Danang - The stop we never intended to make
Sometimes you happen upon a place with the intention to pass through only to find yourself enjoying it so much you stay for a while. That's exactly what happened to us when we landed in Danang. Initially our plan was to fly in on a late flight, stay the night, and then head on up to Hue. After checking into our hostel, which was the best hostel of our trip, we ended up staying for a couple of days.
Danang is the entry point for Central Vietnam, it's airport services the massive attractions of Hue and Hoi An. But many people overlook what Danang has to offer.
Our first night we spent in the Funtastic Danang Hostel, centrally located and excellent value for their spacious and clean dorm rooms. From there we explored the city, it is fairly small and mostly industrial but there are some gems, including the dragon bridge and the Cham Sculpture museum. The museum houses the largest collect of Cham sculpture in the world and it is a good place to start learning about the Champa people before heading to Mỹ Sơn, the holy place of the Champa people. Entrance to the museum will set you back around VND40,000 (around $2USD) and is well worth a visit in my opinion. It is open from 7am until 530pm.
Our next two nights we moved over to Funtastic Beach Hostel Danang, the sister hostel of Funtastic Danang. Our main reason for the move was to be closer to the beach. By this time we had been traveling for 2 weeks and wanted a slower place. The hostel is 2 streets away from the beach front and very close to a range of great dining options including some awesome Indian fare.
From our new location we rented a scooter and rode up and down the pristine coastline exploring the beaches and feeling the wind cool our sunburnt skin. It was a big day, we started very early riding up to the Marble Mountains to get there before anyone else did. These stunning rock formations jut out from the surrounding houses, a natural monument that the Vietnamese people have harnessed to worship their gods. Inside the rock are a number of Buddhist and Hindu grottoes and cave temples bedecked with ornaments.
We arrived around 7:30am walked up the mountainous steps (all 156 of them) and perused the sacred caves. On top of some of the mountains were colourful pagodas. It gets very hot very quickly and on the top of the mountains there is little protection from the searing heat. The caves, whilst they offer some shelter from the sun, have little ventilation so can become hot as saunas by midday. Our recommendation would be to tackle this attraction early in the day. Tour groups start arriving around 9am as well, if you are coming here to get good pictures.
Exploring the long stretch of beach further we settled on My Khe beach mid afternoon to watch the basket boats float on the incoming tide. The simplicity of these vessels was astonishing. They are essentially baskets woven in natural materials and manned by a single oar and generally a single occupant.
Another thing Danang has going for it is some amazing food and coffee joints, markedly cheaper than their more well known city counterparts. We stumbled upon a nice little joint called Tam's Pub and Surf Shop, here you can borrow boards and she serves up the meanest home fries we have ever eaten. Super buttery, crunchy and full of flavours it really hit the spot after living of salads for so long.
If you are planning on a stop in central Vietnam add Danang to your itinerary, you will not be disappointed.
Day One: Exploring Danang and Cham Sculpture Museum
Day Two: Marble Mountain and My Khi Beach (Basket Boats)