After a slightly terrifying morning biking the Hoi Van Pass, we arrived at our beautiful hotel in Danang. Danang is a big city, and a fairly new one at that, so in order to make the most of our two days there, we joined a walking tour that afternoon to make sure we got to see the sights. I have to admit, however, that there really aren’t that many!
The walk started with a tour of the Indoor Market, which, as the name suggests, is a market that is inside. It was busy and hot and a pretty typical SE Asian market – you could get everything from food, spices, knick knacks, clothing and shoes. One of the specialties is a fermented fish sauce, which does mean that a good portion of the market has a very potent smell which gets worse the hotter it is, so I would recommend skipping it if you’re particularly sensitive to that kind of thing.
From there we walked to the Pink Church – built in 1923, it’s 70m tall and formerly known as Con Ga Church, or Rooster Church, due to the rooster shaped weathercock that sits on the top of the bell tower. The church is a lovely pale pink colour which, according to our guide, is due to the fact that it was originally painted red (a lucky colour in Vietnam) and it has gradually faded. We didn’t go in but services are held daily, with English ones held on Sunday, and it’s free to attend.
Following the church, we made our way to the Museum of Cham Sculpture. Prior to boarders being drawn up around SE Asia, the Cham people lived first in what is now present day Cambodia, before making their way east into Vietnam. Although their current numbers are fairly small, the entire area is steeped in their history, especially old buildings (usually ruins) and works of art. The Museum of Cham Sculpture seeks to preserve and remember the Cham people and displays the biggest collection of Cham artwork in the world. Although the tour took us there, you do not go inside as you have to pay extra to get in, but the tour guides feel it’s an important place to take visitors and encourage people to come back and have a look around. We decided not to go back, as it was pretty far from our hotel, we’d seen a lot of old art by this point and it’s 60 000 VND to get in.
As I said before, there’s not a lot of stuff to see in Da Nang (unless you want city or beach) and the little bit that there is is very spread out, so there is a lot of walking on this walking tour (funny, that). After the museum we walked over to the Dragon Bridge, which takes a good amount of time. Luckily, it was later afternoon and the weather was nice so it wasn’t too hot, but make sure you’ve got plenty of water with you! The Dragon Bridge is pretty cool looking, and definitely stands out on the river bank. It spans the width of the river and is made to look like a red dragon (one of the sacred animals of Vietnam), and although it looks like it could have been built years ago, it was actually only completed in 2013. In the evening the bridge lights up, highlighting the Dragon’s silhouette, and if you’re lucky enough to be there on a Saturday or Sunday night (we were not) you can watch it spit fire and water from its mouth at 9pm.
From there, the tour takes you down the river bank towards the Han River Bridge and the end of the tour. From the bank, you can see the Han River Bridge, which is a cable styled swing bridge, and the first bridge in Vietnam that opens for boats. If you’re up for it, you can watch at 11pm every night as car traffic is stopped and the bridge swings open to allow boats to pass under it. It’s not the most spectacular looking bridge in Da Nang, but it is a symbol of growth and prosperity and the people of Da Nang are immensely proud of it.
The tour ends here, as you’re within 5 minutes of where you started, and as it’s a tip based tour, you can decide how much you want to give. It wasn’t the best tour we’ve ever been on, mostly due to lack of interesting attractions, but the 3 girls who did it tried hard and knew a lot of information. They were all from the local university; however, their English wasn’t the best so they struggled to understand and answer questions that did not directly related to what we were seeing on the tour. If you’ve got a couple free hours then I’d suggest going on the tour, but it’s also one of those ones that you won’t miss if you don’t go.
Just a stones throw away from our hotel we found a place that serves afternoon tea every afternoon! We had a couple hours to kill, and it had been at least over a year since our last afternoon tea (which is entirely too long in my opinion), so we decided to treat ourselves. I say treat, but it was only 70 000 VND pp, which is only about £2.40, and it was fantastic. Slightly heavy on the sweets, but whose complaining?
The hotel it was at in the Avatar Hotel, and the tea is served on the 18th floor restaurant which has some incredible views of the city and the beach. You don’t have to pre-book, and as long as you go between 3pm and 6pm you shouldn’t have an issue. We were the only ones there when we go there, although a couple other people did arrive before we left. You can stay inside and enjoy the view as there are floor to ceiling windows, or if it’s a nice day like it was for us, you can head out onto the patio and enjoy your tea or coffee from there. It was all you can eat, and you can bet we went back for seconds and thirds!
Ba Na Hills
that it’s actually a resort that was built by the French in 1919, and has been added to as the years have gone by. These days it’s more of an amusement park in the middle of the Ba Na Hills, just outside of Da Nang, with a French Alps villageright at the top where people can still stay. There are a number of attractions, one of the most famous ones being the cable car, which holds a number of world records due to its length and height. There are multiple places to stop on the cable car, one of which takes you to the now famous Golden Bridge, which only opened in 2018. As well as the French
village, there is an arcade area which has amusement park rides and games, a bar in the old cellar, multiple restaurants and food stalls, loads of gardens, and even a wax museum. It’s got a hefty price for something in SE Asia (but you do get access to everything except the wax museum) at 700 000 VND which is about £25, but we really enjoyed it. The weather is usually much cooler as it’s 1500 m above sea level, and it was pretty foggy in the morning, but it did clear up in the afternoon.
Over all, we’re really glad we stopped in Da Nang, although it is a place a lot of people miss in favour of its more well known neighbour Hoi An (don’t worry, we went there too!). We wouldn’t have wanted to spend much more time in Da Nang, but it was a great place for a couple days, and it was nice being in a bigger city with loads of choice for restaurants and drinks. Although we didn’t spend a lot of time on the beach, it is also a great place to go if you’re wanting a bit more of a relax while still being close to everything you might want.