Day Trips From Da Nang
Hoi An and Da Nang are perfectly positioned for exploring Vietnam’s narrow waist. With the Hai Van Tunnel shortening the journey to Hue by as much as an hour, it is simple to get from Da Nang to all points north. Other excellent excursions can be achieved more easily and involve little more than a short hop into the countryside from your hotel.
Vĩnh Thạch, Vĩnh Linh, Quảng Trị, Vietnam
This labyrinth of tunnels between what were North and South Vietnam during the war is a testimony to the defiance and ingenuity of the Vietnamese resistance. Vinh Moc was a village that the U.S. troops believed to be sympathetic to the Communist North, so when the Americans planned to remove the villagers, the locals dug tunnels to relocate their abodes underground. What resulted is a tight warren of underground paths stretching more than a mile in total, some as deep as 100 feet below the surface. The subterranean village included kitchens, rooms, and wells, and was home to more than 50 families; a number of children were even born in this subterranean hamlet.
Huế, Thua Thien Hue, Vietnam
The royal capital for more than 140 years during the 19th and 20th centuries, Hue is a not-to-be-missed stop on any itinerary in Vietnam. It was a political, religious, and cultural center for the Nguyen dynasty, the last to rule the country before Vietnam proclaimed itself a republic in 1945. The city, a UNESCO World Heritage site, features a dizzying array of tombs, pagodas, and monuments—but perhaps the most impressive, and certainly grandest, sight is its citadel. Surrounded by a moat and hefty stone walls, the citadel contains the Imperial City, with fortified ramparts, brightly painted pagodas and gateways, beautiful carved-stone dragons, and a palpable sense of the history that unfolded here.
Phú Lộc, Thua Thien Hue, Vietnam
A French-era hill station, this national park stretches from the coast to the Annamite mountain range at the Lao border. More than 1400 species of plants, including rare ferns and orchids, have been discovered in Bach Ma, representing a fifth of the flora of Vietnam. It is also a great place for bird spotting.
A UNESCO World Heritage site in a mountain valley about 40 miles west of Da Nang, My Son is a vestige of the Champa kingdom, a culture that was heavily shaped by Hindu beliefs and practices. Built between the 4th and 14th centuries, the temples pay homage to the god Shiva, though the deity is often referred to here by different names. While some of the shrines are partially restored, and others overgrown with greenery or showing their age (many were destroyed by American bombing during the Vietnam War), the sheer scope of the ruins are proof of the reach of Hinduism and the lofty ambitions of the Cham kings.
Sơn Mỹ Memorial, Tịnh Khê, Quảng Ngãi, Quang Ngai, Vietnam
Close to Hoi An, tranquil Son My (My Lai) was the setting for one of the most horrific crimes of the American War when US troops killed at least 504 villagers in an orgy of violence. The Son My memorial -- a dramatic stone sculpture of an elderly woman holding up her fist in defiance -- is a poignant tribute to the innocents that died.