The land of Danang was in Hoa Chau County, part of the Dai Viet nation’s territory in the time of King Tran Anh Tong in the 15th century. In King Le Thanh Tong’s reign Dynasty starting from 1466, it belonged to Dien Ban District, Trieu Phong Prefecture, Thuan Hoa Province. The name Danang was first seen in “O Chau Can Luc” by Duong Van An in 1533 when the book mentioned a temple in Danang seaport where a famous figure of King Le Thanh Tong’s reign was worshipped.
The name Danang, comes from the Champa language, and means “big river” or “main estuary”. Located next to an important seaport on the west bank of the Han River, Danang has been on maps since the 16th century.
Cua Han, another name of the land, was popular with the public and Europeans at that time. This name is close in meaning to the Han River and was seen on 17th century maps. Father Buzomi, a European missionary coming to the Inner Area (Dang Trong) in 1615, founded a church in Kean, the land situated on the foot of the Hai Van Pass. The name Kean was also used on a famous map made by Father Alexandre de Rhodes in1666. Kean is “Ke Han”, stemming from the term “Ke”, a quite popular name at that time denoting crowded places such as markets and streets.
In the years of French colonialism, Danang was called Tourane. It was an official administrative name at that time and has been used by many Europeans until now. European maps, books and notes in the 16th, 17th, 18th centuries mentioned such place names as Turon, Toron, Taraon, Touan, Touane, Touron and Tourane.
The Chinese used to call the land “Hien Cang”. “Hien” in two ways of Han script writing means “a port having lots of mussels” or “a seaport with small but dangerous mountains”. The second meaning springs from the shape of Mount Son Tra when we look at it from the sea.
Danang Bay was called “Vung Thung” by the local people, as in the following folk verses: “Hearing the sudden gunfire, we know that the Western ships anchored at Vung Thung yesterday” ("Tai nghe súng nổ cái đùng, Tàu Tây đã lại Vũng Thùng hôm qua”). Confucian scholars used to call Danang by the literary names of Tra Uc, Tra Ao, Tra Son or Dong Long Loan.
After the August 1945 Revolution, Tourane was named after Thai Phien, a well-known patriot of Quang Nam Province who led the Duy Tan (Renovation) Resistance in 1916.
Two years later, Thai Phien was renamed Danang. This name has remained with the city.