High-end illumination and skillful urban planning are expected to enhance Da Nang’s beauty and increase its tourism appeal.
Located between two of central Vietnam’s major tourist hubs, Hue and Hoi An, Da Nang City has only been considered a tourist destination in recent years.
Visitors used to complain that they did not know where and what to spend money on in the tedious city, apart from a handful of karaoke parlors, mini discotheques, and countless beer shops.
Luckily, things changed when the city began to rotate the Han River Bridge at night.
Locals and tourists increasingly flock to the area to admire the spectacle, and the latter usually choose hotel rooms that offer a good view of the bridge.
The city began to draw a notable increase in tourists, particularly foreigners, when it started lighting up more of its bridges and opening more entertainment venues.
The recent illumination of the Rong (Dragon) Bridge over the Han River proves that the city’s tremendous efforts are paying off.
Bridge lit by 2,500 LED lights every night
More than ten years ago, the city planned to build a bridge running from Da Nang International Airport (now Nguyen Van Linh Street) straight to the East Sea before merging with Hoang Sa – Truong Sa Street, which leads to Hoi An.
The bridge is of great significance as it is expected to help tap the economic and tourism potentials of Son Tra District, located to the east of the city.
However, the project was initially met with objections, as citizens feared it would be built over the world-renowned Cham Sculpture Museum.
In November 2005, the city government launched an international competition to design the bridge, which would be placed in front of the museum.
The competition drew 17 design proposals from local and foreign companies.
A project submitted by the US’s Louis Berger Group was selected for meeting all the technical requirements, including the required sloping degree and a path for pedestrians.
More importantly, the bridge would be located in front of, not above, the museum under the firm’s design plan.
Da Nang authorities wanted the construction to be shaped like a dragon arching across the river, and named it the Rong (Dragon) Bridge upon its completion one year ago.
The Dragon Bridge, which is made of sculpted steel and measures 666m long and 6m wide, is lit with over 2,500 LED lights every night, which automatically change color for different events and festivals.
The bridge, which cost over VND1,700 billion (US$81.7 million), won the diamond prize at the ACEC New York for its innovation and beauty.
It is the country’s first illumination project to make it to the final round of the UK’s major FX Design Awards in 2013 and Lighting Design Awards in 2014.
A new face
As soon as the Rong Bridge was put into operation in March 2013, it became one of Da Nang’s most appealing attractions.
The bridge is lit up with sparkling lights every night, and water and fire are emitted from the dragon’s mouth every Sunday night.
The bridge significantly adds to the city’s nightly hustle and bustle, as locals and tourists stay up into the wee hours to look at it. Local businesses have thus benefitted from new constructions like the Dragon Bridge.
Dang Thi Co, 65, who lives next to one end of the Rong Bridge in An Hai Tay Commune, opens a beverage shop that caters to tourists who flock to see the bridge emit fire. The job provides quite a good living for her family of seven.
Similarly, Nguyen Thi Bon quit her job as a grower of ornamental plants to run a beverage shop at one end of the Tran Thi Ly Bridge for the last six months.
“The number of tourists, including foreigners, has surged recently. The area is always crowded. I do quite well with this job,” Bon said with a smile.
The area is crowded even at 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning, with young couples sitting hand in hand or posing for photos on the glittering bridge, and elderly people dancing merrily in a garden nearby.
Even traveling photographers, who have struggled to find customers with the increase in smartphones, benefit from the bridge as well.
Some hundred photographers now roam along the Rong, Han, Thuan Phuoc, and Tran Thi Ly Bridges and the surrouding areas every night.
Water music will be another of the city’s new highlights. The entertainment park in Hai Chau District is striving to reach international fame.
Dai Duong Park in Son Tra District will also be a regular hotspot for lighting and water music performances.
The pond inside the 29-3 Park will also sparkle with water music and light performances.
“The city government will attract funding from individuals and provide as much funding as possible to light skycrapers, artery roads, and trees at night. The government will pay all the electricity bills,” said Nguyen Ngoc Tuan, deputy chair of the Da Nang People’s Committee.
He added that in addition to the city’s iconic annual International Fireworks Competition, the city is planning to hold a light festival.
Higher areas such as Son Tra, Hai Van Pass and Ngu Hanh Son Mountain are ideal landscapes to showcase stunning lights.
Da Nang is striving to draw tourists, particularly foreigners, with its amazing light-filled streets that give the locality an edge over other cities in Vietnam.
However, experts have pointed out that the lights should be practical and cater to locals’ everyday needs, including lighting for pedestrians.
The lighting projects are expected to further boost the potential of Da Nang, which has been a significant city for centuries.
In 1617, the land was dubbed “Quang Nam country” by foreigners, including the Chinese, Japanese, French, and Americans, who chose to come to the city first when visiting Vietnam.