Blessed with long stretches of sandy beaches and rhythmic incoming stress-melting crests of crashing waves, the first thing that impresses many travellers to Da Nang is its beaches. However, the city has much more to offer than just blue skies and big sea horizons alone. An eclectic mix of old and new, Da Nang has transformed rapidly over the years into a modern city while at the same time, maintaining its especial heritage charm that moulds into its cuisines and lifestyles. This is definitely a city made for both adventurers and food hunters.
From the awe inspiring Tran Thi bridge down to the ‘naughty’ golden Dragon bridge that spits fire and water in the night, together with several other historical sites located close to the old city premises, Da Nang is definitely a place worth to spend some time checking out some of Vietnam’s mixed cultural evolutions and past chronicles. With tons of local cuisines and multiple renditions of those dishes and a widespread of western styled asian cooked seafood dishes, your diet is sure to take a holiday too! Dotted along the beaches with sea facing views are many top notch seafood restaurants with a wide array of seafood freshly caught for today’s menu. Some of the restaurants even have in-house aquariums, showcasing the different fishes and shellfish sorted according to genre and brought to you from the South China Sea you see right in front of you.
Pretty laid back with generally nice local folk, the city is much less crowded in the beachfront area and is definitely less of a motorbike hazard compared to other parts of Vietnam. The expenses here are also very pocket friendly, be it for food, transport or accommodation, even though Da Nang hosts two of Vietnam’s major casinos; Furama and Crowne. Having stayed in Vietnam for more than two months on an excursion to explore its various cities, I have come to conclusion that Da Nang is the best place to visit.
Hers’s my top five reasons on why you should visit Da Nang.
1. Incredibly fresh and cheap seafood
Da Nang is a seafood paradise popular for its ‘from sea to table’ fare. Everywhere from small eateries to upscale seafood restaurants, you can find seafood related dishes up on their menu. It’s hard to miss and even harder to maintain your diet over here. Even the local roadside stalls with small squat-like plastic chairs lined along some roads are selling seafood barbecues and seafood hotpot meals.
For an ultimate seafood indulgence, skip the roadside thrill and treat yourself to an awesome seafood experience at Nha Hang Cua Do Seafood Restaurant. This spacious double storey restaurant is located facing My Khe beach and has huge glass aquariums with lots of different fishes, prawns, lobsters, crabs, oysters and a great variety of shellfish all alive and swimming under one roof.
The price? It is ridiculously affordable! I’ll never get this kind of price back in Barcelona. The price of the items are also listed on a price board above the aquarium at the entrance and changes according to availability. Walk around the aquariums, observe the fishes doing their fishy business and then make your choice of ‘seafood’ or ask for the recommendation of the day. The staff will then fish them out and weigh them in front of you before sending them into the kitchen. All the seafood dishes are freshly prepared, cooked and served. The quality and taste is so good that I went back day after day either for lunch or dinner just to try out their different specialties. I even tried some seafood delicacies that I can never ever find in other countries.
I highly recommend their bamboo clams in homemade spicy sauce. Super flavourful with seafood sweetness that will linger in your palate for hours.
2. Beautiful beaches
Vietnam isn’t just about its rivers and estuaries.
Da Nang is blessed with kilometres of pristine beach front that faces the South China sea and equally attracts beachcombers and beach bums from all over the globe. Although the sand isn’t as white and powdery-soft like those of Bali, the My Khe beach has a very large reef-sand plateau that slows the waves and forms impressive white crests that gently roll onto the beach.
Beachfront development here is also a boom, attracting massive hotel and resort developments all along the coast. As such, there are many new boutique hotels with classy and chic designs loaded with all kinds of creature comforts to spoil even the budget shoe-string travellers.
3. Rich historical sites
Situated in the midlands of the Vietnam peninsula, Da Nang is seated in close proximity to the oldest UNESCO world heritage cities of Vietnam; Hue, Hoi An and My Son. Just an hour’s ride to either of the ancient heritage cities, it’s strategic locale is popular for tour agents to base their historical tour packages even for cultural tourists. The city also has a couple of heritage sites of its own. The first area ceded to the French at the start of the Indochina occupation, Da Nang was previously named Tourane; which was French for “river mouth” and pretty much sums up the city’s geographical location and main characteristics.
Just south of this city lies the limestone hills infamously known as the Marble Mountains. This centuries old sanctuary was used by devote Taoists as a place of refuge during the Minh Mang fascist purge.
4. Picturesque Hoi An
Rose to fame in recent years, Hoi An old town is an UNESCO heritage site still exciting with its rich culture and timeless scenes. Having garnered lots of good reviews around the cyber space, it has attracted thousands of curious camera-totting tourists who travelled to Hoi An as a day trip from either Hue or Da Nang to check out its beautiful picturesque streets and ‘insta-famous’ river views.
A principal port of the Cham kingdom dating back to the early 1500, the city’s centuries old structures; its yellowish and bronze coloured Chinese styled shophouses and meandering roads are all kept to date, well preserved, and maintained. These shophouses are home to many river side restaurants, fashion, arts and craft, and accessories shops. Highly praised for its pretty affordable tailoring works and quality materials, many tourists also had a piece or two of their custom made suits from here.
As evening falls, the streets start to light up with colourful lanterns dancing in buoyant mood, showering in a totally different ambience into the timeless space. A stroll by the quaint riverside, watching the busy boats ferrying enthusiastic tourists along the old fashioned Thu Bon river for a few excited clicks of camera shots, enlivens your spirit. This is perhaps the one and only place in Vietnam to experience your evening in ‘ancient alive’ style. Otherwise, you can also choose to head over to one of its cosy bars to have a couple of ‘oh-so-cheap’ beers to drench your evening away from the crowds.
5. Less Chaotic
Unlike Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh, Da Nang is very modernized and way less crowded. It’s infrastructures like roads and pedestrian walkways are broader, well maintained and very much up to date with adequate lighting and pedestrian lights. The traffic condition and motorbike hazards are also quite manageable due to the proper road planning and westernised systems. So I guess over here you can cross the road without worrying that your heart will jump out of your chest at the sight of incoming river of traffic.
The distance between the beach and Da Nang town centre is quite a long walk if you choose to explore on foot. But it’s totally doable. With all the broad walkways, you can comfortably enjoy your walk at your own pace, taking your own sweet time to check out what the surrounding has in store for you. The many stunning features of the city and its outstanding bridges are sure to lure your focus away and you will feel that distance is not an issue anymore.
I also personally feel that the folk of Da Nang are the friendliest of Vietnamese people. Despite not being able to fully understand or converse in English, they are always happy to help even if they have to communicate through universal hand signs and body language. Keep your Google translate at the ready if you need more specific information.
Next Read: The Ultimate Hue Travel Guide
Continue Exploring …