Sitting on the southerly curve of a vast, well-protected bay, DA NANG has developed into central Vietnam's dominant port and its third largest city. The real spur to this growth came in the American War when the neighbouring air base spawned the greatest concentration of US military personnel in South Vietnam. But walking around central Da Nang today, it's the earlier, French presence which is more apparent, in the leafy boulevards and colonial edifices along the riverfront promenade. Considering its size (it has a population of around 700,000), its history and the fact that this is a major transport hub offering air connections as well as road and rail links, Da Nang is an unexpectedly amiable place.
Though Da Nang harbours few specific sights of its own beyond the Cham Museum with its unique collection of Cham sculpture, the city makes a reasonable base for exploring this stretch of coast. Some of Vietnam's best beaches are to be found only a few kilometres from the city, while, further afield, My Son and Hoi An can be covered on day-trips.