Visitors to Central Vietnam typically gravitate towards nearby Hoi An and frequently overlook Danang. I also deliberated between these two cities, ultimately opting to live in Danang (also spelled Da Nang) for a month and explore Hoi An for a week. And I’m glad I did!

Vietnam is an incredible country, and so much of its beauty and culture can be experienced in Danang.

While I wouldn’t say Danang is my favorite place in Southeast Asia (that would be Chiang Mai, Thailand), my month living four blocks from a gorgeous beach in an apartment that cost me just $11 USD/day was exactly what I needed.

Danang has a lot to offer – it has beautiful beaches, cheap local food, and affordable international cuisine, and makes a great home base for exploring Central Vietnam.

This Danang travel guide includes the best things to do in Danang based on my month living in Danang and my 3 months traveling in Vietnam – so you can make the most of your experience!

Is it Worth Staying in Da Nang?

Da Nang vs. Hoi An

Hoi An, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Vietnam, is just a 40-minute drive from Danang (50 minutes if you’re driving from the airport), so you can easily choose either city as a home base for exploring Central Vietnam.

Da Nang

If you only have a day or two and plan to visit Hoi An, you should stay there.

But, if you’re going to stay for several days or weeks and don’t think you need more than a day in Hoi An, you can easily stay in Danang and visit Hoi An as a day trip. A Grab taxi costs about $13 USD each way.

If you’ll be there for several weeks or more, I recommend spending a few days in both cities before choosing.

When planning my 3 months in Vietnam, I asked my travel friends who had already been to Vietnam where they would choose for a longer stay – half of them said Danang, and the other half said Hoi An. Not helpful!

After lots of research and going back and forth, I ultimately chose Danang as my home base, and then I spent a week in Hoi An before heading north.

Boat on a river at Hoi An with yellow buildings in the background
Hoi An

While I know a lot of travelers who are obsessed with Hoi An, I was not a big fan, at least not of the Old Town area. I found it overly touristy and boring. I was constantly being harangued by vendors trying to sell me something and dodging big groups of tourists. It just didn’t feel like authentic Vietnam.

I appreciated Danang’s larger size and the feeling of being part of an actual city instead of just a tourist destination. My apartment cost just $11 USD and was four blocks from the beach and a 15-minute walk to my coworking space. I was surrounded by cheap local street food and a decent selection of international restaurants, bars, and cafes.

Plus there are so many fun things to do in Danang! And I easily coordinated day trips to Hue, the Golden Bridge, Cham Islands, and Hoi An.

The downside of staying in Danang is that it’s much busier than Hoi An, with much more traffic and hustle and bustle. However, as a digital nomad, it was easy to find coworking spaces and meet other expats.

Where to Stay in Da Nang

The beach side of Danang (called My An) is a great option for first-time visitors, as it is located close to My Khe Beach and is less chaotic and hectic than on the other side of the river (the business side of town).

I chose to stay in the An Thuong Tourist Area of My Khe Beach, just a few blocks from the beach and where most expats stay. I would have been happy anywhere near My Khe Beach, but I liked An Thuong’s proximity to international restaurants and that it was less hectic than other streets.

More on that further down!

I don’t know why anyone would stay in Danang and NOT stay by the beach, but plenty of people do! The Danang City Center is a great place to stay if you want a more local feel.

One thing to remember is that Danang is growing fast, which means many construction sites. Check with your accommodation ahead of time to ensure you’re not going to be hammering every day. And make sure you’re not next door to a karaoke parlor if you value quiet!

Pro Tip: If you’re planning a longer stay, I recommend booking accommodation for a night or two and scouting out apartments in person rather than booking ahead.

An Thuong Tourist Area / My An Beach

The An Thuong Tourist Area, made up of about 8 streets starting at My An Beach and heading inland, is the perfect place for first-time travelers to Danang. It’s walkable, filled with restaurants and bars, and conveniently located near the beach. You can easily get from An Thuong to other parts of town on foot or via a Grab taxi.

Backpackers love The Light House, a modern hostel across from Bikini Bottom (my favorite breakfast spot) in An Thuong. Sofiana My Khe Hotel & Spa is a highly-rated hotel just one block from My An Beach in An Thuong. Reasonably priced and has an outdoor swimming pool.

My Khe Beach with buildings on the left and the sea on the right

My Khe Beach

The long stretch of sandy beach continues from My An Beach up to My Khe Beach, just a different section of the same beach. This is also a great area to stay in Danang, with lots of restaurants within walking distance.

Unsurprisingly, the closer to the beach you stay, the more expensive the hotel. But that doesn’t mean hotels near the beach are unaffordable – this is Vietnam, after all!

PĀMA Boutique Hotel & Bistro is a 4-star hotel by My Khe Beach that travelers rave about – I love that they provide complimentary bicycles! The Memory Hostel is where I would stay near here.

Da Nang City Center/Downtown

The highway and buildings of Da Nang City Center, Vietnam

Da Nang City Center – also known as the Hải Châu district – is the perfect place for travelers who want to be right in the middle of all the action! With this area being the business and administrative area, it is an ideal place to stay for those looking to experience the hustle and bustle of the city.

Whether you’re looking for an international luxury hotel to stay in or a hostel, the riverfront of the Han River Bridge (also near the famous Dragon Bridge) has you covered. You’ll want to stay as close as possible to the river. The center of the action is Bach Dang Street, located along the west bank of the Han River, and the Han Market is the central point of the riverfront.

Seahorse Han Market Hostel is highly rated and well-located in the Hai Chau district.

Big Beach Resorts

On my daily beach walks, I noticed a strip of beach with big luxury resorts – this is Ngu Hanh Son District, just south of My An, where the beach road moves inland, and properties are built right onto the beach.

If you’re looking for luxury and pure relaxation, this is where to stay. But it’s not walkable to many places, so you’d have to drive whenever you want to leave the resort.

Son Tra Peninsula beach in Vietnam with mountains in the background

Son Tra Peninsula

The Son Tra Peninsula – also known as Monkey Mountain – is a great option for travelers looking for a luxury and relaxing escape from the city’s hustle and bustle. Located at the beach’s northern end, the peninsula is home to the iconic Lady Buddha statue and is a conservation area, meaning it is a great place to be immersed in nature.

For now, there are just two resorts to choose from: the InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort provides 5-star luxury, or alternatively, The Son Tra Resort offers its own beach and bay views towards Da Nang.

Best Things to Do in Da Nang

1. My Khe Beach

My Khe Beach with people and palm trees

Travel to Danang for the beach! Since I lived just a few blocks away, I visited My Khe Beach daily.

Vietnamese locals flock to the beach at sunrise – even if you’re not typically a morning person, you should check out the beach at 6 AM at least once to get a feel for local life. You’ll see lots of swimmers and Tai Chi classes.

Some days, there were almost no waves, but usually, the waves were pretty big. Don’t worry; lifeguards monitor the roped-off swimming sections. Lounge chairs and umbrellas are available to rent for less than $2 USD all along the beach.

2. Surf Lessons and Watersports

If you get bored laying on the beach and body surfing in the waves, My An Beach has plenty of activities to entertain you – vendors will be waiting for you on the beach. Most people waited until late afternoon to head to the beach since it gets hot during the day.

Da Nang is the country’s primary surfing hub, and I thoroughly enjoyed watching the surfers do their thing. While Da Nang has consistent waves all year, the prime surfing season is from September to March, when the water temperature hovers around a pleasant 27°C.

The waves are good for all skill levels, but Da Nang’s gentle beach breaks are excellent for beginners. Go Surfing offers lessons for under $40 USD. You can also book this surfing lesson as an alternative.

Enjoy spectacular views of My An Beach from above while parasailing through the air with just a motorboat beneath your feet.

Jet skis are another great way to explore the beach if you’re feeling adventurous. I’ve rented them several times during my travels and always have a blast zipping around the coastline.

3. Hoi An

Hoi An with lanterns on the streets

Just a 40-minute drive away, Hoi An beckons with its enchanting ancient town. Explore narrow streets lined with lanterns.

Hoi An is a living postcard with its well-preserved architecture and lantern-lit evenings. Many travelers I’ve talked to say Hoi An is their favorite place in Vietnam (I personally found it a little boring, but I also was unlucky with the weather).

I spent a week in Hoi An, and the highlight was getting clothes custom-made at Two Ladies Tailor. Hoi An has hundreds of tailors – custom-made suits are one of the most popular things to have made.

4. Hai Van Pass

The highway and mountains at Hai Van Pass, Vietnam

This winding mountain road offers stunning coastline views, making it a must-visit place in Da Nang. It’s a journey that combines adrenaline and breathtaking panoramic views.

I took an unforgettable motorbike tour of the Hai Van Pass. I stopped at Marble Mountain and natural springs in the Hue countryside, enjoyed a seafood lunch on the beach, and explored Monkey Mountain and Lady Buddha.

Although I typically prefer to be the driver, I decided to use an “easy-rider” and be the Passenger Princess instead. It made the day so much more enjoyable to enjoy the views and leave the driving to someone else!

You can easily rent a scooter and explore the Hai Van Pass independently; just take it slow and ensure you’re properly licensed to avoid police fines.

5. Imperial City of Hue

A traditional building Imperial City of Hue surrounded by river in Vietnam

 

Dive into Vietnam’s imperial history with a visit to Hue, located 100km from Danang. You can get there by tour, taxi, bus, or train. And while you can do it as a day trip (about 2.5-3 hours each way), staying overnight will allow you more time to fully explore the culture and history.

Hue used to be the royal capital of Vietnam and was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993.

Explore the ancient citadel, marvel at historic tombs, and cruise along the Perfume River. Hue offers a glimpse into Vietnam’s rich cultural past, with its ancient structures and serene river setting.

And while you’re there, be sure to have a bowl of their famous Bun Bo Hue—a delicious beef noodle soup.

6. Marble Mountain

The inside of the Marble Mountain in Vietnam with tourists

Marble Mountain is a famous complex of limestone caves, temples, and pagodas located just outside Danang.

It’s made up of five limestone hills, each representing one of the five elements. The mountains are also dotted with several caves, grottoes, and tunnels, many of which have been carved into the rock and feature intricate sculptures of Buddhas.

This was our first stop during my Hai Van Pass motorbike tour. While there is an elevator that lets you bypass most of the stairs if you want, you still need to be mobile to visit.

Tour groups start showing up around 9 am, so if you want to beat the crowds and the heat, it’s best to get there early (they open at 7 AM). You can easily visit on your own. Plan to spend about an hour there.

7. Lady Buddha

White statue of Lady Buddha with the sky in the background

Son Tra Goddess of Merc, aka “Lady Buddha,” is a symbol of Danang.

Located just outside Danang on the Son Tra Peninsula, the giant Lady Buddha is the tallest Buddha statue (67 meters) in Vietnam and can be seen on most beaches. It’s worth a visit for the pictures and the views of Danang.

Also on site are other Buddhist statues and monuments to explore.

I had the opportunity to visit Lady Buddha. At the end of the day, we stopped by to take pictures, and many monkeys played in the motorbike parking area, which was my favorite part.

A Grab taxi costs about $6 USD from the Danang city center to Lady Buddha.

8. Son Tra Peninsula (Monkey Mountain)

Exploring the Son Tra Peninsula (aka Monkey Mountain) is one of the best things to do in Danang for more adventurous travelers. The peninsula is a great way to get out of the city and into nature – keep your eyes peeled for monkeys. You can book this tour, which has a stop at Monkey Mountain.

Lady Buddha is just one of the things worth seeing here. Before you get there, stop at Man Thai Fishing Village and watch the fisherman doing their thing around sunrise. Explore past the statue to the 1000-year-old Giant Banyan Tree, and enjoy beautiful views from Monkey Passage and Ban Co Peak.

The most exciting way to explore is driving a scooter around the area; the roads are almost empty, but the roads at Son Tra Peninsula aren’t the best, so make sure your scooter has good brakes and enough power to make it through some of the steep parts.

You can take a taxi to the Man Thai Village, Linh Ung Pagoda, Ban Co Peak, and Banyan Tree, but some roads aren’t suitable for cars.

9. Dragon Bridge

Fire coming from a dragon-shaped installation on a bridge in Da Nang, Vietnam at night

The Dragon Bridge in Danang is one of the city’s best attractions and makes for some great photos.

Every Saturday and Sunday evening at 9 PM, visitors can watch the dragon breathing fire and water.

You can watch from the bridge if you get there early enough, or do what I did and stand along the riverfront. Stand far back from the dragon’s head if you don’t want to get wet.

Buy some snacks at the Son Tra Night Market, which is set up right next to the bridge.

10. My Son Sanctuary

My Son Sanctuary in Vietnam featuring old buildings

This UNESCO World Heritage Site comprises beautiful Hindu temple ruins dating back to the 4th century. It’s located about 40 kilometers outside of Danang and is an incredible place to explore and imagine what life was like centuries ago.

When visiting My Son, you’ll see stone carvings and sculptures throughout the area, as well as unique architecture.

You can get to My Son by car, motorbike, or taxi from Danang. Going on your own allows more time for photos.

My Son is open from 6:30 AM to 5:30 PM daily. Go early or late to avoid the highest temps of the day. Unlike temples in Thailand and Cambodia, there’s no enforced dress code here.

11. Take a food tour

Taking a food tour is my favorite way to explore a new city, and I took two different food tours when I was in Vietnam!

The tour (you can book it here at Viator) includes various delicious foods from different parts of Vietnam and a personal guide to take you through each dish. If you’re anxious about Vietnamese food, this is a great way to get your feet wet and sample some local cuisine.

As a solo traveler, I love how social food tours are, and always have a good time.

Banh cuon Vietnamese food on a plate being prepared for consumption

If you don’t have time for a food tour but want good eats, try Bahn Xeo at Thia Go Restaurant (they’ll even teach you how to eat it) and get breakfast at a local spot called Banh Cuon Co Phuong. These were two of my favorite places to eat in Danang!

Taking a cooking class is another great way to learn about Vietnamese food.

12. Cham Islands

An island beach with an abundance of trees in Vietnam

I was lucky enough to take one of the last boat tours to the Cham Islands before the start of the monsoon season, and it was a fun day trip. Some travelers stay overnight on the islands.

The snorkeling wasn’t great – they said they couldn’t bring us to the best spot due to strong currents – but it was still fun to be on the boat and swim in the warm waters. They brought us to a small island with a pristine white-sand beach for lunch, and we had extra time to lounge and swim there before heading back to the mainland.

If you’ve spent time in Thailand, you might not be impressed with the Cham Islands, but I still enjoyed myself!

13. Get a Massage

Getting a massage in Danang is one of the best things to do, as there are plenty of massage parlors, and it’s extremely affordable compared to most parts of the world. You’re on vacation, after all!

Massages in Danang typically cost about $10 USD for an hour-long massage, making it one of the city’s cheapest and most relaxing activities.

There are higher-end spas if you’re looking for a more premium experience. Check reviews, as massage parlors can vary heavily in quality.

14. Ba Na Hills (Golden Bridge)

Tourists on Vietnam's Ba Na Hills Golden Bridge being supported by a giant sculpture hand

Ba Na Hills is a popular destination near Danang, a mountain resort located about 40km away.

One of the most famous photos of Vietnam is taken here, the Golden Bridge, which is a pedestrian bridge with two giant hands holding it up. Most people come here just for that picture.

The area has many attractions, including cable car rides, amusement park rides, and other activities for children and adults. You can spend the entire day there if you wish to, but a few hours is enough for me.

I was confused by the whole experience. It’s unlike any amusement park I’ve ever been to and seems to be more for taking pictures than for rides or anything else. The alpine coaster was closed due to rain.

The cable car ride was the highlight, as I could take in the amazing landscape views from up high.

15. Cafes and Bars

Danang is teeming with cool cafes to people-watch from and bars for the perfect evening out.

You’ll pass traditional-style cafes on every corner where the locals sit in small folding chairs, sipping iced tea, facing the street, and more modern and hip cafes with free wifi and specialty coffees.

While in Danang, you must try the famous coconut coffee made of coconut sorbet and espresso. I had iced coconut coffee and banh mi for breakfast several times a week at Umm Banh Mi & Cafe. I prefer coconut coffee to regular Vietnamese-style coffee, which is strong coffee with condensed milk.

As night sets in, you can experience Danang’s lively bar scene, where you can find everything from dive bars to chic rooftop bars. The Gypsy, on top of the New Orient Hotel, has a great atmosphere and city views.

Working Remotely in Da Nang

Danang attracts digital nomads worldwide due to its low cost of living and proximity to the beach. It’s growing fast, so expect more coworking hostels to open soon.

Working remotely in Da Nang is easy and affordable, with various coworking spaces and cafes available.

I reserved a desk for one month at Beans Workspace, a popular coworking cafe that cost me just over $3 USD daily and included a specialty drink of my choice. They don’t yet coordinate social events, which I would have liked as a way to meet people more easily.

Another popular coworking cafe in the area is ACE Coworking Space.

Almost every cafe and restaurant in the city has free wifi, which is generally very fast in Vietnam. I was never given a hard time about working from a cafe so long as I ordered a coffee.

There are several Facebook groups for digital nomads and expats in Danang that I recommend joining before you go – these are great places for insider tips and to connect with other digital nomads.


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