Da nang: From Ancient Port to Modern Metropolis – Tracing the Evolution of a Vietnamese City

Danang, once known as Cua Han, evolved into a pivotal commercial port during the early 18th century, surpassing Hoi An as the preferred port for European maritime activities. This shift was largely due to advancements in European shipbuilding that allowed larger, deep-draught vessels to navigate into Danang Bay with ease. In 1889, following the complete colonial domination of Vietnam, the French renamed the city Tourane and separated it from Quang Nam Province, placing it under the administration of the Governor General of Indochina.

The city’s prominence escalated during the American War, particularly after March 1965 when American marines established a substantial military presence. This development transformed Danang into a crucial political and military hub, complete with an airport, ports, and extensive infrastructure to support operations near the De-Militarised Zone (DMZ), roughly 220km to the north. The city’s industry flourished and its population surged during this period.

The latter stages of the Vietnam War saw significant turmoil in Danang. By March 1975, after the North Vietnamese Army captured Hue, panic and disorder ensued in Danang, culminating in a hasty evacuation as North Vietnamese tanks closed in on the city in early April. The poignant human impact of these events was captured in the 1997 film “Daughter from Danang.”

Today, despite its historical depth and status as Vietnam’s fourth largest city and an important port, Danang struggles with limited high-quality accommodation, with the Furama Resort being one of the few exceptions that meets international standards.

For travelers, Danang serves as a gateway to the region’s rich history, notably through attractions like the Cham Museum, which celebrates the city’s links to the ancient Cham Kingdom, and a significant Cao Dai temple. While the city itself may lack extensive tourist attractions, it is closely located to significant historical sites including the DMZ, Hue, My Son, and Hoi An.

My Khe Beach
Known from the American War era as a relaxation spot for GIs, My Khe Beach is part of a vast stretch of coastline extending southwards. The beach is near the high-end Furama Resort and retains historical elements like old aircraft hangars used during the war.

The Marble Mountains
Located about ten kilometers from Danang, the Marble Mountains are a favorite destination among Vietnamese tourists. Known locally as Ngu Hanh Son (Five Mountains Range), these mountains are renowned for their distinct colored marble and historical pagodas, some of Vietnam’s oldest. Despite commercialization, the site’s shrines and pagodas, embedded in limestone caves, offer a unique cultural experience. At the base of the mountains, the village of Non Nuoc thrives on stone carving, crafting intricate artworks and Buddha statues from high-grade limestone, primarily for export.

Danang, with its mix of modern development and rich historical tapestry, offers a complex but intriguing exploration for those interested in Vietnam’s layered history and cultural heritage.

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