Da Nang is one of the most popular cities for travel in Vietnam. Yet it manages to look low-key and calm despite its bustling tourism. Here’s everything to know about it – the Da Nang travel guide.
We stayed here for only two days and felt that there weren’t many things to do in Da Nang. But as we visited its beaches, strolled central Da Nang with a touch of nightlife, and passed the Dragon Bridge, we took it back. It wasn’t Ho Chi Minh City with all the pompous nightlife, but the laidback air was a sweet change.
Two days wasn’t sufficient for Da Nang. The places in the city as well as around it simply needed more time! Here goes my Da Nang Travel Guide:
*This post contains affiliate links. I only recommend products we trust and use.
Da Nang Travel Guide: First Impressions
We landed in Da Nang one late night and got a cab to our hotel by the shore through the quiet streets. I’m not sure if it was the stay, but even the following day – the streets were calm and only a few tourists walked the streets. Mind you, we were in Hanoi earlier – the busy capital of Vietnam.
Later we realized most visitors were laid back here. Also unlike other cities, many visitors were Vietnamese locals themselves for Da Nang’s amazing beaches and the local street food markets.
Apart from the beaches, the nightlife, and the markets of Da Nang – it was the whole vibe itself where most hotels were lined up by the shore road with the smell of the sea not far away. Most places to visit when in Da Nang are mostly day trips away from the city. Some are Ba Na Hills, Marble Mountain, and Hoi An.
Da Nang Travel Guide: Common FAQs
FAQs usually come in at the last, but these are general things to know before you go:
How Many Days to Stay in Da Nang?
It’s best to stay 3-4 days in Da Nang. Most people, like us, stay only for 2 days and it is sufficient to cover the main attractions including a small trip to Hoi An as well. But it’s best to experience the cafes, and beaches, and even stay a day in Hoi An.
Two days is sufficient but it makes for a more rushed trip and tight itinerary. Also, with an extra day – it helps to cover the lesser-known places like Hue or go for an extra activity like snorkeling.
How to Get around
Book a rental scooter! This is the cheapest and most efficient way to commute to Da Nang. Make sure to bring along your driver’s license.
To visit Ba Na Hills, we got ourselves a scooter for 130,000 Dong per day and it was the best decision! The only downside is wearing an annoying raincoat when required. For long-distance commutes, chartered bus/car transfers are affordable.
This is great for solo travelers where you book direct transfers through travel websites and avoid the rental vehicle hustle. The last option is taxi services like Grab – an app similar to Uber. Gladly, it worked fine in Da Nang.
Da Nang Estimated Trip Budget
Da Nang Travel Guide: For budget travelers, the only high costs are the attractions themselves. Ba Na Hills ticket begins from 900,000 VND and the basket boat ride in Hoi An costs 100,000 – 200,000 VND. Other attractions that cost are the Marble Mountain and night boat rides (Hoi An). For food, expect to spend anywhere around 200,000 VND per person/day.
Transport costs: As most visiting places aren’t walkable distances, a rental scooter is the best option for solo travelers. We paid 130,000 VND /day for ours. The main places to visit in Da Nang are the beaches, Dragon Bridge, Lady Buddha, and Bach Dang Walking Street. There isn’t anything more. As the rest are walkable distances from these places, it makes a cab a viable option.
For long-distance transfers like Hoi An, Ba Na Hills, Hue, or My Son – I recommend using shuttle/private transfers from Da Nang as they’re safer and affordable too.
Where to Stay longer – Da Nang or Hoi An?
Da Nang is sweet. But I’d pick staying in Hoi An any day! However, it depends on whether you like a village experience with bicycle rides through farmlands (Hoi An) or a more built-up area with more nightlife, markets, and stays by the beach (Da Nang).
For eateries, both Hoi An and Da Nang have a variety of cafes to hop in for the evenings. While the beaches and Ba Na Hills are closer to Da Nang, one can explore Hoi An’s beautiful canals and candlelight lanterns floating on the Hoai River every night.
Though some say Hoi An is a one-day trip, you’ll see a lot of people residing for their entire vacations here. When you visit Da Nang, opt to stay a night in Hoi An. The place is anyhow only an hour’s drive away!
Accommodation in Da Nang
This is the best part of Da Nang, there are plentiful accommodations for all types of visitors. Unlike backpacker hostels in Hanoi or Saigon, even the backpackers’ hostels were more peaceful here. We stayed at a mid-ranged hotel as well as a budget hostel here. The hotel had the beach before us while the hostel was a more lively place!
Contrary to my usual perspective, I felt the luxury resorts in Da Nang had more unique experiences to offer and thus worth a shot – especially for couples and families. Here are the most popular hotels and my favorite handpicked hostel in Da Nang.
InterContinental Sun Peninsula Resort: A 5-star hotel on the northeast end of the Da Nang with a 700-meter private beach, it’s one of the top luxury hotels in Vietnam with its Michelin-starred chef!
Mikazuki Resorts and Spa
Another 5-star hotel in Da Nang that offers a genuine Japanese experience with its theme and activities. The resort also features its own indoor and outdoor waterpark on its 13 hectares of land!
Hyatt Regency Da Nang Resort
Da Nang’s Hyatt boasts more of a homely touch by the coast with its tranquil nature while possessing comfortable rooms, living areas, private pools, and also Asia’s biggest kids club zone. It’s also a more affordable luxury option for families.
Pullman Da Nang Resort
This 5-stay resort is the closest to the city and it’s the ideal choice for families with comfortable facilities with reasonable rates. It’s best for couples and also has its own Kids’ club.
Cheap Backpacker Hostels
I didn’t expect it but Da Nang has quite a variety of backpacker hostels. Some are close to the city’s coast and others are far into the city. The best part is a modest hostel ranges only between 90,000 VND – 150,000 VND! For location, the beachside is preferable as the waters become accessible anytime.
Unlike quiet resorts, backpacker areas here burst with energy and life. Moreover, they’re located on streets with a variety of cafes, breakfast places, and bars.
For backpacker hostels, I recommend using HostelWorld.com to find dormitory-style hostels for dead-cheap rates. Here are some awesome hostels I handpicked for you:
- LightHouse Da Nang Hostel
- Seahorse Han Market Hostel
- City Hostel Da Nang
- Kon-Tiki Da Nang Hostel
- The Garden Capsule Hostel
Best Things to Do in Da Nang, Vietnam
With Ba Na Hills and Hoi An in this list of places to visit, consider this the Da Nang itinerary! So Help yourself with this list of Things to do in Da Nang:
1. Start with the Lady Buddha
The Lady Buddha in Da Nang- Son Tra Peninsula, fairly visible from the beach stretches (on the left), is a large 67-meter-high white statue. It’s something like the Statue of Liberty in New York. However, there is a whole park, the Linh Ung Pagoda, and many other smaller statues and structures to see here.
It’s free to visit and as it isn’t far from most accommodations alongside the coast, make it your first stop to visit. Also, it opens at 6 a.m which should make it a sweet start to the day. It takes no more than an hour (or two for photo/history fanatics) to get around the Lady Buddha and Linh Ung Pagoda.
*Note: Don’t confuse the Linh Ung Pagoda, there are two of them in Da Nang – one with Lady Buddha and the other by Marble Mountain.
2. Check out the Beaches of Da Nang
Check out the beach if it’s still morning or keep it for the evening. Da Nang coastal side afternoon heat is enough to burn you. The best part about Da Nang is one whole side is a long stretch of beaches with clean sands, palm trees, and surfboard shops.
On the maps, the complete east side of Da Nang is beaches. Some differ more or less from the others. Some popular ones to name are My Khe Beach (closest to the city), Tien Sa Beach, Non-Nuoc Beach, and Bac My An Beach.
Keep in mind that most of these beaches run on the same coast. So they are more or less the same. The entire stretch is more known by the name – My Khe Beach. The lesser visited beaches are Nam O Beach and Tien Sa Beach on the north end of Da Nang.
While Tien Sa is another super-clean secluded beach with white sands, Nam O Beach stands as the most unique with vibrant green rocks on the shores!
Da Nang Travel Guide. Surfing is another option in Da Nang. It isn’t as popular, but some preferred beaches to surf are the My Khe Beach stretch and Nom O Point. According to Nomad Surfers, the best time to surf in Da Nang is September to March.
3. Don’t miss the Dragon Bridge’s evening show!
The Dragon Bridge is a must-visit in Da Nang. In fact, it’s one of the first things you see when you search for Da Nang. While it looks amazing in the daytime, the night view is unbeatable.
The whole 660-meter bridge is shaped just like a dragon with a head and tail on either end. The best part is the weekend (Saturday and Sunday) evenings (from 9 pm) when the dragon head starts breathing fire and water.
Watching from afar, we could see the vibrant lights dancing in harmony as the dragon breathed. Don’t look up the videos and give yourself a spoiler alert. I assure you, it’s worth it!
4. Explore the Bach Dang street
The Bach Dang Street on the west bank of the Han River with the Dragon Bridge in walkable distance, is also popular as a walking street. Lying in the heart of Da Nang, this ever-crowded street is known for hotels, street food markets, restaurants, and bars. It’s a pure commercial hub and even popular among the locals.
We stood here before the bridge and found the street alive with lights, music, and chit-chats down the pavements as far as our eyes could see. A ferry stood tied to the port to which people waited impatiently to enter. They carried no bags. Then I realized, it was a boat restaurant!
Even if you aren’t shopping, Bach Dang Walking Street is worth the experience for some amazing natural shots.
5. Have street food at Da Nang’s night market
Da Nang’s night market falls opposite Bach Dang Street (East side of Hans River). Also called the Chợ Đêm Sơn Trà (I can’t pronounce this either, but Google Maps helps), this is the cheery market with more tourists flocking in.
While it’s similar to most night markets with handicrafts, street delicacies, shopping stalls, and even large live shows – the main feature here is the paper lanterns. Some things to explore here are the variety of beer and local steamed seafood.
Some other popular night markets to check out in Da Nang are Helio Night Market and An Thuong Night Market.
6. Drive out to Marble Mountains
Da Nang Travel Guide – Marble Mountain lies between Da Nang and Hoi An. The reason it’s plural is because it’s a cluster of hills made of marble and limestone. Surrounding the entrance and the mountains are a range of marble shops that sell marble handicraft souvenirs to even life-size marble statues!
Weary of the ascend, we slowly climbed the steep stone steps up and curled around the peak. As we explored, there was so much to see here. The dark caves, dozens of Buddhist and Hindu idols (carved in Marble again), and even a tall pagoda!
My favorite was when we began trekking through a narrow dark cave feeling the smooth marblestone beneath us and then finally onto the peak of the mountain. We could see the shore and the city from here.
7. Go Shopping at Con Market
This is another must-visit in Da Nang. It’s not the shopping – Cho Con Market in Da Nang is the biggest market in the central region of Vietnam. It’s a super-busy commercial complex and is worth the experience for travelers.
Built back in 1940, the Cho Con Market complex today boasts its 2000 stalls over several buildings in and around the same area. Nevertheless, unlike the night market, the shopping stores close at 7:30 pm. So it’s best to visit early evening or late afternoon. It makes for an authentic experience of local markets, unlike touristy ones.
Da Nang Travel Guide protip: Some must-try local cuisines here are Banh Canh and Mi Quang(Vietnamese noodles), Banh Beo (water fern cakes from Central Vietnam), and Kem Bo (avocado ice cream)!
8. Stroll the Ba Na Hills
Visiting the Ba Na Hills is half or a one-day trip and it’s probably the most expensive part of Da Nang’s itinerary. But Ba Na Hills is where you get to see the world-famous Golden Bridge with godlike hands holding out the bridge.
When we visited SunWorld Ba Na Hills, we were disappointed that it was a theme park. A family theme park with roller coasters and fun fair games? Ugh. But then we realized there’s so much more to Ba Na Hills.
You see Ba Na Hills, also called the French Village, was built by the French during colonization as a “vacation spot”. Thus the French Village is today a vacation-cum-historical spot. Read more on my Ba Na Hills review.
9. Take a day trip to Hoi An
To describe Hoi An, it’s a sleepy yet touristy village with canals, paddy fields, and a variety of eateries, cafes, and bars. There are such clique eateries to discover. There’s even a whole community for Da Nang’s Gay Guide!
Nonetheless, the days go slow with rental cycles around the fields while the nights become magical with paper lanterns floating in the river here.
One can take a boat ride here through the vibrant lanterns at night. But the must-visit in Hoi An is the basket-boat ride. This is a slow ride through the narrow canals available in multiple parts of Hoi An.
Da Nang Travel Guide protip: From Da Nang, Hoi An is 30 km making for a day trip. But I highly recommend staying the night in Hoi An to experience this paper lantern ceremony along with the eateries and live music cafes.
10. Snorkel at Cham Island
Snorkeling at Cham Island makes for an offbeat activity in Da Nang. Like Ba Na Hills, this is a 1-day trip as it’s 50 km from Da Nang. However, it is much closer to Hoi An. It takes a boat ride from Hoi An (Cua Dai Pier) to get to Cham Island.
Cham Island is again a small tourist destination. Though there aren’t any large hotels aside from the little homestays, you’ll find beaches, local seafood restaurants, and of course snorkeling. Snorkeling is a must-visit when on Cham Island.
For snorkeling, they take you to the clear parts of shallow waters with colorful coral life visibly rich underneath your eyes!
11. Go on a Day Trip to Hue
Along with the serene touches of nature and village life like Hoi An and Cham Island, Hue is most known for the Imperial City Citadel.
Held by the Nguyen Dynasty Emperors over 200 years ago, the Citadel is surrounded by moat and stone walls. Today, it houses palaces, shrines, and large gardens inside and is referred to as the Forbidden Purple City.
While history fanatics would stay longer, half a day around Hue should also be sufficient. The only downside is that it’s 100 km North of Da Nang (the complete opposite direction from Hoi An and Cham Island).