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Da Nang Travel Guide | Things to know before visiting Da Nang

January 09, 2024

Da Nang is one of the most fascinating destinations in Vietnam. This coastal city offers visitors plenty of sights to see, delicious food to sample, lovely beaches to relax on, and so much more. Read on in this comprehensive Da Nang travel guide covering everything you need to know before visiting this vibrant city.

My Khe Beach, Da Nang

My Khe Beach, Da Nang

Things to know before visiting Da Nang

Da Nang has plenty to enchant visitors. Before you embark on your Vietnamese getaway here are some key things to know.

1. Where is Da Nang?

Da Nang is centrally located on the coast of Vietnam, positioned about halfway between Hanoi to the north and Ho Chi Minh City to the south. It’s found along the coast of the South China Sea on one side and surrounded by the Annamite Mountain Range on the other three sides.

The city specifically sits on the opening of the Han River as it meets the East Vietnam Sea. Da Nang essentially divides Vietnam’s coastline in half while also connecting to popular nearby destinations like Hoi An, Hue, and Quang Nam.

2. Why is Da Nang so fascinating?

There are many reasons why Da Nang has become such a favorite among travelers visiting Vietnam:

  • Da Nang enjoys a scenic seaside setting with smooth white sand beaches, bright blue waters, and backyard mountain views. China Beach is consistently ranked as one of the best beaches in the world.
  • It perfectly balances urban city conveniences like shopping centers and entertainment with easy access to the natural landscape from the beach to the mountains to rivers and beyond.
  • Da Nang has a more laidback ambiance compared to the bustling vibe of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. It offers many attractions without overwhelming crowds.
  • The locals welcome visitors with genuine warmth and hospitality.
  • Midrange and budget accommodation is easy to find, especially compared to other major cities.
  • The food scene is incredible, from street eats to beachfront casual and fine dining. Seafood is exceptionally fresh and flavorful here.
  • It serves as the gateway to neighboring UNESCO World Heritage Sites like Hoi An, My Son Sanctuary ruins, and the Imperial City of Hue. Day trips are convenient.

With palm-lined white sand beaches, brilliant dragon-shaped bridges, charming pagodas tucked into mountainsides, delectable cuisine, and hospitable locals, Da Nang brings together the best of Vietnam’s natural beauty and culture into one destination.

3. When is the best time to visit Da Nang?

The ideal time to visit Da Nang is during the dry season from January to August. During these months rain is limited, temperatures are warm but not overly hot, and humidity is generally comfortable.

  • Spring (March to May) brings ideal weather in the mid 20°Cs. Flowers bloom while rain is moderate.
  • Summer (June to August) is the high tourist season with lovely weather, though occasionally hot and humid.
  • Autumn (September to December) ushers in light rains. November storms may disrupt travel plans.
  • Winter (January and February) offers cool, dry weather though evenings get chilly. Tet holiday raises prices.

Aim for the shoulder seasons of spring and autumn to avoid summer crowds and winter’s cold snap.

4. How to get Da Nang, Vietnam

Da Nang is conveniently accessible by air, land, and train routes:

  • By air – Da Nang International Airport services both domestic routes and international connections primarily from Asia. It’s just a short 20-minute drive from the airport to downtown.
  • By train – Da Nang Railway Station connects to major Vietnamese cities like Hanoi, Ho Chi Min Minh City, and Hue by reliable train systems. Sleepers offer an comfortable way to arrive.
  • By car/motorbike – Well-paved roads link Da Nang to surrounding cities and attractions by bus, car, taxi or motorbike along picturesque coastal and mountain roads. Just over an hour’s drive gets you to Hoi An, for example.

Thanks to this central seaside setting and efficient transportation infrastructure, Da Nang welcomes over 6 million visitors per year from near and far.

Top attractions in Da Nang

As Vietnam’s third largest city, Da Nang packs in plenty of noteworthy attractions to fill your itinerary. Culture, history, architecture, nature, and cuisine shine through at these must-see sites.

1. City of Bridges

Da Nang earns its nickname as the City of Bridges thanks to its collection of unique and eye-catching bridges spanning across the Han River. The bridges effectively connect one side of town to the other while lighting up the cityscape at night.

  • Dragon Bridge – This iconic Da Nang bridge was voted the most beautiful bridge in Vietnam. It lives up to the name with a 666-meter long design featuring dragon-shaped columns blowing fire and water. The best views are after dark when it comes alive with a mesmerizing LED light display.
  • Han River Bridge – Also called the Tran Thi Ly Bridge, this striking cable-stay bridge stretches some 550 meters across the Han River. The curved pyramid towers represent Vietnam’s national flower, the lotus.
  • Thuan Phuoc Bridge – The most recent addition completed in 2009, this suspension bridge features two 158-meter tall concrete towers styled like sails fluttering in the wind. It connects to popular Son Tra Peninsula.

2. Son Tra Peninsula & Linh Ung Pagoda

Jutting out into the sea, Son Tra Peninsula feels like a world unto itself with lush jungle blanketing the interior mountains while picturesque beaches trim the coastline. Adventurous types bike or drive around the peninsula stopping at secluded coves. Linh Ung Pagoda sits tucked within the tropical forest, providing panoramic outlooks from its peak setting.

3. Marble Mountains

This cluster of five karst peaks south of Da Nang represent the five essential elements in Vietnamese philosophy – water, wood, fire, earth and metal. Each “mountain” is named accordingly, composed of marble and limestone caves to explore along with temples and shrines built into the cliffs. It’s equal parts scenic hike and spiritual journey.

4. Museum of Cham Sculpture

This bright museum makes an ideal introduction to the ancient Cham Kingdom that ruled this region up until the 19th century. The halls exhibit the largest collection of ornate Cham artifacts including sandstone sculptures, altars, lingas, garudas, gongs, and jewelry.

5. Danang Cathedral

Built in 1923, this popsicle-hued Catholic church serves the minority Catholic population in Da Nang along with welcoming visitors. The architecture mixes Gothic-style architecture with Vietnamese elements like the Lan Anh bricks, bamboo roof frames, and coconut tree rafters. Vibrant yellow walls make it easy to spot.

6. Bà Nà Hills & Golden Bridge

Escape to the mountains and play among the clouds at Ba Na Hills Mountain Resort. A scenic drive west of the city ascends to this French-inspired hill station overlooking the city, forest, and sea in the distance. The Golden Bridge stands as the crown jewel – a 150-meter pedestrian bridge hovering amid the green peaks.

7. Golf Courses

Renowned as the Golf Coast of Vietnam, Da Nang entices golfers from across Asia and beyond with an outstanding selection of championship links. You’ll find three leading courses to test your skills:

  • Montgomerie Links: Highlights – Recently rated 1 Course in Vietnam (2022), signature “crocodile lake” hole at 13, scenic ocean views.
  • BRG Danang Golf Resort: Highlights – 36 quality holes across two courses, consistent top 10 ranking in Vietnam, drives through protected mangrove forest. Host of major tournaments.
  • Ba Na Hills Golf Club: Highlights – Hilly highland course at hill station resort, cool temperatures year-round, excellent condition. Best value golf in Da Nang area.

8. Traditional handicraft villages

Da Nang’s artisans uphold centuries of culture and tradition with diverse handicrafts still produced in their rural villages outside of the city. Visitors can watch the artisans at work while shopping for quality souvenirs.

  • Tuy Loan rice paper making village: Witness the meticulous process of transforming rice into paper to create spring rolls, paintings, lanterns and more delicate wares.
  • Cam Ne sedge mat making village: These remarkable waterproof mats woven from sedge grass make welcome floor coverings, bags, hats and slippers.
  • Nam O fish sauce making village: See how the area’s famed fish sauce called “nuoc mam” is made from freshly caught anchovies fermented in salt for over a year. The mouthwatering result complements every meal.

9. Beaches of Danang

What truly makes Da Nang exceptional are the stretches of sandy white beaches kissing vibrant blue South China Sea waters. Palm trees provide shade while luxury resorts dish up seaside cocktails and fare.

Favorites include gentle sloping My Khe Beach, cinematic Non Nuoc Beach of China Beach fame, and the more remote Bai But Beach backed by Son Tra Peninsula’s jungle covered mountains. Surfers flock to the swells off My An and Hoa Hai Beach too.

What to eat in Da Nang?

Delicious Vietnamese cuisine shines brightly in Da Nang where you’ll find fresh seafood, flavorful noodle dishes, aromatic street eats, and French-inspired fare.

Seafood stars here, just as it should in a prime coastal city. Ask a local for the tastiest, most responsible catches. Grilled, steamed or stirred into noodle bowls, you can’t go wrong with shrimp, squid, crab and various fish.

  • Bánh xèo – This popular crispy Vietnamese crepe gets filled with pork, shrimp, bean sprouts and herbs. Dip it in sweet chili sauce.
  • Bún chả cá – Hot bowls of rice vermicelli come topped with fresh white fish, vegetables and a punchy nuoc cham dipping sauce.
  • Bánh tráng cuốn thịt heo – These DIY spring rolls wrapped in delicate rice paper make an ideal snack or starter.
  • Cơm gà – You’ll find this roasted chicken dish cooked in a clay pot and served with greens, chili and rice at humble sidewalk eateries.
  • Bánh mì – No visit to Vietnam is complete without sampling classic French-style baguettes overflowing with meats, pâté, pickled veggies and cilantro.

Wash it all down with fresh coconuts, tropical fruit smoothies or Vietnamese iced coffee sweetened with condensed milk.

Where to stay in Da Nang?

Da Nang provides visitors plenty of quality lodging options to meet your style and budget needs – from backpacker dorms and beach bungalows to luxury oceanfront resorts.

  • My Khe Beach draws travelers with its sparkling shoreline and string of upscale hotels like Hyatt Regency and Pullman Danang Resort. The area also holds smaller mini-hotels and holiday apartment rentals.
  • Non Nuoc and My An Beach, home to original luxury hotels in Da Nang like Furama and Ocean Villa Resort along with newer 5-star properties from Sheraton, Intercontinental and more.
  • City Center & Riverside – Convenient downtown addresses near the Song Han Bridge place you in walking distance of shops, dining, nightlife and city attractions from museums to pagodas. Mini hotels and high rise towers appeal to business and leisure travelers.
  • Son Tra Peninsula – Nestled into the mountainous peninsula, secluded eco resorts like Son Tra Resort, Premier Village Danang Resort, and Danang Riverside Hotel bring you closer to nature with jungle or riverfront locations without sacrificing amenities.

Or consider checking into traditional guesthouses called homestays in oceanside villages. This community-based hospitality provides cultural insight and supports residents.

Nightlife Activities in Da Nang

Once the sun goes down, Da Nang lights up with festive night markets, lively bars and restaurants, and illuminated bridges that add magic to the riverside cityscape.

1. Helio Night Market

At the base of the striking Helio Center building, over 50 open air stalls dish out tasty bites from pho to fresh fruit and potent cocktails too. Pick up handicrafts amid neon lights and live music. It’s wildly popular with tourists and locals alike.

2. Le Duan Night Market

For a more local scene, head to Le Duan Night Market stretching along Bach Dang Street close to the Song Han Bridge. Vendors sell street food, clothing, souvenirs and more at bargain prices.

3. Hoa Khanh Night Market

Near the Han River Bridge, this extensive night market first opened in 2011 and keeps growing. The kid-friendly spot has fun carnival rides and games plus ample dining and shopping.

4. Dragon Bridge

No doubt Da Nang’s top attraction after dark is the Dragon Bridge springing to life with fire and water streaming from the mythical beast’s mouth as traffic crosses the Han River. Its mesmerizing LED light display lasts just a few minutes so don’t be late! Prime views are from Bach Dang Wharf.

5. Han River Bridge

Also called the Tran Thi Ly Bridge, Da Nang’s cable stayed bridge takes on an ethereal glow once the sun goes down when nearly 700 LED lights illuminate its striking towers.

6. Thuan Phuoc Bridge

This suspension bridge likewise impresses at night as hundreds of lights shine from its huge concrete towers, cable stays and bridge deck. Romantic river cruises sail passengers right underneath.

7. Sky 21 Bar & Bistro

One of the tallest buildings in town, Avani Resort’s Sky Bar lives up to the name on its 21st floor open air terrace overlooking glimmering bridges. Go for sunset or late night drinks and tasty tapas.

8. Horizon Bar

At Summit Lounge within the luxurious InterContinental Hotel, Horizon Bar promises to “awaken your senses” with creative cocktails and tapas on their open-air terrace. Relax around the fire pit and soak in glamorous skyline views.

9. À La Carte Da Nang Beach

This chic restaurant and beach club transports guests to St. Tropez with crisp white decor, elevated yet relaxed Mediterranean dining, and upbeat tunes. Days flow into nights dancing beachside.

10. My Khe Beach

As one of Vietnam’s most scenic beaches stretching over six kilometers, My Khe dazzles visitors day and night when village lanterns cast a warm glow and soft waves serenade. Various cafes and eateries line the sand.

11. Bac My An Beach

The lesser known Bac My An beach offers a peaceful alternative to busier Non Nuoc for swimming, sunset gazing, and moonlight strolls. Beachfront resorts like Sandy Beach Non Nuoc Resort light up the oceanside with tiki torches.

12. Non Nuoc Beach

Da Nang’s prized tropical oasis attracts visitors morning to night with activities from snorkeling to yoga as the sun rises and sets over the South China Sea. Ritzy oceanfront resorts like the Intercontinental host vibrant pool parties and happy hours.

Some Suggested Itineraries for a Tour in Da Nang

With a blend of cultural sites, exciting activities, outdoor adventures, and blissful beach time, Da Nang offers something for all travelers. Here are some recommended 2 to 4 day itineraries to help you plan your Vietnam holiday.

2 Days in Da Nang

  • Day 1 – Wander the Dragon and Han River bridges then explore Marble Mountains and Linh Ung Pagoda followed by city attractions like the Museum of Cham Sculpture and Danang Cathedral. Dine and shop in the Ancient Town district.
  • Day 2 – Relax on white sand beaches like My Khe Beach or Non Nuoc Beach stopping for swims and seafood lunches. Head up to Ba Na Hills Mountain Resort for city views from the Golden Bridge and old-world charms. cap it off with dinner and drinks in a beachfront restaurant.

4 Days in Da Nang

  • Day 1 – See top city sights like bridges, pagodas, museums and shop local markets
  • Day 2 – Tour history and culture around UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Hoi An
  • Day 3 – Enjoy beach bliss and water sports along the sunny shores
  • Day 4 – Get adventurous riding around Son Tra Peninsula’s mountainous coastline stopping at secluded beaches then play golf on elite courses or try new cuisines

Tailor your customized itinerary mixing and matching cultural immersion, nature escapes, adrenaline fixes, pampering moments, history lessons, culinary delights, and local interaction. Da Nang makes it easy to design your dream trip.

What to buy as souvenirs in Da Nang?

Beyond the photographs to commemorate your Vietnamese adventures, Da Nang offers wonderful keepsakes and gifts to bring a little piece of the city back home with you.

  • Delicate silk lanterns in vibrant colors, embossed with intricate patterns
  • Tailored ao dai, Vietnam’s elegant national dress, in modern or traditional styles
  • Fine marble sculptures and carvings handcrafted locally
  • Vietnamese nón lá hats woven from natural palm leaves as a practical yet iconic fashion piece
  • Ceramics like decorative bowls, tea sets, lamps and decorative tiles often edged in gold leaf
  • Snappy I Love Da Nang t-shirts often seen around town
  • Coffee from highland plantations like Da Lat to fuel your mornings
  • Nuoc mam fish sauce or chili garlic sauce to add bold Vietnamese flavor to your cooking
  • Paintings or photography prints portraying Da Nang cityscapes, bridges and beaches

Head to the shops around Han Market, Big C supermarket or Indochine Shopping Mall to find quality keepsakes, artisan crafts, custom-made clothing, gour ## Conclusion

From its iconic dragon-shaped bridges glittering at night to lush jungle-trimmed peninsulas and beaches kissed by the South China Sea, Da Nang brings together dynamic city life and natural beauty like few destinations can.

Beyond the sights, the city enchants visitors with its friendly locals, incredible cuisine, exciting activities, cultural depth, accessibility and comfortable accommodations. You’ll find both immense tranquility and energy here.

Come discover why Da Nang ranks among Vietnam’s very best places to visit. Let this comprehensive travel guide point you in the right directions to craft a trip as unique as you whether you have 2 days or 2 weeks to explore. Just don’t be surprised if you find it hard to say farewell to this special seaside gem shining bright on Vietnam’s central coastline.