Da Nang is one of the fastest-developing cities in Vietnam, with a strategic location that makes it a valuable port city and transport hub. Beyond its image as a metropolis undergoing a fast pace of industrialization, however, Da Nang is also home to some of the most iconic cultural and historical sites in Vietnam.
For many history buffs, visiting this coastal city is a definite must. If you’re one of them, don’t delay your holiday plans any longer! Search for Da Nang travel combo packages from Traveloka or your booking service of choice, and choose a package that meets your flight and accommodation needs based on the places you want to visit during your historical and cultural tour of the city. Here are just some of the places that we highly recommend.
If Thailand has Ayutthaya, Cambodia has Angkor Wat, and Indonesia has Borobudur, then Vietnam has My Son. My Son is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a temple complex where you can find the ruins of the ancient Champa Kingdom. Surrounded by two mountain ranges, the temples in My Son were all dedicated to the Hindu deity Shiva. There are also intricate carvings that depict other Hindu gods. Most of the temples were ruined, however, as the site was bombed by the Americans during the Vietnam War. You can even easily spot bomb craters when you visit the site.
All the remaining structures in My Son have a religious function, like kalans or sanctuaries made from brick that house a deity. Most of these structures were made from red brick, except for one—the “B1” temple—which is made from stone. Meanwhile, the religious sculptures, statues, and other artifacts that survived the bombing are now kept in the Museum of Cham Sculpture, another must-visit site for history buffs. When you visit My Son, it’s ideal to hire a tour guide who can better explain the history of the site.
The Marble Mountains are a group of five hills and mountains made from marble and limestone. Each of the peaks are named after the elements: Tho Son (earth), Kim Son (metal), Hoa Son (fire), Thuy Son (water), and Moc Son (wood). Dotted across the mountains are various temples, shrines, and caves, although only Thuy Son’s peak can be accessed by guests. At the top of the mountain, you’ll have a panoramic view of Non Nuoc Beach, the East Sea, and the cityscape.
The caves within the mountains and cliffs used to be inhabited by the Chams, the same people who built My Son. As such, there are plenty of old Hindu grottoes in the Marble Mountains standing alongside Buddhist temples and pagodas built during the Nguyen Dynasty. Non Nuoc Village, located in the vicinity of the mountains, is also known for its artisans who specialize in marble sculptures.
Lady Buddha Linh Ung Pagoda
Standing on top of a hill in the Son Tra Peninsula, the Linh Ung Bai But Pagoda features a 67-meter-high statue of Guanyin, the Buddhist goddess of mercy. It’s the tallest statue of Guanyin in Southeast Asia.
According to folk stories in Son Tra, during the Nguyen Dynasty, a Buddha statue washed up on their sandbanks. The locals took this as a sign of good luck. They built a shrine for worship, after which the region remained in peace for a long time, and the fisherfolk had bountiful catches and didn’t encounter violent storms. The sandbank where the Buddha statue was found was then named Bai But—the same place where the Linh Ung Pagoda Stands today.
Of course, Linh Ung Pagoda itself is a work of art. It’s one of the largest pagodas in the city, sitting on top of a platform shaped like a lotus flower. It features intricately designed pillars and sculptures, along with 21 statues of Buddha.
Son Tra Mountain
At the north end of My Khe Beach lies Son Tra Mountain. It got the nickname “Monkey Mountain” from members of the U.S. Army who used the mountain as a communications base and look-out point. The soldiers saw various species of monkeys inhabiting the forests, and the nickname stuck even after the American-Vietnam war.
Son Tra Mountain is surrounded by plenty of beaches, like Bai Bac, Bai But (where Linh Ung Pagoda is located), and Tien Sa. It’s also a popular mountain for climbing and for spotting the monkeys for which it was given the moniker. Some of the monkey species that reside in the area include the long-tailed macaques, the rhesus macaques, and the red-shanked douc langurs.
Despite its rapid development, Da Nang retains a laid-back vibe that tourists truly love. It’s one of the best places you can visit where history and culture blends seamlessly with nature and modernization.