For most travelers Da Nang is a stop on the way to Hoi An or the Marble Mountains. But this coastal city which is half way between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City is also known for its sandy beaches, cosmopolitan vibe and history as a French colonial port.
Da Nang is visibly going through a real growth spurt. Skyscrapers are magically appearing on the never ending stretches of beach. New western looking restaurants are popping up in every direction…and lying on a chaise, with the waves lapping at your feet looking through the beams of sunlight you may just think you are in Miami.
We stayed at the Fourpoint by Sheraton on My Khe Beach. Once listed in Forbes Magazine as one of the ‘World’s Most Luxurious Beaches’, “the stunning sands of My Khe Beach offer surfers and sun seekers a gloriously unspoiled hideaway”. Honestly I can think of cleaner and nicer beaches…but ok. Perhaps it is the rapid growth which is causing some of the decline…perhaps it is the overall climate change….perhaps it is lack of government oversight on pollution…I suspect it is all of the above.
I was grateful for the amenities that Da Nang had to offer, as our trip to Halong Bay caused me to contract a very dangerous case of cellulitis on my face and I desperately needed an IV of antibiotics, blood tests and the like. After my medical emergency was tended to we decided to explore some of the historic neighborhoods of Da Nang.
There are 3 pink French Colonial churches in Vietnam and one of them is the “Rooster Church” in Da Nang (named for it’s weather vane). Built in 1923 in the city center, the huge old Gothic-style cathedral is one of the most unique architectural sites in the city. Oddly, the cathedral was gated with a soldier standing guard. Only certain people were allowed in (at the whimsy of the guard). We had to loiter for a while before he “allowed” us in.
One of our 4 days in Da Nang we decided to walk the beach north to the tallest Buddha structure in Vietnam. At 67 meters tall this Lady Buddha can be seen from most locations in Da Nang. As an aside, walking north from My Khe beach, the shoreline was absolutely disgusting – littered with garbage, dead fish and at times channels of dirty water flowing from the city into the ocean. Why something isn’t done by the very watchful communist government, I just don’t know.
We finally reached Lady Buddha on top of the verdant hilltop. The statue leans from the mountain looking over the sea to provide safe passage to the fishermen below. There are other Buddhist temples throughout the garden grounds including the biggest Pagoda of Da Nang.
We returned to the hotel in time for the celebration of the Marriott and SPG becoming one – Marriott Bonvoy. They had a lovely party for Platinum members including great food, drink and performers. It sure is nice to have Platinum privileges with Marriott – we were upgraded to a suite, got free breakfast and complimentary drinks in the evenings.
Overall, Da Nang was a great resort town to recharge in. It’s proximity to much better beaches just a few miles south makes it even more interesting! The big stretch of sand between Da Nang and Hoi An has a few pristine beaches: Bac My Anh and Non Nuoc. Definitely worth a visit!