A symbol of Danang: the bright reds blues and yellows of a paragliding wing drifting slowly in the light breeze across the sparkling azure sea, past the eyes of spaced-out holiday makers from Singapore or Seoul relaxing on endless golden beaches, beyond the white transcendence of the giant Buddha on the headland, its jaunty grace symbolizing that the city’s natural exorbitant beauty is married these days with a youthful dynamism.
Danang is relatively well known for its pristine beaches which make the coastal city a great base to explore the cultural riches of nearby Hue and Hoi An, but until recently remained perhaps rather undefined in the minds of many potential visitors. During our visit in May, we almost based ourselves in Hoi An rather than Danang, but found the city to be remarkably pleasant, with good wifi, modern facilities, a spotless natural environment, and some of the best food in Vietnam.
Danang’s beaches are splendid, of course, but we were even more taken with its vibrant modern energy, which powers many of the city’s colourful activities. During our stay we observed fishermen decorating their boats with flowers and lanterns, and dancing and singing at the traditional Whale Festival, a distinctive event full of cultural authenticity and intensity. Meanwhile the International Fireworks Competition Festival also added to gala atmosphere during our stay as teams from Europe, Asia, America and Vietnam competed to light up the sky.
Of course cultural events are increasingly used as instruments for promoting tourism but a quick glance at Danang’s calendar suggests a city well ahead of the game: the diverse activities ranging from a Street Dance Festival in January to a Bikini Flashmob (all in a good environmental cause) in June, while steamy July even offers a Danang International Marathon. A programme within a programme, the Danang Summer Destination series of activities include boat racing, paragliding, kayaking and masterchef, and aimed at families as well as couples.
All of which of course gives visitors like us more reasons to visit Danang often and stay longer. Danang was a successful host of the APEC conference in 2017, and in our view is well on the way to becoming a leading regional destination, but in the meantime visitors can treasure it as one of Asia’s most alluring but still unspoilt destinations for a city break or longer vacation.