Why just visit Vietnam when you can bike, run and swim it? That’s presumably what the organisers of Ironman’s 70.3 triathlon series thought when daydreaming about Vietnam’s pristine central coast. For the first time ever this May, triathletes from around the globe will gather in Vietnam’s third largest city for the Danang 70.3 Ironman triathlon – and we’re a part of it!
As official sponsors of the inaugural Ironman 70.3 Vietnam race, Buffalo Tours are helping the visiting athletes (and maybe you!) to discover what makes central Vietnam a perfect place to discover by foot and wheel.
On May 10th, athletes will set off on a course that weaves and wanders through central Vietnam’s most scenic landmarks. The course starts with a 1.9 kilometre ocean swim, followed by a two-loop 90 kilometre bike course along Danang’s pristine coastal roads and city streets and a culminating 21 kilometre run to the base of the legendary Marble Mountains. When it comes to qualifying for the 70.3 Ironman World Championship later this year, it’s hard to do it in a more scenic location than Vietnam’s coastal gem.
Danang and Central Vietnam
Vietnam’s central coast is a unique region in the country, with year-round moderate weather and still pristine beaches just far enough off of the tourist track. Curious what’s worth seeing in Vietnam’s up-and-coming travel destination? These are our top spots to see in the city.
Located just 9 kilometres south of downtown Danang, the Marble Mountains are the most accessible of the city’s natural landmarks. Named after the five “elements”, including Kim Son (Mountain of Metal), Moc Son (Mountain of Wood), Thuy Son (Mountain of Water), Hoa Son (Mountain of Fire), and Tho Son (Mountain of Earth). On a wander through, you’ll stumble upon the various Buddhist temples that locals built into the caves and grottoes within the mountains. For adventurous types, a climb from Am Phu cave promises panoramic views from the top of the mountain and some of the areas most beautiful Buddhist sculptures.
Dragon Bridge (Cau Rong)
Built as recently as 2009, Danang’s urban pride and joy is the magnificent Dragon Bridge, which goes from a stylish water transport system by day into a pyrotechnics and light show at night. For a real treat, make sure you hang around the bridge for Saturday and Sunday shows at 9pm, when the bridge begins spouting fire and glittering with lights!
Cham Museum and My Son
Central Vietnam is the very best place to discover Vietnam’s ancient past through age-old Cham communities. This ethnic minority are descendants from a powerful culture that once ruled from modern Cambodia all the way to the Vietnamese coastline. Now, the only remnants of the ancient Cham are the crumbling temple ruins and the small communities still speaking traditional dialect and practicing Cham religions. If culture and history is your cup of tea, the Cham Museum in Danang is a perfect way to discover coastal Vietnam’s distant past. Otherwise, spend a bit more time on the trek to My Son Temple Complex, where you’ll find those crumbling structures a stone’s throw from picturesque Hoi An.
Linh Ung Pagoda, Ba Na Hill Station and Cable Cars
What was once impossible to get to without a daunting climb, Linh Ung Pagoda and its surrounding landmarks are now some of the most accessible destinations in Danang and also one of the most picturesque. At the top you’ll find a massive seated Buddha that can be seen from miles around. Plus, find Ba Na Hill Station – an old French enclave still has some of Vietnam’s best examples of French colonial architecture and commanding views over the surrounding scenery – and a myriad of waterfalls and stretches of forest. But perhaps the best reason to head here is to take in the views on the way up on the cable cars!
Not so far from central Danang is one of central Vietnam’s most beautiful destinations. Nestled along the Perfume River and home to the country’s oldest architecture is the sleepy town of Hoi An, famous for tailor-made clothing and a fascinating history. Expect quiet alleyways lined with rustling trees, cool breezes and idyllic imagery of rice hat clad locals cycling along sunny roads.
It’s hard to beat the seaside beauty of central Vietnam, but perhaps one of the best places to experience it is the Cham Islands. A short distance from central Danang are some of the least travelled islands in the country, and they still boast a pristine, untouched charm. These are arguably the best places for diving and snorkelling in Danang, too, so adventurous travellers have plenty of reasons to head out to these lesser-known isles in Vietnam. And since getting there means heading to nearby Hoi An Ancient Town, plan a trip to these islands around a short getaway to Hoi An from Danang.
For even more information about this year’s first-ever Ironman 70.3 Vietnam event, head to the event website! Not a triathlete? See how you can discover the best of Danang, Hoi An and central Vietnam without breaking a sweat!