Da Nang Beaches And A Day Hike To Chùa Linh Ung Temple, Da Nang, Vietnam
The city of Da Nang is the biggest city on the South Central Coast of Vietnam.
Most tourists make a short stop here, on the way to either Hoi-An in the south, or Hue in the north.
Both Hoi-An and Hue are historic, beautiful smaller towns, that have maintained their charm and beauty.
Da Nang is not visually a beautiful city, but it is a great place to spend a week, if you are not doing a short vacation in Vietnam, but instead are a “slow-traveler” who likes to get to know places intimately, and get to experience the spirit of the places you are moving through.
Since almost nobody travels in Vietnam slowly, this city doesn’t have an online guide for independent travelers.
Most sightseeing is done by buying a day ticket for a bus tour, which is very cheap, so it would seem like a good idea for those who do not like to walk.
Another alternative for those who don’t like to walk, is to hire a scooter for a day in the city of Da Nang, for a very reasonable price.
There are a lot of accommodation choices around Da Nang, from luxury beach resorts to hostels.
Where you stay will greatly effect your experience of the city.
Around the big resorts, there are fewer cafes and fewer small restaurants, and almost no restaurants offering vegan foods.
We chose to stay in “My An Beach,” an area that offers about a dozen vegan and plant based restaurants, as well as many nice cafes with comfortable seating serving fresh juices, teas and oat-milk lattes.
Down our street, there is a laundry that returns your clothes in one day if you bring them in the morning, and we are just a few moments’ walk to the beach.
The beaches of Danang are wide and sandy, with no rocks and no coral reef that might have spiny or stinging creatures.
It is wintertime now in Vietnam, but the days are hot and the water is warm.
It would probably be too hot here in the summers.
There are lots of places along the beach to rent a daybed and drink fresh coconut water under the shade of beach umbrellas.
The cost is very little ($1.50 USD for a daybed and umbrella for the whole day), and the beer and soft drinks are less than a dollar.
The sea seems fairly clean, and there are a few places to rent surfboards or take surfing lessons, but not many.
On the north side of My An Beach, at My Khe Beach, we saw fewer people swimming, and a lot more of the beach was lined with fishing nets.
The fishermen pull these nets out of the water in a unique way.
They have harness belts attached to their waists, and they walk backwards in a line, away from the sea, slowly pulling the net out of the water.
When the last man reaches the end of the beach, he then unties his harness and goes to the front of the line.
Pulling in the nets is a slow, slow process, as the fishermen battle the surf currents and the waves, pulling the nets a few inches at a time.
On our long walk along the beach, we walked over their ropes or under their ropes, and at one point we saw the “catch of the day.”
It was a sad collection of plastic rubbish, with only a few tiny silvery fish, that we occasionally saw jumping out of the water.
The beach walk was super scenic.
There is a paved walkway parallel to the beach on which you can walk or run, and the sand is easy to walk on, especially by the edge of the water.
The fishermen use boats that are shaped like bamboo baskets, round in shape and rowed with one paddle.
These bamboo basket-boats are big enough for one or two men and their nets.
They are woven with narrow strips of bamboo, and are made waterproof by glueing sheets of fiberglass to the bottom and around the outsides of the basket.
It is a great way to make a cheap fishing boat with almost no wood used on the frame.
At the north end of the beach, there is the fishermen’s marina, where you can see a beautiful selection of these bamboo basket boats.
This is also where the “Son Tra Mountain Range” begins.
The Son Tra is a mountain range with a few small peaks, that sits on a peninsula that stretches out into Danang bay, that opens into the South China Sea.
These verdant mountain are covered in bamboo, bananas, fruiting trees, Indian almond, banyan, hollong and chestnut trees, standing among vines and jungle vegetation.
There are birds and monkeys among the wildlife.
Our destination was the Chùa Linh Ứng Temple complex, overlooking the sea, located half way to the summit on the slopes of the Son Tra mountain range.
We made three stops during our walk.
One stop was on the beach, where we sat on shaded daybeds to drink coconut water in front of the waves, observing the fishermen pulling in their nets.
It was a serene, relaxing and meditative scene.
Our second stop was to have lunch at the “Chickpea Eatery.”
The Chickpea Eatery is a small vegan restaurant inside the home of a Buddhist couple.
Their living room has a few low wooden tables with cushions to sit on.
The menu was all in Vietnamese, but a group of Vietnamese people who were eating there, translated the menu for me.
This couple really knows how to cook, and everything we ordered was delicious.
They made a vegan version of the famous Vietnamese Ban Mi, which is a baguette sandwich that they filled with grilled caramelized tempeh, fresh leafy herbs and veg.
It was very yummy.
We also ordered a banana and coconut smoothie bowl and a fresh squeezed juice.
After we paid the tiny bill and got ready to leave, the group of Vietnamese dining there, asked us if we were vegetarians the whole day.
It took us a minute to understand what they were asking, and then we remembered that during our travels, we have met many Buddhist people around Asia, who refrain from eating meat once per week or even once per month.
And they look at these “no meat” days as if they were a very big sacrifice.
They told us that during their meatless days they felt weak and lightheaded, and that eating meat helped them feel strong and grounded to the earth.
When we said that we are vegetarians all day every day, they expressed their admiration by whistling and oohing.
Our third stop was at a cafe to have a Vietnamese iced coconut coffee.
It is an indulgent treat, but it was a hot day and we had much more to walk to get to the temple.
The walk was beautiful.
For part of the way we had a sidewalk, but as we headed into the mountains, we walked by the side of the road occupied by cyclists and scooters.
I felt safe on the side of the road, as cars could not really speed up the winding road.
Nobody else but us walked to the temple, although we did see one woman running for exercise pass us.
Arriving at the temple on foot felt like a day in a pilgrimage.
We walked around 14 kilometers and we still wanted to walk down most of the way.
Sunset in the wintertime comes very early, and it is very dark by 5:30 PM.
The temple is very ornate, belonging to the Mahayana Buddhism sect, with so much to see and admire.
A tall Kannon (Guan-in or Quan-in) the Bodhisattva of compassion, stood overlooking the sea and holding the elixir of life.
Dragons decorate the posts of the temples and the tops of gates, and beautiful old bonsai trees send out roots that hug old ceramic vases or sculptures of buffaloes.
The garden has 34 statues out of the 500 Arhats, and Jules helped me to photograph each one, as inspiration for my 500 Arhats painting project.
A beautiful pagoda stands in the temple grounds.
It is called the Linh Ung Pagoda.
This pagoda is one of three pagodas with the exact same name around the Da Nang area.
It is not clear why all three pagodas carry the same name, but all three are located in prime locations of Da Nang city, forming a sacred “triangle” in the city.
The Linh Ung Non Nuoc pagoda is located on Thuy Son island, one of the 5 Marble Mountains.
Linh Ung Ba Na Pagoda is located in the high mountains, in the resort called “Da Lat of the Central.”
And the Linh Ung Bai But, in the Son Tra mountains, is located halfway up the mountains of the Son Tra peninsula.
The one we saw this afternoon, the Linh Ung Bai But Pagoda, is said to be the largest, newest and most beautiful of the three pagodas.
We started walking down via the steep steps, but the steps were completely blocked by a tribe of red butt monkeys called the “red-shanked douc.”
Apparently these monkeys can only be seen at sunrise and sunset, as they tend to avoid the hot days and hide in the jungle.
We turned back and walked via the main road.
We arrived at sea level just as darkness fell over the city.
Now the boardwalk restaurants had their neon lights on, and the seafood restaurants were advertising their seafood for the tourists.
We chose a small tea garden cafe in a residential neighborhood, where we sat on tiny stools and had pots of flowering tea and a relaxed time.
Then we returned to our hotel area and had a great vegan dinner in Roots Plant Based restaurant and cafe.
From Da Nang with love,