3 Days in Da Nang Itinerary - Balance Between Local and Tourist Experience
Da Nang, as the pearl of central Vietnam, is regarded as the most livable city in Vietnam. Most people spend only a day or two at most in Da Nang while missing out on the beautiful things the city has to offer. I've been traveling around Da Nang and Quang Nam province multiple times before deciding to move here to live. During that time, I've put a lot of energy and time into exploring every corner of the city and its surrounding area to get a better understanding of people and culture.
It's a very tough task to create a one-fits-all itinerary, so I tried to create a balanced 3 days in Da Nang itinerary here. If you're looking for a tailored Da Nang itinerary, we can help you create one that suits your preferences and budget.
Day 1 - Jungle Exploration & Food Heaven
I can't recommend more waking up early and heading to My Khe beach to enjoy the breathtaking sunrise. If you're an active type then you'll definitely fell in love with the vibe of My Khe beach in the morning. People, young and old, go out for a morning physical activity and socializing. Running, or simply walking along the beach while observing stunning sunrise can't be a better way to start your first day in Da Nang.
You can also modify the itinerary with any other beach in Da Nang too.
Jump to the ocean for refreshment, take a shower and start the exploration. Since you've already started off your day with physical activity, hiking and exploring beautiful nature is a thing I'd recommend. Hiring a scooter for a three-day stay is the right thing to do if you have a proper driving license and driving experience.
Head over to Son Tra Peninsula and enjoy stunning beauty overlooking the bustle and hustle of the city.
We have a comprehensive post about things to do in Son Tra Peninsula, so it's a great start to plan your trip there. As for highlights, I would mention Linh Ung pagoda, driving to the old Banyan tree and slowly progressing to Ban Co Peak. For a proper exploration of Son Tra, you can expect to spend at least 4 - 6 hours in the jungle.
Also, the sunset is amazing when observed from Ban Co peak or in front of Linh Ung pagoda. Once you're done driving around Son Tra, you'll probably feel drained, so what could be better than a good treat with Vietnamese food? A seafood lover here? Just follow the main road down the Son Tra and you'll be soon driving on Hoang Sa beach road. On the right side, you'll see many seafood restaurants filled with locals.
Go there and order some of the most delicious, freshest, and arguably the best seafood in Da Nang. If the seafood isn't your thing, then head to Châu Thị Vĩnh Tế street for diverse Vietnamese cuisine.
Literally, you can find almost all kinds of Vietnamese traditional food in tiny local restaurants or street food stalls. Happen to prefer western food after an exhaustive day?
Head over to the An Thượng Night Market where you can enjoy western delicacies such as pizza, hamburgers, tacos, sausages and similar.
Once you feel like you've eaten enough, the good thing would be to relax with a glass or two of craft beer. Head over to 7 Bridges Brewing Company and enjoy the taste of their diverse craft beer selection. From there, I recommend two options - heading over to Han River pubs and enjoy commercial music, not so lively nightlife and beautiful views, or heading over the more relaxed area for some live music, good conversations, and cheap beers.
The majority of pubs are located on a Bach Dang street just after you pass Dragon Bridge and it's might be a suitable place for a pub crawl. For relaxed bars and atmosphere, I recommend visiting Heaven bar or Crazy Cat where you can feel a community and expats sharing ideas while listening to creative music and enjoying sips of local beer.
If you feel like doing a bar crawl, check out our new list of the best expat bars in Da Nang!
Whatever option you choose, it's a great way to finish off your first day in Da Nang, get some sleep, and get ready for the day to come.
Day 1 Summary:
- watch the sunrise at My Khe beach
- drive around Son Tra Peninsula (Linh Ung Pagoda, Banyan Tree, Ban Co Peak)
- eat fresh seafood at beach restaurants near Son Tra Peninsula
- enjoy craft beer with stunning views at 7 Bridges Brewing Company
- do a pub crawl or relax in expat area
Day 2 - Market Hustle & Marble Mountain
Feeling a bit hungover or tired from yesterday? Head over to Bac My An market for a heavy treat. It features a diverse selection of traditional food including all types of noodle dishes, affordable fruit shakes or juices and the iconic avocado icecream! If you're looking for souvenirs or clothes, there is also a clothes market next to the food stalls where you can find interesting deals.
Rule of thumb: Always negotiate prices when buying goods on any Vietnamese market. What strategy I've found effective? For the majority of goods, cut the asking price by 70% and start negotiating from there. People will usually settle at 50 - 60% of a starting price. It's not disrespecting to bargain and local sellers love to engage in the good negotiation process. Also, knowing a phrase or two on Vietnamese can land you a better deal.
After a good treat, it's time for a traditional Vietnamese coffee at a traditionally looking cafe called Trinh Cafe. I personally like that place since it's looking like cafes in Vietnam during the 70s, has a thuốc lào (Vietnamese tobacco bong), and a great selection of drinks. Another similar place that comes to my mind is Nam House that's located on the other side of the city and it's very popular among the local hipster scene. If you're looking for a nice talk with young locals, then heading over to Nam House might be a great option.
- Marble Mountain, Da Nang, Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)
Once you're done with a coffee and you feel at your peak again, I recommend driving to Marble Mountain. It's a limestone mountain that features a few Buddhist temples, caves, viewpoints and lots of stairs. It's such a great workout that rewards you with stunning views over the city and the beach. The entrance fee is 40,000 VND and expect to stay there for about 2 hours.
After you're done with the exploration of Marble Mountain, you'll definitely feel exhaustion and pain in every part of your body. The best way to avoid soreness is by jumping in the ocean on the My Khe beach and enjoy the vibe with sips of delicious coconut juice (around 30,000 VND). From there, I'd recommend two ways - either drive to the top of Hai Van Pass for the extremely beautiful driving experience or simply get to a rooftop bar and enjoy cocktails with a beautiful sunset in sight.
If you decide for later, then I can't recommend more Alacarte Hotel and its rooftop on the 24th floor.
They have a happy hour from 3 - 6 pm each day offering two beers for 80,000 VND total. Once the sun sets behind the horizon, it's time to refill your energy with a nice bowl of Bún thịt nướng or Banh Xeo. Head over to Pham Cu Luong street and get into one of the local Banh Xeo restaurants.
Don't forget to order plenty of Nem Lui and a few cans of local Larue beer.
If your second day in Da Nang falls on the weekend, then don't forget to watch a Dragon Bridge show that starts every Saturday and Sunday from 9 pm. A dragon from the bridge spits fire and water and it looks nice, but if you're like me and you don't like overcrowded places then you'd probably not enjoy it. Head over to Cau Nguyen Van Troi bridge (out-of-traffic-bridge next to Tran Thi Ly bridge) and enjoy beautiful Dragon Bridge show from a distance with fewer people and local vibe.
It's probably around 10 pm now, and you've been around for the whole day. Go back to your hotel, relax a bit and take a sleep since you'll need that energy for the last day in stunning Da Nang.
Day 2 Summary:
- enjoy traditional Vietnamese food and My An Market + get some souvenirs and clothes
- drink traditional coffee and Nam House or Trinh Cafe
- explore Marble Mountain
- get some drinks at a rooftop bar and enjoy the sunset
- experience a Dragon Bridge show on the weekend
Day 3 - Day Trips From Da Nang
For the third day in Da Nang, I would recommend taking a day trip out of the city and visit beautiful and historic places. One historic place is called My Son and it's located in a neighboring Quang Nam province around 50 km out of the city center. The ruins are a heritage of the Champa empire where you can wander around a cluster of abandoned, and not so preserved Hindu temples.
The entrance fee is 150,000 VND and you can visit temples every day from 6:30 am - 5:30 pm.
The second option would be visiting popular Ba Na Hills and iconic Golden Bridge that gives its visitors really beautiful views of the surrounding area and, on clear days, a whole Da Nang city. The ride to Ba Na Hills is simply amazing featuring stunning landscape and wide road.
Expect to pay 700,000 VND for the entrance fee that covers cable car, all attractions and much more. Personally, I don't like Ba Na Hills so much since it's an overcrowded place and the majority of photos you see on Instagram are heavily edited.
The last but not least would be visiting a charming ancient town of Hoi An that is located just about 35 km south from Da Nang. Getting to Hoi An is pretty straightforward - just follow the beach road and eventually you'll end up in a small and crowded town. Walk around the ancient town, enjoy delicious food on the food market, enjoy the countless rivers, take a boat tour, get a tailored suit (or Ao Dai) are just some of the ideas you can do in beautiful Hoi An.
If you decide to visit Hoi An at night, I can't recommend more to book a night in a local homestay. The mornings around the ricefields are simply amazing since you'll be gifted with stunning sunrise and observation of locals' lifestyle.
Day 3 Summary:
- visit Ba Na Hills or
- visit My Son in Quang Nam or
- explore beautiful Hoi An and book a night in a homestay
Getting To & Around Da Nang
By Marcel Oosterwijk
- Hanoi Traffic, Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Since Da Nang is the 5th biggest city in Vietnam and annually hosts more than 8 million tourists, the tourism infrastructure is very developed. Getting to and around the city is convenient, efficient and affordable:
- domestic or international flight
- train (recommended if you're traveling from Hue)
- motorbike (don't miss Hai Van pass)
The international airport is located literally in the city's center and only 5 km away from My Khe beach. Grab is a popular and affordable option to get out of the airport. Depending on your destination, you can expect to pay around 100,000 VND for a Grab drive + 10,000 VND for car airport fees.
If you're traveling from the north, you can consider getting a train from Hue to Da Nang via Hai Van Pass. It's arguably the most scenic train ride in a whole Vietnam since train passes around stunning Hai Van. Always book your train ticket in advance since this particular line is usually booked. You can expect around 3 hours of driving so we recommend booking a soft seat.
The prices for a one-way train ticket is around 150,000 VND. For more information about tickets, check out 12go Asia website. For people who travel from south, Hoi An is just about 40 km away from Da Nang and you can rent a motorbike, taxi, or take a bus. The whole ride won't take more than one hour.
Hiring a taxi from Hoi An to Da Nang costs from 300,000 - 500,000 VND. The advice is to always call an official taxi number to avoid common taxi scams. For budget travelers, a direct bus line is by far the best option.
The bus costs 30,000 VND and drive lasts for 50 minutes. The line operates every day from 5:30 am to 6 pm (buses every 20 minutes).
Don't forget to plan your visit carefully, since Da Nang officially has two seasons. The prices vary a lot as well as weather, so be sure to check what is the best time to visit Da Nang before.
Where to Stay - Accommodation Options & Prices
A stunning view from the rooftop at Fedora Hostel
There are so many accommodation options while traveling to Da Nang. It really depends on your preferences and budget. You can choose between budget hostels, beautiful beach bungalows all the way to luxury hotels, and high-end resorts. We stayed in Fedora hostel, a very comfortable hostel that features capsule beds.
The staff was very friendly and helpful, the rooms were clean, the beds were more than comfortable, and they also offer a free breakfast (6 meal options). One night costs around 90,000 VND and it's located just next to the airport. Probably the best feature of the hostel is a spacious rooftop with stunning views of Son Tra mountain, Hai Van Pass, and whole Da Nang city.
Before booking the place, be sure that you've checked Booking.com and Agoda since the prices usually differ from platform to platform. You can get a very nice discount on Agoda for high-end hotels.
What to Eat in Da Nang?
Vietnamese cuisine is extremely diverse and you'll notice a slight difference in traditional food once you start traveling around the country. Da Nang was formerly a part of today's neighboring province Quang Nam which is known for a crazy amount of delicious food. While exploring Da Nang and its surrounding area, be sure that you give your body enough nutrients to keep your energy high.
Here are a few local delicacies you have to try while in Da Nang. We've got lucky to talk with a few travelers who've shared their favorite Vietnamese street food.
Feel free to check out the list of Vietnamese street food you have to try.
#1- Mì Quảng
Mì Quảng, originating from a central Vietnamese province Quang Nam, is one of the favorite noodle dishes among travelers and locals. It's recognized by its mouthwatering taste around the country, so it's not surprising locals eat Mì Quảng on important occasions such as Tet holiday, death anniversaries, or family parties.
The base of this iconic dish is rice noodles mixed with meat (or seafood), different types of fresh herbs, and just a bit of turmeric-infused broth for extra taste. Locals usually use cilantro, onion leaves, and basil for a herb mixture.
On top of that, expect a nice amount of freshly fried peanuts and rice crackers.
A bowl of delicious Mi Quang.
We did try recommended restaurants to find out they serve mediocre Mì Quảng at the best. Since Antonio has a girlfriend who's a local in Da Nang, he decided to seek for an authentic local bowl of this iconic dish. There are two places we really enjoy eating our Mì Quảng:
#2- Bún Thịt Nướng
If you're a barbeque and peanut e.g. peanut butter lover, then a bowl of fresh Bún thịt nướng is a dish you're looking for. It's a popular dish around central and south Vietnam, and luckily, Da Nang features one of the best bowls of this iconic dish around its streets. The bowl contains vermicelli noodles topped with fresh herbs (mint and basil), green salad, bean sprouts, peanuts, and cooked peanut sauce.
Usually, a delicious and still hot BBQ meat is added along with fish sauce for extra taste. People usually add chili and garlic for an extra treat. Be careful as this dish will make you full without even realizing it.
If you're on the beachside, head over to Pham Cu Luong street (just a first big street on the left after crossing Tran Ti Ly bridge). There is no specific place we can recommend since the whole street features at least three Bún thịt nướng (and Bánh xèo) places next to each other.
The interesting thing is that you'll hardly see a foreigner there while locals usually make these tiny restaurants full.
Expect to pay 20,000 - 30,000 VND for a big bowl of this fulfilling dish. p.s. friendly advice is to order Nem Lụi (a grilled meat sausage on a stick) and add it to the combination.
Thank us later! ;)
Once in Da Nang, you simply can't skip a seafood tour! Da Nang is probably the most popular place for eating fresh and diverse seafood in a whole country. Seafood restaurants are often packed till the last seat during almost every night since it's rooted deeply in the Danangese culture to drink while enjoying a table of freshly prepared seafood.
Once you hit the My Khe beach and walk on Vo Nguyen Giap road, you'll see many seafood restaurants. These restaurants have solid and diverse menu, but it comes with a price since these places are mainly visited by tourists from China, Korea or Japan. If you really like the ambient, but the prices are bit too high, just continue following the road to Son Tra (north) until you reach Hoang Sa road.
There you'll find many seafood restaurants filled with friendly locals and better prices. Looking for an authentic local experience? Head over to another side of the city and stroll through Duong Nguyen Tat Thanh street. The whole street features stunning views over the local beach and Hai Van pass as well as many seafood restaurants filled with local people.
For a nice seafood dinner for 4 people, you can expect to pay from 500,000 - 1,000,000 VND (if you include drinks). Enjoy!
#4- Bánh Xèo
Bánh xèo literally translates to sizzling pancake and the name literally explains this iconic dish. If you're a pancake lover you'll probably ask where the sizzling comes from. Once the rice batter is thrown in hot oil on a skillet, the sizzling sound is very loud and that's where the name comes from. The base of a pancake is made from a mixture of rice flour, turmeric powder, and water.
Depending on a restaurant, people usually mix it with small shrimps, different types of meat, beans and bean sprouts. It's usually served with mint, basil, and lettuce.
Also, you'll get a small bowl of hot peanut dipping sauce which just goes great with Bánh xèo.
- Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)
There are countless Bánh xèo places in Da Nang, but only a few worth mentioning. Head over to Pham Cu Luong street (same as if you're looking for a bowl of Bún thịt nướng) and enjoy very delicious Bánh xèo. Another very busy and popular place for enjoying delicious Bánh xèo is Banh Xeo Ba Duong. Prices for a portion range from 20,000 to 50,000 VND.
Once you've finished with heavy and tasty lunch, what would be a better treat than having a traditional Vietnamese dessert - Chè. This iconic desert relates to any sweet Vietnamese dessert such as soup or pudding. Chè is usually made from a mixture of frozen beans, peas, kidney beans, different types of jelly, pieces of fresh fruits, coconut cream, and sweetened condensed milk.
Expect a sugar rush and sensory overload since Chè usually contains more than 10 different flavors in one cup. There are multiple street stalls, especially during the night in Da Nang, but there is only one place worth mentioning. The name of a place is Che Xuan Tran located on a busy Le Duan street just next to Han Bridge.
The prices for Chè vary from 10,000 - 20,000 VND depending on a number of flavors and fruits (Durian is more expensive but worth trying).
Hope you can make use of our 3 days in Da Nang itinerary and have loads of fun while exploring the beauty of the city. Don't forget to share this itinerary and ask if you have any questions or need any suggestions. ;)