Situated in the central of Vietnam, Danang is a lovely coastal city that lies between Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi. and the fifth largest city in Vietnam. It is surrounded by mountains on one side and beautiful sandy beaches facing the South China Sea.
As part of my Central Vietnam trip, I spend two nights on the weekends to explore the city. Here are the lists of recommended things to do and places to eat during a short stay in Danang city.
Getting There and Around
Danang International Airport (DAD) is located 3 km from the city center and is an important getaway to access central Vietnam including nearby towns such as Hue and Hoi An.
It seems like there are no public buses to get into the city center. I could recommend a reliable taxi company like Vinasun. They are more honest and charge using the meter. Alternatively, you can use Grab, an e-hailing ride service company in Southeast Asia that is similar to Uber. Both services are widely available in the city center as well.
There are many tourist bus operators available to help you travel to and from Danang. Click the link at Bookaway to search for the options.
Here’s Where The Journey Begins
Upon landing in Danang at 5 pm, I got myself check-in and was welcomed by the Airbnb host, Nhi Tra. The accommodation is located just 10-minutes walking distance to Dragon Bridge at An Hai district. Once getting my stuff sorted out, I began to hit the streets to discover Danang’s local attractions.
Wander along with the open-air street arts of Fresco Village (Làng Bích họa) hidden within the alley of a residential neighborhood in Hai Chau district. It has plenty of pretty artworks painted on the walls of the houses that symbolize Vietnamese culture and animals.
Visitors can come here at any time of the day and there is no entrance fee. Do keep in mind that this is a housing area, so keep your voice down to avoid disturbance of the local people here.
Cross the 666-meters long Dragon Bridge to watch the night lights of Han River Bridge, Cầu Trần Thị Lý bridge and the surrounding buildings along the riverside. The bridge was opened on March 29, 2013 to mark the 38th anniversary of the taking of Danang by the North Vietnamese near the end of Vietnam War.
If you are here during the weekends, don’t miss out this short but spectacular 5-minutes show at 9 p.m. The dragon will breathe fire between the 2-minutes and water between the 3-minutes from its mouth.
Son Tra Night Market
Try delicious broken rice, a Vietnamese food that served with rice, pork ribs, tomato, cucumber, egg and dressing in Son Tra Night Market. There are other foods and drinks vendors and stalls selling handicrafts, clothes, accessories, souvenirs and Vietnamese coffee.
Start off the morning by going up the Marble Mountains (Ngu Hanh Son), located about 8 km south of Danang city. They are a cluster of five hills made from limestone and marble. Each of them was named after the elements of metal, wood, fire, water and earth.
Take the lift up to the edge of the Water Mountain and began climbing up the steps. You will walk through its pilgrimage site with peaks, caves, tunnels and temples. There are Buddhist sanctuaries and places of worship here. Glad that I made it to the summit and enjoy the breathtaking panoramic views of other mountains, Danang city and the beach. It took me 3 hours to search to the path all the way up (considering making a few breaks in between).
According to an ancient folktale, a dragon emerged from the water on Non Nuoc Beach and laid an egg. A thousand days and nights followed before the egg hatched, and out stepped a beautiful girl. The fragments of the shell were left on the beach and ended up growing into the five mystical Marble Mountains.
The entrance fee is 40,000 Dong and opens from 7 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. The cost to access the lift is 15,000 Dong per way. You can also choose to climb up 157 steps to the top. Get there as early as possible to avoid the crowds and heat and give yourself up to four hours to explore the mountain.
Return to the city using the same yellow bus from the opposite direction to a local Hàn Market (Chợ Hàn). Try Vietnamese food here before continue to scroll through the market. Just like Ben Thanh market in Saigon, you can get fresh groceries, dried fruits, local coffee, housewares, fabrics and clothes.
If you are looking for Ao Dai, a Vietnamese garment mainly worn by women here, you are in the right place. There are plenty of choices with different colors and designs with the prices starting from 250,000 Dong. You also can get the opportunity to get up front and see how they are made here.
Hàn Market is located 119 Đường Trần Phú, Hải Châu, near to Hàn Bridge.
Chill out at Highlands Coffee, a local coffee shop chain after walking half the day in hot weather. I bought their Lychee Tea (trà thạch vài) and yummy Green Tea Cheese Cake (bánh phô mai trà xanh) and the taste is really great.
Admire this unique pink painted Danang Cathedral which was built by French priest Louis Vallet in 1923. The catholic church stands at 70 meters, also known as Con Ga Church (Rooster Church) due to the imposing bell tower with a rooster weathercock on top. As it was Sunday afternoon, I got to see its people perform mass prayer here.
This cathedral is located in 156 Đường Trần Phú, Hải Châu 1, Hải Châu and opens daily between 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visitors are only allowed to visit at a certain time on Sundays due to Sunday prayer for the Catholic community. There is no entrance fee to enter here.
My Khe Beach
Relax on the beautiful sandy beach of My Khe Beach and enjoy the cool sea breeze. You will see the locals and tourists doing all sorts of fun activities on Sunday evening including parasailing, beach volleyball, jet skiing, swimming and yoga exercise. Kids too were happily playing around and building sandcastle, which reminds me of my younger days.
Enjoy a night walk at Love ‘lock’ Bridge, an arc-shaped wharf right next to the famous Dragon Bridge. It is a fascinating attraction where you can see or carve your own padlocks on this romantic bridge. It was inspired from such bridges like Pond des Arts in France and Milvio in Italy.
Chu Linh Ung
Before departing for Hue in the afternoon, I made one last stop at Chùa Linh Ứng, a pagoda located on the hill of Son Tra, 9 km from the city. It was constructed on 30 July 2010 and considered a meeting place of heaven and earth’s sacred air and people’s heart. The shrine’s roof is curved in dragon shape and the solid pillars surrounded by sophisticated sinuous dragons. The is a Lady Buddha statue that is the tallest one in the country, standing at 67m high and 35m lotus diameter.
According to legend, there was a Buddha statue drifted out of nowhere on the sandbank here during the time of Minh Mang King (Nguyen Dynasty) in the 19th century. The people believe that was a sign and later built a shrine for worship. The fishermen could work in peace for a long time. The pagoda now was established upon the place where the statue was drifted, naming it Bai But which meant ‘Buddha land on Earth’.
Chua Linh Ung offers a stunning view of the city and My Khe Beach and is accessible by car, motorcycle, taxi and Grab car. There is no entrance fee but you can make a donation into the boxes provided in the shrine.
Other Stuffs to Do in Danang
Having some extra time in Danang? Yey, good on you. Here are some places you can visit including visiting Cham Museum, taking a half-day tour to Golden Bridge and Ba Na Hills or take a drive with a scooter or car to Hai Van Pass to enjoy the mighty landscapes of Vietnam’s mountain Road linking Danang to Hue.
- Download Grab app into your mobile phone and take a ride on car or motorbike anywhere in Danang.
- Best time to visit is between December and August with less rainfall. Monsoon season falls between September and November.
- There are Hop-on Hop-off tourist buses that start from the airport to the main attractions and hotels in the city. Click here for more details.
- The show at Dragon Bridge begins at 9 p.m. If you want to get the good spot, come here 30 minutes before it starts because it attracts many tourists and locals to watch.
- Take the local yellow bus No. 1: Danang to Hoi An to Marble Mountain which will cost 30,000 Dong per way. Avoid scams and make sure the ticket officer in the bus give the right change upon ticket purchase.
- Arrange your transportation to Danang with Bookaway. There are many bus and private car operators traveling from other cities and towns in Vietnam.