Best Things to Do & See in Da Nang & Around Central Vietnam

Beyond Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh lies Da Nang, with its endless list of must-do and see attractions. From wild beaches and open-air museums carved by both nature and humans, to ancient citadels and fire-breathing dragons, Da Nang, the stunning coastal city of central Vietnam, is set to dazzle you.

Da Nang is a surprisingly beautiful city in central Vietnam that melds the ancient and traditional with the modern, colorful, and artistic, with often unconventional landscaping and architectural touches. It’s the kind of place where you can stumble upon old temples just a stone’s throw away from bold, futuristic urban sculptures.

The city is crossed by the Han River, well known for its many bridges. That includes the bridge that strikingly resembles a giant yellow dragon spitting water and fire. Only when he has to.

Vibrant, with stunning beaches and an incredible nightlife, Da Nang, along with Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh, in my opinion, is a must-visit destination in Vietnam. If you can include it in your first visit there, you will definitely not regret it. What makes it even more appealing is its proximity to other enchanting cities: the Ba Na Hills resort with its iconic giant hands bridge, the marble craft village of Non Nuoc, the imperial city of Hue, and Hoi An with its enchantingly lantern-lit streets, to name just a few.

That being said, Da Nang serves as the perfect base in central Vietnam from which you can just wander around for days.

Now… what to do and what to start with?

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Meditation Statue in Vietnam Da Nang Ba Na Hills

Ba Na Hills Resort near Da Nang, Copyright ©

We planned our last trip for the beginning of May (as I was traveling with my happy plus one, my husband), just after visiting Hanoi, and the weather was just perfect.

First thing you should do is to decide how many days you will stay. Are you planning to stay only in Da Nang and take day trips from there? Or move around with luggage between cities? You need to find your accommodation and the best options in Da Nang are around My Khe Beach. But also the nearby city of Hoi An can be a beautiful place to spend a few nights.

Next, you have to choose your tours with locals. Vietnamese are wonderful people and make every second worth it. As I stayed in a hotel in Da Nang for 8 days with 2 additional ones in Hoi An, I took several day trips and guided tours to nearby attractions. I literally fell in love with this place and its people!!

How many days should you spend in Da Nang?

If you just want to see Da Nang city and nearby attractions, plan for 2-3 days minimum. This is enough time to check out the city’s main spots, like the Han River, APEC Park, temples, and museums, maybe hike at Marble Mountains, or even spend a day at the beach.

However, if you choose Da Nang as the main hub for visiting Central Vietnam and plan day trips from Da Nang to the neighbouring villages (which are, by the way, very close), you should think about staying for 7 to 10 days.  You would have enough time to explore Son Tra Peninsula, the ancient villages of Hoi An and Hue, Ba Na Hills resort and its Golden Bridge, and much much more.

Best time to visit Da Nang?

The best time to visit Da Nang is from February to May when the weather is warm and sunny. During these months, Da Nang has clear sky, ideal for outdoor activities such as spending a day at the beautiful beaches along the South China Sea, hiking nearby mountains, and visiting forgotten cities conquered by vegetation.  It is also the time for magical festivals (Lunar New Year) when the cities get all dressed up in lanterns.

During my May trip to Da Nang, out of ten days, it was heavily raining on only one day.

However, the city does have attractions year-round.

🏯 Best guided tours?

Many of Da Nang’s sightseeing tours are quick half-day adventures, which can easily extend to a full day if they include some stops at cool spots like Marble Mountains or Son Tra Peninsula. Right in the heart of the city, you can dive into delicious food or cooking tours and river cruises too.

Plus, Vietnamese travel agencies love to pack their portfolio with day trips from Da Nang to charming nearby villages like Ba Na Hills, Hue, or Hoi An.

Marvel at the Kite-Like Sculpture Over APEC Park 

The covering parametric structure at APEC Park in Da Nang. Visiting it is one of the best things to do in Da Nang.

APEC Park Kite-Like Structure, Copyright ©

The APEC Park is a relatively new urban space, just perfectly set on the banks of Han River and along one of the main arteries of the city, connecting the ancient Hai Chau district and the modern Son Tra. This was actually the first thing we saw in Da Nang after our arrival.

The park is split on multiple levels with shops and exhibitions, all surrounded by fountains and greenery. Its centrepiece is definitely the area partially covered by a gigantic parametric structure, a wavy dome, symbolizing a kite flying in the wind. The top floor offers gorgeous views over the Son Tra Mountains and the river.

  • Opening hours: 24 hours; has also its own parking in the basement;
  • 📌 Location: Bình Hiên, Hải Châu District, Da Nang, Google Maps;
  • 🎟️ Admission fee: free to visit. 

Check the Less-Touristy, Buddhist An Long Temple

An Long Temple in Da Nang

Guarding Dragons of Chua An Long Gate, Copyright ©

Right across from Apec Park, you’ll easily find a strong concrete gate with three small wooden doors.

The gate is beautifully decorated with detailed carvings, bright ceramic tiles, and fine woodwork, showing fierce mythical creatures like dragons and lions that stand for strength, safety, and good fortune. The gate’s roof has several layers and edges that curl up, looking a lot like mountains or ocean waves, which are important symbols in Vietnamese culture.

What’s interesting is that behind this gate, even in the hustle and bustle of the city, sits a quiet temple. Inside, Buddha and Bodhisattva statues watch over the temple, surrounded by orange trees and hanging red lanterns.

  • 📌 Location: 4 Đ. 2 Tháng 9, Bình Hiên, Hải Châu, Đà Nẵng, Google Maps;
  • 🎟️ Admission fee: free to visit. 

Visit Da Nang Museum of Cham Sculpture

Daderot | Wikipedia, Image shared under a CCO license

1 minute walking from the temple to the left i the Cham Museum, a yellow walls museum surrounded by trees and white frangipani flowers.. One of the oldest places of culture built by the French in the 20th century. The museum has on display antique art from the old Champa Kingdom:  decorative friezes, statues of mythical creatures and Buddhist and Hindu Gods made generally from terracotta, sandstone, or bronze.

The building is a combination of French colonial architecture and elemnts belonging to Champa Temples. It’s a must see for the ones who want to discover the cultural and religious roots of Central Vietnam.

  • Opening hours: 08:00 a.m. to 05:00 p.m. every day;
  • 📌 Location: Số 02 Đ. 2 Tháng 9, Bình Hiên, Hải Châu, Đà Nẵng, Google Maps;
  • 🎟️ Admission fee: 60.000 VND.

Relax at Da Nang’s Endless Beach

My An Beach in Da Nang with traditional row boats beautifully painted and palm trees.

My An Beach in Da Nang, Copyright ©

Going to the beach is one of those things really worth doing in Da Nang. My Khe, My An, and Bai Bien are just a few of the silky-sand beaches part of Da Nang’s shoreline.

This continuous sandy coastline, which faces the wide, crystal-clear expanse of the South China Sea, stretches as far as the eye can see — or about 30 kilometers, to be a bit more precise. The famous My Khe Beach itself spans only about 900 meters.

All these gorgeous beaches have palm trees and perfect surfing waves, plus a bunch of upscale hotels in the backdrop. Add to that a happy, colourful vibe, with elegant bars, dreamy swings flying over the water, and local art installations scattered throughout. Even the trash cans are whimsically designed as penguins.

Umbrellas on Da Nang Beach, Vietnam
Funny rash Can on Da Nang Beach, Vietnam

My Khe Beach in Da Nang, Copyright ©

Not far from these idyllic spots, local fishermen continue their age-old traditions using nets and round boats.

Local celebrations transform each an every beach into lively venues with a stage, bean bag chairs, and delicious cocktails, hosting a variety of traditional performances.

Go to a Spa

One of the things not to miss in Da Nang is going to a spa. Vietnam is a haven for spa lovers, and in recent years, Da Nang itself has emerged as a leading wellness destination in Southeast Asia. There are so many luxury retreats in the area, including zen sanctuaries offering the experience of yoga and meditation in lush forests or on the top of nearby mountains.

What sets Da Nang apart, though, is its abundance of high-quality yet affordable day spas. These places shine with cleanliness, tastefully decorated interiors, complimentary snacks, and warm, welcoming smiles. Vietnamese Spas are all about good vibes, kindness and care.

In the heart of Da Nang City Center, you’ll find some of the highest-rated spas, all set to provide you the much-needed relaxation after a day full of sightseeing.

Herbal Spa Experience

Signature treatment: herbal heat pack massage. One of the best spas in the city center, really cozy, with great oil body massage, lovely music and Korean cosmetics.

Booked 20K times, 4.8 ⭐ | Check availability

Queen Spa Body Massage Experience

Signature treatment: hot stone lotion body massage. Egyptian-inspired décor, with hieroglyphs and mythology scenes, all in a dim lighting, and relaxing music.

Booked 6K times, 4.6 ⭐ | Check availability

Babylon Garden Spa Experience

Signature treatment: some of the best foot massages in town. Closest to My Khe Beach, a lovely spa with a simple, wood details interior décor and a wonderful scent luring you in.

Booked 5K times, 4.6 ⭐ | Check availability

Trees Spa Experience

Signature treatment: shiatsu, hot stone, herbal, body scrubs. A spa near the Dragon Bridge. Kids area available, where yours can wait while you relax.

Booked 2K times, 4.8 ⭐ | Check availability

If It Rains, Splash at the Indoor Water Park

The Onsen, Copyright © Mikazuki 365 WATER PARK

Just north of Da Nang City Center, you’ll find this really popular Japanese-themed water park where the fun never stops, not even for a second. It’s a hit during the rainy season too, mostly because it does not have only outdoor, but also indoor attractions. And it’s definitely a top pick for things to do in Da Nang, especially for families with kids.

For those who love a good adrenaline rush, there are seven massive slides to conquer, including one with a cool rainbow effect inside and the longest indoor water slide in Vietnam.  Or you can forget all of that and simply float around in the wave pool.

The park has also this magical area with beautiful Japanese-style architecture, hiding a sauna and hot mineral pools, Onsen bath, plus a Fuji mountain replica.

Watch Water Puppetry at Asia Theme Park

Water Puppet Theatre in Da Nang

Ba Na Hills Resort, Copyright ©

Water puppet theatre is more popular in Northern Vietnam (Hanoi) than in Central Vietnam. It’s an unique art form tracing its roots back to the Red River Delta. Almost 10 centuries ago, during the harvest season, when the rice paddies were flooded, villagers sunk in muddy water up to their waist would entertain themselves with water puppetry.

Despite its stronger connection with the north, a water puppet theatre can also be found in Da Nang, inside Asia Park. There, puppeteers tell their stories from under the water with wooden puppets floating joyfully on the surface and recreating memories of Old Vietnam.

Dress & Celebrate Ao Dai

Girl wearing Ao Dai Vietnamese Traditional Clothing

Girl wearing Ao Dai, Vietnamese Traditional Clothing, Copyright ©

The Ao Dai is Vietnam’s traditional clothing, known for its beauty, elegance, and cultural importance. It’s a long, split tunic dress worn over trousers, fitting snugly around the body and featuring a high collar.

Its history starts in the 18th century with the Nguyen Dynasty. The rulers then decided that everyone should wear a buttoned gown and trousers, setting the stage for the Ao Dai. Moreover, its early look was inspired by Chinese fashion. During French rule, the Ao Dai got a makeover to become tighter and got its distinctive collar.

While in Da Nang, do explore the culture of Ao Dai. there are a few activities you can try. Watch a show that takes you back to Da Da Nang’s ancient imperial court, with traditional martial arts and folk dances, enjoy a food tour with an Ao Dai-dressed guide, or take a photo shoot dressed up in the outfit at Da Nang’s scenic spots.

Hike at Son Tra Peninsula

Son Tra Peninsula

Son Tra view from My An Beach, Copyright ©

Son Tra Peninsula, extending into the waters off Da Nang, is a universe on its own, ideal for those who love exploring the great outdoors, with opportunities for both hiking and water sports.

In fact, the lands stretch is a mountainous region blanketed in lush forests, home to some of the rarest monkeys. It ends towards the South China Sea with scenic beaches and high-end resorts. There’s also a temple housing a giant Lady Buddha statue, a pottery museum, an amusement park, and ancient Banyan trees.

Ban Co Peak is the highest point, where a frozen Confucius is thinking over his next chess move.

Explore the Marble Mountains

Marble Mountains Temple Da Nang Things to do
Marble Mountains Da Nang Things to do

Marble Mountains in Da Nang, Copyright ©

Marble Mountains refers to a group of five limestone and marble hills, located approximately 9 kilometers (about 5.6 miles) south of Da Nang city center. They are like an open-air museum, both nature and man made, with a stunning natural scenery and views over South China Sea coastline, an intricate cave systems, and countless ancient Buddhist and Hindu temples built inside the caves and atop the peaks.

The area is also known for its marble-sculpted crafts, with many workshops located at the foot of the hills. It’s really worth exploring for a day or half day.

📌 On how to spend a lovely day at Marble Mountains: Marble Mountains Day Trip from Da Nang.

Take a Cable Car to Ba Na Hills

Ba Na Hills & Its Record Breaking Cable Car

Ba Na Hills Resort & Its Record-Breaking Cable Car, Copyright ©

One of the most thrilling experiences in Da Nang is the 20-minute cable car ride to Ba Na Hills.

Ba Na Hills is in fact an old resort, built by French colonizers, that stays on the top of a mountain just outside Da Nang. The journey there is somehow more than just a means to reach the summit; it’s quite an adventure, thanks to the beautiful views of the lush landscape below. The verdant mountainside stretches into the distance, and it’s occasionally shrouded in mist, creating this mystical, out-of-this-world atmosphere.

Plus, this cable car has earned its place in the Guinness World Records for being the world’s longest single-wire cable car system, stretching nearly 6000 meters, and has the largest height gap between its start and finish points at 1300 meters. It also claims the record for the world’s heaviest cable reel, weighing in at 140 tons.

At the top, the resort has building replicas of French cities, bakeries and cafes, alongside Vietnamese-style temples and giant Buddhas overseeing manicured gardens. And a theme park carved into the mountain slope. Ba Na Hills is also home to the iconic Golden Bridge raised to the sky by two giant hands. The newest addition to the resort is a medieval castle.

  • Pick-up hours: 08:00 – 08:30; 
  • ⏰ Drop-off hours: 16:30 – 17:00;
  • 🎟️ Combo ticket van & cable car: around $50.

Head to Hue & the Imperial Citadel for a Day

Hue Citadel as part of a day trip from Da Nang, one of the best things to do in the area

My An Beach in Da Nang, Copyright ©

At the end of a scenic three-hour drive away from Da Nang lies Hue.

This quite busy city is a still-standing memory of country’s imperial era and home to the famed Imperial City, a 200-year complex from where Nguyen Dynasty emperors once ruled. Colourful palaces, temples, and walls, some conquered by time and crawling vegetation, and others surrounded by lush gardens and lily ponds, are all whispering tales of opulence and intrigue. The Forbidden Purple City, the emperor’s home, is the heart of the complex, along with a replica of the Royal Theater.

Beyond the Imperial City, there are several impressive Mausoleums (e.g. Tomb of Tu Duc or Tomb of Khai Dinh) and the Thien Mu Pagoda, perched on the banks of the serene Perfume River. Cute, lively boats, shaped as dragons, float along the river.

We chose to join a private tour which included  guide, hotel pickup, entrance tickets, and a lunch.  Loved the fact the driver was pretty flexible too and we had enough time to see everything that we wanted to. Booked it from HERE (booked 3K+ times, rated 4.5 ⭐).

Meet the Co Tu

The Co Tu are an indigenous ethnic group, living mostly in the Central Highlands and the coastal area of Central Vietnam, not far from Da Nang.

Organized in clans, they still live in stilt houses built from bamboo and wood, and practice slash-and-burn agriculture, growing crops like rice, corn, and cassava.

Dong Giang Heaven’s Gate is really breathtaking. It is surrounded by mountains, with waterfalls and caves, and dense forests. Plus, it functions as a mini-resort, where you can see how they live, how they dress, watch performances and taste specialties such as bamboo-tube rice.

Take a Day Trip to Ancient Town of Hoi An

Hoi An Street, Vietnam

Hoi An, Copyright ©

While exploring Central Vietnam, taking a day trip from Da Nang to Hoi An is a must do!  Hoi An is this ancient town, once a trading port, and now a UNESCO World Heritage, with colorful lantern-lit streets, wooden Chinese and Japanese shophouses, old temples, and French colonial architecture.

The Old Town of Hoi An is crossed by Thu Bon River that adds plenty to its charm. The view is magical especially at night. Tiny boats are moving back and forth with people trying to light up candles and let them flow along the river. It is hard to explain its beauty.

📌 I wrote more about my Hoi An experience here: Hoi An Day Trip Itinerary.

Enjoy the Nightlife by the Han River

Da Nang at Night, Copyright ©

Han River is the soul of Da Nang.

Serving as an important trade route and flanked by beautiful promenades, the river has given and continues to give life to the city. Its riverfront is lined with restaurants, bars, night markets, and parks, which makes it quite a popular spot for everyone to enjoy the city’s nightlife and natural beauty too.

You can have a stroll on its architectural marvels they call bridges, wander down to where food stalls and plastic tables with stools pop up from nowhere along the riverbank, mingle with locals and try their street food. Or if you prefer, take a dinner cruise along the river.

Make sure to venture into the lively 2/9th Street, which bears a striking resemblance to Saigon’s Bui Vien or Hanoi’s Ta Hien.  And end your evening at a rooftop bar (like Bong or, even better, Sky36), from where you can see the glittering river and cityscape in all their splendour, while sipping from a cocktail. This is a must!

Watch the Dragon Bridge Spitting Fire

Dragon Bridge in Da Nang, Copyright ©

Meters away from the Apec Park is the Cao Rong, also known as the Dragon Bridge, one of the seven iconic bridges connecting the two sides of Han River.

In weekends, from Friday to Sunday, every evening around 9:00 pm, the gigantic metal dragon wakes up and starts spitting fire and water. It’s a great show worth seeing and no picture can do it justice. The best is that’s fun for free!

Sing Your Heart Out at Da Nang’s Karaoke Bars

Karaoke Da Nang Vietnam

Karaoke Bar in Da Nang, Copyright ©

Music is deeply rooted in Vietnamese culture, always part of their life, from ancient folk tunes, once sang on the fields, to the modern Karaoke. Which you have to try!!

Originally from Japan, Karaoke naturally blended into Vietnam’s social scene, mirroring their strong singing tradition. And it’s now a way for Vietnamese to bond, share happiness, release stress, and express their feelings.

That’s why Da Nang’s streets are filled with glamorous Karaoke venues, literally shining at night. Even if you lack  singing abilities, you can join without feeling discouraged. You don’t have to fill anyone’s expectations, just have a lot of fun!

Shop Under the Stars at the Night Market

Lanterns at Son Tra Night Market in Da Nang
Old Vietnamese Money

Da Nang Night Market, Copyright ©

The night market in Da Nang comes to life as soon as the sun goes down as one of the most magical and liveliest places in the town. And not far from the Dragos Bridge.

It’s literally a goldmine where you can find almost everything, from sparkling jewelry and clothes to handmade crafts, spices, and colorful souvenirs — and that without spending a lot of money.

Plus, it’s so easy to lose track of time in the crowds and among so many goodies-packed stalls. I found some adorable lanterns, vintage Vietnamese banknotes, a cute hair scrunchie, plus smoky snacks. And even got a foot massage right there in the open. Which felt a little strange, not gonna lie!. But we can call it part of the experience.

I really suggest checking it out if you’re looking for something fun and genuine to do in Da Nang.

Try the Milk Tea

Creme Brulee Vietnamese Milk Tea at Bong in Da Nang
Cookies Vietnamese Milk Tea at Bong in Da Nang

Milk Tea Specialties at Bong, Da Nang, Copyright ©

If you want to try the Milk Tea, go to Bong, near the Apec Park.

The drink combines robust flavors of Vietnamese teas with creamy milk, often sweetened and served with a variety of toppings like tapioca pearls (boba), jelly, and fruits. Some popular variations include matcha milk tea, taro milk tea, and the classic black milk tea.

Milk Tea at Bong in Da Nang near Apec Park and Dragon Bridge. Gorgeous view from the rooftop towards the Han River

Bong Rooftop View, Da Nang, Copyright ©

But, at Bong, it’s not only the fact they are specialized in milk tea and serve multiple flavours – we had Brulee Egg Milk Tea with Jelly and Cookie Milk Tea, but their building is also an Instagram-worthy hangout place, especially at night. The rooftop view over the Han River, with Apec’s lighted dome and the Dragon bridge breathing fire, is absolutely gorgeous.

Not all people like the combination of tea and milk, but it’s worth trying at least once while in Da Nang, as this is a really popular Vietnamese treat.

Eat Local (or Worldwide Cuisines)

Vietnamese Spring Rolls Da Nang Restaurant
Banh Xeo, Yellow Vietnamese Pancakes, Da Nang Restaurant

Vietnamese Spring Rolls & Banh Xeo at Thìa Gỗ, Da Nang, Copyright ©

In Da Nang, you can literally have access to any type of cuisine you are dreaming of. But I do recommend to start with the home-cooked Vietnamese food.

One very good restaurant to do that is a very small, family-owned Da Nang eatery called Thìa Gỗ. They serve spring rolls and Vietnamese pancakes, Banh Xeo, among others. The Banh Xeo is very popular in Central Vietnam (smaller size) and Southern Vietnam (the larger version comes from Mekong Delta), less in the North. So, this is somewhat new compared to Hanoi food. And the Banh Xeo at Thìa Gỗ is gigantic. You have to cut it with a scissors. It is AMAZING!

For Indian food, I ate about two times at…. AndX and Y serve Burgers. I love both.

Learn to Cook Vietnamese Style

Food Market in Da Nang
Cooking Class in Da Nang

Vietnamese Cooking Classes in Da Nang, Copyright ©

If you’ve already fallen in love with Vietnamese food and you want to take the experience further, you can take a cooking class. Usually, cooking classes with locals teach you a whole range of foods from the beloved Pho soup, spring rolls in rice paper, noodles with seafood, even the difficult like Banh Seo.

Most of them start at the market where you’re introduced into the spices and vegetables that you will use. Some even include the farming experience. And if you’re a vegetarian, no worries, the classes are flexible and Vietnamese cuisine is mostly vegetables based.

A 5 star cooking class is the one of Jolie. You can book the simple version on Viator, but on Klook there are even more options. One of the them is a full day tour and cooking class (12 hours) , including farming, market shopping and the cooking activity itself.

Choosing Your Accommodation

Cheap Hotel in Da Nang Vietnam - Desk and Closet inside the room
Da Nang Budget Hotel Bet and Bathroom

For the 8 days in Da Nang, I chose a 3-star hotel which was not only very well rated at the time (and still is), but also extremely affordable, Sofiana My Khe Hotel and Spa. The hotel is about 10 minutes away from the beach, on a small street, surrounded by similar hotels. Very few rooms do actually have beach view, and from afar, but they are spacious enough, comfortable and with an aquatic-themed interior. Quite cute!

Initially, I was assigned a smaller room on a higher floor, with a very tiny window. Fortunately, the staff upgraded me to a Deluxe Double Room, even though the hotel was nearly fully booked. I loved the street view from the second floor, and having a desk by the window was a wonderful bonus.. On my only rainy day there, I could work and watch busy people moving around despite the bad weather.

If your budget is limited and decide to go for it, I would recommend choosing that type of room or similar, nothing under.

If you’re thinking about something a bit more luxurious, best high-end resorts are along the South China Sea coastline. InterContinental Danang is a gorgeous one, built in Vietnamese style with dark wood details and large windows, surrounded by forests and opening towards a private beach.

Getting Around

Image name, Copyright ©

The most accessible way to get around Da Nang and surroundings is by using a taxi service (either Mai Linh or Vinasun) or Grab (the Southeast Asian equivalent of Uber). That if you don’t wat to drive yourself or rent a motorbike, which is actually the most popular and affordable way for visiting Da Nang.  Motorbikes can be rented with daily prices ranging from VND 100,000 to VND 200,000.

There is also a bus system with tickets priced around VND 20,000.

When arriving in Da Nang, make sure you get a good local SIM card with internet for easy access to maps and ride sharing apps apps. Google Maps is working just fine and don’t forget to have Grab installed.

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