World Heritages Sites: Hoi An (25-30 min, US$15) or Hue (2 hours, US$35), My Son (1,5 hours). The hotels and resorts in Da Nang have their own travel desks which offer some half day or a day trip to those destinations. The fixed-price taxi coupon system has regrettably disappeared and now you have to haggle with the drivers outside, who ask silly prices but can be negotiated down to the amounts above; find a few other travelers to ease the pain. If going to a destination within or close to the city, ignore offers to set a price in advance and insist on use of the meter. If you arrive on a late night flight, you may encounter an unscrupulous taxi driver who has a fast meter, but usually there are lots of taxis and companies like Mai Linh, Taxi Xanh, or Song Han are reliable; avoid Airport Taxi, especially at night.
The Reunification Express makes a stop in Da Nang. Many motorbikes and taxis are available outside of the station. Scheduled arrival and departure times are loosely followed. If you just want to get to Hue, you can also take the 'local' train which is slow (about four to four and a half hours from Da Nang to Hue, with several stops along the way; a car or taxi does it in two), but incredibly cheap (25,000 dong including a meal) and passes through some spectacular coastal scenery.
Sinh Cafe, the popular bus-pass service, makes a stop in Hoi An, a short distance from the city. It is of a distance where a taxi is better than a motorbike.
At least two other bus-pass services make stops in Da Nang, and can be taken to either Hue or Hoi An or further in either direction. Fare to Hue is $3 as of late 2007, trip takes about three hours with one refreshment stop on the way. The bus uses the tunnel so does not go over the spectacular pass between Da Nang and Hue.
A bus station serves transport to several cities including a few locations in Laos.
- Cham Museum (Bảo Tàng Chăm), Trung Nu Vuong and Bach Dang Sts. Founded in 1915 by the École Française d'Extrême Orient, it houses a collection of stone sculptures from the Hindu-practicing Cham civilization, which occupied much of central Vietnam in the first millennium C.E. through about the 14th century. Entrance is 30,000 VND, and the museum can be toured in about an hour. The sculptures are nearly all made of sandstone, and some have weathered badly over the centuries, but you can still appreciate the delightful artistic quality of the figures, which include Shiva, garudas, nagas, lions, monkeys, and elephants. The collection also includes striking examples of the ancient Hindu icons of fertility -- lingam altars decorated around the sides with rows of breasts. The sculptures were mostly removed from the facades or interiors of Cham ruins (which would have been looted otherwise.) The ruins themselves, such as nearby My Son, now tend to be crumbling piles of bricks and somewhat disappointing, giving little sense of the spectacular artwork produced by the Cham civilization. Any visit to My Son should be paired with the Cham Museum. The collection is also interesting to compare with Balinese sculpture and the early, Hindu phase of Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
- The Marble Mountains (Ngu Hanh Son; admission 15,000 dong, tel. 511.961114) are 9km south of Da Nang. The group includes Kim Son (Mountain of Wood), Thuy Son (Mountain of Water), Hoa Son (Mountain of Fire), and Tho Son (Mountain of Earth). Several Buddhist temples have been built into the caves and grottoes, and it's a popular pilgrimage site. The real fun, though, is at the Am Phu cave, where you can make the steep climb up toward the light and a view from the top of the mountain, surrounded by approving sacred images...or head in the opposite direction, physically and spiritually, down to the crude Hieronymous Bosch-esque statues of sinners getting their due in the caverns below, with appropriately eerie lighting. Either way, bring walking or climbing shoes. Open-tour buses will stop here, but you'll be rushed along; any moto driver in Da Nang or Hoi An will be happy to take you and let you set the schedule. Guides are available. Watch out for the rapacious statue-sellers outside, though.
It is difficult to learn Vietnamese in Da Nang as the ex-pat community is quite small and the demand for the language learning is not great. You will be able to find many people who are willing to do language exchange with you and there are a number of qualified Vietnamese teachers. It is best to just ask around. The current rate is about US$5/hour.
Be aware that the Da Nang dialect of tieng Viet is distinct from both Hanoi and HCMC versions, although closer to HCMC than to Hanoi. If you learnt your Vietnamese in Hanoi, many ordinary people in Da Nang will have some difficulty understanding you until they realize you are trying to talk like the presenters they see on TV. Even trained teachers will tend to teach you to speak like a Da Nang person unless you emphasize that you want to learn Hanoi dialect, which is understood [eventually] throughout the country as it is the 'official' version and that used on TV. If you spend a fair amount of time in Da Nang, either employed or as a volunteer, it is fairly easy to find recent English graduates, or current students studying English, from the College of Foreign Languages of the University of Danang who will happily work through a Vietnamese textbook with you for a lot less than $5/hour, and this is probably as good a way as any to acquire some Vietnamese; there are lots of books that are Vietnamese courses for foreigners; Teach Yourself Vietnamese [Huong Dan Tu Hoc Tieng Viet, a Complete Course for Beginners] by Dana Healy is one of the best; Jake Catlett and Huong Nguyen's Vietnamese for Beginners is easier and less comprehensive; Nguyen Anh Que's Vietnamese for Foreigners is good and has a lot of material and vocabulary.
There are a number of schools where you can find work including Apollo and the University of Da Nang. The salaries are many times above the average national wage.
There are several local shopping markets scattered around the city and a few shopping centres. Hung Vuong, Hoang Dieu, Phan Chu Trinh and surrounding streets offers a wealth of quality goods; clothes, shoes, homewares, dvds etc..
There are many places in which you can have a good meal in Danang city. Because of its position, in the middle of Vietnam, you can find many sorts of food come from the other parts of the country. If you prefer the fresh air and fresh seafood, it's a great idea to have a walk along the street named Pham Van Dong. There are lots of seafood restaurants and seafood bars there. Get into a named restaurant, not the ones on the street side, to have safe and good quality seafood.
There are masses of seafood restaurants lining the beach at My Khe, the other side of Cau Song Han -- the big lit-up suspension swing bridge. It is a couple of kilometers straight from the bridge to the beach, then if you turn right there are seven upscale restaurants on the beach side of the road, with massive amounts of neon, and lots of no-name restaurants on the land side, with beachside seating a bit further along from the upscale ones. Further along the beach road, there are two nice seafood restaurants next door to My Khe Beach hotel [My Khe one, the oldest], and a Czech microbrewery restaurant across the street from the new My Khe 3 hotel. Highly recommended to try are grilled cuttlefish, grilled oysters and clams [you will find the latter two are different at every restaurant], and everywhere 'hotpot' [lau]. There is a seafood restaurant named Trieu Chau one block closer to the beach and one long block in to the right from the GoldenSea hotel that serves a wonderful Lau Thai Lan.
If you prefer a cheap meal with safe and quite good quality food, the small bars are the best choice. There are many kinds of small bar in Danang, but they seem to be the same in the food they sell, quite good but not the best. You should go with a native person in order not to be tricked.
There are also many specialty restaurants, e.g. the goat restaurant on Tran Hung Dao [across the river from downtown], or the smaller [compared to Tulip] Czech brewery restaurant near the airport that specializes in turtle [although many other places serve turtle; don't worry, they are farmed, mostly for export to China. Farmed crocodile is also available many places.] Down an alley off the top corner of the square opposite the Monument is a 'wild animal restaurant' where the owner has an extraordinary network of suppliers in the highlands, and offers whatever he has available -- which may include such delicacies as unusual as porcupine in addition to the standard venison and wild pig.
- Cafe Indochine, Furama Resort Danang(China Beach), ☎ 84-5113847 333. his is the Furama’s signature restaurant, an Asian-style brassiere recalling the nostalgia of the French colonial period with its rattan furniture, ceiling fans, French windows and old photographs and memorabilia on the walls. By day, it is a bright, cheerful place for light snacks, while at night it turns more romantic. Guests can savour a wide range of international and pan-Asian cuisines served by waitresses in traditional ao dai outfits. There is an exotic menu of Vietnamese, Chinese, Malay, Thai, Indian and Indonesian favourites prepared in the open show kitchens or over the barbecue. The restaurant serves a huge dinner buffet every night for only USD 25++ per person including complimentary drink at the Resort's Club Tourane. The buffet with 4 kinds of soup, salmon, ceasar salad in its huge selection of Vietnamese and International salads, grill corners with seafood, beef and lamps. Capacity: 140-seat restaurant. Open: daily from 6:30 am to 11 pm.
- Sa Sa Gelato' is an excellent place to satisfy that sweet-tooth craving. Although it is tricky to find -- it's across the street to the east of Bia Tulip, in back of the line of restaurants leading up to the Nguyen Van Troi Bridge, where you'll find another smaller bridge, then take a right and it's past the tennis courts. Each scoop of Gelato is about 15,000 VND, and they also have sundae's and other treats to enjoy. The staff seem to have a basic understanding of English, which is nice.
- Bread of Life Western Bakery and Eatery, 12 Le Hong Phong(2 minute walk from Cham Museum toward downtown), ☎ 0511 3565185, . 7am-9:30pm. Bread of Life is run by western couple who use the business as means of providing training for local deaf. All baking, cooking and serving is done by the deaf and profits go into projects to benefit the deaf. They serve Pizza, Pasta, Hamburgers and many excellent western dishes. The quality is high and you will enjoy interacting with the deaf.very reasonable.
- Ocean Terrace restaurant, Furama Resort Danang, ☎ 84-5113847 333. Overlooking the white sands of China Beach, this casual restaurant provides a peaceful, poolside setting for al fresco dining. A Mediterranean-inspired menu offers garden fresh salads, Italian appetisers, delicious pastas, and crisp pizzas and Italian breads baked in wood-fired ovens. A fine selection of Italian wines and Grappas are also available. Capacity: The 80-seat restaurant. Open: from 6:30 am to 11 pm.
Hoa's Guesthouse at China Beach. The gathering spot for backpackers in the evenings, as Hoa hosts "family dinners." For about US$1.50 you get treated to an all-you-can-eat buffet, courtesy of Hoa's wife. Picnic tables are full of travellers inside this tiny cafe, starting at around 7PM.
Bao Nam Tran- fine, private and popular place for coffee, business dealings, meals and light Vietnamese pastries,drinks and desserts. The restaurant/coffee house's ancient Vietnamese architecture; incorporating heavy dark ornate wooden panels and furniture mixed with modern amenities (escalator) is a must-see. Wireless internet connection and a selection of reading material is available. The restaurant has a lovely ambience at night. Come here for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Located on 27 Nguyen Chi Thanh St.
- Ocean Blue Bar&Grill, 36 Xuan Dieu St. (near the corner of 3 Thang 2 Street, look for the 7 stories high building). An elegant yet relaxed, ocean-view setting overlooking the city skyline, the Hans River, Mount SonTra and the newly built Thuan-Phuoc suspension bridge. Try the Ocean Blue chicken wing, Alfredo seafood spaghetti and the special Peppercorn Steak! Reasonable prices( 2.0 - 4.0 USD/ dish). They also serve wines, cocktails and fresh fruits juice. Smooth jazz and soft easy listening is the house music. The staff are professional and friendly. Has a live band with Vietnamese and English music.
- Apsara, 222 Tran Phu Street. A reasonably good, somewhat expensive place with a huge, mostly seafood-oriented menu and performances of traditional music on some evenings. Food style is Vietnamese with some Chinese influences, and some western dishes thrown in. Caters to overseas tour groups; tour buses are often seen parked outside. One of their specialties is mantis shrimp, a delicious creature that looks half-way between a shrimp and lobster.
Ocean Blue Bar&Grill Live Music, 36 Xuan Dieu near the new Thuan Phuoc Bridge. A high-class music lounge located on the 7th floor of the Ocean Blue Building. Good mixed drinks. Very romantic surrounding, including view of the city and Hans river at night. A "must" visit if you like a relaxed entertainment evening in Danang.
- Club Tourane, Furama Resort Danang, 68 Ho Xuan Huong(eastward of Danang city), ☎ 845113847333. from 8 pm to late night. The award winning Furama Resort Danang has opened its Club Tourane – the first 5-star night club in the central of Danang, Vietnam on 1 May 2008 The Club Tourane opens daily from 8pm until late (2 am) with a Filipino Band. Guests can enjoy live music and dance with the music from the 60s to the 90s. This is an authentic club with jovial charm, homey atmosphere and cheerful service. Drinks are USD 2 to USD 5 per drink.
There are a few places around Danang for the traveller/ex-pat to take a drink and where English is spoken enough to make sure you get what you want. The first is Green Town Bar at 50 Bach Dang St. It is one of relatively few bars open past the witching hour and most ex pats drop in there for either an early evening or late night drink. The view is excellent with an outdoor terrace and 2 big pool tables inside.The prices are very reasonable. Up to 10 o'clock food is available.
Another popular haunt for local ex pats is the Bamboo Bar which takes quite a bit of finding but ask an ex-pat around the Green Town Bar and you'll get a mud map. Bamboo 2's owner speaks excellent English, there are always foreigners there, and it is easy to find at the corner of Bach Dang and Thai Phien. Eve Pub on Tran Phu near Prince hotel also stays open late, although its clientele is mostly Vietnamese. The discos all stay open until 12.30 or later. Many street side beer places stay open until the last customers leave, but most operators have no English.
Avoid like the plague the infamous "Coolspot" which has developed quite a reputation for overpricing and sub standard quality. It's in all the guide books so you know it's truly a place to be avoided.
If you are not concerned about mixing it with the locals, there are literally thousands of drinking places where beer is cheap as chips and the food is superb and cheap. Head down to the beach for excellent seafood meals. Avoid the swanky looking places where you will pay western prices and try some of the "shacks" that line the road along the beach.
If you are really not in the mood for a bar environment, there are some fantastic cafes in Danang. Try Wonder Cafe or New Life Cafe on Le Loi Street. Or just wander down Nguyen Chi Thanh Street where there are quite a few good quality cafes.
For lovers of Micro Brewery Beverages try: The Czech beer place on Nguyen Tri Phuong Street. Or even better Tulip Beer on 2/9 Street. Just across the road from Tulip are some excellent restaurants, New World Cafe and No.1 Disco. This refers to the restaurants on the service road along the road leading to the twin bridges over the river from the roundabout that Tulip is located on. Further away from the bridges, across a small bridge going toward New World Cafe, is Gelato, which has by far the best ice-cream [but don't call it that; it is gelato, an Italian specialty] in Da Nang, if not in the whole of Viet Nam. Gelato is expensive, but is excellent, and there are always staff there who speak good English. No 1. Disco is the most upscale disco in town, and quite small; the two discos near the mouth of the river, of which New Phuong Dong at 20 Dong Da is the less crowded [but still a scrum on weekends] and probably most fun for a traveler to visit, are bigger and more eclectic in their clientele and have better entertainment [New Phuong Dong, for example, has a resident Ghanaian DJ and many visiting singers from Sai Gon and Ha Noi]. Festival, on the second corner going up river from Cau Song Han on Tran Hung Dao, is the newest disco and the only one on the My Khe beach side of the river. It is part of a complex that also has a restaurant and karaoke rooms; if you buy the staff a drink here [a normal thing to do in this kind of disco-night club] they can be very aggressive about drinking it fast and running up a big bill for you.
And finally for a real late night place hit "Red Hot" Bar on Nguyen Van Linh Street.
'Late night' is more flexible in Da Nang than in Ha Noi; most of the time the discos and places like Red Hot [an approximation of a Thai girlie-bar] close at 1 a.m. or 1.30, but if the police decide to say the national rules should not be flouted quite so blatantly, they may unexpectedly close at midnight or 00.30. However, roadside open-air establishments will continue to serve beer long after that if they still have customers, and there are some places on the main roads that cater to truck drivers and the like that appear to be open essentially all night.
As drinking coffee is a part of Vietnamese culture, it's a good idea if you spend your time on drinking coffee there. Coffee in Vietnam, especially coffee in the middle of Vietnam, is very strong and itself has a very wonderful smell. In Danang, people spend a lot of time to drink coffee and chat in coffe shop. There are several kinds of coffee shop in Danang: Luxurious coffee shops, mid-class coffee shops and special coffee shops.
Luxurious coffee shops can be found on many streets of the city, they are quite nice and of course the prices quite high. Along Phan Chau Trinh Street, you can find a lot of this kind of coffee shop. Mid-class coffee shops can be found everywhere, the drinks are quite cheap and it's just a place For people to take a rest after work of walking a long way. And the most interesting kind, the special coffee shop. Special coffee shop means that in it you not only drink coffee and many kind of drinks, but also have some special types of entertainment. For example, Rock coffee shop (Rock cafe in Vietnamese). In this kind of coffee shop, you can enjoy your coffee and listen to rock songs at the same time, you can ask them to play the song you like. Usually, they play ballads and soft rock in the daylight and hard rock and metal in the evening(very loudly).
- Hai Quynh Cafe, 468 Hoang Dieu Street.
- Scorpions, 140 Yen Bai Street.
- CheRo, 79 Le Dinh Ly Street.
Other kind of special coffee shop is Chess Coffee Shop. In this kind of coffee shop, you can drink many kind of soft drink and play chess with other people. You can easily find yourself a person to play with. The drinks there are quite cheap and everyone is very polite when playing chess. This kind of coffee is a part of Vietnamese coffee drinking culture and it's a wonderful idea to try it.
Famous coffee shops in Danang city:
- Tuy Anh Chinese Chess Coffee Shop, 79 Le Dinh Ly Street (on the corner of Do Quang and Le Dinh Ly).
One kind of special coffee shop is chatting coffee shop. There you can drink coffee on the street side and chat with you friend while you enjoy you drink. It's very cheap.
The most famous couple of chatting coffee shop is Long coffee shop and An coffee shop which located on the corner of Le Loi Street and Quang Trung Street.
Don't be fooled by the guide books - Danang is a great place to visit and much cheaper than touristy Hoi An.
- Hai Van lounge at the 5-star Furama Resort Danang
Guests enjoy cocktails and light snacks in a very relaxed colonial setting decorated with cane chairs and carved Vietnamese furniture. A pianist followed by our resident Filipino band entertains in the evenings. Free wireless Internet access is available at the outlet. Happy Hour buy one get one free from 6 pm to 7 pm. Open: daily from 10:00 am to 02:00 am.Free WIFI. Drinks from USD 2 to USD 5
There are plenty of budget hotels in Da Nang.
- Hoa's Guesthouse, China Beach. Hoa the owner will make you feel right at home. Very friendly atmosphere and the local social gathering place.About US$8..
- Houng Lan Hotel, 05 Pham Van Nghi, ☎ (0511) 3652269(fax: 0511.3652694). * Ngoi's Guesthouse, China Beach. That is not the actual name of the house but ask a motorbike driver to take you to China Beach, and they'll probably take you to Hoa's. Hoa will be more than willing to direct you to Ngoi's. You get to sit and chat with Ngoi over a few beers in the evening. His wife will make you delicious food. Air-con.About US$8.. About US$8..
- Thien Duc Motel, 187 Dong Da, ☎ (0511) 3825232. An OK option which allows savings of a few dollars a night, though services are far from superior.8 USD per night..
- Elegant Hotel.
- Golden Sea Hotel.
- My Khe Beach Hotel 1 and 2. These two hotels, both under the same [Army] management, are both comfortable and very reasonably priced especially given that they are just the other side of the beach road from My Khe Beach, but still only a five minute or less moto ride from downtown. My Khe 1 is older, smaller rooms but the electricity does not go off in the room when you leave; My Khe 2 has very large rooms, caters more to groups of Saigon or Chinese tourists [My Khe gets lots of Vietnamese business and government travellers, plus some tourists and some Lao visitors, business or government]. Staff at both places are friendly and pleasant, adequate English if you don't speak Vietnamese. Only downside for price is no in-room internet access. Opening in mid-2008 will be My Khe 3, which is bigger and better (?maybe) than the other two -- no information on prices there yet. It is opposite the turnoff from the beach road where the tour buses stop to tell people [misleadingly] that this is China Beach, with the tank farm behind it but the microbrewery restaurant across the stree. From $18/night, breakfast included, air-con room with refrigerator and private bath (My Khe 1) or shower (My Khe 2).
Furama Resort Danang is one of the best Asia's resorts, located on the China Beach. The Resort is a gateway to Central Vietnam's World Heritages Sites, Interesting day tour options to UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Central Vietnam: the ancient "Silk Road" trading port of Hoi An ancient town (25 minutes), My Son Holy Land, the spiritual center of the ancient Cham Civilization (90 minutes) and Hue, the former Imperial city and home of 13 emperors from the Nguyen Dynasty (two hours). The 198 rooms and suites resort is just 15 minutes far Danang International Airport. The resort has its own Diving Center, spa and health centre and an International Convention Palace with a luxurious ballroom for 600 persons. Room rate is from USD 175++ per room per night.
It is a comparatively safe city but be sure to lock up your belongings at night (as everyone does) which includes not leaving your bike out on the street. Everyone generally brings them into their houses.
Da Nang is less Westernised than Hanoi or HCMC so it can be more difficult to feel settled here. The locals are friendly/curious enough to always be willing to help you (even when there is no language).
Frequent bus service to http://wikitravel.org/en/Hoi_An Hoi An, as well as other destinations throughout Vietnam is available at the intercity bus station.
Danang train station is conveniently located close to the center of town.
This page was last edited at 12:02, on 26 March 2009 by Marc Heiden. Based on work by Ian Sergeant and Jani Patokallio, Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel and others.