DA NANG TRAVEL GUIDE
Da Nang is Vietnam's third largest city, and is located on the Eastern Sea coast, midway between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City and the largest city of Central Vietnam.
The city itself has neither the atmosphere of Hanoi nor the hustle-bustle of Ho Chi Minh City, but has its share of sights and is close to the ancient cities of charming Hoi An and the imperial capital of Hue, making it a popular vacationing spot for those looking to explore the attractions of central Vietnam or soak up some rays while hanging out on the city's beaches.
The city has grown rapidly in recent years and reached a population of over 1,000,000 people in 2014. There are many remnants of the "American War" leftover in Da Nang. On the way to the popular tourist spot; South Vietnam Sea, the ruins of a military base remain in the form of helicopter hangars, although these are now more easily spotted at the airport, which serves both civil and military flights.
Da Nang is often overlooked by tourists but is one of the most friendly in all of Vietnam. The famous My Khe Beach, otherwise known as China Beach for American G.I.'s, is monthly sprouting new high-rise hotels. Some of the most beautiful beaches in Vietnam are found here, and some of the friendliest people.
Until relatively recently, Da Nang was somewhat hostile to foreigners, a consequence of the attitudes of those who then controlled the provincial government. In the early 90s, however, this changed, and since the late 90s the provincial [actually autonomous city] government has been enthusiastically pursuing foreign investment and developing infrastructure. Da Nang has some of the best roads in the country -- the coast road is at least four lanes from northern provincial boundary to southern provincial boundary. Compared to either Hanoi or HCMC, traffic in Da Nang is always relatively light, although huge trucks blare along every now and again and there are brief 'rush hours.' Development is visible and rapid; the city has expanded tremendously in the last ten years, and the skyline bristles with construction cranes. There are now at least three large supermarkets as well as a Metro wholesaler.
The hottest months of the year are May through August, when the temperature can get to as high as 40 degrees Celsius, and it is generally very dry. There are usually tropical storms in October and November.
There are three main beaches in Danang. (A fourth one faces north into the bay and is not a place where expats usually go.) The beaches on the eastern side of the city are beautiful and developed for expat-friendly tourism. In the north is Pham Van Dong beach and Temple Resort. Temple Resort has a beautiful infinity pool under the palm trees with a view of the ocean and beach (90,000 VND). The My Kye Beach (China Beach) is at the eastern end of the Dragon Bridge road. And at Holiday Beach in the south is where you can walk into the cafe-rich An Thuong area and rent a surf board--Holiday Beach always has bigger waves than other parts of the beach.
Da Nang is also ideally positioned between Hoi An (40 minutes south) and Hue (2 hours north). Stop by and soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the unspoilt golden sandy beaches on the up and coming eastern part of Da Nang (Son Tra peninsula). Deck chairs and sun loungers can be rented on the beach for VND 20 - 30,000 per two hours. Do not forget to take your towel, etc. A handful of showers exists near where the deck chairs are.
There are several local shopping markets scattered around the city and a few shopping centres. Hung Vuong, Hoang Dieu, Phan Chu Trinh and surrounding streets offers a wealth of quality goods; clothes, shoes, homewares, dvds etc..
Danang Souvenirs specializes in tourism souvenirs and gifts about Da Nang city. They exclusive design their own products to hope promote the city's brand image to the world. There is a wide range of products to choose from. You can buy typical souvenir products such as tshirt, teddy bear, key rings, magnet, etc. The main shop (Danang Souvenirs & Cafe) opens in April, 2014. The address is 34 Bach Dang Street (or next to Novotel Danang).
Vanda Tailors is a menswear tailor in Central Vietnam not to be missed. They primarily supply tailor made clothing to many foreign countries and have a retail store in Hoi An.
There are many places in which you can have a good meal in Danang city. Because of its position, in the middle of Vietnam, you can find many sorts of food come from the other parts of the country. Besides the local food, there are also international cuisines such as the first Michelin star restaurant in Asia; La Maison 1988 by Michel Roux.
If you prefer the fresh air and fresh seafood, it's a great idea to have a walk along the street named Pham Van Dong. There are lots of seafood restaurants and seafood bars there. Get into a named restaurant, not the ones on the street side, to have safe and good quality seafood.
There are several seafood restaurants along the My Khe beach, the other side of Cau Song Han -- the big lit-up suspension swing bridge. It is a couple of kilometers straight from the bridge to the My Khe beach, then if you turn right there are seven upscale restaurants on the beach side of the road, and many local restaurants on the land side, with beach side seating a bit further along from the upscale ones. Further South on the beach road are two nice seafood restaurants next to My Khe Beach Hotel [My Khe is the oldest], and the Czech microbrewery restaurant across the street from the new My Khe 3 Hotel. Highly recommended to try are grilled cuttlefish, grilled oysters and clams [you will find the latter two are different at every restaurant], and everywhere you can find 'hotpot' or lau, the Vietnamese hot fish soups. The seafood restaurant Trieu Chau is one block closer to the beach and one long block in to the right from the Golden Sea Hotel that serves a wonderful Lau Thai Lan.(Spicy Thailand style fish soup)
If you prefer a cheap meal with safe and quite good quality food, the small bars are the best choice. There are many kinds of small bar in Danang, but they seem to be the same in the food they sell, quite good but not the best. Best if you go with a local person who can order for you.
There are also many specialty restaurants, such as the goat restaurant on Tran Hung Dao [across the Han River from downtown], or the smaller Czech brewery restaurant near the airport that specializes in turtle [although many other places serve turtle; don't worry, they are farmed, mostly for export to China. Farmed crocodile is also available many places.
As drinking coffee is a part of Vietnamese culture, it's a good idea if you spend your time on drinking coffee there. Coffee in Vietnam, especially coffee in the middle of Vietnam, is very strong and has a very wonderful smell. In Danang, people spend a lot of time drinking coffee and chatting with friends and family in coffee shops. There are several kinds of coffee shop in Danang: Luxurious coffee shops, mid-class coffee shops and special coffee shops.
Da Nang is more friendly than other Vietnamese cities on the city side. But be extremely careful about establishments on the beach side. There is a lot of corruption. Personally speak to sources, so you do not get shafted.
However, most locals are quite friendly and almost always willing to help (even when they do not speak English). They are also generally more easygoing and less motivated by scamming foreigners than you will experience in other cities such as Hanoi or HCM, and this can be a welcome surprise and gives Da Nang more of its own charm as well.