Though Danang became legendary for “R&R” (“rest and relaxation”) on China Beach during the Vietnam War, this now booming coastal city halfway between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) traces its history much further back, to the Hindu Cham Kingdom 3,0000 years ago. More recently, Danang was the first point of colonial invasion by the French in 1847. Hidden among the construction sites and glistening new skyscrapers are charming colonial vestiges while Danang’s waterfront bustles in the early morning hours with fisherman returning from the East Sea in their traditional woven basket boats.
A popular weekend golf destination with several championship courses, Danang is also the gateway to the hill tribe cultures, ancient stone ruins and wildlife rich tropical forests of central Vietnam. Swinging from trees on Son Tra Peninsula, Danang’s red shanked douc langur monkeys are some the last of this endangered species on earth. Jaunts by jeep bring visitors up ‘Monkey Mountain’ to roam among nearly one thousand distinct plant species, 50-plus bird species and 15 types of reptile on this protected peninsula. Nearby, the 67-meter (220 feet) tall white marble Guan Yin statue at Linh Ung Pagoda looks out upon the East Sea to Cham Island, a popular snorkel spot where 42 types of coral thrive as does a tropical spectrum of marine life like fairy fish and butterfly fish.
Thirty kilometers south of Danang, the UNESCO World Heritage town of Hoi An offers a stroll back in time to this well preserved 15th to the 19th century melting pot of Dutch, Portuguese, Indian, Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese merchants who traded in cinnamon, pepper, paper, ceramics and silk. Festive temple lanterns, originally brought to Vietnam from China, dapple the facades surrounding Hoi An’s iconic Japanese Covered Bridge. Local legend asserts this shrine once housed a monster so colossal that its head was in India, its body rested here across Vietnam and its tail stretched to Japan.
Today, Hoi An is rightly famous for high quality made-to-measure suits and dresses, whipped up by inexpensive tailors under 48 hours.
Please note that pre- and post- Mekong cruise itineraries are not included in the Aqua Expeditions Mekong River cruise rates and are priced separately. We will be happy to recommend our preferred tour operators to arrange this component of your Vietnam holiday.