#1. Marble Mountains
The most asked-for attraction in Da Nang, and a magical place.
Marble Mountains (in Vietnamese: Ngũ Hành Sơn; meaning ‘five elements mountains’) is a cluster of five marble and limestone hills located just to the south of Da Nang city, and on the road to Hoi An. The five mountains are named after the five elements: Kim (metal), Thuy (water), Moc (wood), Hoa (fire) and Tho (earth).
The Marble Mountains are home to several Buddhist and Hindu grottos. A stairway of 156 steps leads to the summit of Thuy Son, the only Mountain accessible to visitors (but we use the elevator!). It allows a wide panoramic view of the surrounding area and the other marble mountains and close by are the remains of Marble Mountain Air Facility (MMAF) from the war. There are a number of grottos, including Huyen Khong and Tang Chon, and many Hindu and Buddhist sanctuaries, the temples of Tam Thai, Tu Tam and Linh Ung, and the pagoda of Pho Dong. The sanctuaries feature statues and relief depictions of religious scenes carved out of the marble.
The area is known for stone sculpture making and stone-cutting crafts but I should point out to visitors that direct rock extraction from the mountains is banned, so a visit to the craftsmen nearby will mostly see materials transported from quarries elsewhere in Vietnam.
#2. Son Tra Peninsula (+ The Lady Buddha)
Often known simply as ‘monkey mountain’, Son Tra peninsula is located just to the northeast of Da Nang city. Interestingly, it is home to both the amazing 5* InterContinental Da Nang Sun Peninsula Resort and our very rare Red-Shanked Douc monkeys. It is also the site of the Linh Ung Pagoda and our imposing 67 meters high Lady Buddha statue, visible day and night from Da Nang sea front – designed and built in the Buddhist faith to protect our people from wind and storms. Our Lady Buddha is thought to be the largest religious monument in Vietnam
Passing the Pagoda, statue and the InterContinental the road ‘up’ monkey mountain is rough and very steep leading eventually to Ban Co Peak. It can be really busy on the peak, maybe 5 or 6 people who have braved the climb! And they will be joined by Confucius – a lifelike bronze statue of the great philosopher playing chess is a tribute to the man who greatly influenced our oriental culture.
You are welcome to try the climb – a powerful motor scooter is your best bet, but luckily it is not included in my tour itineraries.
#3. The Dragon Bridge
The Dragon Bridge (Cầu Rồng) crosses the Han River and provides the shortest road link from the Da Nang International Airport to other main roads in Da Nang city, and a more direct route to My Khe Beach and Non Nuoc Beach on the eastern edge of the city.
Construction of the bridge began on 19 July 2009 and opened to traffic on 29th March 2013 – coincidently on the 38th anniversary of the liberation of Da Nang City in 1975.
Designed by the US-based Amman & Whitney, Dragon Bridge cost almost $US88 million, is the longest bridge in Vietnam at 666m long and is 37.5m wide with six lanes for traffic. The bridge was designed and built in the shape of a golden dragon (which according to our local beliefs is a significant symbol of great fortune, nobility & power).
A must-see attraction, the Dragon bridge is great to cross during the day to appreciate its scale, is wonderful to see at night when lit up by thousands of twinkling lamps and amazing to watch at weekends when the head breathes smoke and fire!
#4. The Food of Da Nang!
As a modern, vibrant city today, its sometimes hard to imagine Da Nang’s long history with origins dating back to the ancient kingdom of Champa. During early Dai Viet times my city was called Cua Han, and Tourane in our French colonial period.
With this long and diverse history comes a fiercely proud people with unique culinary traditions, making Da Nang one of the most compelling food destinations anywhere in South East Asia.
Forget the international food chains that have started to import their blandness into our country, this is about food for everyday Vietnam, food that stimulates all five senses at everyday prices for local people, and prepared with pride at market food stalls, makeshift street restaurants and in what sometimes appears to be the owner’s front room!
#5. My Khe Beach
Probably most famous as the beach used by US forces as an R&R (Rest & Relaxation) centre during the war, My Khe and Non Nuoc Beaches are an outstanding strip of sand overlooking the East Sea. With seasonal surfing and lovely sand it is a favourite destination for both locals and visitors.
Once listed in Forbes Magazine as one of the ‘World’s Most Luxurious Beaches’, the 20 miles (33 Km) of beaches offer surfers and sun seekers a gloriously unspoilt hideaway even with a host of big brand hotels such as the Hyatt Regency backing onto it.