An 800-year-old tree, the left eye of God, an abandoned US Air Base. For those that have seen the main Da Nang Attractions or are just looking for the less visited things to do in Da Nang Vietnam, here is a list of the seldom visited.
- 1. Abandoned US Air Base
- 2. Non Nuoc Stone Carving Village
- 3. Cao Dai Temple
- 4. The Other Marble Mountains
- 5. Son Tra Banyan Tree — Cây Đa Ngàn Năm
- 6. Dong Dinh Museum
1. Abandoned US Air Base
After visiting an old US hangar in Quang Tri province I was driving through Da Nang to the Marble Mountains when I spotted some similar looking hangars. Pulling over I tried as I could to get access to them but no dice. Despite this, I was able to get a closer look and after talking to a local I confirmed that they were in fact abandoned US hangars from the Vietnam-American War. This was once the Marble Mountain Air Facility used primarily by helicopters during the Vietnam War.
Getting to the Abandoned US Air Base
Driving South from Da Nang on the coast road, Võ Nguyên Giáp, keep an eye out for the Crowne Plaza Da Nang on the left. The Air Base will be on the right side of the road (West) shortly after this. There are a few places along this road to see the old hangars. You can’t actually get inside the area as I believe it’s closed to the public, but you can see them over the wall.If you hit the Marble Mountains you’ve gone too far. From the highest mountain viewpoint in the Marble Mountains, you can get a view of the old airbase. It is slowly being built over and so might disappear in the years to come.
2. Non Nuoc Stone Carving Village
The artisans of Non Nuoc Stone Carving Village began sculpting for over 200 years ago. It started with everyday products such as grinders and mortars for rice and grain and eventually evolved into beautifully intricate marble carvings you can see today in and around the Marble Mountains. Initially, the marble was sourced from the nearby mountains but more recently, to preserve these precious mountains, it is being sourced from quarries in the North.
As you walk around the villages surrounding the Marble Mountains you will see artisans hard at work. Most of the larger shops have marble workers and if you’re lucky you can catch a glimpse of them hard at work.
Getting to the Non Nuoc Stone Carving Village
The Village is situated around the Marble Mountains. Drive or take a taxi or grab (There is also a public bus) to the Marble Mountains. Once you are near the entrance to the Marble Mountains you can continue on down the street passing a few places that are carving marble. Some larger stores are located on the main road (you can’t miss them) selling all kinds of marble products, and usually have a few people carving. It all depends on the time of day. I went a few times and saw more people in the morning hours.
3. Cao Dai Temple
Caodaism is a Vietnamese religion founded in Southern Vietnam in the 1920s by Ngô Văn Chiêu; a “Modern World Religion.” Cao Đài literally translated from Vietnamese means “Highest Lord” or “Highest Power” It’s a monotheistic religion whose symbol is the left eye of God, usually placed over a large globe.
An interesting fusion religion calling upon the teachings of the various religious prophets and extraordinary people of years past including Jesus, Buddha, Confucius, Muhammad and as diverse as Julius Caesar, Joan of Arc and Victor Hugo.
There are at least two Cao Dai Temples in Da Nang but I’ve only seen one of them open to the public. They have an information booth outside and will give you a free booklet (in English and Vietnamese) to help give you a better understanding of this religion.
Getting to the Cao Dai Temple
It is listed on Google Maps as Trung Hưng Bửu Tòa Cao Đài you can type in “Cao Dai Temple Da Nang” and it should show up. It’s next to the Da Nang Fine Arts museum, something else to check out if you’re in the area.
63 Hải Phòng, Thạch Thang, Hải Châu„ Đà Nẵng 550000, Vietnam
4. The Other Marble Mountains
The Marble Mountains are one of Da Nang’s biggest attractions, and after a visit, it’s easy to see why. Stunning temple caves deep inside the earth, some of which open to the sky above. The place is also chock full of history dating back to the period of the Cham civilization and perhaps before. When people visit the “Marble Mountains” they usually just visit the main mountain, Thuy Son. But there are in fact 4 more. I’ve visited 2 of the 4 other mountains and there are some interesting caves and almost no people. On a busy day when Thuy Son is packed full of people, there will be almost no one visiting the other mountains. None of the tours stop here so you’re likely to have the place to yourself.
Getting to the Other Marble Mountains
The Marble Mountains are named after the Five elements. The main mountain (Thuy Son) is Water while the other two I visited are Metal and Fire. Kim Son (Metal) is where the foggy cave in the picture is. It’s about 1 kilometer from Thuy Son. All the caves are clearly labeled on the app Maps.me. You can walk from Thuy Son or drive a motorbike and explore them all.
5. Son Tra Banyan Tree — Cây Đa Ngàn Năm
A beautiful 800-year-old Banyan Tree (although in Vietnamese “Ngàn Năm” means 1,000 years) whose many aerial roots reach to the branches above forming a calming peaceful canopy, overlooking the blue ocean waters of Da Nang. It feels like a totally different world out here and is easy to forget that the third largest city in Vietnam is just a stone’s throw away.
The tree reaches a height of 22 meters and the circumference of all of its aerial prop roots is 85 meters. Quite large!
Getting to the Son Tra Banyan Tree
The tree is located on the South Eastern tip of the Son Tra Peninsula. The road is well paved but you’ll need to drive a motorbike or go there on a tour. It’s not labeled and the roads don’t show up on Google Maps, however, it is marked on Maps.me as “cay da dai thu (800 years ficus)”. When you are driving along the Southern road on the peninsula you will reach a junction where you can take a left and go up to Ban Co Peak or a right toward the tree. Take a right and follow the signs. Parking is 4,000 VND. The Eastern end of the Son Tra Peninsula is a good place to explore with very few people. But watch out for boulders/rocks in the road.
6. Dong Dinh Museum
Part Art museum, part history and culture museum, a quirky private collection of artifacts that’s well worth a visit. When you first enter the lush tree-covered grounds it feels different. Small pathways wind through the greenery to beautifully bizarre buildings, like something from a fairytale. Each house contains its own unique collection of art or artifacts collected from all over Vietnam, from ancient Co Tu, to remnants of an old fishing village and Cham pottery. Most of the displays are marked in English and Vietnamese so you can do a self-guided tour through the place. It is very well incorporated into the natural surrounded, a peaceful beautiful, quirky place that you just have to see for yourself. One of the more interesting museums I’ve visited and the most unusual in Da Nang.
Getting to the Dong Dinh Museum
The museum is located on the Son Tra Peninsula, just before the Chùa Linh Ứng (Lady Buddha Temple). There is a big sign for it on the left-hand side of the road (North). Open from 8:00am to 5:00pm everyday.
I hope you will enjoy these Da Nang Attractions as much as I have. They are definitely off the main tourist trail so if you’re looking for something different this is your list of what to do in Da Nang!