Da Nang (Hue), Vietnam
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Located halfway between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, the port city of Da Nang has a small-town charm despite its lack of big-ticket attractions. It is home to a stunning 30-kilometer (18-mile) coastline that is popular for water sports such as waterskiing, paddleboarding and surfing. It’s also known for its great street food—and an extremely quirky bridge that you can't miss. The place was previously occupied by both the French and the Americans (this was the first place U.S. Marines landed in March 1965), and vestiges of both can be seen in the city, from the remnants of the vast U.S. air base and hospital to the city’s wide boulevards and old villas.
Da Nang is a great launchpad for day trips, whether to the picturesque city of Hoi An to the south, the old imperial capital of Hue to the north, or the majestic Marble Mountains to the southwest. The UNESCO-protected Champa temple complex, My Son, which lies 69 kilometers (43 miles) southeast, is definitely worth the trip—but for those who don’t want to leave the urban environs, many of the ruins have ended up at Da Nang's excellent Museum of Cham Sculpture, where you can learn all about the history and architecture of this fascinating culture.