Travel Report: Dragon Bridge, Danang.
Dragon Bridge, Danang, Vietnam.
It was my first day in the Vietnamese city of Danang. Having checked into my digs, a Japanese style hostel called Tomodachi House, I wasted no time in heading out into the city. After the sedate charms of Dong Hoi and the imperial delights of Hue, I was definitely happy to be back in the bright lights of a large, modern metropolis. Just to mix things up.
Wherever you’re based in Danang, it won’t be long before you catch sight of Dragon Bridge. I’ve been fortunate enough to see some amazing bridges over the years. But certainly nothing quite like the bridge Danang locals call Cầu Rồng.
Straddling The Han River, this is Vietnam’s longest bridge at a considerable 666 metres. However, when you first lay eyes on it, one’s initial thought is unlikely to be, wow what a long bridge. But rather, Whoa, there’s a massive dragon gliding across the water.
It’s actually surprising there aren’t more bridges like this. Especially in Asia where people see the dragon as a symbol of power, fortune and nobility. The (now dissolved) structural engineering firm Amman and Whitney designed Dragon Bridge before building work kicked off in the summer of 2009.
Dragon Bridge, Danang.
Connecting Danang’s downtown district to its airport and beaches, Dragon Bridge opened to much fanfare on March the 29th, 2013. Attended by city authorities, a regional Vietnamese pop star and thousands of onlookers, the bridge’s opening coincided nicely with the 38th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War. But boy did it all come at a price. In fact, the final bill came in at an eye-watering 1.5 trillion dong. That’s around 88 million U.S. dollars.
I crossed the bridge perhaps a dozen times during my stay. Indeed it was an essential part of my walking route to the coastline and back. One time, when my legs could quite literally walk no more, I sat watching the dragon’s curved body flashing past me from the comfort of a taxi window.
Dragon Bridge has six lanes for traffic, three in each direction. The pedestrian walkways, meanwhile, are nice and wide and often awash with people taking photos. Naturally I got my own Dragon Bridge shot one afternoon. Although, with the bridge unusually quiet at the time, I had to make do with a somewhat clumsy selfie.
It was fun photographing the different parts of the dragon. The head, I’ve read, was inspired by traditional images of a Lý Dynasty Dragon swooping majestically into the East Sea.
Adventures in Vietnam.
At the other end, the tail represents a blooming lotus flower, a symbol of the Vietnamese countryside. As I recall, I was photographing the tail when a speeding motorcycle skidded onto the walkway near where I was standing.
Off jumped a local man, helmet removed, lighting up a cigarette. And there he stood, leaning against the rail, staring out over The Han River lost in his thoughts. I would’ve loved to have known what he was pondering.
Most bridges come into their own around sunset and after dark. But very few can compete with Dragon Bridge and its dazzling fire and water show. All you have to do is show up at around 20:30 on a Saturday or Sunday. I got to the bridge at around 20:00 to soak up the river views and watch the crowds build.
Some groups gather on the river promenade near The Museum of Cham Sculptures. Others, like me, file onto the bridge itself right under the head. In for a penny, in for a pound.
Eventually, at around 20:55, a security team brings the traffic to a standstill in both directions. With anticipation building, an eerie silence descends over the bridge. Until, at 21:00 on the dot, the dragon’s head rattles menacingly before exploding into life with a stunning display of fire breathing.
Dragon Bridge, Danang.
It’s an undeniably thrilling spectacle, especially as you can feel the heat right on your face as the dragon does its thing. Locals whoop and cheer… tourists take photos and videos… little ones hide behind their mother’s legs.
When the fire antics finally die down, the dragon delights again by spraying a thick sheet of cooling water across the road and pedestrian walkways. It’s a wonderful moment, with people scattering in all directions. The air punctuated with shrieks, gasps and giggles.
Those that hold their ground shelter mobile phones under their t-shirts and hoist backpacks and umbrellas over their heads. It’s a fun, family friendly event that is quite unique and doesn’t cost a penny. Thus if you’re visiting Danang, do come and see Dragon Bridge. And make sure to time your stay to include the weekend fire and water show.
For more on this amazing Vietnamese city, take a look at my other articles on Danang.
Or maybe look further afield with my many more pieces from across Vietnam.
I’ve been living, working and traveling all over the world since 2001. So why not check out my huge library of travel reports from over 30 countries.
Nice pictures! thanks for the memories was there several times, last in Dec 2018!
Thanks, glad you also enjoyed Danang! It has much to offer.
You are welcome, yes indeed
Especially that coffee shop!! https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2020/10/03/vietnam-danang-and-al/
Nice memories…. Danang is great for coffee and breakfast spots, even by Vietnam standards. I’ll be sharing my own favourite place at the end of this series. Thanks again.
Great photos, we’ve been to Danang a few times and I love that bridge
Great to hear that you’ve also seen Dragon Bridge Alison. It’s a special structure with a fun show.
Would love to go back one day, Vietnam is one of our favourite countries ..which I may have mentioned!
Wow, that fire-breathing display is quite something! We flew into and out of Danang for our Hoi An stay and I saw the bridge from the air and road but never got the opportunity for a closer look, so it was great to do so through your eyes 🙂
Thanks for reading Sarah. It is a fine bridge and the fire breathing is a really charming experience.
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That is one spectacular bridge! Must be a very fun event at 9pm each night.
Unmissable I’d say when in Danang. And the price is right! 😉
The Dragon Bridge is beautiful and the fire and water show looks impressive. No wonder it was so expensive to build!
Glad you like it! Definitely one of the world’s genuinely unique bridges.
Wow, what a unique/expensive/fun bridge this one is! I’ve never seen something like this … thanks, I’ve enjoyed “the show”!
Thanks for taking the show in! Danang is yet another wonderful location in Vietnam, so plenty more to come over the next week.
What a stunning dragon shaped bridge with that enormous lotus flower at one end. I’d never heard of it so thanks for bringing it to my attention Leighton in your informative post and superb photos. Have a great weekend. Marion
I seem to have missed a few comment replies in recent articles. Just catching up now, must be getting sloppy in my advancing years 😉 I’m so pleased with the reaction to my Dragon Bridge piece as it deserves a bit more online recognition.
Don’t worry about the late response it doesn’t matter. Have a good weekend.
That is one beautiful bridge. So great to have a symbol that will make the city instantly recognizable. Thanks for sharing Leighton. Allan
Thanks for reading Allan!
Very cool, I’ve never seen anything like it!
Thanks for checking out Dragon Bridge Lyssy!
What a crazy fun bridge! We only went to Danang to catch a flight. I can’t believe we missed this bridge! Maggie
Golden Bridge is even more impressive. But unfortunately didn’t open until a few months after my visit. Thanks for reading Maggie!
A brilliant idea and not all that expensive when you remember to include the bridge itself and not just the dragon. You mention the design firm but not any particular artist. Somebody had a great moment of inspiration and was able to sell it. Great videos of the fire and water. What fun! Also loved how the pedestrian railings were wavy like the side wake of the dragon.
Glad you dig the bridge Memo. I couldn’t discover the actual artist. Indeed there is a distinct lack of information about the bridge online.
That is an incredible feat of structural artistry! The detail in the head and tail are really great. I hope all is well with you and Sladja! How’s the new business coming along?
Hey Meg, we are doing well thanks. 7 students so far and a few scheduled demos that will hopefully convert. Just 10 days left in Sarajevo then back to Belgrade for 4-6 weeks. Hope the Tennessee fall is treating you well.
So glad it is all coming together for you 🙂 safe travels back to Belgrade!
Wow, what a magnificent beauty. The image of the bridge with the winding Dragon, from a distance, looks like it is about to reach out and rise up from the Han River. This is certainly one of the most beautiful bridges around the world 🙂
Glad you’re impressed by it Aiva. I’ve certainly never seen anything quite like it. Have a great weekend!
So much fun to watch the show! Definitely a sprinkle was needed in case someone got on fire 😉
I love bridges, they all look similar, but they are so different in design and style. The dragon is befitting of an Asian bridge!
Hey Christie, I feel the same way about bridges and am often surprised about what new ideas talented architects bring to the table. Thanks for reading!
Vietnam is known for unique bridges, and the Dragon Bridge is no exception. I recall that Vietnam also has the “hand-held” Golden Bridge, and it’d be the dream to check it out someday. The Dragon Bridge reminds me somewhat of the Sanxiantai in Hualien, Taiwan, with its eight arches resembling either waves or a dragon weaving along the waters…it’s truly a wonder to discover these impressive, architectural structures on our travels!
Hey Rebecca! Golden Bridge opened just a few months after I left Vietnam. I was gutted! Glad you like Dragon Bridge and it’s fire-water antics.
Oh my goodness, what a bridge!!!
Pretty special eh? Not sure if this is the only fire breathing bridge in the world, but damn unique nonetheless.
Well you definitely don’t find dragon fire breathing bridges across the river Cam, that’s for sure!
A suggestion perhaps for the Cambridge tourist board? That, I’m guessing, would give an afternoon of punting a whole different spin 🙂
Never saw that Dragon Bridge. We visited Danang ..missed seeing this. Great image and this will make us to return.
This and Golden Bridge would definitely be solid reasons to return. Thanks for stopping by!
This Dragon Bridge makes a great icon for the city. It is true that it is surprising that the dragon shape has not been used more often to represent the shape of suspension bridges.
Yeah, I would have thought some monster Chinese city would have got around to it first.
What a bridge!! Looks interesting and unique too!
Very much so. Thanks for your interest Jyothi, hope you’re having a great weekend.
Yup.. thanks and have a great time!
Wow, the most fabulous bridge anywhere!! How exciting! And as you may know, tomodachi means friend. A Japanese friend that does caligraphy gave me a framed brushed character of tomodachi when I left.
That’s right! Sladja is a Japanese language enthusiast and spends 30-45 minutes a night brushing up on various vocabulary quizzes. Tomodachi is one of those words that keeps coming up. The framed brush sounds wonderful, if only these WP comment threads allowed images.
I’ve tried to paste images before… it would be nice to include.
Ha ha! Before I read on in your post I was thinking how cool it would be if the dragon could breathe fire! 😃 That’s a bridge and show I’d like to see one day.
Glad to hear Dragon Bridge delivered for you John. It’s definitely a show worth catching, though these days it’s the newer Golden Bridge that gets all the tourist love.
Wow! I don’t know the Golden bridge, but if it can top a fire breathing dragon, it must be something special. Thanks for the post and heads up about Danang bridges.
Thats one heck of a bridge! Wow!
Thanks for checking it out and adding to the thread!
This is just the COOLEST bridge ever! Here’s one for my travel bucket list 🙂
Sounds like you’d like Danang a lot. After I visited they opened Golden Bridge, and suddenly Dragon Bridge was left in its shadow.
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