An Insider’s Guide to Da Nang, Vietnam’s Most Underrated Travel Destination

Da Nang is a modern city known for white-sand beaches and public art—including a big, dragon-shaped bridge that breathes fire every weekend.

water and city view of da nang in vietnam
Da Nang. Thach Tran/Unsplash

Whether you’re heading to Vietnam for the local street food, to catch some surf or to visit UNESCO-recognized historical sites, consider a stop in Da Nang. A modern city known for white-sand beaches and public art—including a big, dragon-shaped bridge that breathes fire at 9 pm every weekend night—Da Nang has emerged as one of Vietnam’s fastest-growing tourism destinations, with international visitors in 2023 exceeding even pre-pandemic levels.

Thanks to its location in Central Vietnam, Da Nang is a strategic jumping-off point for day-tripping to neighboring iconic historical attractions, like the ancient port town of Hoi An, the former imperial capital of Hue and the Hindu temples of My Son—a cluster of ruins from the bygone Champa empire. And while those sites are all under two hours away by car, there’s plenty of culture to see without even leaving the city of Da Nang, including a 17-story statue of Lady Buddha and the hikeable Marble Mountains temple complex. 

It’s also never been easier to get to Da Nang, with newly-launched direct flight routes from Taipei, Seoul and Tokyo. Now, rather than a second stop in Saigon or Hanoi, international travelers on long-haul flights can make their way to Da Nang without that extra connection. If you’re considering a trip to Vietnam, check out our guide to Da Nang’s best hotels, excursions, beaches and restaurants. 

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Where to Stay 

Image: Pool and beach area of Intercontinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort.
Intercontinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort. Intercontinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort

Intercontinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort

Thọ Quang, Hải Châu, Đà Nẵng 550000

This sprawling 189-room, Bill Bensley-designed resort completed an extensive renovation just in time for its tenth anniversary in 2022, adding a new lobby and club lounge as well as villas and a fresh spa concept. The resort, which employs a full-time zoologist, is set on the lush Son Tra Peninsula, where a nature reserve is home to the critically-endangered red-shanked douc langur. Spend your days reenergizing at the new yoga pavilion, enjoying water sports on the private beach or taking a dip in any of the three pools. On the dining front, try casual Vietnamese bites at the Barefoot Seafood & Grill Restaurant, or splurge on some of Vietnam’s best French fine dining at La Maison 1888, overseen by chef Pierre Gagnaire. 

Naman Retreat. Naman Retreat

Naman Retreat

Trường Sa, Đà Nẵng, 550000

Set on the long stretch of beach connecting Da Nang with Hoi An, this luxury boutique hotel opened its doors in 2014. Designed by contemporary Vietnamese architect Vo Trong Nghia with an emphasis on natural materials, the property, which was renovated in 2021, boasts 102 rooms as well as villas, which are equipped with private plunge pools. If relaxation is your prerogative, Naman offers options for all-you-can-spa treatment packages. 

Fusion Suites Da Nang. Fusion Suites Da Nang

Fusion Suites Da Nang

88 Võ Nguyên Giáp, Mân Thái, Sơn Trà, Đà Nẵng 50410

For accommodations closer to the center of the city, the Southeast Asia-based Fusion Hotel Group recently opened this beachfront hotel with room options for individuals, couples or families (there are even suites with bunk beds). Though you’re steps away from world-class seafood, you can also opt for modern, healthy takes on Vietnamese specialties at the on-site restaurant. To unwind, head to the pool or take a yoga class. 

What to Do 

Image: My Khe Beach.
My Khe Beach. Phuc Le/Unsplash

My Khe Beach

While many hotels in the area have private beaches, it’s also worth visiting My Khe, a bustling public white-sand beach in the city center. Beyond swimming in the tropical waters, which stay warm year-round, you can also partake in activities like jet skiing, wakeboarding and even surfing, as there’s a consistent exposed beach break, though we do recommend asking your hotel for recommendations to ensure a vendor is reputable. After all the action, refresh at one of the dozens of cafes or juice bars, and don’t forget about the fresh seafood hawkers along the strip facing the beach. 

Image: Lady Buddha Statue.
Lady Buddha Statue. Unsplash

Lady Buddha Statue

To immerse yourself in Vietnamese culture and spirituality, visit the Linh Ung Pagoda, a modern Buddhist temple opened in 2010 on the Son Tra Peninsula. The main attraction is a towering 17-story statue of a Lady Buddha atop a lotus flower—at 220 feet, it’s the tallest Buddha statue in Vietnam. The surrounding temple complex draws pilgrims wishing to pray to Shakyamuni Buddha and the various bodhisattvas and arhats of the Buddhist canon. Monkeys like the common macaque wander the area freely, but definitely don’t feed them. 

Image: Marble Mountain Tower.
Marble Mountains. Copyright 2012 Justin Mott

Marble Mountains

Those who enjoy a bit of hiking with their sightseeing should ascend the steps of Marble Mountains, a group of five limestone peaks named after the five Asian elements: water, fire, metal, wood and earth. As you trek up, you’ll encounter various houses of worship, some accessed through tunnels and caves. The most notable (and photo-worthy) among these is the Huyen Khong cave, boasting a large stone statue of seated Buddha as well as a shrine to the god of matchmaking. As long as you are wearing modest clothing and being respectful to the culture, you may also light incense at the various altars to wish for good fortune. 

Image: Aerial View of Ba Na Hills.
Ba Na Hills. Shutterstock

Ba Na Hills

Take the world’s longest cable car ride up to Ba Na Hills while enjoying views of Da Nang and the ocean beyond. Seated nearly 5,000 feet above sea level, the former French colonial hill station and retreat was turned into a theme park-style resort in 2009. Nowadays, one of the main draws here is the Instagram-beloved Golden Bridge—a 500-foot pedestrian walkway arching out from a cliffside and seemingly held up by two giant hands.

APEC Sculpture Park

Unveiled in 2022, this free-entry sculpture park is an extension of the pre-existing APEC Park, an outdoor arts and pedestrian walking area built in 2017 on the west bank of the Han River to showcase installations representing the 21 economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum. The new attractions include a performance stage, fountain installation and sprawling steel arch inspired by the shape of a flying kite. Also within the complex is the Da Nang Museum of Cham Sculpture, showcasing art from the ancient Cham empire that once inhabited the region. Part of Da Nang’s bid to become a green city by 2030, the park is lush with trees and walking gardens. 

Image: Hoi An.
Hoi An. Kai Nguyen

Hoi An

The easiest and most popular day trip from Da Nang is an approximately one-hour drive to Hoi An. The UNESCO-listed ancient town is one of the most well-preserved examples of a thriving Southeast Asian port city used by the Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese, French, Malaysian and more. Once in the old town, stroll through densely-packed alleys of timber-frame buildings, stepping into pagodas and stopping at open-air markets along the way. Or, if you have more time, take a motorbike tour (or rent your own) through the rice paddies on the outskirts of town to catch a glimpse of country life (and water buffalo). Don’t forget to try a bowl of cao lau, a thick udon-like noodle dish that originated in Hoi An. 

Where to Eat and Drink

Nen Restaurant

16 Đường Mỹ Đa Tây 2, Khuê Mỹ, Ngũ Hành Sơn, Đà Nẵng 550000

At one of Da Nang’s most exciting modern Vietnamese restaurants, chef Summer Le tells the story of Vietnamese ingredients—and people—through thoughtful tasting menus, which take inspiration from local history and daily life in Vietnam. Opened in 2017, the Da Nang flagship is the original, while Nen Light, the sister location that opened in Saigon in 2022, was featured as a Michelin Select venue in the organization’s first-ever guide to Vietnam. Make a reservation, as seatings are limited. 

Image: Dishes from Madame Lan.
Madame Lan. Madame Lan

Madame Lan

04 Bạch Đằng, Thạch Thang, Hải Châu, Đà Nẵng 550000

Madame Lan is a big, group-friendly restaurant on the banks of the Han River, in a building inspired by Hoi An’s architectural style. Open since 2012, this eatery presents traditional flavors with quality service in a modern environment. The menu features a wide range of homestyle dishes, from snacks like Central Vietnamese banh khot (coconut-rice cakes with shrimp) to classic noodle soups like pho, bun bo Hue and vermicelli with beef stew. 

Nu Do Kitchen

11/1 Lưu Quang Thuận, Bắc Mỹ An, Ngũ Hành Sơn, Đà Nẵng 550000

Helmed by MasterChef Vietnam runner-up Carol Pham, this noodle shop specializes in mi Quang, a Central Vietnamese soup typically made with pork belly, sesame rice crackers, eggs and peanuts in a bone broth seasoned with fish sauce. Though the dish originates in neighboring Quang Nam province, Da Nang is the largest nearby city, and the dish has become a point of pride across the region. At Nu Do, Pham, a native of Dien Ban between Hoi An and Da Nang, stays faithful to the profile of the broth, but offers varieties with beef, chicken and fish. 

Mi Quang Phu Chiem Anh

45 Phạm Văn Nghị, Thạc Gián, Thanh Khê, Đà Nẵng 550000

For the old-school version of mi Quang noodle soup, Da Nang’s local delicacy, look no further than Mi Quang Phu Chiem. The restaurant is named after Phu Chiem, a village in Quang Nam from which the dish is thought to have been created. In Vietnam, noodle soup is often eaten for breakfast, as it is light yet hearty. As such, the restaurant opens bright and early at 5:30 am, and closes by 11:30 am. There are dozens of restaurants in Da Nang with a similar name, selling a standout version of this dish, but we particularly love this mainstay. Look for the big cauldron of soup simmering right out front. 

Banh Xeo Ba Duong

280/23 Hoàng Diệu, Bình Hiên, Hải Châu, Đà Nẵng 550000

This local favorite spotlights another Central Vietnamese specialty, banh xeo, or sizzling fried turmeric crepes, filled with meat, shrimp or a combination of both. Inside, see local cooks manning a half-dozen frying pans to turn out the crepes one at a time (each frying pan can only fit one). Also on offer is nem lui, a type of ground pork sausage skewered and grilled on lemongrass stalks.

An Insider’s Guide to Da Nang, Vietnam’s Most Underrated Travel Destination