Discovering Da Nang, Vietnam
Even in a country blessed with an abundance of coastline, Da Nang’s sugar-sand crescent stands out. While you could easily spend your time soaking up on the sun on My Khe, also known as China Beach, many fascinating wonders in and around this Vietnamese city vie for your attention—and are well worth exploring. From Hindu temples to imperial pagodas to the lush Marble Mountains, this area offers up memorable experiences that will make you want to stay just a little longer.
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.
Da Nang, Hải Châu, Da Nang, Vietnam
Built around the curves of the poetically named Perfume River, Hue is as achingly lovely as it is historically significant. It was a city of tremendous wealth and power from 1802 to 1945, when the Nguyen emperors lived and reigned supreme. Among their striking architectural landmarks, the most notable is the Imperial Citadel, a central walled fortress of sumptuously decorated palaces and pagodas from both the Hoang Thanh (Imperial City) and the Tu Cam Thanh (Forbidden Purple City). It came under heavy fire during the Vietnam War, but the surviving buildings are stunning enough to inspire hours of exploring.
81 Huyền Trân Công Chúa, Hoà Hải, Ngũ Hành Sơn, Đà Nẵng 550000, Vietnam
...or take the elevator (seriously!) to experience this network of temples and intricate sculpture. Incense is sold throughout the complex, and people sell all kinds of marble wares on the street level.