As we enter the 8th month of our yearly travel, we’re taken to Da Nang, Vietnam. When we decided to go to Vietnam, we originally planned for Hanoi. But after more research, we decided on Da Nang due to the busyness of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh. We prefer quieter places and near the beach. Da Nang seemed to fit that bill. Find out things to do in Da Nang and how we spent our month there.
One of the first things to know about Da Nang is you have the city side and the beach side. The beach side can be a bit more expensive and has more expats and tourists. While the city side tends to be cheaper and has a more local feel. We chose the beach side, mainly because we wanted to be within walking distance of the beach.
As for where to stay. The An Thoung area of the beach is often recommended. We were recommended the area of My An by, Dan and Rae, a couple we met in Koh Samui (check out their awesome blog on terrariums). In our opinion, they weren’t wrong. The My An Beach area has so many great places to eat and drink and is a great location. We found it very convenient for just about everything we wanted to do.
What We Enjoyed in Da Nang
There are many places you can visit in Vietnam, especially if you have your own transportation. But Sean and I stay in places for a month or longer and don’t drive a motorbike. This can be limiting to where we can go but also helps us get more of a local, daily life feel. Here are some things we enjoyed while in Da Nang.
A Place to Stay
Not the swankiest of joints and maybe a little difficult to spend a whole month in, but we really enjoyed staying at FIVITEL Queen. The rooms were comfortable, they provided a free breakfast every morning (we got omelets or eggs made to order and they even went so far as to make pancakes for us), there’s a great rooftop pool (which we LOVED working on our laptops), it’s within easy walking distance to My An beach and numerous restaurants, and the staff was extremely friendly (even inviting us to celebrate the Lunar New Year on the roof with them). Some of the negatives were: it was only a hotel room and it did not come with a refrigerator or microwave. But it was easy enough to make due with non-perishables and eating the cheap delicious food in the area.
Things to See in Da Nang
Linh Ung Pagoda
There are three pagodas in the Da Nang area with the name Linh Ung. Located on the peninsula in the Son Tra district and known for its giant lady Buddha statue is the most popular. Easily accessed via Grab taxi or motorbike and the entrance is free. You’ll get stunning views of Da Nang and admire the beautiful temples in the area. While there you might also get to see some Rhesus macaque monkeys. The other two Linh Ung statues are located in Ba Na Hills and the Marble Mountains.
Speaking of the Marble Mountains, that is the next recommendation. The Marble Mountains is a cluster of 5 marble and limestone hills where you can explore a variety of caverns and trails. The entrance fee is about 40,000 VND (~$1.70 USD). If you decide to take the elevator to the top, that costs an additional 15,000 VND (~$0.64 USD). Separately from going up to the Marble Mountains is visiting the Am Phu Cave. The fee to enter is 20,000 VND (~$0.85 USD) and is worth to explore the various statues that illustrates Buddhist’s Hell. Make sure to climb to the top of Marble Mountain for great views on a clear day.
SunWorld Ba Na Hills
SunWorld in Ba Na Hills is a top attraction when in Da Nang. The Golden Bridge is the famous attraction. You’ll see the gigantic hands holding the bridge. When there’s good visibility you get rewarded with a wonderful view. Ba Na Hills was established as a vacation place in 1919 for French colonists. Nowadays its an amusement park that has a very European/French look. You can also ride the record breaking cable car which happens to be the longest non-stop single track cable car system in the world. The cost for a trip to Ba Na Hills varies depending on your needs. For us, we went with a package from Klook that included transportation, the park tickets, and lunch buffet.
See the Show at the Dragon Bridge
Every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night at 9 PM the Dragon Bridge breathes fire and water. It’s a fun show to watch and lasts maybe 15 to 20 minutes. Afterwards, walk around the night market in the area.
Explore the City Side of Da Nang
The city side boasts some delicious local food and markets to explore. Go on a food tour to really get an experience of the local places. We booked with Viator and had a great time. It cost around $45 USD per person for 4 hours and included all food and drink. While on the city side, check out Da Nang cathedral with its pink exterior.
For some amazing local shopping, go to the Con Market. The covered area is FULL of shops overflowing with everything and anything you could look for. They have clothing, footwear, purses, backpacks, cook wear, jewelry, food, sweets, etc. There are so many items it can be difficult to move through the area.
Interested in Vietnam’s war history? Check out the Ho Chi Minh and Fifth Military Zone Museum. The entry is about 60,000 VND (~$2.50 USD) per person. It takes about 1 hour to walk through the various areas. It’s more photos than historical items but something different to see. When we went we were basically the only people there.
Spend the Evening at Asia Park
Located across the bridge, on the city side, Asia Park is an amusement park featuring replicas of 10 Asian countries. The entry into the park itself is free and you can purchase tickets based on the attractions. Sean and I went on the Ferris wheel (or sunwheel) for 100,000 VND (~$4.25 USD) per person.
The operating hours of the park are 3 PM- 10 PM and you can get great views of the city. The park itself was surprisingly empty and it seemed many of the rides were either not operating at all or were only operating at certain times. We assume this was a result of Covid. But it made it more enjoyable for us to be able to explore without the normal amusement park crowds. I would definitely recommend even if you aren’t a fan of amusement parks just for the view, lights, and replicas of famous Asian sites (just don’t pay for the haunted house, it’s terrible!).
Visiting Hoi An
No trip to Da Nang would be complete without a trip to Hoi An. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site that was a trading port from the 15th to the 19th century. Especially beautiful at night as the town and canal light up with colorful lanterns. Some things we enjoyed:
The Japanese Covered Bridge
Built in 1595. There is a temple inside but requires a ticket. Not sure of the price as we opted not to buy tickets.
Walk the water front and watch the rickshaws run up and down the street.
Souvenir hunt at the various markets and shops
Bà Mụ Temple gates
Built in 1626, these gates lead to an old temple complex. It’s a great spot for pictures. There’s also a public restroom nearby (not the nicest or cleanest, but cheap and effective).
Eat a bahn mi (or several).
Hoi An is known for its bahn mi sandwiches. One of the most popular places is Bánh Mì Phượng made famous by Anthony Bourdain. But we much preferred Madam Khanh – The Banh Mi Queen. Fresh bread, delicious meats and veggies, and a homemade chili sauce that tops it off.
Enjoy local Cao Lau.
Cao Lau is specific to Hoi An. It consists of pork, greens, and rice noodles. The rice noodles are soaked in lye water that is specifically taken from the ancient Bá Lễ well in Hoi An. This is why it’s very difficult, if not impossible to find Cao Lau outside of Hoi An. It’s an incredibly delicious and savory dish. Our favorite place was Cao lầu Không Gian Xanh. The Cao Lau costs 40,000 VND (~$1.70 USD). Get the herbal tea for an extra 15-20k VND (~$0.65 to $0.85 USD), it’s refreshing and delicious.
After eating, grab a drink over the river for a great view of the lanterns.
You’ll find restaurants, bars, and cafes all along the riverfront. Go early to grab a seat for sunset and watch the colorful lanterns come to life.
Drink specialty Vietnamese coffee.
Vietnam is known for its strong and delicious coffee. Something you can really only find in Vietnam is the specialty egg coffee and coconut coffee. We were obsessed with coconut coffee and thought the best place was Phong Phong Cafe & Bistro. Both the cold and hot versions were delicious though we preferred it hot.
Our time in Da Nang was mostly about relaxing and working. We did a few tours and sight-seeing things, but just enjoyed Da Nang as a whole. Finally I will end with some of our favorite places to eat and drink. These are in no particular order but are places we recommend.
Miss NHI for good pho
Ùmm Banh Mi & Cafe for a quick and easy banh mi
2 Ladies Kitchen in Da Nang for an even better local bahn mi
Ngon Ha Noi for a variety of delicious Vietnamese and noodle dishes
Gordon’s New York Pizza & Craft Beer – run by a New Yorker and his wife. This place does pizza well.
Bikini Bottom Express for amazing burgers, chicken sandwiches, and western-style breakfast options.
Adobo Mexican Grill has really good Mexican food and fairly healthy options.
Roots Plant-based Cafe – Healthy Vegan Restaurant. One of my favorites and go-to’s. This place has a variety of delicious smoothie bowls and plant-based foods for a decent price.
Le Bordeaux – delicious croissants.
Pizza 4P’s Hoang Van Thu – incredible pizzas and pastas that are quiet unique. We got a half Indian chicken curry and half salami and chorizo pizza with a salmon, ricotta, and avocado salad. Although the price is a bit expensive for Vietnam, the food is worth it!
Vietnam has soooo many cafes it can be difficult to chose. Of course most anywhere you go you’ll get delicious coffee. Our favorite was Bamboo Bob’s. Great quiet space and the cheapest coffee we saw in the area. Prices start at 15000 VND (~$0.64 USD) for a Vietnamese black coffee. We often ordered americanos for 17000 VND (~$0.72 USD) and even got the specialty coconut or egg coffees for 25000 VND (~$1.06 USD). They keep their prices low by getting coffee direct from local farms. Good Wi-Fi, free green tea, and friendly staff. We couldn’t beat it.
A nice place to grab a pot of tea and delicious cakes is the Windsor Tea House. The decor is adorable, there is a large variety of tea, and the homemade desserts are super yummy.
Of course this is not food related, but as a foreigner or traveler, if you’re interested in a gym, I recommend Pig Gym. I was able to get a monthly membership for 500,000 VND (~$21 USD) or you can pay a daily fee of 100,000 VND (~$4.25 USD). The place has decent equipment and is usually pretty empty, especially in the morning.
Let us known if you’ve been to Da Nang and your thoughts. For more of our adventures around the world, check out our blog here.