Danang old name - Before you know the name Da nang
danang old name

Danang old name – Before you know about the name Danang

Have you ever wondered whether it has a Danang old name? Or how the name of this city has changed by time?

Danang is not the very first name of this coastal city. The local people and foreigners called it by so many different names in the past. Time passes, the name has changed. And nowadays, you and each person on the planet know about this coastal city by the name Danang.

danang old name

The painting of the tempory wet market on Son Tra Peninsular with the France and Portuguese in Danang 1860 – By Gravure.

Danang old name before the French colonial time

The very first Danang old name started from Champa time. Champa is an independent kingdom which had existed in the South East Asian in the past. Champa culture is impacted strongly by Indian and Java culture. Later, Champa united with Vietnam territory.

danang old name

The territory map of Champa Kingdom – Image: Naval History and Heritage.

In the time of Champa Kingdom, Danang has been existence. Until the 16th century, Danang belonged to Quang Nam province. The local people called it “Cua Han” which means the estuary of Han river. In the local dictionary at that time, Han means a wharf. It came from the geography of this area which is convenient to be a port for trading.

To the foreigners, the first Danang old name that they saw on the material is Kean. in 1615, the priest Buzomi built a church in an area called Kean. They also found out the name Kean on the famous map which was made by Alexandre De Rhodes in 1666.

In totally, before the French colonial time, Danang has two old names which were called by the local people and the western people – Cua Han and Kean.

danang old name

The map of Annam (the old name of Vietnam) drafted by Alexandre De Rhodes in 1651 and published in 1666 – By Alexandre De Rhodes.

Danang old name during the French colonial time

When France came to Vietnam to colonize, they separated Danang from Quang Nam province and named it Tourance in 1889. This Danang old name also has other versions such as Turon, Toron, Taraon, Touan, Touane and Touron. However, no matter what people call it, the name of Danang always has one meaning only. It is the big estuary flows to the ocean. Furthermore, it also indicates the convenient location to the economic and trading growth of this area.

danang old name

The local people in Tourance drove water on Courbet street (Bach Dang street today) in 1912.

Also in this period of time, the Chinese came to Hoi An and Danang to do their trading and expand their business. Therefore, they also had their own way to call Danang. It was “Hien Cang”. In their characters, Hien Cang means the small but dangerous port in a mountain. It, of course, came from the location of Danang.

danang old name

Train from Tourance to Hue.

In the time of the French colony, Danang has developed strongly. The most significant growth was trading activities. Moreover, it was also the main port to import and export goods and products for the trading activities which happened in Hoi An at that time.

danang old name

Courbet port in Tourance.

Danang old name after the French colonial time

After gaining independence from the French, the local people named the city Thai Phien in 1945. Thai Phien was a famous activist who was also the local people in the war against the French. To commemorate and appreciate the contribution of Thai Phien to the success of the war of independence, the local people set his name as the name of the city.

danang old name

Danang in the war of independence against the French – Image: Wikipedia.

Two years later, the official name Danang appeared and it remains until today. Therefore, Thai Phien is the last Danang old name in history. Danang is a word that the local people borrowed from Champa language. “Da” in Champa means the river and “Nang” means big.


Without consideration of changing the name so many times, each of the Danang old name has only one meaning which is the geographic location of the city.