Dragon Bridge in Da Nang, Vietnam

Da Nang, Vietnam – Backpacking Guide

Da Nang (sometimes spelt Danang) isn’t on the traditional tourist trail in Vietnam. Commonly earmarked as a quick stopover between Hue and Hoi An, there are still a lot of travellers who bypass this coastal city completely (and miss out)! 

Da Nang’s strategic position and geography have played an important role in Vietnam’s history. Its natural harbour offered shelter to ships bringing goods to the ancient port of Hoi An which was particularly important when Hue was Vietnam’s capital. But, the city really boomed during the American-Vietnam War when it was home to a sprawling US Air Force Base. 

Today, an increasing number of travellers are starting to appreciate Da Nang’s modern and laidback character and its popularity is on the rise. Stay a couple of days and you’ll discover that Da Nang, with its sandy beach, charming cafés and interesting nearby attractions, is worthy of a visit in its own right.


Backpacking Da Nang, Vietnam – Travel Guide 🎒

Da Nang Map & Resources

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Best Time to Visit Da Nang 🌤️

Central Vietnam’s dry season is from February to August. Spring (February to May) is the best time to visit Da Nang when days are pleasantly warm. Temperatures peak in the summer months (June to August) and can often reach the high 30s! September brings the rains, thanks to the northeast monsoon that affects this part of the country. The wet season lasts until around January, with October and November being particularly soggy – expect downpours and occasional storms during these months.

Read more about the weather and climate in Vietnam here. 

Marble statutes at Marble Mountains, Vietnam
These guys definitely haven’t lost their marbles!

Where to Stay in Da Nang, Vietnam 🛌

  • My An is part of the slice of land that’s squeezed between the Han River and Da Nang’s coastline to the east. It sits just south of the Tran Thi Ly Bridge, famed for its bright orange sail-like cables. Close to the beach and many of Da Nang’s traveller-friendly cafés, this is a great backpacker spot.
  • Bach Dang is a road that runs along the western bank of the River Han in the Hai Chau district. The focal point is the stretch around the Dragon Bridge. Just north of the bridge are some good accommodation options, and south is the pedestrianised section where you will find plenty of bars and restaurants.
  • An Hai, which sits on the other side of the river from Bach Dang and just north of My An, is a good middle ground. It’s an ideal spot for those who want to be fairly close to Da Nang’s city-centre attractions but also within walking distance of the beach and eateries in My An.

Best Accommodation in Da Nang 

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Hana Homestay is perfect for shoestring budget travellers with clean and comfortable dorm beds starting at just a few US dollars. Guests highly rate the friendly owners and the location. The homestay is close to the beach, restaurants and laundry – always handy for backpackers! Scooters can also be rented at good rates.

“I stayed in Hana Homestay Danang. Naomi and Anthony keep their house very clean. It’s only 10 minutes walk to My Khe Beach which is a very nice beach. Many eateries [are] within walking distance, there is a laundry shop literally right in front of their house.” 

Adrian C. Shean, South East Asia Backpacker Community

Kon-Tiki Hostel is another great option for those on a small budget. The 10-bed dorm rooms are basic but comfortable and breakfast is included in the room rate. Kon-Tiki is in a good location near the river and a stone’s throw from Dragon Bridge.

Tuti Hostel offers single-sex dorm rooms and privates at very reasonable rates. With friendly staff and a good location between the city and the beach, this is a great option for those who are on a budget but prefer private rooms. 

Rom Casa Hostel is a great pick for backpackers with its quirky style and sociable atmosphere. The container-style rooms are a bit of a squeeze but are perfectly clean and comfortable. The onsite bar is a great place to meet your fellow travellers and the location is perfect for accessing the beach and some of Da Nang’s best cafés and restaurants. 

The private double rooms at the Backpacker Hostel and Spa feel more boutique hotel than backpacker hostel. There are also both mixed and female-only dorm rooms if you’re on a budget. The hostel offers excellent value for money with a rooftop pool and bar and even free bicycle hire! The onsite spa is perfect for travellers looking for a place to relax.

Minh Boutique is one of Da Nang’s top-rated accommodation options with tastefully designed twin and double rooms set around a small green courtyard. Set just a few minutes’ walk from the beach, Minh Boutique is particularly popular with couples seeking comfort near the coast.

The Glomad Hotel is set just back from the beach and some of the deluxe double rooms have sea views. For those looking for a bit more space, The Glomad also has studios and the two-bedroom suites offer great value for families or groups looking for a little luxury.

Sofiana My Khe Hotel and Spa has stylish rooms plus a rooftop pool and bar offering great views over the city and My Khe Beach. With twins, double rooms and suites, Sofiana My Khe offers a touch of luxury in a great location – perfect for those who are looking to splurge a little.

Ruins at My Son
My Son Sanctuary makes a great day trip from Da Nang.

The Hai Van Pass: The Scenic Way to Travel to or From Da Nang 🏍️

Second only to the epic Ha Giang Loop, the Hai Van Pass is surely the country’s most popular motorbiking trip. The pass is a scenic 20-kilometre strip of road that forms part of the popular route between Da Nang and Hue. It became world-famous after it was featured in a special episode of Top Gear and has even been named one of the greatest scenic drives around the world! Enjoy the spectacular scenery as you travel over Vietnam’s highest pass by motorbike, jeep or train.

Things to Do in Da Nang, Vietnam

1. Relax on the Beach 🏖️

Da Nang is fringed by a long stretch of sandy shoreline, reaching all the way from the Son Tra Peninsula to Hoi An, 30 kilometres to the south. My Khe beach is the most accessible from central Da Nang and is a popular spot with both locals and visitors. Take a stroll along the promenade or kick back and relax on the sand or at one of the beachside bars and watch the world go by.

My Khe Promenade in Da Nang, Vietnam
Enjoy the mix of city life and beach days in Da Nang.

2. See a Fire-Breathing Dragon at Dragon Bridge 🐉

The Dragon Bridge, spanning the Han River, has become an icon of Da Nang since it opened in 2013. 

The mythical beast, formed by the bridge’s golden arches, is best appreciated after dark when it is illuminated by thousands of LED lights. For the most dazzling view, time your visit to see the dragon breathing real fire! The spectacle occurs every Saturday and Sunday at 9 pm. 

3. Admire Da Nang Cathedral 💒

Pretty in pink, Da Nang’s cathedral was built in 1923 for the French Catholic community that lived in the area. It’s a beautiful example of French colonial architecture and the pale pink and white facade is an Instagramer’s dream. Everyone is welcome at Sunday morning mass (10 am) which is held in English.

4. Learn About Cham Art and Architecture 🏛️

The Museum of Cham Sculpture is a small but informative museum that is well worth a visit, particularly if you plan to visit My Son Sanctuary. Its collection offers a fascinating insight into the art and culture of the Champa Kingdom which ruled Central and Southern Vietnam for more than a thousand years.

Relics in Da Dang Museum 3
The Museum of Cham Sculpture is small and well laid out so you won’t lose your head when you visit!

5. Catch Some Waves 🌊

Vietnam may not be the first place to spring to mind when you think of surfing in Southeast Asia, but the country has some surprisingly surfable waves. 

Da Nang is one of Vietnam’s better-known surf spots and was the setting for the famous surf scene in cult movie Apocalypse Now (even though the footage was actually shot in the Philippines!). 

The beach break at My Khe Beach offers up some nice waves and plenty of whitewash for learners. More experienced surfers should head to Nam O Point. 

6. Marvel at the Marble Mountains ⛰️

The Marble Mountains, which at around 100m high are more like hills, are named after the rock from which they are made. According to legend, the five peaks were formed when the Turtle God hatched an egg on the shore, which cracked into five pieces. 

Cham people came to the mountains to worship the Hindu gods and later several Buddhist shrines and pagodas were created in the caves and on the side of the mountains. Only one mountain is open to visitors – Thuy Son, which is also the highest. 

There is a lift that whisks visitors up the side of this mountain. At the top you can enjoy the views before taking a leisurely walk back down to sea level, exploring the pagodas and cave shrines along the way. Be careful if you visit during the rainy season as the marble steps become very slippery when wet!

“Some people might say that the Marble Mountains are an overrated tourist trap, but personally I found them an enjoyable experience. If you can ignore the pushy vendors trying to sell you marble statues and coach-loads of selfie-happy tourists, a trip to the Marble Mountains can be an interesting and scenic place to spend a couple of hours.” 

Lisa Barham, Writer at South East Asia Backpacker 
View from the top of Marble Mountain in Da Nang, Vietnam
Make sure to check out the viewpoint from the Marble Mountains.

7. Explore the Son Tra Peninsula and Monkey Mountain 🐒

Hire a motorbike for the day and explore the mountainous peninsula that juts out to sea just north of My Khe Beach. The highest peak is known as Monkey Mountain, thanks to the resident primates. Part of the peninsula forms Son Tra National Reserve, which was created to protect the red-shanked douc langurs that call the area home. 

Traveller Tip! 

Some Hai Van Pass tours may include a short detour to the peninsular as part of the trip. If you’re interested in visiting Son Tra and Monkey Mountain and are planning to take a Hai Van Pass tour, check whether this is part of the itinerary.

8. Discover Ancient Ruins at My Son Sanctuary 🛕

Around an hour from Da Nang is the UNESCO World Heritage Site of My Son Sanctuary. This complex of ancient temples represents the most extensive Cham remains in Vietnam, covering almost a thousand years of history. Rent a scooter and explore by yourself or join one of the day trips that can be booked in Da Nang.

“My visit to My Son Sanctuary was one of the highlights of my trip to Vietnam. While it may not compare in size or grandeur to other ancient temple sites across Southeast Asia, the relative quiet (if you can avoid the crowds) and jungle setting creates a magical atmosphere. The architecture is beautiful and the daily traditional dances in front of the temples add some interesting context, even if it is touristic.” 

Lisa Barham, Writer at South East Asia Backpacker
Traditional dancers at My Son Sanctuary, Vietnam
The traditional dances at My Son Sanctuary bring the ancient ruins to life.

9. Visit the Golden Hands Bridge and Ba Na Hills 🌉

25 kilometres west of Da Nang and 1,500m up a mountain, you’ll find the visually stunning Golden Hands Bridge. The bridge itself, supported by two giant stone hands that reach out of the mountain, as well as the views, are undoubtedly spectacular. 

However, the nearby Ba Na Hills amusement park is slightly more divisive. It is particularly popular with Vietnamese visitors, whereas many foreigners find the resort-cum-theme park rather tacky.


Food and Drink in Da Nang 🍜

As more travellers begin to appreciate Da Nang, the city is slowly appearing on the foodie map. The signature dish here is mi quang, a noodle soup with a bone broth and fish sauce base. Easily recognisable for its distinctive yellow noodles, these are created by the addition of turmeric. As a coastal city, Da Nang is also unsurprisingly known for its seafood. One of the most popular dishes is bun cha ca, a fish cake noodle soup.

There are plenty of street food stalls where you can pick up a tasty meal for around $1USD. The best can be found on Pham Hong Thai Street, a favourite with locals in the evening. Nearby Con Market also has cheap and authentic dishes on offer, as well as fresh produce if you fancy cooking for yourself.

Banh Mi in restaurant
Banh Mi has become one of Vietnam’s most popular street foods! Photo credit: Lizzie Duffell

Da Nang’s increasing popularity has seen plenty of cafés and restaurants pop up to cater to Western tastes, particularly in the My An area.

Bikini Bottom Express is an American diner-style restaurant known for its ‘smash burgers,’ and nearby Adobo Mexican Grill is a popular place to grab a taco or two. If you have a sweet tooth, make sure to check out the amazing banana bread at Le Bordeaux Bakery.

“I had the best banana bread of my life at Le Bordeaux Bakery.”

Kaitlyn Kaiser, South East Asia Backpacker Community

Eat well and feel good at Happy Heart Café, an eatery that supports people with disabilities. The friendly staff, many of whom are deaf or otherwise disabled, serve up tasty Mexican dishes, pizza and desserts, among other options.

Veggies and vegans are well catered for in Da Nang with plenty of plant-based cafés including, IVEGAN, Roots, and KURUMI.

“Make sure to sample the oat coconut pancakes at KURUMI – possibly the best vegan pancakes I’ve ever tasted!”

Lisa Barham, Writer at South East Asia Backpacker

Getting Around Da Nang, Vietnam 🚲

By Foot

If you’re happy to spend your days in Da Nang moving between cafés and the beach, you’ll probably find you can get wherever you want on your own two feet. If you want to explore some of the other activities the city has to offer, you’ll need some transport.

Scooter

An ever-popular way of getting around Vietnam, renting a scooter or motorbike is the most common way to explore the city’s sites, as well as attractions a little further afield.

Bicycle

Renting a bicycle is a great alternative if you don’t ride a scooter but still want your own transport to get around the city.

Traveller Tip!

As a non-scooter driver, I love exploring cities by bike and even cycled to the Marble Mountains. Sadly, since scooters became the preferred transport for travellers, finding a bicycle to hire is not as easy as it once was. Check out Just Bikes, which rents out good-quality scooters and bicycles at decent rates. 

Taxi

If you want to visit some of the sites outside the city independently but aren’t confident on a scooter, taking a taxi is a good option. The e-hailing app Grab is one of the best options and is used widely throughout Vietnam.


How to Get to Da Nang, Vietnam ✈️

Da Nang is easy to reach and as it is located in the centre of the country, it’s convenient to get to from both the north and the south.

By Plane

Da Nang has its own international airport. Domestic flights in Vietnam are cheap and convenient and there are also direct flights from Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Tokyo.

By Train

Da Nang has a mainline train station and Reunification Express trains (the trains that run from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City) stop here. Trains from Hanoi to Da Nang take around 15-18 hours, and HCMC to Da Nang takes about 16.5-20 hours. A popular route is from Hue to Da Nang (2.5-4 hours), as this section of track is the most scenic along the Hanoi-HCMC route and includes the famous Hai Van Pass.

Hai Van Pass view by Train, Vietnam
Don’t miss views like this on your way to Da Nang!

Via the Hai Van Pass

As well as by rail, the scenic Hai Van Pass can be experienced by road. The most popular way to drive the pass is by motorbike. Some travellers opt to hire a motorbike and drive independently, others prefer to book a Hai Van Pass motorbike tour and either drive themselves as part of a guided group, or sit back and relax while riding as a passenger. Jeep tours of the Hai Van Pass are also available if you prefer to travel on four wheels or in the same vehicle as your friends.

OUR TOP PICK!
Hai Van Pass Motorbike Tour
  • Easy Rider or Self Ride.
  • Travel Hoi An to Hue or vice versa.
  • Pick-up & drop-off at your accommodation. Free luggage transfer.
  • Stop at amazing viewpoints & hidden gems along the way!

By Taxi

If you’re arriving from somewhere close by, taxi is a good way of reaching Da Nang, especially if you don’t ride a motorbike. Taking a taxi is particularly useful if you’re travelling from Hoi An, which doesn’t have a train station. (There was once a bus service between Da Nang and Hoi An but this was stopped during COVID and is yet to restart.) The taxi-hailing app Grab is a safe and reliable option.


Where to Go Next: 🚂

Hue: Discover the old capital of Hue and spend a few days visiting the historic citadel and emperor tombs and sampling tasty local delicacies.

Hoi An: Don’t miss the ancient port city of Hoi An, a highlight on many Vietnam itineraries. Get measured for some tailored clothes before soaking up the colonial charm of the ancient town lit by thousands of lanterns.

Ninh Binh: Escape city life in the countryside of Ninh Binh. Known as ‘Ha Long Bay on Land,’ the landscape around Ninh Binh is dotted with limestone karsts, surrounded by a sea of green rice paddies.


Contributors

South East Asia Backpacker is a ‘travel diary for everyone’. This article has been written with the help of backpackers and local experts. We would like to thank the following for their input to this article…

🙏 Adrian C. Shean | South East Asia Backpacker Community
🙏 Sophie Newman | South East Asia Backpacker Community
🙏 Kaitlyn Kaiser | South East Asia Backpacker Community
🙏 Lizzie Duffell | South East Asia Backpacker Community

Lisa Barham author pic
Lisa Barham

Having always dreamt of travelling the world, Lisa finally decided to follow that dream in her mid-thirties when she left her nine-to-five in London for life on the road. After trekking to Everest Base Camp in Nepal and learning to surf in Sri Lanka, she headed for wondrous Southeast Asia, where she can currently be found solo backpacking, navigating through life and unfamiliar streets.

Follow her on: Instagram

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