Đà Nẵng is one of the major port cities in Vietnam (in addition to Ho Chi Minh City and Haiphong) and the biggest city on the South Central Coast of Vietnam; the city is situated on the coast of the Eastern Sea, at the opening end of the Hàn River. Đà Nẵng is the commercial and educational center of Central Vietnam, with a well-sheltered, easily accessible port; its location on the path of National Route 1A and the North-South Railway makes it a hub for transportation. It is located within 100 km of several UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the Imperial City of Huế, the Old Town of Hội An, and the Mỹ Sơn ruins. The city was previously known as Cửa Hàn during early Đại Việt settlement, and as Tourane (or Turon) during French colonial rule. It is the third biggest economic center in Vietnam (after Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi).
Before 1997, the city was part of Quảng Nam-Đà Nẵng Province. On 1 January 1997, Đà Nẵng was separated from Quảng Nam Province to become one of five independent (centrally controlled) municipalities in Vietnam. Đà Nẵng is listed as a first class city, and has a higher urbanization ratio than any of Vietnam's other provinces or centrally governed cities. In terms of urban population, Đà Nẵng is the fifth largest city in Vietnam.
The tourism sector is a vital component of Da Nang's economy. Its status as a transportation hub for Central Vietnam and its proximity to several UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the Imperial City of Huế, the Old Town of Hội An, and the Mỹ Sơn ruins fuels much of its tourist activity.
Mỹ Sơn is an archaeological site dating back more than a thousand years, in Quảng Nam. Located in a remote forested valley some 70 km west of Đà Nẵng, this former capital and religious center of the Champa kingdom once contained in excess of 70 style temples and stupas. Although badly damaged by bombing raids in the 1960s, the site still has more than 20 structures and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999. Many statues, sculptures and reliefs recovered from Mỹ Sơn are kept in the Museum of Cham Sculpture, near the Hàn River in the heart of Đà Nẵng. Dating from the fourth to the 14th centuries, the sensual artwork on these works depicts daily activities as well as Hindu and Buddhist religious themes.
The Marble Mountains are rocky limestone outcrops jutting out of the beach just south of Đà Nẵng. Paths lead to the top of the forested cliffs, affording spectacular views of Non Nuoc Beach and the South China Sea. The caves nestled in the cliffs were originally inhabited by the Cham people. Later, the Nguyễn Dynasty built numerous pagodas among the caves. The Marble Mountains are home to various artisans producing sculpture and artwork at its base at Non Nước Village. Non Nuoc Beach is a white sandy beach on the outskirts of Đà Nẵng is renowned for both its spectacular beauty and for its history as an R&R destination for American troops during the Vietnam War, when it was known as "China Beach". Today, the beach, along with My Khê beach to the north, are home to expensive resorts, surfing and entertainment facilities. Bà Nà Hills is a mountain resort with a 5 km-long cable car system which carries guests up to Bà Nà's peak at 1487m above sea level. Sơn Trà Mountain, just some miles away from downtown with some wild streams and resorts along the seaside.