Nam O Fishing Village overlooking the Cu De River at the foot of Hai Van Pass has arguably existed for 700 years
From Danang City, follow Nguyen Tat Thanh Street stretching along Danang Bay and at the end of the street turn to Nam O ancient fishing village. Tourists who love history should not miss this destination.
Some historical archives say Nam O used to be in the southern gate of Dai Viet—the former name of Vietnam. The fishing village was traditionally where fish sauce makers and firecracker makers lived.
In Vietnam’s history, Princess Huyen Tran, daughter of King Tran Nhan Tong (1258-1308), was married to Champa King Che Man in 1306 to strengthen Dai Viet-Champa relations. A year later, her husband passed away. According to the funeral customs of Champa, the princess had to immolate herself. Aware of this custom, her brother Tran Anh Tong, then the king of Vietnam, sent general Tran Khac Chung and his soldiers to Champa to rescue her. On the way, they were forced to stop at Nam O Village by a storm. Local villagers fought side-by-side with Tran Khac Chung to protect the princess. Huyen Tran finally could make her way to her country but the general was killed during the battle. To pay tribute to the bravery of the general, villagers built a tomb of him and a temple for the princess.
Nowadays, the village is in Lien Chieu District, Danang City. After many ups and downs in history, Nam O now remains a small fishing village overlooking Danang Bay. Travelers to the village should visit Lang Ong, Co Hon Temple and Nam O reef complex.
Lang Ong, or Whale Temple, in Nam O is as modest as an ancient house in the countryside in the central region. Cross the old cement yard and you’ll see its presbytery. The roof highlights two dragon statues while in front of the gate are two statues of nghe, a mythological lion-head, dog-body animal. There are three worship tables in the presbytery, the big one in the middle and the two smaller ones on the right and left. Ancient weapons are displayed around the worship tables. On the wall is a hoanh phi—a horizontal lacquered board with words seen in temples and pagodas in Vietnam.
The tomb of whales next to the temple is a 300-square-meter area surrounded by head lime walls.
Local fishermen organize a whale worship festival from the 14th to 16th days of the second lunar month (March) every year. When a dead body of a whale is washed ashore, villagers organize a funeral for it. After three years, the skeleton is retrieved and put into a ceramic container and worshiped in the Whale Temple. It has been the village’s tradition since time immemorable.
Adjacent is Co Hon Temple which houses a big relief of tiger at its doorstep. The three worship tables in the presbytery are for gods, soldiers and souls.
Nam O reef complex covering two hectares includes Ca and Con reefs. Ca Reef with many undersea rocks stretches over 300 meters and is 50 meters wide. Con Reef is parallel with Ca Reef. Between them is a 20-meter peaceful and poetic rivulet.
Nam O reef complex is surrounded by forests and dotted with moss-covered rocks, plus white sand beach and fresh air. Not surprisingly, this destination attracts droves of photographers and tourists.
By Hoang Tham