Take a ride in a refurbished U.S. war jeep. // © 2017 Vietnam Jeep Tours
Feature image (above): Visitors to Danang have access to mountains, rainforests and the South China Sea. // © 2017 iStock
With a rainforest situated a few miles from its urban center, Danang, Vietnam, is a vibrant seaside metropolis that offers an array of opportunities to explore the country's natural beauty.
Located midway between Hanoi in the north and Ho Chi Minh City in the south, Danang and nearby Monkey (Son Tra) Mountain is an enchanting home to several species of endangered primates that reside in its expansive jungle. The cascading tropical hills overlook crescent-shaped Danang Bay and its sandy stretch of paradise along the South China Sea.
Brilliant streaming sunlight, soaring windows and a menu created by three-Michelin-starred chef Pierre Gagnaire make La Maison 1888 an exquisite gastronomic experience atop Monkey Mountain. With a panoramic view of the tropical foliage that encircles InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort, the space is inviting and chic, offering guests views of flowers, palm trees and the sea and, yes, glimpses of the native monkeys that inhabit the grounds.
Considered a top dining destination in Vietnam, this award-winning restaurant is fashioned in the style of a French mansion, with private dining rooms that reflect the personalities of a fictional colonial family, including the adventure-themed "Traveler's Room" and the elaborate "Boudoir de Madame." Specialties include a sea bass fillet poached in herbs, celery, carrots, shitake mushrooms and coriander and served with bean sprouts. A signature dessert is coconut and mint panna cotta topped with local fruits.
Slumbering amidst the sea, mountain and jungle mosaic that surrounds InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort is a dreamy experience. Located on Monkey Mountain, the 200-room resort was designed by famed architect Bill Bensley. Its architecture showcases a modern blend of traditional French and Vietnamese design.
In addition to several restaurants and bars, there are also sublime accommodations, including well-appointed penthouses and villas situated on four distinct levels: Sea, Earth, Sky and Heaven. All are connected via a funicular train with exquisite views of the exotic landscape and bay below. Guests are encouraged to keep doors closed, as monkeys (or other indigenous creatures) may find their way onto terraces or even into a room.
For a magical day in the jungle, Vietnam Jeep Tour takes guests on a fun, rollicking "Monkey Mountain Explorer" trip to spot the area's resident primates, including the rare red-shanked Douc Langurs. Using refurbished U.S. Army Jeeps from the Vietnam War, this adventure takes visitors through switchback roads to Linh Ung Pagoda, home to the famed "Goddess of Mercy" statue.
Offering unparalleled summit views of Danang, the jaunt includes light hiking and a gourmet picnic lunch with majestic vistas, too. This excursion also ventures into Vietnam's mystical Marble Mountains, which are named after the five elements (metal, fire, wood, earth and water) and feature pagodas, tunnels and caves. The tour company offers trips to additional areas, as well.