arts & culture
One of the more charming aspects of any visit to Vietnam, including a stay in the City of Da Nang is the sheer number of small, specialized villages which can be found throughout the surrounding countryside. Whole village communities focus upon producing a single range of products, often dating back generations. If you are visiting Da Nang, then plan a day to visit some of these villages for a very South East Asian experience.
You could start by visiting the Kim Bong Carpentry Village which is close to the ancient city of Hoi An. This is one of the most famous craft villages in Vietnam, due to the exceptional skill of the local wood workers. The best way to reach the village is to take a short boat ride along the Thu Bon River from Hoi An. Although the village is famed for its wood carvings, the local people also produce reed mats and silk lanterns. The Kim Bong Carpentry Village is the perfect place to pick up a few souvenirs to take home.
Once you have visited the Kim Bong Carpentry Village, then the Tra Que Vegetable Village is fairly close by and it makes sense to visit both of these villages as part of the same excursion. Don't be fooled into thinking that the Tra Que Vegetable Village is simply a farming community. This village specializes in growing specialist vegetables, many of which are used in traditional Vietnamese medicine. You will be allowed to walk out into the vegetable fields and watch the local people tend their crops, as well as view demonstrations of the medicinal use of certain vegetables.
The great thing about visiting the local craft villages close to Da Nang is that they make a fantastic family attraction. Due to the very interactive nature of a tour of any craft village, children are always entertained.
Vietnam is known as a predominantly Buddhist nation. Over 90% of the local Vietnamese people practice Buddhism, many as a part of their daily lives. However, close to Da Nang is a temple which is dedicated to a less than mainstream religion, the religion of Cao Dai.
Cao Dai originated in Vietnam some time during the early part of the 1920s. Cao Dai is a religion which takes aspects from many other religions, from both the east and west, and combines them into a unified belief system. Additionally, the patron saints of the Cao Dai faith are all based on various figures from a variety of cultures, such as Lenin, William Shakespeare and Joan of Arc. Cao Dai is a fairly small religion, with only around one and a half million followers throughout the world. The Cao Dai Temple in Da Nang is the second largest in Vietnam. The temple houses several important representations of key religious figures including those of Buddhism, Christianity and Islam. The temple was constructed in 1956, to be an exact replica in all but size of the Tay Ninh Temple. There are three themes within the temple, and these follow the doctrine that; heaven and human are in harmony, all religions are the same and genuine meditation has no self. Visitors to the Cao Dai Temple may like to arrive just before one of the four daily prayer sessions. These take place at 6am, noon, 6pm and midnight. The Cao Dai is open to the public, but as with any religious site open to visitors throughout Vietnam, you are requested to treat the temple and the people within it with respect. The Cao Dai is one of the more unique experiences which Da Nang has to offer, and definitely worth visiting if you have any interest in the diverse cultures of Vietnam and South East Asia in general.
Da Nang is located in a region of Vietnam which is famed for its local arts and handicrafts. Many of the products manufactured by local people are unique to the area. One such product is the marble artwork produced at the Non Nuoc Fine Art Village.
The Non Nuoc Fine Art Village is located close to Da Nang, near the foot of the Marble Mountains in the Hoa Hai Ward. The marble handicrafts manufactured in the village using techniques which date back centuries is internationally famed and popular with collectors all over the world. The village has been in its present site for almost four hundred years, making it one of the oldest craft villages in the Da Nang area. The village is built around the local temple, which is dedicated to the founders of the village. Non Nuoc Fine Art Village has many fine gardens, populated with marble statues that were produced locally. The gardens are arranged to give visitors a good overview of the kinds of handicrafts the village produces, as well as to provide a relaxation space. Marble art is displayed in many forms, from intricately carved hand sized statuettes to life size representations of Buddhist deities.
Visitors to the Non Nuoc Fine Art Village can view the work being carried out at each of the stages which make up the overall manufacturing process. Many tourists are surprised to discover that the manufacturing of marble art and handicrafts is a complicated, difficult process which can take days if not weeks. Overall, a visit to the Non Nuoc Fine Art Village is a great way to spend an afternoon, learning how the local community has been producing fine marble artwork for four centuries, while enjoying the sculpture garden and possible picking up a memento to take home.