Why You Should Stay and Spend Time in Da Nang

Many people use Da Nang simply as a stop or hub to get to -arguably- the most popular town in Vietnam, Hoi An. However; after including Da Nang in our itinerary across Vietnam and spending two nights there, we totally recommend it. It was one of the highlights of our trip.

Introducing Da Nang

Da Nang is the largest city in central Vietnam and one of the country’s most important ports. The city is surrounded by mountains to the west, and the South China Sea to the east. It has a tropical monsoon climate with two seasons: a typhoon and wet season from September to December and a dry season from January to August. Temperatures have an annual average of around 26 °C (79 °F).

It is very convenient to visit Da Nang because of its location in the centre of the country but also because it is close to two other very popular cities like Hoi An and Hue, and also My Son ruins.

Moreover; trains, buses and planes depart from Da Nang to all areas of the country. Its International Airport is the third busiest airport in Vietnam, located only 2 km from the city centre. Check our post Complete Guide for Buses and Trains in Vietnam for information about transportation.

What to do in Da Nang

Da Nang has a bit of everything you can find in Vietnam: pristine beaches, picturesque landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and warm hospitality.

This includes a vibrant city centre with markets and shops, a stunning coastline that stretches for miles, and many attractions within the city and nearby. Some of the best ones are the following.

Lady Buda (Sơn Trà Mountain)

Only 10km from the city and at 693m high above sea level live the Lady Buddha, an immense white statue with stunning views of the sea en maintains.

Standing tall and majestic on the slopes of the Son Tra Peninsula in Da Nang, Lady Buddha is a magnificent and iconic statue, officially named the “Goddess of Mercy,” and one of the tallest Buddha statues in Vietnam, reaching an impressive height of 67 meters (220 feet).

Lady Buddha, also known as Guanyin or Avalokitesvara, is revered in Buddhist traditions as the embodiment of compassion and mercy. The statue, adorned in a white flowing robe, gazes out towards the sea with a tranquil expression, radiating a sense of serenity and tranquillity.

Visitors can climb the steps leading to the statue and marvel at its sheer scale, enjoying panoramic views of the city and its natural beauty.

Marble Mountains

Marble Mountains is a group of five limestone hills where visitors can explore the caves and tunnels within the mountains and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding countryside from the top. Mt. Thuy Son is the largest and most beautiful mountain; its top can be reached by stairs or elevators.

They are rocky limestone outcrops jutting out of the beach just south of Da Nang. Paths lead to the top of the forested cliffs, providing views of Non-Nuoc Beach and the South China Sea. The caves in the cliffs were originally inhabited by the Cham people. Later, the Nguyen dynasty built numerous pagodas among the caves.

The Marble Mountains are home to various artisans producing sculpture and artwork at its base at Non-Nuoc Village.

My Khe Beach

My Khe Beach is Da Nang’s most popular and visited beach, right next to the city, and next to a long promenade with sand and blue waters. 

With its soft golden sands, crystal-clear waters, and gentle waves, My Khe Beach has gained recognition as one of the most stunning beaches in Vietnam. It stretches for several kilometres and provides the perfect setting for relaxation and rejuvenation. The calm and warm waters make it an ideal spot for swimming and various water activities, including surfing, jet-skiing, and snorkelling.

It also boasts a range of amenities and facilities to enhance your beach experience. From beachside cafes and restaurants serving delicious seafood delicacies to vibrant beach bars where you can sip on refreshing cocktails, you’ll find everything you need for a memorable beach outing.

One place I can recommend, if you like beer, is East West Brewing Co.

Dragon Bridge

The Dragon Bridge is a 666-meter-long steel dragon that breathes fire, offering six lanes for vehicles and two lanes for pedestrians crossing the Han River.

It is a captivating architectural masterpiece that has become an iconic symbol of the city. In Vietnamese culture, dragons are considered auspicious creatures that bring good fortune, prosperity, and protection.

The Dragon Bridge not only serves as a remarkable landmark but also an important transportation route, connecting the city centre to the eastern side of Da Nang. It’s on this side that one of our favourites markets is hosted, Chợ Đêm Sơn Trà.

The best Markets in Da Nang (day and night)

Bac My An Market

There are several markets in Da Nang, during the day and also the night.

Han Market is the most popular. A busy and vibrant multi-level indoor market with vendors selling food, clothing, fabrics and housewares. You can explore the narrow alleys and indulge in the aromatic flavours of Vietnamese street food, sample the region’s renowned seafood, and haggle for a bargain on unique handicrafts and textiles.

Con Market, situated near the Han River, is also a bustling market that offers a wide range of products such as fresh fruits, vegetables, seafood, clothing, accessories, and household items. You can take the opportunity to try the local speciality “banh trang cuon thit heo” (rice paper rolls with pork).

Bac My An was our favourite mostly because it felt like an authentic local experience. It is located in My An neighbourhood and vendors sell an abundance of fresh produce, herbs, spices, and local ingredients.

Helio Night Market opens only on weekends and includes food stalls, live performances, and a carnival-like atmosphere. Expect to find a wide variety of Vietnamese street food, from grilled meats and seafood to noodles, desserts, exotic fruits, clothes and accessories, and a lively atmosphere.

Da Nang Night Market is located along the banks of the Han River and also opens in the evenings. It also offers a wide selection of clothing, accessories, souvenirs, and street food. What call out attention the most was the many stands offering a basket of raw mixed fish, which they grilled on the spot for you.

Ba Na Hills and Golden Bridge

Ba Na Hills is a captivating hill station and entertainment complex high in the Truong Son Mountains, just 42 km outside Da Nang.

One of the highlights of Ba Na Hills is the Golden Bridge, an architectural marvel that has become an iconic symbol of the region. This pedestrian bridge is held up by a pair of colossal stone hands emerging from the lush mountainside. As you walk along the bridge, you’ll be treated to amazing panoramic views of the surrounding hills and forests.

It also offers a variety of other attractions and activities. You can take a cable car ride to the hill station and enjoy beautiful views of the mountains and valleys below. Once at the top, you can explore Fantasy Park, an amusement park with roller coasters, arcade games, and 4D cinemas.

The French Village is another popular area, where you’ll feel transported to a European town with its charming cobblestone streets, vibrant facades, and cosy cafes.

This is one of the most popular tours from Da Nang, you can either buy a ticket and go on your own or hire a tour which includes transportation. Tickets are also available on the official website.

My Son Sanctuary

Mỹ Sơn is an archaeological site dating back more than a thousand years, in Quang Nam. Located in a remote forested valley some 70 km west of Da Nang, this former capital and religious centre of the Champa kingdom once contained in excess of 70-style temples and stupas.

Although badly damaged by bombing raids in the 1960s, the site still has more than 20 structures and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999. Many statues, sculptures and reliefs recovered from Mỹ Sơn are kept in the Museum of Cham Sculpture, near the Hàn River in the heart of Da Nang. Dating from the fourth to the 14th centuries, the sensual artwork in these works depicts daily activities as well as Hindu and Buddhist religious themes.

You can get there on your own or take a guided tour (or this one) which includes transportation and makes your life easier. It takes around an hour from Da Nang or Hoi An.

Hoi An

Hoi An is one of the most popular central coastal towns in Vietnam, known for its well-preserved houses, streets and canals. The former port operated in full from the 15th to the 19th century, and today its main activity is tourism. Its architecture and street plan reflect a blend of indigenous and foreign influences, from wooden Chinese shophouses and temples to colourful French colonial buildings and ornate Vietnamese tube houses.

Its name translates as “peaceful meeting place” from Sino-Vietnamese. And although it still feels like a calm place, tourism is growing fast every year, and in 2019, Hoi An was listed as one of Vietnam’s key culture-based tourist areas where rampant tourism growth ‘threatens the sustainability”. It is also noted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999.

In terms of transportation, there is no train station in Hoi An, as it is a small town. We took a taxi from Da Nang, which is a very common way to get there. It takes around 45 minutes and costs between 16-18 USD (350,000-450,000 VND). Most hotels offer this service as soon as you book, but you can also take one on the street or use Grab or 12go or Baolau.

Alternatively, GetYourGuide offers a private shuttle service between Da Nang Airport and Hoi An for USD 5.50 per person.

This time we stayed at Lasenta Boutique Hotel and we enjoyed our stay a lot. The location is the most controversial aspect of the hotel, as it is a 15-20 minute walk to the ancient town. However; there are 3 shuttle services per day to the old town and to the beach. But the view of the rice fields from the outdoor pool is superb. The room was spacious and the breakfast was quite good.

An Thuong

Last but not least, I must mention our favourite area in Da Nang, An Thuong. Labelled (wrongly) as the main nightlife district, is a vibrant and bustling neighbourhood in Da Nang that offers a perfect blend of local charm, international flair, and a laid-back beachside atmosphere.

It is situated near My Khe Beach and has become a popular destination for both locals and tourists looking to soak up the sun, enjoy delicious food, and experience a lively social scene. The neighbourhood is dotted with numerous restaurants, cafes, and bars, offering a diverse range of culinary delights.

In addition to its dining options, An Thuong is also known for its lively nightlife. As the sun sets, the neighbourhood comes alive with an array of bars and pubs offering live music, refreshing cocktails, and a friendly atmosphere.

Moreover, An Thuong is a vibrant multicultural hub, attracting visitors from all corners of the globe. The area is home to a diverse community of expats, creating an international atmosphere where different cultures blend harmoniously. You can find international grocery stores, boutique shops, and community events that cater to diverse residents and visitors.

Some recommended places are I strongly recommend walking around the area, especially along Ng. Thì Sĩ Street. Some places we enjoyed are Roots Plant-based Cafe, Hanh & Ken, Heaven Bar and Tom’s Bar & Grill.

Where to stay in Da Nang

Vinpearl Resort & Golf

For the same reasons described above, I would recommend staying in An Thuong. Unless you are only interested in cultural activities and you want them as close to you as possible or you don’t like the beach, An Thuong is the best area to stay.

We stayed at Minh Boutique Hotel, not far from An Thuong and very close to the beach. It was one of our favourite hotels. The rooms were a bit small, but the architecture was very special, all wooden and a lot of vegetation. It also has a good pool on the top floor and a modest breakfast. And the staff were super nice.

Other areas to stay are:

  • The Han River waterfront is also a popular area for accommodation in Da Nang. With its central location, you’ll have easy access to various attractions, restaurants, and shopping areas.
  • Son Tra Peninsula if you are looking for a more serene and nature-filled experience.
  • If you’re a beach lover, staying near My Khe Beach is a great choice. This area offers a range of hotels and resorts that provide easy access to the stunning beach.
  • Staying in the city centre provides convenient access to shopping malls, markets, and cultural attractions.

And there is more. Da Nang has an area full of huge resorts, some of them including golf courses. It is commonly known as the “Non Nuoc Resort Area” or “Non Nuoc Beach Resort“, and it is located south of Da Nang city centre. Some options here are:

Traditional food in Da Nang

Mi Quang and a bottle of Huda

Da Nang offers a few traditional dishes that are known or represent the central area of the country. And due to the location and the size of the port, fish is of course a speciality as well. Some traditional dishes are:

  • Mi Quang (see picture above) is a noodle dish that originates from the central region of Vietnam. It’s made with thick rice noodles, pork, shrimp, and quail eggs, and is often served with a variety of herbs and peanuts. The dish is topped with a savoury broth made with turmeric, fish sauce, and pork bones, giving it a unique and delicious flavour.
  • Bún chả cá (fish ball noodle soup) is a noodle soup dish made with a flavorful fish broth, rice vermicelli noodles, and chunks of grilled or fried fish. The dish is often garnished with fresh herbs, bean sprouts, and crispy fried fish cakes.
  • Nem lui (Lemongrass Pork Skewers) consists of grilled pork skewers served with rice paper, fresh herbs, and a dipping sauce. The skewers are marinated in a mixture of lemongrass, garlic, and other spices, giving the pork a fragrant and flavorful taste.
  • Hoanh Thanh Chien (fried wontons) is a popular street food snack in Da Nang. These crispy fried dumplings are filled with a mixture of ground pork, shrimp, and spices.
  • Banh Canh Cua is a thick and chewy noodle soup that features crab meat as the main ingredient. The dish typically includes fresh crab meat, pork, herbs, and a flavorful broth made from pork bones.

Something also very distinctive of Da Nang and many other coastal cities in Vietnam is that many restaurants keep the fish alive until ordered. The idea is to have it as fresh as possible, even though the fish are not swimming freely in the open ocean.

In terms of beer, our favourite was Saigon Special, followed closely by Huda. The latter is a lager produced and bottled in Hue by Hue Brewery Ltd and is currently owned by Carlsberg. The lager won a silver medal at the World Beer Championships in 2013.

More pictures

Tháp Xá Lợi temple, located opposite Lady Buddha
Sculptures in Marble Mountains
The area around Lady Buddha is full of monkeys
My Son
Fish combos for sale in the night market
Many restaurants keep the fish alive until ordered
Art on the promenade
Dragon Bridge
View from the Dragon Bridge
Street art in Da Nang’s Fresco Village

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