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Da Nang

The coastal city of Da Nang in central Vietnam is well known for its long stretches of white sandy beaches and its history as a French colonial port. Today, gleaming new hotels, apartments and restaurants are emerging along the Han riverfront and My Khe beach strip, and impressive new bridges span the Han river, such is the rapid development of Vietnamese cities.

Da Nang airport is a major hub for domestic and international flights, many visitors heading to the nearby UNESCO listed town of Hoi An, an obvious attraction for its infinite amounts of charm, narrow lanes and pretty shophouses. The stretch of coastline east of the small town also draws visitors who spend time on the sandy beach, gazing out at the blue sea or bathing in the warm ocean. Yet, Da Nang also has a stunning stretch of coastline, namely My Khe beach, that is often overlooked these days, although it was a famous area during the war with resting American soldiers who somewhat controversially nicknamed it China Beach.

With the booming new hotel and resort industry, there are few conventional sightseeing spots with the exception of a decent museum and a bustling street-food scene. It is a popular base for visiting the inland Ba Na hills, where one can get views of Da Nang Bay from the Hai Van Pass and Marble Mountains. But a few days here soaking up the nightlife, restaurants and city beaches will be plenty of time.

So if a city is preferable, Da Nang is the perfect base for a few days exploring central Vietnam in the middle of a busy tailormade holiday in Vietnam.

Vietnam is a long country and this makes weather patterns complicated. Central Vietnam including Da Nang is prone to typhoons during the months of September and October, making this a time to avoid. The best time to visit is between February and April, when the weather should be dry and warm.

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I can't think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything.
Bill Bryson

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