Nowhere in Vietnam is changing as fast as Danang. For decades it had a reputation as a provincial backwater, but big changes are ongoing. Stroll along the Han riverfront and you’ll find gleaming new modernist hotels, and apartments and restaurants are emerging. Spectacular new bridges now span the river, and in the north of the city, the landmark new D-City is rising from the flatlands.
1. Dragon Bridge
Welcome to the biggest show in town every Saturday and Sunday night. At 9pm, this impressive dragon sculpture spouts fire and water from its head, near the Han River’s eastern bank. The best observation spots are the cafes lining the eastern bank to the north of the bridge; boat trips also depart from Ð Bach Dang on the river’s western bank to make the most of Danang’s neon-lit splendour. The colour-changing dragon sees selfie-takers every night.
2. Museum of Cham Sculpture
This fine, small museum has the world’s largest collection of Cham artefacts, housed in buildings marrying French-colonial architecture with Cham elements. Founded in 1915 by the École Française d’Extrême Orient, it displays more than 300 pieces including altars, lingas, garudas, apsaras, Ganeshes and images of Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu, all dating from the 5th to 15th centuries. Explanations are slim. To hire an MP3 audio guide (20,000d), you’ll need to show ID – passport or driving licence – or leave a refundable US$50 bond.
The treasures come from Dong Duong (Indrapura), Khuong My, My Son, Tra Kieu and other sites. There are also exhibits focusing on Cham culture today, with contemporary artefacts and photos of the Kate Festival (the Cham New Year).
3. Cao Dai Temple
This is Central Vietnam’s largest Cao Dai temple, serving about 50,000 followers. A sign reading van giao nhat ly (all religions have the same reason) hangs before the main altar. Behind the gilded letters are the founders of five of the world’s great religions: Mohammed, Laotse (wearing Eastern Orthodox–style robes), Jesus, a Southeast Asian–looking Buddha and Confucius. Behind the main altar sits an enormous globe with the Cao Dai ‘divine eye’ symbol.
4. Danang Cathedral
The Da Nang Cathedral, known to the locals as “Nha Tho Con Ga” (Rooster Cathedral) because of its copper rooster weathervane, is located at 156 Tran Phu Street.
Priest Louis Vallet had the idea to build the church and he led the construction work which began in the Rue du Musée Street (now called Tran Phu Street) in February 1923. The church officially opened its doors on 10 March 1924 with the purpose of serving the French Catholics who lived in Da Nang at that time. According to an explanation from the priest, the rooster on the roof of the church is not in fact the symbol of France, but is a symbol associated with St Peter’s story in the Gospel about repentance and awakening. This church was the only one built in the city during the French Colonial period.
The cathedral measures about 70 meters in height, and it’s Gothic-style design is an amazing and marvelous architectural structure incorporating several medieval stained glass windows of various saints. The Cathedral has been awarded a medal by the Vatican Holy See.
5. Ho Chi Minh Museum
Located on Duy Tan Street in Da Nang, the Military Zone 5 branch of the Ho Chi Minh Museum features a replica of President Ho Chi Minh’s home in Ha Noi, with a fishpond, a house on stilts, a garden and other relics. It’s all very realistic and feels as though Uncle Ho is still there.
Construction of the museum began on 12 September 1976 and it officially opened to the public on 19 May 1977. Its aim is to realise the aspirations of local people, along with the officers and men of Military Zone 5, and show their love for Uncle Ho.
6. Phap Lam Pagoda
Phap Lam Pagoda is a two storey temple located near the city center on Ong Ich Khiem Street, just five minutes walk from Con Market. The pagoda, built in 1934 and formerly known as Tinh Hoi Pagoda, is surrounded by large trees. The peaceful courtyard contains manicured gardens lined with Buddhist sculptures.
The top floor of the pagoda is a presbytery containing beautiful carved pillars, Buddhist Pali texts and a gold Buddha statue. On the ground floor there is an amphitheatre that can be found full of worshippers during traditional festivals such as the Tet holiday and Lunar New Year.
In the courtyard sits a 1.1 meter high Buddha and brass statues of the Goddess of Mercy (Avalokitecvara) and Dai The Chi Bodhisattva. Watch locals praying in the morning or getting fortunes told as monks go about their business. The neighborhood surrounding the pagoda is a great place to eat vegetarian food as local restaurants and food carts cater to the pagoda’s monks and worshipers.
Wanderlust Tips | Cinet