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Things to Do in Da Nang

It might be Vietnam’s third-largest city and one of its busiest cruise ports, but Da Nang is more than just an urban center. Located 479 miles (770 kilometers) south of Hanoi and 528 miles (850 kilometers) north of Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang oozes character, from its French colonial architecture to its lively night markets and atmospheric Han riverfront, lined with bars, restaurants, and nightclubs. It’s easy to take in the top attractions in a day, touring the Museum of Cham Sculpture, posing for photos by the Lady Buddha statue, and admiring Dragon Bridge, which is dramatically illuminated at night. Guided tours that combine popular sights like these save you the headache of navigating from one attraction to the next. You can even make it out to the jagged peaks of the Marble Mountains, which keep watch over the city’s southern border, on a day trip. Equally enticing are the sandy shores of My Khe beach and Non Nuoc beach. Just beyond the city, the Son Tra Peninsula harbors natural wonders such as Monkey Mountain and Lang Co beach, as well as Hai Van Pass. Hai Van Pass is one of Vietnam’s most memorable coastal drives, and motorbike tours give you the thrilling option to experience it the local way. A little farther afield, the majestic My Son Sanctuary and the forested hills of Bach Ma National Park abound with photo opportunities, while neighboring Hoi An is renowned for its atmospheric ancient town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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Marble Mountains
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One of Da Nang’s top attractions, the five outcrops that make up central Vietnam’s Marble Mountains (Ngũ Hành Sơn) each are named after a different element: fire, wood, metal, water and earth. Visit the mountains to take in views of the landscape, to explore caves, Buddhist and Hindu grottoes, pagodas, and shrines, and even to shop.

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My Son Sanctuary
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Visit the ruins of ancient towers and temples on the emerald hills of central Vietnam at the My Son Sanctuary (Mỹ Sơn), a complex of brick and stone temples built by Hindu Cham kings between the fourth and 13th centuries. Today, the UNESCO World Heritage Site makes an easy day trip from Hoi An or Da Nang.

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Lady Buddha
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Impossible to miss, Lady Buddha dominates the landscape of Da Nang. The marble statue, perched on the side of Monkey Mountain and visible from nearly anywhere in the city, stands 220 feet (67 meters) tall and measures 56 feet (17 meters) in diameter. Inside the statue, a flight of stairs leads up to 17 floors, each representing a different aspect of the Buddha.

The name Lady Buddha is a bit deceiving. The statue in fact depicts Guanyin, the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy can be found in coastal areas throughout Asia, as she is believed to bring calm to the sea. The giant statue stands in front of the beautiful Linh Ung Pagoda, with its gardens and small souvenir shop operated by monks.

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Bach Ma National Park (Vuon Quoc gia Bach Ma)
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Home to a colonial-era hill station, the monsoon forests of Bach Ma National Park center on Bach Ma, or White Horse Mountain, which rises 4,757 feet (1,450 meters). Waterfalls, crumbling villas, hiking trails, and a wealth of wildlife, including pheasants, langur monkeys, and muntjac deer, make a magnetic spot to spend a day—or longer.

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Dragon Bridge (Cau Rong)
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One of Da Nang’s more unusual and unexpected attractions is a bridge in the likeness of a dragon spanning the River Han. If the golden dragon slithering across the water isn’t impressive enough, on weekend evenings its body is illuminated by 2,500 LED lights and its head spouts fire and water over the river’s eastern bank.

Opened in 2013, the Dragon Bridge (Cầu Rồng) carries a six-lane roadway and two sidewalks over the river. The bridge measures 2,000 feet (610 meters) long and 123 feet (37.5 meters) wide. As the shortest road link between the Da Nang International Airport and the bulk of Da Nang city, visitors arriving or departing by air often pass over this bridge.

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Son Tra Mountain (Monkey Mountain)
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Used as an observation base in the American-Vietnam war, Son Tra Mountain (Monkey Mountain) overlooks Son Tra Peninsula near the city of Da Nang. Midway up the 2,790-foot (850-meter) peak, you find Linh Ung Pagoda, home to the Lady Buddha statue. Expect to encounter troops of monkeys dwelling in its jungle-covered cliffs.

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My Khe Beach
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My Khe Beach is situated in the northernmost part of the stunning 30-kilometer stretch of coast known as China Beach near Da Nang in Central Vietnam. Widely considered to be Vietnam's most picturesque beach, this lengthy stretch of spectacular coastline is famous for being visited by American troops during the Vietnam War.

My Khe is the ideal beach for holidaymakers visiting Central Vietnam, particularly between May and October, with its smooth white sand, gentle gradient, and abundance of coral and marine life. The beach’s low pollution, pleasant temperatures, and calm waters also add to the appeal here (although the waves become much more dramatic come September-time, making for some ideal surfing conditions).

There are an abundance of accommodation, food, and retail outlets in the area, as well as places to hire surf and snorkel equipment.

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Linh Ung Pagoda
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Famous for its giant statue of Guanyin, the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy, Linh Ung Pagoda occupies 30 acres (12 hectares) on a hill on the Son Tra Peninsula. Opened in 2010, the relatively new pagoda complex features a mix of modern and traditional Vietnamese temple architecture, including a typical three-entrance gate.

According to local legend, a smaller pagoda was built on the same site during the nineteenth century, when a local villager living on the peninsula found a statue of the Buddha drifting near the beach.

As visitors pass through the main gate of the pagoda, they are met by 18 stone statues of the 18 Arhats, believed to be the original followers of the Buddha, whose expressions run the gamut from joy and love to anger and sadness. Towering above the grounds is the 220-foot (67-meter) Guanyin statue. Within the giant monument, visitors can ascend 17 floors, each displaying Buddha statues depicting his various aspects.

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Da Nang Museum of Cham Sculpture
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An open-air colonial building in Da Nang is home to the largest collection of Cham carvings in the world. The Da Nang Museum of Cham Sculpture opened its first gallery in 1919, and in the decades since, the collection has grown to include more than 300 pieces. Many of these terra cotta, sandstone and bronze sculptures and artifacts depict Hindu deities, as well as linga and yoni.

Among the museum’s most important items are the sandstone pieces — statues of gods and animals, pedestals and other decorative items taken from Cham temples. The museum also has an exhibit on modern Cham culture, which includes photographs, clothing and film clips.

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Hai Van Pass (Deo Hai Van)
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Winding over a mountainous stretch of highway just north of Da Nang, the Hai Van Pass (Đèo Hải Vân—literally “Sea Cloud Pass”) is one of Vietnam’s most scenic coast roads. It twists and turns over a spur of the Truong Son mountain range, delivering epic sea views from as high as 1,627 feet (495 meters).

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More Things to Do in Da Nang

Sun World Danang Wonders

Sun World Danang Wonders

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The Da Nang city outpost of the popular Vietnamese theme-park group, Sun World Danang Wonders sprawls along the Han River. The theme park features rides such as roller coasters, carousels, drop towers, and a giant fairground wheel, while the cultural park highlights Asian architecture through scale models of famous buildings.

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Non Nuoc Beach

Non Nuoc Beach

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Located on the coast about halfway between Danang and Hoi An sits Non Nuoc Beach, considered one of the most beautiful beaches in Vietnam if not the world. With the Son Tra Peninsula to the north and the Marble Mountains to the west, this white sand expanse has transformed from a former fishing beach to a resort area lined by five star hotels and resorts.

While Non Nuoc Beach itself measures about 3 miles (5 kilometers) in length, the sand stretches for miles in either direction. That means the beach is rarely crowded, and with a short walk, it’s possible to have a stretch of sand all to yourself.

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