Danang is the third largest city in Vietnam and since my first visit in 2016 has become a popular up and coming destination. An itinerary around Danang not only includes the beach, a river and downtown, but also cool cafes and many day trip opportunities.
It has its own international airport close to city center not to mention it’s half an hour’s ride to Hoi An, one of the most well-preserved 16th-century international seaport in Southeast Asia. Even though it is not as famous Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi, the beautiful beaches and cheap street food more than make up for it. While I spent a large part of my journey hiding in the hotel from the extreme heat, I still have time to see a fair amount of the city. Here is my 72 hours guide to Danang:
- 1 Danang itinerary
- 1.1 Day 1 in Danang
- 1.2 Day 2 in Danang
- 1.3 Day 3 in Danang
- 1.4 How to get around Danang:
- 1.5 Where to stay in Danang
- 1.6 Danang to Hoi An
There really isn’t as much to see in Danang as Hoi An, but I won’t be so quick to dismiss Danang altogether as a destination. For starters, it has a better beach than Hoi An that is clear of jellyfish (at least, it was when I was there). Instead of making a list, I’ll present my rough itinerary:
Day 1 in Danang
Marble mountains are actually situated south of the city, en route to Hoi An. It is a collection of five mountains, each is named after an element: Earth, Water, Fire, Wood, and Gold.
The mountains themselves are a curious sight, rising over the flat plain near the sea in odd shapes. On the mountains are Buddhist and Hindu pagodas, temples and grottoes that date back to the prehistoric time. You can get up to the Water Mountain, via 156 stairs or a lift.
The stairs look steep at the beginning, but it’s actually very doable if you take your time and go up slowly. You should be careful as it is slippery marble, polished by millions of shoes, and budget around an hour or two up there.
There are also plenty of stone sculpture shops nearby – if you want unique souvenir, look no further!
Pro tip: If you want a spectacular view of the city, it’s unfortunately situated on the walkway of the elevator. Which you can only reach by paying to take it up or down.
Opening times: Daily 7:00 – 17:30
Admission fee: 15,000 dong, elevator extra 15,000 per person per trip
My Khe Beach
Did you know that Danang is referred to as the Hawaii of Asia? And I heartily agree with that. With over 30 km of beaches that stretch all the way to Hoi An, the pristine white beach is in the best condition I’ve ever seen in a city beach. The locals, who are afraid of getting tan, don’t hit the beach until the late afternoon, meaning you usually get the beach to yourself in the morning. A sun umbrella will only set you back 40,000 dong for the day – it really is a no-brainer for you to schedule a proper beach day.
There are plenty of luxurious hotels or budget places to stay near the seafront for the beach lovers.
Pro tip: the sand in the morning reflect like gold glitters – go see it!
Address: southern side of the Danang shoreline
Quan b man b seafood
A seafood place near the beach, we strolled along the seafront in the late afternoon to this joint for some fresh seafood. You get assigned a table number and a staff will accompany you to pick some fresh seafood. The prices, per kilo, is listed on a giant board on the side, though we did have to rely on the staff to translate.
Their most famous dish is the seafood hotpot, but we got excited by the prospect of mussels and shrimps that we ended up blowing all our money (an equivalent to about 50 USD in total) on half a kilo of each. They were delicious – I guess I would just have to return one day to try the hot pot!
Pro tip: get the hotpot!
Address: Lo 13 Durong Hoang Sa – Da Nang, Da Nang
Opening times: unclear
Day 2 in Danang
Ba Na Hill
Ba Na Hill is the supposed #1 attraction near Danang – it is located in the Mountains west of Danang. It leverages its founding by the French in 1919 heavily, however, I have to warn you that it is just a glorified European/Japanese set that caters to wedding photography and locals.
If you have been to Europe, chances are you won’t be impressed by the plastic imitations. Although in photos, they do look pretty realistic. Another thing is that they have some theme park facilities, and we manage to get on one – be warned, the queues are huge.
There are three redeeming features of Ba Na Hill:
- The view from cable car
- A pretty decent buffet (that would have cost 180,000 dong on its own):
- The diversity of things to look at/do
We booked a day tour via our hotel and it cost 850,000 dong (39 USD), including the entry tickets and the buffet lunch. We have to pay extra (70,000 dong per person) to visit the Garden of Love, which offers a stunning view of the region, along with some temples and pseudo-roman architectures.
In fact, the verdict on the Ba Na Hill is that it’s not worth going if you don’t like taking photos and have been to Europe. Here are some photos to help you decide:
In the summer of 2018, they have also opened up a new attraction: a pedestrian bridge held up by huge hands:
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Address: Nhà máy nước Sân Bay, Trường Chinh, Hòa Thuận Tây, Đà Nẵng, Vietnam
Opening times: daily 8:00 – 23:30
Admission fee: ~25 USD
Mi Quang A1
A famous (for tourist) local noodle shop downtown, Mi Quang A1 has the best price and sugar cane juice I had have in a long time. They have an English menu and a choice between five noodle dishes. Locals eat here, too, so you know that it’s actually decent. The meal cost about 32,000 dong per person.
Address: 1 Hải Phòng, Hải Châu 1, Đà Nẵng, Vietnam
Opening times: daily 6:00 – 21:00
Salem Spa Garden
A friend of ours booked us to this Day Spa that’s across the Quy My Bridge. Not to be confused with the Salem Spa, this one is newer and a few blocks down. Although the price isn’t particularly cheap in Vietnamese standard, the spa does have a nice décor and service.
We had a 90 minutes massage that is listed at 20 USD, but they charge a compulsory service charge so it ended up being 24 USD. The hot stone massage was heavenly and we got treated with soup and passion fruit juice afterwards. And did I mention they have the best design?
Address: 528 2 Tháng 9, Hải Châu, Đà Nẵng, Vietnam
Opening times: daily 9:00 – 22:30
Day 3 in Danang
For those of you who have the need to shop for souvenir, don’t look anywhere else. Lotte Mart might just be a familiar name to some of you, that’s because it’s an international supermarket. But that doesn’t stop it from selling local produce. Here, you can find rice spring roll paper, dried fruit, coffee products, tea etc.; in fact, it’s where all the Korean tourists come to do their souvenir shop. There’s also a currency exchange service for those who have insufficient funds. You won’t find an easy place to exchange anywhere else.
Address: 6, Nại Nam, Phường Hòa Cường Bắc, Hải Châu, Đà Nẵng, Vietnam
Opening times: Daily 8:00 – 22:00
The river that runs parallel to the sea, the Han River is curiously wide and separated Danang into two parts. A series of five bridges, including the famous Dragon Bridge, span across it. You can get a pretty good view of the city from river banks, which also happens to be a great Pokemon catching spot. It’s good for an evening walk or to take some photos.
Bun Cha Ca Hon
I am not going to pretend I know how to say the name of the restaurant – but it’s one of the best and cheapest fishcake noodles I have ever had. Costing a mere 25,000 dong (equivalent to 10 HKD or 1.5 USD) – this local store is worth every penny. It isn’t easy to find, but the flavoursome soup, chewy fishcake and abundant greens and lime are just what you need after roaming the downtown!
Address: 113 Nguyễn Chí Thanh, Hải Châu, Đà Nẵng, Vietnam
Opening times: 6:30 – 22:30
To be 100% honest, Han Market doesn’t stand out among the hundreds of markets that I’ve been to in the past. However, those of you who find the tailoring too expensive in Hoi An would be sure to find a myriad of choices and cheaper services here. It is situated in the downtown area of Danang, and therefore within walking distance from the Church, Han River, and various street food stores. So it’s worth a visit if you are in the area.
Address: 119 Trần Phú, Hải Châu 1, Hải Châu, Đà Nẵng, Vietnam
Opening times: daily 6:00 – 19:00
A curious pink church that stands in the Danang Downtown area, it is a testimony to the city’s French heritage. Built by the French priest Louis Vallet. Built in the early 20th century, the church that was the tallest in the area with 70m high dome. We weren’t able to visit the inside of the church, however, it is an interesting spot to visit in downtown.
Address: 156 Trần Phú, Hải Châu 1, Q. Hải Châu, Đà Nẵng, Vietnam
No admission fee
Recommended to us by a Korean traveler we met in Hoi An, Edo Sushi is a small restaurant near Han Market. There is a slight risk in eating raw fish in a country as hot and humid as Vietnam, but the prices are pretty cheap. They also come in a pretty wooden boat – which is a bonus!
Address: 56 Trần Phú, Quận Hải Châu, Đà Nẵng
Opening times: daily 10:00 – 22:00
How to get around Danang:
Danang is not a small city, and there tends to be a fair distance between each attraction. You can’t get around on foot, particularly not under the summer heat. There is only two way to go around:
There is no shortage of taxis around Danang, in fact, we often got honked at by passing taxi drivers who wanted business. All of the taxi services are legit (unlike Hoi An), though do make sure you are on the meter. As I have written in my Vietnam survival guide, one driver pretended to be/ended up lost, so make sure you know where you are going. The best way is to show them the location on Google Map
*Note – since 2016 many people have noted that using Grab is more straightforward in terms of payment and you can track the driver’s progress.
You can also rent a scooter to go around. However, a traveler we met expressed that Danang has one of the most chaotic traffic he had ever seen, and the roads can be pretty busy. I highly recommend using taxi wherever possible.
Where to stay in Danang
>There are only two areas you should stay in, in my opinion: downtown or seafront. As I had mentioned above, Danang is not an easy city to get around. I haven’t seen any public transport system at all during my stay. And most of the bridges are not pedestrians friendly. We opted to stay near the sea – but the first hotel we booked was a disaster so we ended up staying at Sea Wonder Hotel
Sea Wonder Hotel
Situated 2 blocks away from the beach, Sea Wonder Hotel is a decent hotel with basic breakfast provided. The wifi works well, the TV has cable channels and the aircon is great. Although the breakfast time ends a little early (around 8:30), the reception staff has been helpful and it was a good, budget stay – check out its review on bookings.com. However, if we have the chance to go back, we will stay at:
A la Carte Danang Beach Hotel
The hotel stood out to us right from the beginning with its modern glass structure and the neon sign. And the fact that it clearly has a rooftop terrace and pool – see more photos on bookings.com. We looked up the hotel from where we were staying (which is only 5 minutes walk away) and it looks gorgeous. It is also right on the beachfront with only the street in front of it – talk about being ideally located! As I say, I’d definitely be staying there on my next visit!
Danang Han River Hotel
Not to be confused with the Han River Hotel, if you want to stay in the center, this hotel was recommended to us by two Korean tourists we met. It’s located in the downtown area close to everything, and according to them, they can’t fault the hotel. I mean, just have a look at its pool and beautiful decor!*
It certainly would have made my street food hunting life easier!
Danang to Hoi An
If you want to go from Danang to Hoi An, you can easily do so by a taxi. The distance between the two should cost about 350k VND, depending on where you are being picked up and dropped off. I would strongly recommend a metered taxi unless you are going during rush hours.
Alternatively, you can find travel agencies who run minibusses or buses between the two. But since it’s a half-hour by taxi, it’s much more time efficient!
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