The third-largest city in Vietnam, Danang manages to be the least touristed as well – and that’s a good thing.
People here are too busy making a living, whether they’re selling mi quang (soup noodles served with pork slices, half a hard-boiled egg, shrimp, peanuts and vegies) on the street or investing in joint-stock companies, to bother about tourists, and the city itself has little by way of conventional sightseeing spots. Yet with the constant flow of business travellers and a burgeoning expat community, there’s a healthy hotel, dining and nightlife scene – good for whiling away a few days off the tourist trail.
By no stretch of the imagination is this a beautiful city, but Danang is gradually coming into its own as a thoroughly modern one. Downtown Danang has unveiled several sparkling skyscrapers. Out to the west, the local government is developing Da Phuoc International New Town (trendily abbreviated to D-City), while all the beaches south of My Khe have been colonised by five-star hotel developments. As Danang’s trying its darnedest to go glitzy as a playground for the rich, it remains to be seen if it’ll be hamstrung by its lingering war-era reputation for sleaze (gentlemen, beware of attempts in bars to importune you).
Most travellers who linger in Danang come to lie on the beach or explore Monkey Mountain or the Marble Mountains (Monkey is to the north and there’s only one mountain, Marble is to the south and there are five of them). If you’re staying downtown, the riverfront promenade can be a charming, less dramatic version of the Bund in Shanghai, particularly in the evening when it attracts canoodling couples, families out for an evening constitutional and teenagers just hanging out (and sometimes breakdancing). Despite the city’s size, not that many people speak English. You’re not likely to be hassled about buying anything; even the xe om drivers are tame compared with their brethren in Hue or Hoi An.