What to do in Da Nang, Vietnam

Charming Da Nang is growing in popularity amongst travellers to Vietnam. This Da Nang itinerary lists some of the best spots in Da Nang and the surrounding area.

Da Nang waterfront, a must see on the Da Nang itinerary
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Da Nang is one of the largest cities in Vietnam. Travellers sometimes overlook Da Nang in favour of more well-known spots, but the city is worth a stop. It is home to some delicious eats and is close to several UNESCO World Heritage sites. Many visitors check it out on their way to Hoi An (it’s only an hour away). This Da Nang itinerary has the must-see spots in the city and surrounding area.

Da Nang is a quickly changing city and an up-and-coming tourist destination. There’s been recent investment in tourist infrastructure, with new hotels, restaurants, and beach resorts. I was only there for a few nights but had some awesomely delicious food and did some relaxed sightseeing.

The best things to do in Da Nang city:

Dragon Bridge

The Dragon Bridge is one of the main attractions in the city of Da Nang. The golden arches of the dragon’s back cross the Han river in the middle of the city. 

This iconic bridge is 666 meters long – but that’s not what draws the crowds. At night, the bridge lights up with colour-changing lights. On Saturday and Sunday nights, the dragon puts on a show, breathing fire and spurting out plumes of water.

Da Nang dragon bridge light up at night, a popular spot on the Da Nang itinerary
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On weekend evenings, people line the waterfront streets to watch the show. At 9 pm, the head of the dragon spouts fire and water, flashing between yellow and blue lighting. It’s pretty fun to watch! 

Da Nang dragon bridge head

The show only lasts for about 15 minutes, so make sure you don’t accidentally miss it. Cafes, restaurants, and bars line the bank along the north side. Plenty of them have outdoor terrace seats so you can grab a drink or a Vietnamese egg coffee and snag a spot to watch the show.

Walk along the River

The Han River cuts through the middle of Da Nang. Many of Da Nang’s famous bridges (including the Dragon Bridge) cross the river. Each side is lined by a lovely and walkable promenade.

Couples on walkway in Da Nang, Da Nang itinerary
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The Bach Dang promenade is a favourite amongst tourists and locals. It’s a popular spot for families, couples, and old guys exercising and playing games.

Visit the beaches

Visiting the beaches is one of the best things to do in Da Nang. Da Nang is one of the top beach destinations in Vietnam. The coast has tourist infrastructure built up for beach-goers, including plenty of hotels and restaurants. Make sure to stop for a bite of fresh seafood.

Da Nang beach view

My Khe and Non Nuoc are close to the city centre. The Son Tra Peninsula is a short drive out of the city and also has its share of gorgeous, quieter beaches.

The Museum of Cham Sculpture

Learn about the history of the Cham people at this important museum. The Cham people’s history dates back to 192 A.D, and the Kingdom of Champa governed Southern Vietnam until 1697. The Museum of Cham Sculpture houses the largest collection of Cham artifacts in the world. There is still a population of Cham people in Vietnam, and the Museum is a good way to explore a bit of the group’s history. 

Nearby My Son ruins is another notable Cham historical site. If you plan on visiting My Son, it’s worth visiting the museum beforehand to get a fuller picture of the history.

Eat your way through the city

Da Nang can feel less exciting than other popular cities like Hoi An. But this means it’s the perfect place to chill out and spend a whole lot of time eating. Being a larger city, there are a ton of food options in Da Nang. You’ll find plenty of traditional food as well as international options. 

Vietnamese noodles
René DeAnda // Unsplash

Our favourite spot was Bep Hen Restaurant. I had the best tomato-based tofu dish I’ve ever tried in my life at Bep Hen. It was the perfect soft, savoury, complex, but simple dish of the entire trip. We also had a Vietnamese salted eggplant dish… We meant to order grilled eggplant. The Vietnamese salted eggplant is a crunchy, pickled eggplant that tastes like pungent shrimp paste. And that’s how we also found our least favourite dish in Vietnam.

Best things to do around Da Nang area

Da Nang hasn’t built up the trove of tourist spots within the city, unlike some other cities in Vietnam. But there are tons of things to do around the city to add to your Da Nang itinerary. 

Ba Na Hills is a resurrected relic of French colonialism, located 40 kilometers west of Da Nang. It was originally established by French colonists in 1919. The original was built as a resort for French tourists, but it’s undergone a recent revitalization. It’s a small mountain top resort made up of European-style villas and an amusement park.

I think it’s kind of… one of the weirder places on the Da Nang itinerary list? But it’s worth a visit for the sweeping mountain views. Ba Na Hills attracts thousands of visitors yearly for its beautiful scenery and fun attractions.

Ba Na Hills cable car, Da Nang itinerary stop just outside of the city

The Ba Na Cable Car opened in 2013 and is the longest non-stop single-track cable car, at over 5800 meters in length. The ride offers sweeping views of lush mountains, sometimes shrouded in a light mist.

Famous Golden Bridge in Ba Na Hills, two hands holding bridge with people walking
Andreea Popa // Unsplash

The latest new attraction is the Golden Bridge – two giant hands holding a bridge. You’ve maybe seen the pics on Instagram. Lastly, the Fantasy Park is an amusement park with rides, arcade games, cinemas, electric cars, and more. It’s pretty much a gorgeous mountain top resort built for entertainment.

Marble Mountains

The Marble Mountains are a cluster of five marble and limestone hills in between Da Nang and Hoi An. It’s a pilgrimage site with a whole lot of history. There are mountainous hills, caves, tunnels, temples, and shrines to explore. The area is known for its pagodas and shrines, some of which are located inside or through caves. Once you’re at the top (you can reach it by elevator) you’ll be treated to a stunning view of the coast. 

The mountains are about a 25-minute drive from the city. Put aside a few hours to explore the area and wear comfortable shoes for hiking.

Hai Van Pass 

Hai Van Pass is high on the Vietnam motorcycle trip bucket list. The 21 km long mountain pass winds through the Annamite Range. The short and scenic ride is the highest pass in Vietnam. It has gorgeous views of the tropical coastal beaches and ocean. 

Green mountains and ocean view in Hai Van Pass, a Da Nang itinerary day trip location
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The pass garnered a reputation after it was dubbed one of the best coastal roads in the world in an episode of Top Gear. You can rent a bike or a scooter for a day trip. The pass is about 45 minutes out of Da Nang. The trip itself doesn’t take all that long, but you’ll like to leave plenty of time to stop and admire the view. It is a bit of a tougher ride, so if you’re not an experienced motorbike driver, you can opt for a car or a jeep tour. 

An interesting history tidbit: in the 1300s, this area marked a boundary between the ancient Champa and Dai Viet kingdoms.

My Son Sanctuary

My Son Sanctuary is another UNESCO world heritage site on the Da Nang itinerary. The Hindu temple ruins are left from ancient Champa times. My Son was constructed between the 4th and 14th centuries by the ancient Champa kingdom. At one point, the site had over 70 temples. But a large part of the site was destroyed in a single week of bombing during the Vietnam War.

Temple ruins at My Son Sanctuary
Steve Douglas // Unsplash

Despite the damage, the ruins are stunning. Some have been partially restored. The temples are made of warm-coloured brick, some of the pillars covered in abundant green. They sit in front of a background of lush, green forest. This site is one of the most important historical temple complexes in Southeast Asia. It’s less hyped up than Angkor Wat in Cambodia or Ayutthaya in Thailand, but has just as much history.

Son Tra Peninsula 

Just north of Da Nang is Son Tra Peninsula. It’s another perfect spot for an afternoon drive. Rent a scooter and venture up “Monkey Mountain”. You’ll pass by some hidden beaches, though some are private beaches for the swanky hotels that line them. But the fact that there are swanky hotels here gives a clue to how nice the view is. 

The best part of these day trips around Da Nang is the tropical views. When you stop along the peninsula drive, you’ll see lush, greenery-covered cliffs that drop into the ocean. If you’re lucky you may see some wild monkeys—notably the endangered red-shanked douc langur. 

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One popular stop along the drive is Ban Co Peak, where you will be treated to a panoramic view on a clear day. It’s important to note that this is a steep ride, so drive carefully. And if you’re taking a motorbike or scooter, make sure you have a bit of experience under your belt.

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Another must-stop is Linh Ung Pagoda. The Linh Ung Pagoda is the site of the giant Lady Buddha statue. Standing at 67 meters high, it’s the tallest one in Vietnam. You can see the Lady Buddha on the mountain from most corners of Da Nang. It’s a place of worship and a notable sightseeing spot for visitors.

This Da Nang itinerary includes some of the best things to do in Da Nang. 

With its range of lovely day trips and UNESCO World Heritage sites you’ll be treated to some notable historic sites and wicked views in and around Da Nang.    

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