DA NANG - China Beach, Marble Mountain, Son Tra, Hai Van Pass, Ba Na...

Discussion in 'Vietnam - Motorcycle Trip Report Forums' started by Rod Page, Feb 6, 2012.

  1. Rod Page

    Rod Page Ol'Timer

    Some 30 kms north of Hoi An along an easy-going dual carriageway which follows an absolutely magnificent stretch of beach almost 30km long lies Da Nang, Vietnam's third largest city. Da Nang boasts three UNESCO World Heritage sites within close proximity - Hue, Hoi An & My Son. For history buffs there's the well stocked & informative Museum of Cham Artifacts &, of course, Nam 'O Beach where the American forces first landed in Vietnam in March 1965.


    Above, Da Nang from the top of Son Tra (Monkey Mountain) with China Beach on the left & Nam 'O Beach to the right.
    Below, looking across at Hai Van Pass from Son Tra showing the maritime entrance to Nam 'O Beach:


    Da Nang is a wonderful balance between city skyscrapers & 5 Star Resorts offering charming riverfront & seafront promenades. There are supermarkets, a foreign medical care centre, great restaurants & bars. The road infrastructure is first class with a number of excellent bridge crossings into the city over the Han River including Vietnam's longest suspension bridge. For those interested in a nice stroll whilst traveling there are 2 top-knotch golf courses - Montgomery Links & the Greg Norman designed Da Nang Golf Club - almost next door to each other along the coastal road to Hoi An. Norman is developing a beach-front resort opposite the golf club. On Christmas Day 2012 a new terminal at the International Airport was inaugurated simultaneously opening more international flight options.


    China Beach above was the playground for American servicemen on R&R. The first international surfing competition ever staged in Vietnam was held here in 1992.
    Below, 'The Billabong', an Ozzie surfing-theme pub only a stone's throw from where the above photo was taken on the My An stretch of China Beach.........2xGTR riders/contributers enjoying a beer or ten!



    Above, looking out from Syrena's Restaurant one of a group of beachside restaurants on the My Khe section of China Beach.
    Below, Da Nang - Song (river) Han Bridge - by night:


    There are some great acommodation options - here's the view from the suite-like floor of the Minh An where we stayed when we first arrived ...... $15/night:


    In the foreground, right, is the My An Surf Lifsaving Tower staffed by lifesavers trained by Surf Lifesaving Australia! In the background the massive Quan Am statue.

    At Da Nang's doorstep lie the marvels of the Marble Mountain, Son Tra (Monkey Mountain), the Cham Islands & Ba Na, not to mention Hai Van Pass uncontestably one of the world's greatest ocean roads (see BBC's 'Top Gear').


    Above, the absolutely breathtakingly stunning Huyen Khong atop Marble Mountain, & below, Cham Islands - 12nm from the coast & blissfully undeveloped as only recently opened to the public by the army. Its a haven for divers:


    Only recently completed, there is now a fabulous loop around the top of Son Tra (Monkey Mountain) - as the first 2 photos above of this report attest. If you're lucky you'll encounter a gathering of its primate population. A shot taken along the ridgeline of Son Tra followed by another from the eastern extremity of Son Tra showing the road back from the lighthouse. That's Marble Mountain visible in the distant background........STEEP!



    The Son Tra coastline & some hide-away restaurants at water's edge, then a shot looking back towards Da Nang over Quan Am's statue & in the distance Thuan Phuoc suspension bridge:



    The warnings are there also for adventurers considering traveling after rains - a recent shot/s from the access to Son Tra:



    Ba Na, a hill-station developed by the french at an elevation of almost 1500m so as to escape the summer heat. Ba Na offers both sensational views to the coastline & an equally sensational cable car ride up (2 mentions in the Guiness Book of Records). Unlike Da Lat which has been established on a large plateau, Ba Nat is built very much straight into the hills. There is much construction under way including extensions to an existing theme park & extensions to existing hotels. Linh Ung Pagoda, a 24m seated Buddha built in 1999, looks out over all below.


    Above, extensions to the theme park are under construction. Below, Linh Ung Pagoda on a cloudy day:


    Hai Van Pass - Sea Cloud Pass - the sensational winding, climbing road traversing Truong Son (Annamite Ranges); one of the world's great coastal roads with a similarly blessed train track below following the coastline. Some shots/a brief abridged version 'to fill you in':


    Above, the road northwards heading up from Da Nang & below, you can see the train line hugging the coast:



    Above, the road heading down to Lang Co (beach) which is visible in the background. The larger white building, virtually the only building over the pass, houses the ventilation system for the 6km tunnel (motorbikes not allowed) through the mountain which saves around 1 hour on the journey. Below, views on the way down:


    Looking back over Da Nang from Hai Van Pass:


    A city such as Da Nang offers many intriguing moments:


    I witnessed the above traffic jam over the Han Bridge one morning, where all present seized whatever side of the bridge suited them ....... what interested me most though was the way in which the police arrived, stopped further traffic entering onto the bridge & simply left all those blocked up on the bridge to sort their own way out! Great approach!

    Da Nang like most cities in Asia wastes nothing/recycles everything. There are second hand shops selling everything imaginable, below used tyres are made into thongs:


    Then there's the nightly spectacle along the beachside - my excuses but I'm no photographer & just tried to get some sort of shot using auto/no tripod. By means of explanation - Vietnam remains a very conservative, prudish society; it is unacceptable for unmarried people to live together, unmarried girls live at home until such time as they are married, at the charge of the eldest son should the father die. I.D's are checked rigorously at all hotels & reports given to local police, to ensure unmarried couples do not use the same room........I've even seen a brothel raided by police where the underage (16 year old) boys frequenting the place were taken away, but not the legally aged girls plying their trade. So young couples - by their 100's - gather every night on 2 seater directors chairs under large parasols along the beach.........

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  3. Rod Page

    Rod Page Ol'Timer


    There are a couple of important dates in March that may be of interest to anyone traveling through central Vietnam at the time, especially if traveling south on the much undertaken run between Hanoi & HCMC. Unfortunately I will not be able to be on site on either occasion as I'll be riding extensively through northern Vietnam.

    8th March 1965 - the day that the American forces landed at Nam 'O Beach in Da Nang at the start of the American War (Vietnam War) campaign (as mentioned in this report/thread).

    16th March 1968 - the day of the My Lai Massacre near Quang Ngai.
  4. Rod Page

    Rod Page Ol'Timer


    Weather variables in Vietnam can keep one pinned down close to home at times. For the restless having longer trips curtailed by uncertain weather patterns offers the chance to reflect on day to day life in the towns in which we live. So herewith a couple of shots from a day in Da Nang in the hope that it will give readers who have not yet travelled this way an idea as to current (expat) life in Vietnam.

    Up early to the beach....................... its around 5.15am - the sand can almost be too bloody hot to walk on after 7am! People are already swimming, playing all sorts of sports, undertaking Tai Chi classes or purchasing fish from the day's catch which explains the crowd on the top left of the photo. The Vietnamese are out in force from the wee hours in the morning; the beaches are full until 7am then deserted until 5pm - the Vietnamese dont want to have a suntan believing their men like women with white skin & that being tanned is the sign of a person who labours outside to survive. In any case, you'll have the beach to yourself all day!


    After a run & a good surf we'll take breakfast at our local noodle spot, on one corner just one block (50m) back from the beach & an easy walk from home. There's a coffee spot right next door & Chu's on the other corner, a great spot for a meal or beer at any time with views over the beach & surf:


    Feeling good after 'Pho', the traditional Vietnamese noodles breakfast (around 30 cents) we head off further down the beach to watch the fisherman unload the day's catch:


    We're at the foot of Son Tra now so decide to ride on up & over looking down over our path & out to the Mae Cham Islands (in the first photo). The views from the top are great - Marble Mountain clear in the background on the way to Hoi An:



    On descending from Son Tra near Tien Sa we stop at the not easily found Memorial & grave site for the French & Spanish soldiers who died having attacked Da Nang in 1858, ostensibly to protect the Catholics from Emperor Tu Duc's persecution. It is said that 20 times as many soldiers died from sickness in the year following their swift victory over Tu Duc's forces than died in actual combat:




    The trees are a bloomin', the trains a runnin':



    We would head back to the beach - My Khe - for the International Paramotor Race involving teams from France, Japan, America & Poland. The paramotor engines:


    A Delta gives a display before the Paramotors start (the Cham Islands in the background of the 2nd photo):



    The paramotors - in the first photo with Son Tra in the background the guy about to set off is carrying a photographer for the event; the guy high in sky was a Frenchman who thrilled the crowd with stunts & skiing along the sand at waters edge:



    A beer or ten at Chu's:


    We then stroll along the beach to dinner:


    A shot of the beach from the dinner table shows people still surfing well past sunset - surfing under floodlights or moonlight as the case may be:


    Ah its good to be alive!
  5. Rod Page

    Rod Page Ol'Timer

    Seems that if the buses dont get you Whilst they charge along out of control running 3 abreast on two lane roads around blind corners then they have other 'tricks in the bag':

    Takes me back to wondering in caves around Umphang (Thailand) (see: https://www.gt-rider.com/thailand-motorcycle-forum/showthread.php/34951-quot-DEATH-HIGHWAY-quot-to-Umphang

    During the American War in Vietnam the Americans called these snakes "the 2 step snake" on the baisis you had two steps until you were dead after being bitten!
  6. Rod Page

    Rod Page Ol'Timer

    A BUMP for anyone riding through central Vietnam next month:

    8th March 1965 - the day that the American forces landed at Nam 'O Beach in Da Nang at the start of the American War (Vietnam War) campaign.

    16th March 1968 - the day of the My Lai Massacre near Quang Ngai.

    Well worth a moments reflection if heading through Da Nang at the time.
  7. VietHorse

    VietHorse Ol'Timer

    If Rod Page is still in Da Nang, he may show us lots of great photos of the all new Dragon Bridge.

    Fire-breathing dragon bridge opens in Vietnam



    To celebrate the 38th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War, authorities in the port city of Da Nang have opened the world's largest dragon bridge. Featuring more than 2,500 energy-efficient Philips LED lights, the dragon is capable of releasing bursts of fire from its mouth and can spit water during the country's major festivals or at weekends.

    According to VietnamNet, work began on the bridge in 2009 and cost a reported $85 million. Connecting the city’s international airport and beaches, the structure simulates the shape of the dragon in the Ly Dynasty, a symbolic creature that is part of Vietnam folklore. The 166-meter-long steel arch is the longest such structure in Vietnam, with the dragon's body measuring a total of 568 meters and more than 2,000 tons in weight.

  8. Rod Page

    Rod Page Ol'Timer

    Fabulous addition to an already sensational 'town'.
    Thanks from the far away South Pacific, VietHorse, for the update.
  9. tehsk30

    tehsk30 Ol'Timer

    i like the bridge n the roads...:)
  10. Rod Page

    Rod Page Ol'Timer

    With the recent passing & terrible destruction of the super cyclone that hit the Philippines & predictions that the cyclone would slam into Da Nang next with much the same intensity, I was flicking through my Da Nang report.

    I was struck by the very first photo in the post - a shot of Da Nang taken from atop Son Tra - which when considered in the light of other beach-side shots, clearly shows that if the predicted 6m swell plus 350km plus winds had hit Da Nang may well have been wiped off the map. I estimated it would have reached the second story of the home we were renting down by the beach.

    Friends there told me today of their relief, many 'greatful' for some excellent surf following the storms!
  11. Rod Page

    Rod Page Ol'Timer

    Da Nang is such a fabulous place with so much history, so much going on, such a great setting offering an unparalleled life-style, I can't even recall where I posted a report on a previous Da Nang Firworks Festival. In any case the festival sits well with this particular thread.

    The Da Nang Fireworks Festival will take place at the end of this month - 29th & 30th April, 2014. This is nor ordinary fireworks show but a massive full-blown international competition. A must for anyone in the area at the time, check it out! And dont forget Hai Van Pass, one of the world's greatest oceanside roads!
  12. Rod Page

    Rod Page Ol'Timer

    A 'bump' for those in or around Da Nang on 8th March, the date marking 50 years since the Americans landed at the start of the Vietnam War (or American War as it is known in VN).
  13. Rod Page

    Rod Page Ol'Timer

    Wondering if anyone was in Da Nang to mark the 50 years since the war started?

    There was plenty of coverage world-wide. Herewith a few examples. The ability of the Vietnamese to put the war behind them & move forward is as interesting as some of the statistics:





    Anyone heading to the Son My Memorial - site of the My Lai Massacre - on 16th March?
  14. CLW

    CLW Member

    That's funny. Without reading your trip report I almost did exactly the same trip like you.
    Just excluded Ba Na Hills as I personally think it's too much "Disneyland" atmosphere

    Da Nang is a great place
  15. Rod Page

    Rod Page Ol'Timer

    Agree re Ba Na Hills.....when I was there it offered a large & interesting Buddha plus sensational views. It was very much in the early stages of construction.

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