Since we motorbiked our way through Vietnam, we were fortunate enough to stop in places that a lot of travellers sadly miss. One of these places was Da Nang in Central Vietnam. A lot of people skip Da Nang, using it only as a 1-night pit stop between the more popular Vietnam hotspots, Hoi An and Hue.
We spent 3 days in Da Nang and absolutely loved it. There were tonnes of cool things to do here and it was a really pretty place to visit. We actually hadn't known that it was the 3rd biggest city in Vietnam before arriving there, therefore we were pleasantly surprised with the crowds on the busy coast line and the bustling vendors that lined the streets.
1 - Marble Mountain
1 - Marble Mountains
As soon as you drive in to Da Nang, you notice the incredible mountains that provide constant background scenery to everything you look at. The Marble Mountains are a bunch of these limestone mountains, 5 to be precise, that are open for tourists to explore. There are lots of attractions to check out such as caves, tunnels, Buddhist Shrines, trails and viewpoints. The legend goes that the mountains were formed from the remains of egg shells that grew into the marble mountains. The egg shells came from a mystic dragon that laid eggs on the beach and gave birth to a lady who protects the city to this day, hence why the mountains are a place of worship for many local people. We climbed to the top of one of the view points, which was pretty gorgeous at the top, however we did have to push our way through a hoard of people to get a spot at the top!
We really enjoyed Marble Mountains, although it was a little bit too busy and was a bit much in regards to the sheer amount of tourists there. But, we accept that of the attraction is good then this is bound to be the case. It only costs 20,000 VND for entry too, so for under £1, we thought it provided a pretty good morning out! You can also either trek up a hell off a lot of stairs (like we did), or get a cool glass lift up to the top.
For the more adventurous, there is the option to abseil down the rock faces here as well. We saw a few people doing it and it looked awesome. However, we’re both experienced climbers so have abseiled a million times, but, if you haven’t, we’d definitely recommend it.
2 - Son Tra Peninsula (Chessboard Peak)
Next on the list for us was Son Tra Peninsula, which is a beautiful area in Da Nang that is full to the brim with amazing views and things to do. The Man Thai Fishing Village is first on most peoples list as it's the first pit-stop before the ascent of the hilly road. Getting here early is a great shout as you can watch the fishermen getting ready to go to sea at around 6-7am. However, we took the opposite route around the mountain so the fishing village was our last stop before we got home. At around 6pm, all of the fishing boats had come back from their days out at sea and were moored up in the harbour. It was literally one of the most beautiful views we had ever seen whilst travelling!
Upon the ascent up the road to the peak, you'll come across the tallest religious monument in the whole of Vietnam (cool, right?!) It's called the Linh Ung Pagoda and you cannot miss it! It's a large white marble lady that looks down on the village and the city below, protecting the people of Da Nang from wind and storms.
The drive itself is absolutely beautiful, it's basically Da Nangs' version of the Hai Van Pass. The road runs alongside the cliffs, with a sheer drop off on one side to the ocean and an upwards slope of vast jungle on the other. Keep an eye out for monkeys on the way round, we saw tonnes playing in the trees as we drove round!
Your next stop should be the giant Banyan Tree. It's an amazing sight and is estimated to be almost 1000 years old! The tree is an attraction not just for its age, but for its' roots which have grown into secondary trunks, that go to support the parts of the tree that have sprouted out from its very centre.
Continuing up to road (which becomes very, very steep at this point, so make sure you have gas and a good quality bike), you'll swing through monkey passage (mind the pun) keep an extra eye out for a Red Shanked Douc here! It's a rare monkey indeed! Carry on up and you'll hit Ban Co Peak, which is obviously the most visited tourist attraction on Son Tra Pensinsula. The view from the peak is literally stunning. We felt so privileged to see such an unbelievable panoramic view of the whole city. The other thing that is really cool at the peak is the marble statue of Confucius. The statue of the great philosopher is positioned at the back of a giant marble chessboard. You can sit at the opposing side of the chessboard and get the standard traveller photo of you playing chess against him! The statue is a tribute to the man himself who greatly influenced Eastern Culture as you see it today.
There’s tonnes of other things to explore on Son Tra Peninsula too, such as French and Spanish War Graves, a Black stone beach and another beautiful harbour.
3 - Secret Beach
3 - Secret Beach
This was by far our highlight in Da Nang. Just off of the path on your way around marble mountain, there is a stop off for a secret beach, which definitely seems a secret as you arrive there and can only see the shrubbery which lines the downwards slope of the cliff. However... beneath this shrubbery is where you want to go! You start the mini trek down the slope at a little hole in the bushes, this takes you down a steep muddy path, underneath the trees until you reach light at the end of the passage. And voila! Le secret beach! The beach is beautiful and impossible to see from the road above, hence why it’s called a secret. We stayed here for a few hours, swimming, scrambling around the rocks and jumping off the cliff faces that stand on the right hand side of the beach front, right out in the sea (the furthest cliff on the right hand side, you can swim up to it and jump from the top) There’s a cave too on the right hand side, that goes from one side of the cliff face to the other. However, on our attempt through the cave, we realised that the wet bag we had at the time had a hole in, so we diverted the mission and swam back in a hurry (contents were ok, but make sure you have a decent wet bag if you plan to swim through!). Make sure you don’t miss out on Da Nang’s best kept secret beach!
Jac found out the name speaking with a local - the beach is called Ghềnh Bàng (you should be able to find it on google maps). I doubt maps will lead you directly there so its just down the road from it’s Intercontinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort. There'll be a little place to pull in and man with small house shop selling water and snacks.
4 - The Dragon Bridge (Cầu Rồng)
You can’t miss it in Da Nang, literally. It towers over the middle of the main highway in Da Nang (Han River at the Le Dinh Duong/Bach Dang traffic circle) which leads you to and from the city centre. The dragon winds along the entire length of the 666m bridge that sees thousands of vehicles pass over it everyday. The bridge was opened in 2013 as a celebration of the liberation of Da Nang. Amazingly, the bridge lights up every night in many different colours, illuminating the river below each night. On Saturdays and Sundays, there’s a special treat as it spits fire and water out of its mouth at 9pm!
5- Pham Van Dong Beach
This is the main beach that runs in between marble mountains and Son Tra. It’s the beach you will see from chessboard peak! The beach front is absolutely beautiful, with numerous little beach bars, fresh seafood restaurants and to-die-for clothes stores dotted alongside it. There are plenty of swanky studio apartments lined up along the beach too, so the option to stay in a room with a sea-view is always available! There are also a tonne of cool looking spas
We really did love Da Nang, as you can tell from the list above, there’s plenty to do and see and you get the bonus of doing that in a beautiful city, full of life and local people. If you have any questions, please drop us a comment in the link below!
What we Didn't... But Would Have Loved to do!
Neither myself or Jac like to steal photos from other blogs in order to claim that we've done a a lot more then we have because we can never give an honest opinion. However, what we will do is supply you with a list of other things you can do to save you the time having to do any extra research.
We were gutted we missed this but we just didn't have enough time. This is a collection of Hindu Temple remains dating back as early as the 4th Century A.D.
Da Nangs' equivalent to the London eye. We had also planned to do this but ended up crashing out that evening as we were exhausted from our day! You can see it in the background of the Dragon Bridge photo above.
Da Nang Museum
History museum, displaying a mix of cultural and military artefacts.
Bao Tang 3D Art in Paradise
These are popping up all over Asia and seem the craze at the moment. Having been to few I'd recommend it if you've not been. Essentially they are awesome pieces of 3D art that you can get involved with and take cool pictures! You do need a mate to take the photos though, or a massive selfie stick!!!!