First Time travel to Da Nang – Things you need to know
Visiting Da Nang for the first time can be an exciting yet overwhelming experience. As Vietnam’s third largest city, Da Nang has plenty to offer visitors – from breathtaking beaches and scenic landscapes to historic sites and a vibrant food scene. However, there are some key things first-timers should know to make the most of their trip. This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know before travelling to Da Nang, including essential logistics like visas and transport as well as tips on where to stay, what to do, local customs and more. Read on for insights that will help ensure your first visit to this coastal Vietnamese city is smooth, enjoyable and unforgettable.
- First Time travel to Ho Chi Minh City – Things you need to know
- First Time travel to Hanoi – Things you need to know
- Traveling to Hue Vietnam for the first time – Things you need to know
Checklists to know before travelling to Da Nang
When planning your first ever trip to Da Nang, there are some key logistics to take care of beforehand so everything goes smoothly upon arrival. Here are some essentials for your pre-travel checklist:
Flights to Da Nang, Vietnam
Da Nang International Airport (DAD) is centrally located, just a 10 minute drive from the city center. It receives both domestic and international flights. When booking your flights, consider flying into Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City first, as these major hubs tend to have more flight options and cheaper fares. From there you can connect to a short 1-2 hour domestic flight to Da Nang. AirAsia, VietJet Air and Vietnam Airlines all operate frequent flights. Make sure to book early to grab the best fares.
Do I need a Visa to enter Vietnam?
Most foreign nationals need a visa to enter Vietnam. There are three main types:
- Single entry visa – Valid for 30 days and ideal for those taking a short trip only to Da Nang. Multiple entry visas are also available.
- Vietnam E-visa – Convenient visa you can apply for online in advance. Usually takes 3 days to process and is valid for 90 days from date of entry.
- Vietnam Visa on Arrival – Can be obtained when you land at Da Nang Airport. Note there is an approval letter requirement and processing fee.
Check requirements for your country and apply for the appropriate visa well in advance of your departure date to avoid last minute delays.
When is the best time to visit Da Nang?
Da Nang enjoys a sub-tropical climate, with warm weather year round. The peak seasons are from February to August, when temperatures range from 23-28°C. This coincides with dry season, when rainfall is low and skies are generally sunny.
The shoulder months of September – November see slightly more rainfall but thinner crowds and lower prices on hotels and flights. December-January is the coolest time of year (around 20°C), but be prepared for occasional bursts of rain.
High season is very popular with tourists, but also brings higher prices and packed beaches. For comfortable weather with fewer people, aim for shoulder season. Whenever you visit, bring light clothing that can handle sudden rain showers.
Things to know when arriving at Da Nang airport
Once you land at Da Nang International Airport, here are some key things to take care of as you get your bearings:
Vietnam’s official currency is the Vietnamese Dong (VND). At the airport you’ll find numerous exchange counters as well as ATMs where you can withdraw local currency. Compare rates to get the best deal. Also have some USD on hand, as US dollars are commonly accepted for tourist transactions.
How to move from Da Nang airport to city center?
The airport is just 3km from the city center. You have several options to reach your hotel:
- Taxi: Taxis are readily available outside the airport. Look for the official taxi stands or counters and provide your destination to the staff. The journey to the city center takes around 10-15 minutes, depending on traffic conditions.
- Private Transfer: You can pre-book a private transfer service, either through your hotel or a trusted travel agency. This option offers convenience and comfort, especially if you have a lot of luggage.
- Shuttle Bus: The airport also operates a shuttle bus service that runs between the airport and the city center. The buses depart regularly and provide a more affordable option for transportation.
- Motorbike Taxi (Xe Om): If you prefer a more adventurous option, you can choose to take a motorbike taxi to the city center. Negotiate the fare beforehand and ensure you wear a helmet for safety.
It’s recommended to consider factors such as convenience, budget, and personal preference when choosing the most suitable transportation option for you.
Best place to stay for the first time in Da Nang
With so many accommodation options, narrowing down where to stay in Da Nang can be overwhelming for first-timers. Here are some of the best areas and hotels to consider for an amazing introductory visit:
- My Khe Beach – Da Nang’s most famous beach, with lots of dining, nightlife and shopping options along the main strip. Hotels like Fusion Maia and Hyatt Regency Danang offer stunning beachfront locations.
- Son Tra Peninsula – More secluded area with pristine beaches and scenic views. Luxury resorts like InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula have breathtaking settings away from the city bustle.
- Han River area – Centrally located near local attractions and restaurants. Hotels like Courtyard by Marriott provide easy access around town.
- Ho Xuan Huong Street – Charming, historic area with cozy boutique inns. Ancient House Villa and Church Boutique Hotel give you a taste of old Da Nang.
For first timers, proximity to the airport and popular sites is ideal. Book a hotel in My Khe or along Han River for convenience.
Getting Around in Da Nang
Da Nang has an efficient public bus system that serves major tourist attractions. Routes are clearly labelled in English at each stop and fares are very cheap, usually VND 7,000-15,000 per ride. Other handy transport options include:
- Metered taxis – Best way to get from point A to B. Ensure drivers use the meter to avoid arguing over fares.
- Motorbike taxis – Popular for shorter trips where buses don’t go. Negotiate the fare before setting off.
- Bicycle & motorbike rental – Ideal for exploring beaches and neighbourhoods at your own pace. Rent from hotels or agencies along main streets.
- Grab car & Grab bike – Southeast Asia’s top ride-hailing app offers everything from cars to motorbikes. Download the app and input your destination for door-to-door convenience.
For major sights like Marble Mountains, Ba Na Hills and My Son Sanctuary, joining organised day tours can be more practical than navigating public transport.
What to do in Da Nang?
With its gorgeous coastline, ancient Sites and fun attractions, Da Nang offers boundless things to see and do. Here are top experiences no first-timer should miss out on:
1. Visit the Marble Mountains: Explore this cluster of limestone and marble hills to see caves, pagodas, and enjoy panoramic views of the city.
2. Relax at My Khe Beach: Spend a day soaking up the sun and swimming at this beautiful beach known for its crystal-clear waters and pristine sand.
3. Discover the Golden Bridge: Visit the Golden Bridge, a stunning architectural marvel with its famous giant hands uplifted in the air.
4. Explore Ba Na Hills: Take a cable car ride to the Ba Na Hills, a mountaintop resort offering a variety of attractions such as amusement park rides, a French village, gardens, and stunning views.
5. Wander around Hoi An Ancient Town: Take a day trip to the nearby UNESCO-listed Hoi An Ancient Town, known for its well-preserved buildings, lantern-lit streets, and vibrant shopping scene.
6. Enjoy the Dragon Bridge: Don’t miss the chance to witness the Dragon Bridge spit fire and water every Saturday and Sunday night – a unique spectacle.
7. Visit the Museum of Cham Sculpture: Explore this museum dedicated to the ancient Cham culture, showcasing a collection of beautiful sculptures and artifacts.
8. Explore Son Tra Peninsula: Go for a drive or bike ride around Son Tra Peninsula to enjoy scenic coastal views, visit a giant statue of the Lady Buddha, and spot monkeys in the wild.
9. Take a food tour: Da Nang is known for its delicious local cuisine. Join a food tour to taste popular dishes like Banh Xeo (Vietnamese pancake), Mi Quang (local noodle dish), and fresh seafood.
10. Experience the Han Market: Visit the bustling Han Market, where you can shop for local products, souvenirs, clothing, and fresh produce.
Remember to also respect the local culture, try to learn a few Vietnamese phrases, and be mindful of the environment during your visit.
With limited time, focus on Da Nang’s beaches, Dragon Bridge show and Marble Mountains for an unforgettable first visit.
Food & drinking
Get ready to tantalise your tastebuds – Da Nang’s unique cuisine is an incredible part of the local experience. Savour these must-try specialties for a true introduction to the city’s food culture:
- Mi Quang – Da Nang’s signature noodle dish, with turmeric-infused rice noodles, pork, shrimp, peanuts and fresh herbs.
- Banh Xeo – Crispy Vietnamese crepes filled with shrimp, pork and bean sprouts. Dip in sweet chilli sauce and lettuce wraps.
- Banh Nam – Steamed rice flour dumplings with succulent pork and shrimp inside, topped with crispy shallots.
- Banh Trang Cuon Thit Heo: These are rice paper rolls filled with grilled pork, fresh herbs, lettuce, and sometimes banana blossoms. They are typically served with a tasty peanut dipping sauce.
- Nem Lui – Grilled skewers of minced pork, served with rice paper, herbs and a delectable dipping sauce.
- Banh Khot – Mini savoury pancakes with shrimp, green onions and tangy dipping sauce. A must-try Da Nang specialty.
There are numerous options for delicious dining in the city of Danang. As it is situated in the central region of Vietnam, there is a diverse range of cuisine available from various parts of the country. Along with traditional local dishes, there are also plenty of restaurants serving international fare such as pizza, pasta, burgers, and Indian cuisine.
- Thien Ly Danang-style
- Madame Hanh
- Tamarind Tree Restaurant Da Nang
- Sofia Restaurant
- Red Sky Bar & Restaurant
- Lam Vien Restaurant
- Madame Lân
- Ngon Villa Danang
- Burger Bros
Da Nang offers a diverse range of entertainment options after dark, including trendy rooftop bars, elegant lounges, welcoming expat hangouts, and bustling nightclubs.
- Sky 36
- Brilliant Top Bar
- New Phuong Dong Nightclub
- Golden Pine
- OQ Bar
- The Daw
- Seventeen Saloon
- Bamboo Bar 2
- 7 Bridges Brewery
Best Day Trips from Da Nang
Da Nang is a great base to explore nearby towns and attractions. Here are top day trip picks for first-timers:
- Hoi An – This exquisite ancient town is only 30mins away. Wander cobblestone lanes, try local dishes and shop for souvenirs.
- Hai Van Pass – Dramatic coast road with spectacular mountain and ocean vistas. Ride a motorbike or book a car tour.
- Ba Na Hills – Just an hour away, this lush highland resort offers scenic hiking trails and Vietnam’s longest cable car ride.
- My Son Sanctuary – UNESCO World Heritage site with ancient Cham ruins dating back to the 4th century.
- Cu Lao Cham – Pristine tropical island that’s perfect for swimming, snorkelling and discovering marine life.
With limited time, visiting Hoi An is an absolute must. The historic town provides a beautiful contrast to modern Da Nang.
Suggested 3-day travel itinerary in Da Nang
Planning your first 3 days in Da Nang? This handy itinerary hits the top sights for an amazing introduction:
- Check into your hotel then head to My Khe Beach. Spend the morning relaxing on the sand and swimming in the sea.
- Grab lunch at local restaurant Nam O along the beach road to try Da Nang specialties like Mi Quang noodles.
- Afternoon visit Marble Mountains to explore the limestone caves and pagodas.
- End with watching the iconic Dragon Bridge show at 9PM where the giant dragon head breathes fire.
- Take a full day trip to Hoi An. Wander the old town, cross the Japanese Bridge, have custom clothes tailored and dine at atmospheric eateries.
- Late afternoon return to Da Nang and walk along the scenic Han Riverfront at dusk.
- Have dinner at Mi Quang restaurant along Tran Phu Street, followed by drinks at a rooftop lounge.
- Start early for a day trip to Ba Na Hills. Take the cable car up and enjoy scenic hiking trails and temples.
- On the way back, stop at Golden Bridge and Giant Hands for those Instagram shots.
- Farewell dinner at local favorite Mme Lan restaurant to try Banh Nam dumplings and other specialties.
This quick itinerary packs in Da Nang’s unmissable attractions so you experience the best of the city and surroundings.
Common scams to avoid when travelling to Da Nang
While Da Nang is generally safe, visitors should be aware of some common travel scams to avoid being exploited:
- Rigged taxi meters – Only take rides from official metered taxis and ensure drivers actually switch on the meter. Agree on fare before departing if unmetered.
- SIM card scams – Purchase SIM cards only from reputable shops, hotels or mobile operators. Avoid street sellers.
- Spiked drinks – Never leave your drink unattended at bars or clubs. Scammers sometimes add drugs to try and rob intoxicated tourists.
- Fake attractions – Beware tour agents promoting attractions that don’t really exist, or sound too good to be true. Do research beforehand online.
- Overcharging – Vendors may try to overcharge tourists, especially if your bargaining skills are weak. Know standard rates and be firm.
With vigilance, common sense and skepticism of deals that seem too good to be true, you can avoid becoming the victim of scams in Da Nang.
Safety travel Da Nang for the first timers
While Da Nang is generally safe, it’s wise for first-timers to exercise some caution:
- Avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Pay with credit/debit cards when possible.
- Only withdraw money from reputable ATMs like those in malls, banks and hotels. Beware rigged standalone ATMs.
- Keep valuables in your hotel safe, especially if staying at dorms or hostels.
- Be vigilant of pickpockets and snatch thieves in crowded tourist areas. Use crossbody bags.
- Look both ways when crossing roads. Drivers won’t always stop for pedestrians.
- Avoid travelling alone late at night. Take metered taxis instead of walking in dimly lit areas.
- Only drink from sealed water bottles to avoid ingesting tap water that may cause illness.
- Check government travel advisories for up-to-date Vietnam safety information.
Exercising general street smarts in Da Nang will help ensure you avoid any serious troubles during your trip.
Here are some frequently asked questions from first-time visitors to Da Nang:
Do I need vaccinations to visit Da Nang?
No vaccinations are mandatory, but it’s recommended to be up-to-date with routine shots. Consult your doctor about typhoid, hepatitis A and rabies if planning extensive outdoor activities.
What currency should I use in Da Nang?
Vietnamese dong (VND) is the official currency. Have VND on hand when visiting local shops, restaurants and markets. Many hotels and tourist sites also accept US dollars.
Is the tap water safe to drink in Da Nang?
It’s best not to drink tap water in Da Nang. Bottled water is cheap and widely available. Check seals are intact when purchasing.
What is the best way to get Vietnamese dong?
Withdraw VND from ATMs in Vietnam to get the best rates. Inform your bank of your travel dates to avoid blocked transactions. Also exchange a bit at the airport as backup.
Is Da Nang safe for solo female travellers?
Yes, Da Nang is generally safe for solo female travellers. Take usual precautions like avoiding isolated areas at night. Vietnam is relatively women-friendly, but be wary of harassment at tourist sites.