Of the entire 1600-kilometer train journey which unites North and South Vietnam, the most spectacular is the short segment connecting the cities of Danang and Hue, where the tracks climb over the Hải Vân Pass.
A large and densely-forested peninsula jutting into the sea north of Danang, much of Sơn Trà is an officially-protected wildlife zone. Exploring the peninsula makes for an easy day trip from the city, provided you have your own motorbike. And if you keep your eyes peeled, you might just spot some of the peninsula’s most famous residents: the endangered Red Shanked Doucs.
The world’s greatest collection of art from the ancient Kingdom of Champa is found in Danang’s Museum of Cham Sculpture. Dating from 1915, this museum is small but well-organized, with sandstone sculptures that provide a fascinating look into the history of Central Vietnam.
Vietnam’s third-largest city might also be its most unassuming. Found between Saigon and Hanoi, Danang has none of the charm of its big brothers. But that’s not really the city’s fault. Danang was a major theater during the American War, because of its strategic location, and was almost completely destroyed.
When we chose Saigon as our seventeenth “For 91 Days” destination, we never expected that Hanoi might be the eighteenth. We’ve never stayed in a country for a second consecutive adventure, and it wasn’t even under consideration. But we never expected to be so completely enamored by the people, culture and cuisine of Vietnam. After spending three months in the south, we simply couldn’t leave without devoting an equal amount of time to the north.