Responsible Travel Guide
Da Nang is Vietnam’s fifth largest city and is one of two halves; on one side of the Hàn River is the bustling city centre and on the other are long well kept beaches and many luxury resorts.
Spread out over a large area Da Nang can seem sparse at first and perhaps lacking in atmosphere with construction sites popping up everywhere but it makes up for this with it’s beautiful beaches, great scenery and incredibly friendly locals. Situated between Hue and Hoi An in the centre of the country, many travellers use Da Nang as a transit hub to explore this area of Vietnam.
Da Nang is a transport hub for the central coast of Vietnam and as such is easy to reach by plane, bus or train.
The international airport is located within the city, around 3km from the centre of Da Nang. There are frequent flights to Da Nang from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City for as little as $30. Domestic flights also operate between Da Nang and Da Lat, Hai Phong, Nha Trang and Pleiku airports. International flights to Da Nang are available from Guangzhou, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, Siem Reap, Singapore, Taipei and Tokyo. As Da Nang attracts more foreign visitors, expect the list of international airports that fly here to grow.
Da Nang train station is situated just outside the city centre and you will find trains running here from just about everywhere else in Vietnam on the Reunification Express line. There are plenty of taxis and moto taxis that wait outside the station – if you can, try and grab a Mai Linh car, they are one of a few reliable taxi companies in Vietnam.
There are a variety of buses running between Hoi An and Da Nang including an assortment of private mini buses and a yellow local bus. The local bus stops just outside Hoi An city centre and takes around 45 minutes to reach the centre of Da Nang. The fare should be 20,000 dong however foreigners are often asked to pay more so don’t be surprised if this jumps higher – it’s up to you whether the increased amount is enough to argue over.
Da Nang bus station is a few kilometres from the centre but is serviced by local buses. You will likely arrive at this station if you are travelling via sleeper bus from cities further away like Hanoi or Nha Trang.
Most of the attractions in Da Nang are widely spread out and would take a considerable time to reach on foot.
You can rent a bike here for as little as 80,000 dong per day making it an extremely cost effective form of transport and a great way to see the sights of Da Nang. There are some beautiful coast roads in this area, particularly on the Son Tra peninsular that make for some fantastic drives with breathtaking views.
Not to miss
Are a group of mountains in which several Buddhist temples have been built into caves and grottoes. Explore various caves containing alters and statues and gain some amazing views.
Trying to visit all of the mountains would be rather ambitious and would take some considerable time. Out of the five definitely visit the largest, Thuy Son (Mountain of Water), which has the most features to explore including Am Phu cave. Inside the cave you can make a steep climb towards the light and through a small opening to find great views of the surrounding area.
The marble mountains are easy to reach being only 9km south of downtown Da Nang and a short drive from My Khe beach. Admission is 15,000 dong. If you’re running short on energy there is a lift up the side of Thuy Son which is a further 15,000 dong.
Not technically in Da Nang but on the way from here to Hue you will find one of the most amazing coastal roads in the world. Take an easy rider tour (recommended for those who are not experienced on a bike) or rent a bike one way yourself and marvel at the breath taking scenery from the winding roads and hairpin bends. This route was made famous by Top Gear back in 2008.
Where else in the world will you find a fire and water breathing Dragon Bridge? The bridge only breathes fire and water on a Sunday at around 9pm. Watch from a distance on one of the parallel bridges and see the entire dragon or you can get closer to the action near the bridge itself and the dragons head.
Other Attractions & Sights
Son Tra or Monkey Mountain
The roads on and around Monkey Mountain are very quiet and the scenery is fantastic making it a great place to explore by motorbike. There are some steep hills however, so you may be better off hiring a semi-automatic bike. Visit the magnificent old Ficus tree with its intertwining roots and branches. If you’re lucky you might even spot the endangered Red Shanked Duoc Langur in their natural habitat.
Linh Ung Temple & the Lady Buddha
The giant 67 meter tall statue of ‘Quan The Am’, often referred to as the Lady Buddha, can be seen from the long stretch of My Khe beach. The statue along with the Ling Ung Temple is located on the southern side of Son Tra Mountain. A great way to reach it is by motorbike as you can combine the trip with a ride through the scenic and quiet roads of Son Tra / Monkey Mountain.
My Khe Beach
With a coastline that stretches 30 km in length, Da Nang is home to some beautiful beaches. The most popular is My Khe Beach, sometimes referred to as China Beach, which it was named by the American troops who visited for R&R during the Vietnam War.
The beach is incredibly clean and ridiculously quiet given the number of high end resorts and plethora of hotels nearby. It gets busiest in the afternoon around 3 – 4 pm with locals and Vietnamese tourists but earlier in the day you can have huge swathes of pristine beach to yourself.
My Khe beach also offers excellent surfing from September and there are a number of surf shops / cafes where you can hire boards.
Once listed in Forbes Magazine as one of the ‘World’s Most Luxurious Beaches’ you can still enjoy My Khe beach on a budget by staying at one of a number of affordable hotels and hostels in the nearby area.
Not to be missed, the stunning sands of My Khe offer surfers and sun seekers alike a wonderfully unspoilt hideaway.
Ba Na Hill Station
Touted as the ‘Dalat of Da Nang’ by local tourism authorities, Ba Na Hills is located 30km west of Da Nang city in the Truong Son mountain range, 1,487 metres above sea level. Ba Na was a favourite amongst French colonialists in the 1920s due to its temperate climate and spectacular views over the South China Sea.
Today an incredibly high cable car system continues to attract local and foreign visitors alike who can enjoy breath taking views on the way up to the hill station. Ba Na Hills is currently home to a subterranean amusement park, a couple of hotels and a faux European style fantasy castle. To catch the cable car you will need to get to Suoi Mo station (around $25 by taxi from Da Nang) then pay 300,000 dong per person – this fee includes entrance to the Fantasy Park.
Well worth a trip for the views alone and although incredibly kitsch and slightly bonkers the amusement park is good fun too.
Da Nang Food Tour
Experience authentic local cuisine with Da Nang Food Tours. No large groups disrupting locals, no uniformed staff carrying flags. You’ll visit some secret food spots that only locals know. The idea is to blend in as much as possible and not cause a scene.
Most of the places you’ll go to rarely have foreign customers so, to minimise the impact on the local vibe and give you a more authentic food experience, group sizes are limited to 4 people. Morning and evening tours are available each lasting around 3 hours, costing $45 per person and are all-you-can-eat-and-drink. Find out more here.
Founded in 1915 the Cham Museum features the world’s largest collection of Cham sculpture and artefacts. The museum provides insight into Cham architectural style and art and is particularly worth a visit if you also plan to see the ancient My Son ruins in Hoi An, offering a useful historical back drop.
Food & Drink
Unlike most of Vietnam, street food isn’t so readily available in Da Nang especially around the beach area. You can still find the odd Bahn Mi stand but not a great amount more.
Restaurants on the city side of the river can be particularly expensive (well in comparison to elsewhere in Vietnam) but cheaper Vietnamese eateries and great sea food can be found on the beach side. If your keen to experience the local cuisine then check out a Da Nang Food Tour.
If you’re craving some western fare we recommend Nha Leo for some truly wonderful pizzas and fantastic salads. They stock a great range of imported meats and cheeses.
Enjoy good conversation with your coffee? Then check out the Backpackers Cafe which aims to help locals with their English language skills by encouraging them to converse in English with tourists.
Da Nang is home to many luxury resorts but good budget options are also available. If you are willing to spend $15 – $25 on a private room you will find a great standard of accommodation that’s exceptional value for money.
Hostels aren’t plentiful and are a little more expensive than elsewhere in Vietnam. The Funtastic hostel’s have dorm beds from $7.60 with two Da Nang locations.
New hotels are popping up in Da Nang regularly, keep your eyes out for these, as amazing deals can be found if they have just opened.
When looking for accommodation sites like TripAdvisor and Booking.com can be your best friend. Put your dates into TripAdvisor and you can search by price as well as checking the ratings, helping you pick the best value for money. Use Booking.com to search 500,000+ hotels in more than 200 countries worldwide.
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