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Why Danang Should be on Your Bucket List

31st March 2015

Sitting on a long thin peninsula dusted with white sands perfectly half way between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, for years travellers have simply passed through Danang. It’s an easy mistake to make. But the times are changing for Vietnam's third-largest city and the newcomer to Asia's bustling beach holiday scene. Making the cut in the New York Times' list of ‘52 Places to Go in 2015’, it’s clear that Danang is as wanderlust-worthy as the likes of Shanghai, Rome and Norfolk Island, which all fell lower on the highly acclaimed list. Here’s a bunch of reasons why Danang should make the cut on your own bucket list too.

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The beaches are beautiful...
Danang goes hand-in-hand with the beach holiday scene. It’s why most people flock here! In parts, the shores are sweeping and golden, while in others they’re fine white and sandy, all lapped at by clear blue waters. China Beach is the star attraction, a 20-mile stretch that’s easily the cream of Vietnam’s coastal crop. Nestled along here, My Khe takes out the crown. It once featured as one of the ‘World’s Most Luxurious Beaches’ by Forbes Magazine and could rival the likes of Thailand’s best beaches.

You can fly straight in...
No need to catch an internal flight connection in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City. Danang has its very own international airport. Within minutes of touching down on the runway you could be checking in to a hotel and rolling out that beach towel. What better way to refresh after a long flight than with a dip in the salty ocean?

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There’s delicious food (and bakeries too)...
By far one of the best ways to explore Danang is by taste. Delicious steaming noodles, Danang beo cake and flavoursome street foods make this easy to do. Hole-in-the-wall outlets and a plethora of Vietnamese restaurants dish up all kinds of local specialties and Vietnamese favourites, while an emerging modern restaurant scene is quickly infusing the city with global flavours. Danang is infested with bakeries too. A vestige of French colonial times, their cabinets are full of crackly banh mi (baguette).

 

The golf is world-class...  
Certainly one of the biggest surprises in Danang is the golf. As if overnight, three world-class golf courses have sprung up on its sandy shores: Danang Golf Club, Montgomerie Links and Laguna Lang Co Golf Club. You’ll be impressed to hear that Aussie golf veteran Greg Norman, Scottish pro-golfer Colin Montgomerie and Sir Nick Faldo are the masterminds behind these fabulous seaside greens.

All the big-name hotels are here (or on their way)...
The likes of Raffles, Hyatt, Le Meridien and Pullman can’t be wrong. They’re just a few of the gleaming resorts, five-star hotels and apartments that have burrowed their way into the ocean-swept sands at a speedy rate. An impressive range of modern hotels are constantly cropping up along the city’s riverfront promenade too, while many more big-name five-star resorts are rushing to open their doors.

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There are impressive bridges to admire...
In the city itself, all that was once old about Danang is rapidly facing an overhaul, including a number of spectacular brand new bridges arching over the Han River. The Tran Thi Ly sail-shaped bridge, which glows bright neon by night, and Thuan Phuoc Bridge, the longest cable-stayed bridge in Vietnam, are both eye-catching in their own right. But the 666-metre-long, dragon-shaped bridge takes the show. The Dragon Bridge breathes fire and spouts water in special displays every weekend, transforming it into a tourist attraction suddenly overrun with pedestrians instead of cars.

Natural gems crop up beyond the shoreline...
It’s not all about the beach; green escapes abound too. The closest is Nui Son Tra at the tip of the peninsula. Nicknamed Monkey Mountain by American soldiers who used it as a radar and communications base during the American War, it flaunts fine views from the top. But you can also take the cable car up into the rolling Ba Na Hills or drive two hours north to Bach Ma National Park to take in the sparkling lakes and the plethora of flora and fauna. Another great spot close by is the Marble Mountains, a well-known pilgrimage site and a cluster of five limestone and marble hills home to temples, tunnels, caves and intriguing formations.

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It is the perfect base for exploring...
Danang is perfectly sandwiched between two evocative and charming riverside cities touting Unesco World Heritage status: Hoi An and Hue. They both make for fabulous day trips brimming with palaces and pagodas, culture and cuisine, shopping and ambient strolls along winding character-laden alleyways. Hoi An, considered Vietnam’s most atmospheric and delightful town, is just a 20 to 40 minute taxi ride south while Hue is an easy two hour drive north.

To see it before everybody else does!
While the locals have known about this gem for a long time, it’s only started to gain worldwide attention in recent years. The beauty of this is that it’s still relatively undiscovered! There’s enough tourist infrastructure to keep you comfortable (and living in absolute luxury if you wish), while being a low-key paradise that maintains a local, cultural and authentic touch. Unlike touristic hotspots in Phuket and Bali, here you’ll see more locals than fellow travellers!

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