- 11 Fun Things to do in Da Nang, Vietnam
- 1. Take a drive to Son Tra Peninsula
- 2. Check out Da Nang’s beautiful My Khe beach
- 3. Take the family to Sun World Ba Na Hills
- 4. Discover Asia at Asia Park Sun World Da Nang Wonders
- 5. Explore Da Nang’s Marble Mountains
- 6. City tour on a trishaw ride
- 7. Shop til you drop at Cho Han market
- 8. Pig out at the Da Nang International Food Festival
- 9. Blow your mind at the Da Nang Fireworks Festival
- 10. Day trip to My Son Sanctuary
- 11. Day trip to Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park’s Caves
- When to visit Da Nang, Vietnam
- Where to stay in Da Nang, Vietnam
- What to eat in Da Nang, Vietnam
- How to get to Da Nang, Vietnam
- How to get around Da Nang, Vietnam
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Unlike Hoi An which still prides itself on being a quaint heritage little town, Da Nang is quickly booming into a modern city with ongoing hotel and resort developments by the beach.
I enjoyed that Da Nang offered a spectrum of nature and urban sights, so one can never tire easily getting around Da Nang.
While it is easy to overlook this city and head off from Da Nang to Hoi An and Hue, here are some spectacular sights that will hopefully convince you to stick a couple more days in Da Nang!
Seriously, I don’t see what stops anyone from visiting a modern yet really affordable city. With the VND exchange rates, you can get your food under USD 5, taxi rides aren’t more than a few dollars around the city (so much so that I take a Grab everywhere), and accommodation don’t set you up for more than USD 20 a night.
11 Fun Things to do in Da Nang, Vietnam
1. Take a drive to Son Tra Peninsula
Son Tra Peninsula is on the far northern end of Da Nang. As it remains relatively untouched by man, the Peninsula is a tranquil oasis that boasts some of the most stunning aerial views of the city.
A half hour drive up the hill along a winding road will lead you to a vantage point (Ban Ko Peak), located 700m above sea level. Here you might see a marble statue of a wise man deeply engrossed in a game of Chinese chess.
Local lore states that the wise man was so entranced by the beauty of Da Nang that he lost the game – and with a view like that, I can definitely see why!
You can drop by the Linh Ung Pagoda on the way, which is the largest of the three similar structures in the city, the other being in Ba Na Hills and Marble Moutains. Standing tall at 70m and occupying over 200 hectares, the 17-storey statue is truly a sight to behold. On special occasions such as the Bhudda’s birthday, they even open up the stairwell inside the statue, which is said to contain over 2000 intricately carved Buddha statuettes within this statue.
The trio of statues are believed to protect the city against natural disasters and other calamities. Our local guide, Ty, informed us that prior to construction of the Linh Ung statue at Son Tra Peninsula in 2004, the city would often experience typhoons and heavy storms – all of which ceased once construction was completed in 2010.
Make sure to pay your respects to this protector of the city!
2. Check out Da Nang’s beautiful My Khe beach
Da Nang boasts some of Vietnam’s most beautiful beaches. In fact, the stretch along the Son Tra Peninsula was nominated by Forbes Magazine in 2017 as one of “the most beautiful beaches in the world”.
There’s just something innately visually appealing about winding roads, craggy cliffs and a deep, cerulean sea. I recommend driving to the peninsula given its relative inaccessibility from the rest of the city. However, you can spend half a day just strolling along the coastal walks that overlooks the sea.
Alternatively, you can always hit up My Khe Beach, a 6km stretch of coastline along the main city, which seems to be a hit amongst the locals.
Da Nang residents absolutely love the beach. We woke up at 4am to catch the sunrise there, and were genuinely surprised to see the beach flocked by locals frolicking in the sea, playing badminton or going for a morning jog as early as 4:30am.
I personally recommend coming as early as sunrise, as the sun already gets pretty strong in the few hours after sunrise.
3. Take the family to Sun World Ba Na Hills
Local conglomerate Sun Group developed a Fantasy Park in Ba Na Hills, given the cool climate at 1648m elevation that resembles Genting Highlands in Malaysia.
You can make the 20 minute drive up, but it would be easier to take one of the three cable car lines up – packages that include theme park access and the cable car ride start from 200,000 VND/ USD8.50 for an adult.
You might recognize the Golden Bridge from pictures online. At an altitude of 1,414m above sea level, its bold design of the shape of 2 hands holding on to the bridge, rising from the sky. It is quite an international icon and a sight to behold.
I was surprised to find out that the iconic point of interest is only a sliver of what this resort offers.
Designed in a style aligned with your quintessential French Village, you might forget that you’re even in Vietnam once you step foot into the theme park. Apart from the cobbled streets lined with quaint timbered houses, the resort is replete with lavish landscaped gardens in the Flower Garden, done in the classical French style, not too dissimilar to what you might find at the Garden of Versailles.
The Flower Garden is made up of 9 gardens themed according to 9 different emotions. Occupying a vast area, it’ll take you hours to meander through the crowds into each garden. Take your time to go through them as they have been carefully manicured, making it a great photo prop at every angle.
If you happen to be here from February to September, you can coincide with its Flower Festival, where flowers such as tulips, hydrangea and bell peach adorn the gardens, creating a poetic and romantic scene.
There are many family-friendly rides and attractions located within the theme park. I must particularly mention the indoor Fantasy Park which took me by surprise. It is a 21,000 sqm-wide indoor entertainment complex that caters to every age. Of which, I recall passing arcade games, bumper car rides and gravity drop rides.
For something more adrenaline-pumping, try their outdoor Luge. They have 2 stations at different heights that you can play with.
When it comes to food, there is a range of dining establishments that cater to a variety of tastes. There are over 10 restaurants catering to different cuisines, from French to Korean, Chinese to Japanese.
Another reason to coincide your visit from May to September is the Beer Festival that will be happening at the Beer Plaza, an outdoor plaza that can seat up to 3,000 guests.
Put together with the temperate climate of the resort, Ba Na Hills Fantasy Park is definitely a welcome escape from the heat of the city and is well-suited for families and large groups, both young and old.
4. Discover Asia at Asia Park Sun World Da Nang Wonders
Asia Park Sun World Da Nang Wonders is another theme park opened by Sun Group that might interest the less adventurous (as compared to Sun World Ba Na Hills that is).
It’s located relatively nearer to the city centre, and is significantly less crowded then Sun World Ba Na Hills. It could be a viable alternative to Sun World Ba Na Hills if you’re looking for some fun during the peak hours on weekends.
The theme park is split into different sections, with each one aiming to resemble a different Asian country. For instance, you could catch a glimpse of Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay or Cambodia’s Angkor Wat located within the respective sections of the theme park.
The rides are themed too – with a 360-degree spinning “Singapore Sling” and Indian Cobra-themed roller coaster being some examples of what can be found.
Or perhaps, you can take on the Ferroni Ferris Wheel, which offers an amazing view of the city skyline at the top.
5. Explore Da Nang’s Marble Mountains
The Marble Mountains are a collection of 5 different naturally-formed mountains located only 30 minutes away from Da Nang city. Each mountain is named after the classical Earth elements – fire, water, wood, wind and metal.
Of the five, we dropped by the Water Mountain which has the most iconic points of interest, and therefore the most popular mountains amongst tourists of the five.
Entrance fees start at 30,000 VND/ USD 1.30 per pax, but you can fork out an additional 15,000 VND/ USD 2.50 to take a lift halfway up the mountain so that you’ll have an easier time getting to the peak.
There are multiple pagodas, temples, caves and religious statues atop the mountain. In fact, one of the three Linh Ung statues are located on Water Mountain, so be sure to check it out while you are here.
We went into Hyugen Khong cave and squeezed through the narrow spaces to get to one of the viewpoints of Water Mountain, where we caught an amazing view of the surrounding city and the famous beach.
Navigation around the caves within Water Mountain alone might be a little confusing. Our group split up and it took us some effort to locate each other again.
TIP: Try to take a picture of the map and consult it regularly as you explore the different attractions here.
6. City tour on a trishaw ride
Another way to take in Da Nang city at a slower pace is by hopping on a trishaw, or a cyclo as they calL it. It’s a breezy way to get acquainted with the city sights, such as the pink Da Nang Cathedral and the Dragon Bridge.
It’s impossible how they meander through the crazy Vietnamese traffic. My driver was 60 years old. Through broken English (I was very impressed with his English!), he told me that as much as he wants to learn English, it’s too expensive to do so, as English classes there were USD300 for a month-long course.
When he saw me taking pictures with my smartphone, he very cutely whips up his Philips phone in comparison. So adorable!
At 666m in length, the Dragon Bridge is the longest bridge of its kind in all of Vietnam!
TIP: Catch the Dragon Bridge spewing (real) fire at 9pm on weekend nights!
7. Shop til you drop at Cho Han market
The only local indoor market with 2 storeys, you can find everything from clothing and accessories, to souvenirs, dried goods, shoes and household goods.
It is quite a squeeze as you bump shoulder to shoulder with other Korean tourists and locals and go through the many narrow alleys lined with shops, so be warned!
I really enjoy shopping here though, as the goods cannot be found cheaper anywhere else. You can try your hand at haggling, but you usually won’t get very far.
Try spotting one of the last few original shops of Da Nang, a remaining piece of traditional heritage:
8. Pig out at the Da Nang International Food Festival
At the time we visited in the first week of June, we were lucky to coincide our visit with the inaugural Da Nang International Food Festival.
Renowned chefs from 13 countries around the world were flown into Da Nang to share their culinary expertise and unique cuisines with local chefs, with a challenge to incorporate their respective local dishes with locally-sourced ingredients that cater to Vietnamese tastes.
You can always count on Singapore to be a participant when it comes to food. We met chef Eric Wong from Singapore who came up with a special Vietnamese dish incorporating our famous chilli crab into Banh mi (Vietnamese bun)!
I was pretty excited to try out all the different Vietnamese fusion foods, which were interesting to say the least. The festival will be held annually, you’d definitely want to check it out if you are an adventurous foodie!
9. Blow your mind at the Da Nang Fireworks Festival
The Da Nang Fireworks Festival is an annual extravaganza that features international teams duking it out against Da Nang’s night skyline in a bid to put on the most impressive fireworks performance.
Currently in its 11th iteration, the festival is held on Saturdays over 4 weeks in June. We managed to catch performances from the Brazilian and Belgian teams when we were there. I was mesmerized by the flashes of light and dazzling array of fireworks put on during each 20 minute show in the cool of the night.
10. Day trip to My Son Sanctuary
I’ve already put this UNESCO World Heritage Site under my list of places you must go in Hoi An but from Da Nang, but you can also take a day trip from Da Nang to My Son Sanctuary if you follow a day tour.
11. Day trip to Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park’s Caves
Another UNESCO World Heritage Site that is home to Son Doong, the world’s largest cave. I was there on a separate trip, caving in Tu Lan cave in a 2D1N expedition. We followed a tour and trekked, swam in caves, had a picnic in the jungle, peed in the wild and stayed in a camp. It was quite an experience (made especially so as I was going through the tour with food poisoning).
It’s one adventure I would recommend you do if you’re up for it!
When to visit Da Nang, Vietnam
Wet season occurs from October to February. It can be as extreme as raining for the whole month during the wet season.
Dry season occurs from March to September. It could be 39 degree Celcius with no rain for the whole month. The best time to visit Da Nang would thus be to come when the dry season has just started, around April to May.
We made this trip in the beginning of June and it was scorching hot. You perspire literally when you step out of an air-conditioned room. Best to come before then!
Where to stay in Da Nang, Vietnam
We stayed at Grand Jeep Hotel, a modern hotel that sits right by the sea. This means ocean views all around!
Why it really suited us was because they have a villa room which can accommodate 4 of us in 2 en suite bedrooms. Within our villa, there is also a kitchen and cooking facilities, as well as a common sitting area. It’s definitely more spacious than I can ask for.
What to eat in Da Nang, Vietnam
I never knew Vietnam’s cuisines differed so much from city to city. My knowledge of Vietnamese food has always been limited to pho and banh mih. I was so wrong.
Of the many types of local food I’ve tried in Da Nang, 2 especially stood out to me, which I highly recommend you to try.
1. Bun Cha Ca (fishball noodles)
A really tasty rice noodle soup broth made out of tomato, pumpkin and pineapple. What makes it unique is the different types of fish cakes you can find in one big bowl of soup, such as with crab and egg!
2. Quang noodles
We were introduced to a new concept of noodles, the Quang mi (noodles), at Mì Quảng Ếch – Bếp Trang.
They prepared a large spread of some of their specialty dishes which includes the Quang Noodles with frog and 8 other ingredients, grilled pork satay and fried prawn spring rolls. All so good!
How to get to Da Nang, Vietnam
Da Nang has an international airport, where many international airlines fly to everyday.
How to get around Da Nang, Vietnam
The city of Da Nang is easily accessible by foot (if you’re right smack in town), or by taxi. I use Grab (the equivalent of Uber in Asia) everywhere we go in town.
Da Nang surprised in more ways than one. Initially when I first read about it, all that stood out to me was the beach, and Asia wasn’t short of beaches…
It actually has a good mix of nature, beach, family-friendly activities, and city sights. I can understand why it is such a liveable city now.
I never expected the theme park to be such fun. It truly brought the child in me (if twirling counts as being a kid…). I especially enjoyed the cool weather up on the mountains of Ba Na hills as well.
Further, the iconic sights of the Dragon Bridge and Golden Bridge aren’t iconic for no reason. It takes seeing it with your own eyes to really marvel at the grandiosity of it.
We loved our guide, Ty Len. She’s very candid and enthusiastic about the city she grew up in. Fun, smart, knowledgeable and personal, we became fast friends with her hours upon meeting her. She has made discovering the city such a breeze
Da Nang is definitely one place in Vietnam not to miss!
6 – 9 June 2019, Thursday – Sunday
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Special thanks to Quang Nam Tourism for this experience! All opinions remain my own.