Da Nang is Vietnam’s third busiest airport and the key transportation hub and economic centre for central Vietnam. Once considered just a stepping stone to Lang Co and Hoi An for travellers, Da Nang these days is attracting visitors in its own right.


It’s a city going places, and it’s going quickly. Key to its rapid development was the decision at the end of last century to grant it administrative control (one of five such centrally governed cities in the country) thus releasing it from the provincial authorities of Quang Nam Province.


Well over a thousand years ago Da Nang was part of the Champa Kingdom and its excellent Museum of Cham Sculpture testifies to this heritage. But by the time European traders and explorers made their first visits in the 1530s the Cham people had been displaced by the Dai Viet who had been pushing southwards from Hanoi for several centuries.


Trade and economic activity in central Vietnam, however, was focused on nearby Hoi An at this time. But from the mid-1800s, when the silting of Hoi An’s waterways saw it begin to lose traction, Da Nang began to rise in economic importance.


After several skirmishes with the French in the region Da Nang was incorporated into French Indochina along with the rest of Vietnam in 1887. In 1889 it was renamed Tourane by the French.


During the American War Da Nang hosted a colossal air base for the South Vietnamese and US forces. At its peak, this base had over two and a half thousand air traffic operations a day. Da Nang finally fell to the victorious communist forces at the end of March 1975.


These days Da Nang’s population is around a million and its population growth is well above the national average. It leads the nation in many sectors of industrial production and, as a seaport, it’s the third busiest in Vietnam.


For visitors Da Nang is well-placed. The UNESCO heritage sites of Hoi An and Hue are within comfortable striking distance. Many outstanding resorts are nearby as are natural wonders like Lang Co and the spectacular Hai Van pass on the road to Hue. To the west the mountain resort of Ba Na Hills and the ancient Cham site at My Son beckon and even closer Monkey Mountain and the Marble Mountains offer unique experiences.


Da Nang’s beaches are some of the finest in the world including the renowned China Beach. The city is better equipped for shoppers than anywhere in central Vietnam, especially for Western goods, and its nightlife and cosmopolitan restaurants belie a substantial expat community.

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