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Da Nang - Vietnam's fastest growing city

We were traveling Vietnam from North to South, so after trying my best to actually enjoy those days we spent at Halong Bay, we flew from Hanoi to Da Nang. Internal flights were quite affordable and they saved us so much time. Our idea when planning this trip was to use Da Nang as a "base camp" for a couple of days, exploring the city and its beaches and take some day trips within the area.

Da Nang is Vietnam's fastest growing, fifth biggest and third most important city, but it's more of an industrial kind. It is divided by the Han river, where the West part is the older and more traditional, and the East one is newer, with lots of hotels by the long, sandy shore of My Khe & Pham Van Dong Beach. So I thought that opting for a hotel at the beach was a good choice, as I didn't know what the city had to offer to its visitors. Apparently - not much. Most of the tourist-interesting spots (like My Son Sanctuary or the Marble Mountains) are outside the city and visiting them requires a day-trip planning. We've decided that the only sites we wanted to explore were the old imperial capital of Hue and the colorful town of Hoi An, and other than that we had only one day left. Dedicated it to the city itself, which was more than enough.

Even though the hotel I've chosen was at the sea shore (this was the worst hotel I've ever stayed at) the beach itself didn't drive much attention. By the time we visited Da Nang (in early April) there was seaweed everywhere. However, watching the sun rising and gently reflecting over the sea is always a beautiful scenery.

We hopped on a taxi and went straight to the Linh Ung Pagoda at the Son Tra Peninsula. It stands around 9 km away from the beach and offers panoramic views to the city but this is not what really attracts its visitors. It's the 67m-high, gorgeous, white statue of Lady Biddha - the tallest Buddha statue in the entire country. She faces the sea holding a bottle of holy water "sprinkling the peace to the offshore fishermen". The "tiny" Buddha crafted at her hat is actually 2m-high.

Next we went to the West part of the city to explore its streets. The city centre stands between the Han River bridge and the Dragon bridge. The first one was inaugurated in the year 2000 and it's the first swing bridge in the country (swings every night at 11 pm for 30 minutes). Dragon bridge is Vietnam's most unique one - dragon's head simulates the dragon from the Ly Dynasty and the tail is designed as a lotus. What's most unique for this infrastructure is that every night as 9 pm it sprays fire.

Our first stop at the city centre was the Han local market at the river's bank. The first floor offers fresh flowers, spices and dry local delicacies while the second floor was specialised in clothes, shoes and bags. The pink-colored Da Nang Cathedral, built in 1923, is also in the area, just a few streets to the West.

The unbearable heat made us stop for a light snack and refreshing drink at a cute coffee shop nearby. Later, we went back by the river's bank for a pleasant walk and to enjoy the breeze. We tried getting to the Thanh Khe beach for the sunset but unfortunately, its access was unable due to the huge construction of a private condo complex.

We had dinner at a restaurant recommended by a local, very kind taxi driver - it was delicious and reasonably priced (better to book in advance). Then, we went for some rooftop cocktails. The big wheel of Asia Park and all the bridges over the Han river were blinking, every one at its own pace, and seen from the 36th floor the city actually looked beautiful and quite interesting. After experiencing it however, I would not give it an entire day.


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