Đà Nẵng, Street Food, and Orange Hotel
Our plan was to take the sleeper train from Hà Nội to Đà Nẵng, but the train was booked — we flew instead. Linley had a very sleepy Vietnamese neighbor on the plane who kept trying to use her as a pillow. We checked into Orange Hotel and then went out into the rain to find dinner. Some of the restaurants were closed, so we ate some delicious street food. Phở bò and fried phở rau were on the menu (noodle soup with beef, and fried noodles with vegetables). We lucked out with our choice in hotels because the staff were all extremely nice, the owners are Vietnamese but they have lived in California before and helped us interpret the local culture, and the hotel car gave us rides around the city.
Our first visit to a cultural attraction in Đà Nẵng was the Cham Museum. The Cham people once inhabited what is now Đà Nẵng and built many Hindu temples in the surrounding area. The Cham Museum showcases the largest collection of Cham sculpture in the world. After our visit to the museum, we walked into a nearby coffee shop. Some local university students were inside playing guitar and struck up a conversation. We had a quick jam session and shared stories. They were so nice to us, and even picked up our tab!
Next we visited the Marble Mountains (Vietnamese: Ngũ Hành Sơn, “five element mountains”), south of Đà Nẵng. The Marble Mountains are five large hills made of marble and limestone. On the way there, we saw the remnants of an American helicopter base from the war. Inside the mountains there are many caves and tunnels, pagodas and temples, and Buddhist and Hindu grottoes within some of the caves. During the Vietnam War, there was a Việt Cộng base and hospital hidden within the Marble Mountains. We saw very few tourists here, but the cave temples were amazing. It felt like a scene out of Indiana Jones walking into a small, unassuming cave entrance and stepping into an enormous cave filled with temples and carvings.
Mỹ Khê Beach (China Beach)
We visited some of Đà Nẵng’s beaches including Mỹ Khê (a.k.a China Beach) and Non Nước. In Vietnam, most people try to avoid a suntan, so we had most of the beach to ourselves. All down the beach, there are small stands selling beer, snacks, and chairs.
Sơn Trà Peninsula & Pháp Lâm Pagoda
The Sơn Trà peninsula overlooks the northern coast of Đà Nẵng. Sơn Trà was also known as Monkey Mountain to Americans during the Vietnam War. We visited the Pháp Lâm Pagoda, recently built to protect the city from storms. There is a very large Buddhist statue at the pagoda watching over the city. The brilliant-white statue is visible in the distance from all of Đà Nẵng’s many beaches. After our visit to Sơn Trà, the hotel manager brought us to one of his favorite street food vendors to get some specialty seafood soup.
Đà Nẵng has several bridges, one of which is shaped like a golden dragon. On weekends, the bridge lights up and the dragon shoots fire and water out of its mouth. We stood among a large crowd of locals to watch the show.
Watch the Video of the Dragon Breathing Fire
Watch the Video of the Dragon Spraying Water