You heard that Vietnam is amazing but only have enough money or time to visit one city. You rack your brain to try to figure out where to go by checking google maps, reading blogs, reviews, and forums. I have been there. After days (weeks?) of reading and rereading about the best places to visit in Vietnam, I decided to ignore Ha Long Bay and Hanoi and pinned my location on Da Nang! Here are 4 important reasons why Da Nang is the best city to visit in Vietnam!
1. So Many Things to Do Without Leaving the City
It is hard to get bored in Da Nang as there are plenty to do and see in the city. Here are a few highlights of my time spent in Da Nang:
1. Visit the Caves of Marble Mountain
You can easily reach Marble Mountains by bus, Grab (taxi) or by hiring a driver. I was lucky enough to meet another travelling couple with whom I shared the cost of hiring a driver and made a trip around Da Nang including Marble Mountain, Monkey Mountain and Lady Buddha. This trip lasted half a day and costed only VDN 800 000 (USD 35)!
The Marble Mountains are made of marble and limestone and are home to multiple caves and pilgrimage sites. The caves are truly an extraordinary experience: one of them is known as the Hell’s Cave and has statues of monsters and demons in it!
2. Travel Back to European Medieval Times in Ba Na Hills
Ba Na Hills does indeed feel like you have taken a time travelling machine (via a cable car) and ended up wandering the cobblestone streets, counting brick buildings and enjoying the blossoming flowers in the multiple gardens. Each garden has a theme and if you are strong-willed enough to climb hundreds of steps, you will find the prettiest Greek-theme garden at the very top! From here you will have a magnificent view of the buildings rising out of the forest from afar. Here’s a snippet:
3. See the Golden Bridge
The Golden Bridge is part of Ba Na Hills and has become one of the most insta-worthy spots for tourists. The bridge is a work of art: the details are remarkable and, on a foggy day, it really feels like the hands of God are carrying this bridge in heaven.
4. Watch the Dragon Spit Fire and Spray Water
Another exceptional bridge in Da Nang is the Dragon Bridge located on Han River. This bridge is shaped as a dragon that lights up at night in different colours. During the weekends, around 9 p.m., the Dragon comes out to play: he spits fire and water at you! Hundreds of tourists and locals gather together at that time to enjoy the show for free!
5. Monkey Mountain
At the peak of Monkey Mountain, you will get an amazing view of the Da Nang coastline. For those who have a particular interest in historical events, Monkey Mountain used to be home to the US Air Force and Marine base.
6. Lady Buddha
Further up the Monkey Mountain, you will find Lady Buddha, the tallest Buddha Statue in Vietnam. She is 67m tall, standing in an open lotus of 35m diameter. Her strategic placement has to do with the offshore fishermen in the Da Nang sea. Lady Buddha watches over them and blesses their travels.
2. Visit the Neighbouring Cities!
Less than an hour away from Da Nang, Hoi An is definitely one of the must-see places in Vietnam. Hoi An is most famously known for its Ancient Town which has been preserved carefully for centuries and is now a UNESCO World Heritages site. The town is home to different cultural and religious buildings and landmarks including Chinese Temples, Japanese bridges and French Colonial houses. It felt good to take a break from bustling Da Nang city, just ride my bike carelessly around the quiet streets of Hoi An Old Town and stopped for some goof Vietnamese Ice Coffee by the riverside.
Have a taste of Vietnam’s history by visiting the ancient My Son Hindu Temples. Although it might not be as breathtaking as the Angor Wat Temple in Siem Reap, Cambodia, My Son has also found its place on the UNESCO World Heritage site list and boasts over 70 temples and tombs! Unfortunately much of My Son has been destroyed during the bombing of the Vietnam War and you can still see the craters from where the bombs landed.
The Emperor City is only 2 hour drive away from Da Nang. Here you can visit the tombs and palace of ancient Empowers, Pagodas and walk along the famous Perfume River. There is also the lush Bach Ma National Park nearby which is known for its beautiful landscapes.
3. There’s a BEACH
According to Forbes, My Khe beach is one of the best beaches in the world. At My Khe, the sand is white and soft under your bare feet, the water is warm and the waves are playful. From a distance, you can spot Lady Buddha on Monkey Mountain, watching over the sea. My Khe is a great place to hang out with friends and family at any time. In the day, the beach serves as a playground for people of all ages. At night, it transforms into a romantic date spot for young locals.
4. It has great local food
Central Vietnamese food is DELICIOUS! Read about my favourite local eats here.
Da Nang is definitely the best place to be when visiting Vietnam. It might not be as popular as Saigon or Hanoi, but it definitely has so much (if not more) to offer!