Danang, Vietnam is now a tourist destination. It was once the site of the largest deployment of U.S troops during the Vietnam war.
"We're Going to Talk Travel Here"
If the subject of Danang during the Vietnam war interests you, I recommend a book called "What Am I Doing Here?"
It's really good.
Da Nang city is special because of its proximity to the incredible views from the Marble Mountains, the stunning architecture at My Son Sanctuary and of course a swim in the waters of China beach.
But Da Nang is a funny city in that there are very few reasons, in my estimation, to visit it. Despite the nice list of attractions to visit, the city itself is drab and frenetic at the best of times.
But there are certain people that would appreciate it and all it has to offer despite its dreary, soot-soaked appearance.
Danang is a city of work and factories and industrial development. There are few decent parks and even fewer places for foreigners to go. In fact, this is a city pretty much devoid of tourists because they most often prefer to stay in Hue city.
Hue is famous for its old quarter, tourist specialties and ancient history. Hue also has many trains and buses that head directly to China beach, My Son or anywhere else of interest to tourists near Danang city.
But it is also much cheaper to stay in Danang over Hue and if you are looking to see a real city in Vietnam, relatively untouched by tourist development, then Da Nang is the spot.
Where is Da Nang, Vietnam?
This city is the line in the sand that separates official North from official South Vietnam. In other words it's exactly the halfway point between Hanoi City in the North and Ho Chi Minh City in the South.
View Danang, Vietnam in a larger map
How to Get to Da Nang
Obviously, you can fly in to Danang. Da Nang Airport (IATA: DAD) is an international airport, even if it is the third smallest International Airport in Vietnam (There are only 3 international airports in total!). Most people prefer to fly into Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City on International flights.
Try CheapoAir for the best prices we've found.
The great thing about having an International airport in Da Nang is that you are never trapped. You can sleep with your flight coupon under your pillow and be off in a moment's notice. There are direct flights from Da Nang to Hanoi, Nha Trang, Singapore and Bangkok on a regular schedule.
The Danang airport isn't far from the city center. Unless you get in the wrong taxi. It shouldn't be more than a 10 minute trip to the center of Danang by cab but I've heard of some taxi drivers taking tourists on 40 minute 'Excursions'.
The taxis will usually try and negotiate a price upfront. That way they avoid turning on the meter. All the profits get into their pockets that way and they needn't share with the taxi company.
But they always rip you off on a negotiated rate. Ask them to use the meter and remember, anything longer than 10 minutes (except in heavy traffic) means they are taking you for a ride...literally!
Best thing to do is ask the taxi driver to turn on the meter and give them an address to your hotel. Just grab any hotel address or book it online at TripAdvisor. The prices are better than you'd get on arrival.
The 'Reunification Express' is the train which begins in Ho Chi Min City and terminates in Hanoi. It stops at every major city along the way, including Danang.
You can get a complete 'Reunification Express' train schedule, including arrival times at all stations of call from here.
Remember that you pay a special (double) rate as a foreigner. You should also never let your bags out of our sight. If you book a sleeper then lie on your bag and secure everything. The little buggers sneak into your room while you sleep and pilfer what they can. But the train was my favorite because of the open air and the connections you get to the landscape you are passing through.
On arrival at Danang train station, you'll have many taxis and motorbikes waiting for you. Most will get you to your hotel for under D30,000 ($2USD) but the secret again is having an address written down and pretend you know where you are going. The Danang train station is right downtown so nothing is too far away.
Expect safety issues and inflated prices if you arrive after dark.
The Sinh Cafe bus makes a stop in Danang. You can board the Sinh Cafe bus at every major city and book them through every travel agent. You can even buy a ticket in Ho Chi Minh City that allows you the full trip to Hanoi in whatever time frame you want.
In other words, you can buy an open-ended ticket that is valid for 2 months and you can stop anywhere along the line as you please, but the ticket expires after 2 months.
Pretty cool but I would never sit in an overcrowded, smelly bus that's too hot and restrictive. Take the train, slide open the window and enjoy some of the best scenery you'll ever experience.
Where to Stay
Some of the best hotels for the price are scattered throughout Danang. Even if you go there and write down a few addresses, you'll do fine.
The Furama resort seems to be the most popular for mid-range tourists and it may be a good idea to spend the extra $15USD to stay in a safe area that is well-equipped with some entertainment options and some great Bia Hoi stalls.
Check out the top 50 hotels in Danang on TripAdvisor
See our Da Nang hotels page for a better idea of where you might want to stay.
What is there to do in Da Nang, Vietnam?
Most people say there's nothing to do it Danang. Even the locals say it as they sit on the street corners and consume ridiculous amounts of beer.
But like any city, the locals are the worst people to ask. Most don't even know about the Zoo, Water Park, Soccer Stadium, abundant Tennis Courts, Pool Halls and several large modern Discos/Night Clubs.
But this stuff is expensive to do for the locals and well, it's more fun for them just to get plastered on Bia Hoi (Home Made Beer) for $1.25.
Then they drive home on their motorbikes!
The Cham People lived in the My Son Sanctuary between the 4th and the 14th century A.D and produced some astounding art as well as the most incredible architectural wonders ever constructed in Vietnam.
Most people like to take a trip to the My Son Sanctuary to see the temples but the real treasures are held in the Cham Museum in Danang (Da Nang).
Learn more about the Cham Museum.
Marble Mountain Danang is located 7 miles South of Da nang city and 6 miles North of Hoi An City. It's pretty far but riding a motorbike taxi out there is an adventure worth the trip.
But there are also many more "less bone-hammering" ways to get out to the Marble Mountains.
Take time to meditate in the Pagoda located at the summit of Marble Mountain Da Nang. It will be the views of the city and surrounding landscape that will awe you most. It may take you 20 minutes to hike to the top of Marble Mountain but it is well worth it.
Learn more about the Marble Mountain in Vietnam.
The Ba Na Hill Station was THE vacation retreat for the wealthy French and Vietnamese during the 1920s. They chose this place for some very good reasons. The rich always have a knack for that.
Ba Na is up in the mountains and thus has a very cool climate during most seasons. Then you got the virgin forest and the spectacular views of the South China Sea and the Lao mountain range.
The Ba Na Hill Station and Hai Van Pass are located about 40km West of Da Nang City.
The road up the mountain is the original one and still in good shape. It should take you about 45minutes to get there by bus from Da Nang, maybe 30 minutes if you hire a motorbike taxi.
But that would be hard on the butt...but surely unforgettable.
Just make sure to book a decent hostel or hotel. It makes a world of difference in a city like Danang to have good digs in a mellow area of town.
Get more information on accommodation in Da Nang.
The My Son Sanctuary is a poor man's Angkor Wat. A very poor man, indeed. You can see that the ruins were once spectacular but little glory remains. But if you are a nature lover then the site this My Son Sanctuary is situated upon is glorious.
Get there on a good day and the scenery is unforgettable. You can even take a Jet Ski from Danang to the My Son Sanctuary up the Mekong river.
Learn more about the My Son Sanctuary here.
China Beach is still a symbol for Danang during Vietnam War era. China Beach is where most American troops went to escape the hell of war. The 30kms of beach offered stunning views and the gentle, sloping waves offer decent surfing.
It is a heck of a nice beach but it has not been cared for and garbage litters some areas, not to mention the leagues of beggars that pester tourists. If you are looking for the best beaches in Vietnam then have a read of our section on the best beaches in Vietnam.
If you are keen on exploring China Beach then learn more about it here.
If you like to drink then there are many options in Da Nang, Vietnam. Unfortunately, Danang is subject to the archaic rules towards opening hours for pubs and discos.
Officially, all liquor serving establishments must close their doors at Midnight. Crazy, I know. Don't let me go on about the time I spent New Year's eve in a Hotel disco only to have them close the bar at exactly 12am!
So it becomes a hunt for what is available, not a hunt for the best according to your tastes.
The general rule is that you will have a better time and pay more reasonable prices if you find the out-of-the-way places that are frequented by locals. There are loads of swanky bars and foreign dominated establishments but they just plain suck.
The best places for food and drink line the road in front of the beach. They are not places to admire for their beauty but they specialize in fresh seafood of every ilk and cheap local beer to wash it back.
You may be the only foreigner there but that usually means you've hit the right place.
Some good places that always seem to break the rules and remain open late into the early mornings are found on Bach Dang Street and Tran Phu Street near the Prince hotel.
Don't like pubs and Discos?
Some of the Coffee shops are popular places to be seen for the Vietnamese. They dress to the 9s and put up quite a front, flirting from table to table. Often, they have live bands playing and the coffee is mostly excellent.
The best areas to find some awesome coffee shops are on Nguyen Chi Thanh Street or Le Loi Street. Ask any motorbike taxi driver but pretend like you already know where it is.
Should We Skip Danang?
Was the trip to Danang worth it or should others skip it? Tell us why.
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