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What to do in Danang, Vietnam
Located in the center of Vietnam, Danang has long been known for its picturesque long beaches with beautiful white sand, enchanting ranges of mountains and spectacular landscapes. In 2013, the city was voted by the readers of the Smart Travel Asia online magazine as one of the 10 most attractive holiday destinations. Travelling to Danang enables you to both enjoy an eventful time at a fast growing city and explore cultural heritages and untamed nature of the less travelled corners. There are many activities that you can do and many interesting places to visit in the city. If you plan to travel to Danang and want to know the best things to do in the city, here are some ideas for you to start with.
Enjoy the beach
If you are in Danang, it is a must to spend a couple of days to rest and relax at the many stunning beaches in the city. Danang beaches have earned many accolades such as being featured by Forbes as one of the most alluring beaches in the world. No amount of words can completely convey the beauty of the flawless white sand, the sparkling blue water reflecting the summer cloudless blue sky, the charming coconut trees along the beaches and the peaceful feelings of just lying around reading a book under the sun.
At the beach, besides swimming, there is an abundance of other sports and activities that you can find suitable for your taste. In the afternoon, especially during the summer, the beaches are usually packed with people, local and foreigners alike, coming to play soccer, volleyball, jogging and other sports. For people who are into extreme sports, Danang beaches are also a good place to enjoy surfing, paragliding, and parachuting. The fairly consistent and surfable waves of Non Nuoc Beach combining with a fairly cheap living cost make Danang become increasingly popular among surfers and backpackers. In addition, Son Tra Beach is a great place to go snorkeling with grotesque coral reefs comprising of more than 40 types of corals.
Son Tra peninsula
Only about 13km from the city center is Son Tra Peninsula, a place where you can experience the true calling of nature. Son Tra is thought of as a blessing on Danang from heaven. It is designated as a national park because it is home to thousands of species of fauna and flora. The way to Son Tra is worth a trip in itself, going along the most beautiful streets along the beach in Danang. As you drive up the mountain, the weather cools down and the views become more and more exciting. From Ban Co Peak (Chess Board Peak) where a legend claimed that fairies descended to play chess and behold the stunning view of the nature, you can get a glimpse of the whole Danang city, the magnificent beaches and Danang Bay. Watching sunrise or sunset here is also a special occasion.
Have you been to Danang, Vietnam?
Ba Na Hills
Situated at an altitude of more than 1,500 meters, Ba Na Hills is known as a heaven all earth, far from all the hustle and bustle of city life. Ba Na has all four seasons packed in one day: lovely spring in the morning, warm summer during noon, cool autumn in the afternoon and at night, the temperature can fall under 15oC. Founded by the French since 1919, Ba Na has been developed into a resorts and recreational center setting several World Guinness Records. The cable car trip to the top of the mountain takes about 20 minutes and it is worth every single minute because from it, you can have the most fantastic view of the landscape and surrounding areas. At Ba Na, tourists can relax and enjoy the amenities of modern life as well as explore the unspoiled nature. You can spend a day hiking along the small trails cutting through the forest, visiting various cultural and religious places such as Linh Ung Pagoda, Linh Phong Tu Tower, tasting wine at the wine cellar, or entertaining your children with many games and shows at the theme park. At night, there are also some traditional Vietnamese folk dance shows around campfire.
Cham museum is properly listed in the first place in any travel guide book to Danang. The museum houses the world’s largest Cham sculptures and art works from the heyday of Champa Empire from 7th to 15th century. The collection consists of sandstone sculptures, carvings, clothing, household items, photographs, and a few bronze pieces. Among them, the sandstone collections account for the majority of the artifacts, featuring altars, statues of gods including Shiva, Vishnu and other goddesses, holy animals, decorative objects from Cham temples and towers. Here, you can learn so much about the Cham Empire, their religion, their rise and fall, how they live now, and how the various Asian religions interact and relate to one another, making Asia a mysterious and distinctive place. The museum is located just about 4km from the airport, and the ticket costs only 40,000 VND/person (under 2USD). Many people visit Cham Museum also visit My Son Ruins, which is also just 4 hours away from Danang, to continue their cultural and religious exploration.
Food in Danang never fails to amaze all food-lovers and adventure-seekers around the world. Though Vietnamese food all over Vietnam shares some similarities in recipes, food preparation method and ingredients, it also varies across the country from North to South. Compared to other regions’ food, Danang’s food has more spices and flavors and it features some distinctive dishes such as fish cake noodle soup (bun cha ca), grilled pork with rice vermicelli noodle salad (bun thit nuong), Quang noodle (my Quang), spring rolls (goi cuon). Danang food also includes many types of delicious street food. Throughout the day, you can easily spot many food stands along the almost all streets selling fast-food such as Vietnamese-style bread, sticky rice, hollow bread, Vietnamese honeycomb cake, and other types of food. Local people, especially young people, love eating at the street restaurants and often spending with their friends there.
Walking along Han River
Han River flows through right in the middle of the city center, adding more charm to the little town. The riverfront along Bach Dang Street offers a great place to go for a walk, enjoy the cool breezes, admire the great view of the beautiful bridges, and on summer nights, you can expect to see all sorts of activities going on here such as dance performance of local people, musical performance and street vendors selling various art and craft items. Along the riverside are numerous coffees shops, bars and pubs, which are the frequent gathering spots of expats and young people. If you are very keen, you can also try to go on a cruise tour along Han River. There are many companies providing this service with price starting around as little as 70,000 VND (or 3.5 USD).
Danang international fireworks festival
Danang international fireworks competition is a biannual event in Danang city (used to be an annual event), and it is usually held at the end of April. This is by all means the most magnificent fireworks performance in Vietnam. Each year, there are about five teams from different countries participating in the competition. Each team will choose a theme and accompanying music to set the tone for their colorful fireworks party. Spectators will have a chance to witness a breathtaking fireworks display with incredible spectacles, creative shapes and effects and bright twinkling pieces of color over Han River. The event is often celebrated together with other activities such as music festival, dance performance and art exhibitions. The next Danang international fireworks competition is scheduled to take place in April, 2015.
Drink coffee/ beers on the roof
Drinking on a rooftop in a new city will definitely give you peaceful, romantic and unforgettable moments. Green Plaza Hotel on Bach Dang Street and Hoang Anh Gia Lai Plaza on Hoang Dieu Street were among the first places that opened an open-air coffee/bar with the terrace on its highest floor for non-residents. As more tall buildings are constructed in the city, you have a lot more choices now as to where to go. For example, the A La Carte glassed-wall bar on Vo Nguyen Giap Street offers you a great view of the beach and the whole city. Sky36 bar on the rooftop of Novotel Danang is an upscale bar/ nightclub overlooking an extraordinary panorama of the city.
Eat plenty of tropical fruits
Like many other tropical cities, Danang is a true heaven when it comes to fruits. For Westerners who first come to visit a tropical country, they would be completely amazed by the vast variety of fruits available in the city coming in a wide range of shapes and flamboyant colors. The fruits are fresh and very reasonably-priced. Besides being delightfully delicious, tropical fruits are also nutritious and provide you with a lot of useful vitamins and minerals. Some of the most popular fruits in Danang include mango, rambutans, mangosteens, dragon fruits, papayas, and sapodillas. Local people eat fruits in many ways such as eating raw, making fruit juice, smoothies, jams…
Visit local traditional markets
If you want to learn about the culture, living standards and lifestyle of local people, the fastest way to learn is to visit its traditional markets. Han Market and Con Market are among the oldest markets in Danang. Han Market is located on Tran Phu street, facing towards Han River, a very convenient location which contributes to the rapid and continual development of the market. There are various kinds of goods you can find here ranging from groceries to clothing, kitchen items, and souvenirs and so on. If you look for some local specialties to bring back home, this is a good place to buy some. Another market worth visiting in Danang is Con Market, a busy shopping center in the city. If you love being in a place full of people, noise, chaos to experience life in its dizziest form, this is a place you should go. Although not everyone wants to haggle, be dragged around or yelled at, days later when you leave the city, this can be one of the most memorable and fantastic events you can recall and brag with your friends about!
Other than these two major markets, there are many other small traditional markets, street markets as well as modern supermarkets and shopping centers in the city. Except for the modern, Western-style supermarkets and shopping centers, at all other places, you should learn to bargain with the shop owners to get the best deals.
Tips for negotiation at the market
Conduct a quick research before going to the market to get an idea about the fair price
Offer the sellers a price range
Learn some basic Vietnamese words and phrases for negotiation
Ignore the sellers' body language
Determine your goals
Appear to be desperately in love with the items
Set your tone right at the beginning
Get into a bidding war
Decide your price and start with a much lower one than that
Offer for too little
Raise your offer gradually, not all at once
Shop around before choosing anything
Lose your temper
Ask for a better discount to buy more
Walk away (or pretend to) to see if the sellers call you back