Weekend getaway in Da Nang, Vietnam : best things to do!

Are you considering going to Vietnam soon? You will find below all the things to do in Da Nang for a weekend! And if you are in a rush, just pin the image below to save it for later!

Full travel guide to spend 48h in Da Nang, Vietnam

Even if Da Nang is the 4th largest and most important vietnamese city, it doesn’t always receive the attention it deserves. When they have to choose, most occidental tourists still opt for a trip to Ho Chi Minh, Halong Bay or Hanoï instead. However, this modern and bustling city offers everything you can ask: spectacular mountain views, white sandy beautiful beaches, majestic forests and ancient temples, and even an amazing amusement park! On top of all that, Da Nang is one of the most affordable destinations in the world, making it very popular among Vietnamese people themselves (especially families).

Located on the coast in Central Vietnam, the city is also a usual passage for tourists going to the famous Hoi An. We enjoyed the occasion to spend a day there too, and I am telling you everything about it in this blogpost! But for now, let’s focus on the best things to do in Da Nang.

As in my previous posts about Kuala Lumpur or Istanbul for instance, this blogpost suggests an itinerary order so that you can enjoy each place at the right moment. Feel free to adapt it if needed. As we live in Singapore at the moment (in 2020), we spent only a 2 nights-weekend in the city. But if you have more time on site, I added bonus activities at the end of this list. Da Nang can also be a great stop on your whole Vietnam itinerary if you are touring the country for a longer period.

DAY 1

1. Spend an enchanting morning in Ba Na Hills

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Visit the amusement park and mountains of Da Nang, Vietnam, in the Ba Na Hills Sun World

Located in the Trường Sơn Mountains, 30 minutes (around 25 km) away from Da Nang center, the Bà Nà Hills, or Bà Nà Hill Station, is a resort complex you can’t miss. Originally founded in 1919 by French colonists as a leisure destination for French tourists, it now hosts the Sun World Ba Na Hills Amusement Park, opened in 2009. But this is not a typical amusement park: elevated around 1500 meters above sea level, it offers incredible views on the surrounding mountains, and many other features that I will detail below. Due to its elevation, the weather is also very different and the temperature quite low (between 10 & 15 degrees in general) compared to the city and the coast. You can literally experience the 4 seasons in 20 minutes up there!

The cable car

To reach the Bà Nà Hills, you will have to take its dedicated cable car, which is an attraction in itself. Indeed, it holds many Guinness World Records (widest gap between top and bottom stations, greatest change in elevation…), especially as the longest non-stop single-track cable car in the world, with 5,801m of length. It is an impressive ride for sure!

Ba Na Hills cable car, the longest in the world

First part: the Golden Bridge

Once up, you will directly find the latest but most famous place of the resort, and one of the reasons of Da Nang’s recent attractiveness: the Golden Bridge. Opened in June 2018, it is 1489m high & 150m long. Made of steel painted gold, it is visually supported by two giant stone-looking hands and forms a loop nearly back to itself. It connects the arrival of the cable car station with several gardens leading to the park up above. It was voted by TIME magazine as one of the “Top 10 best destinations of the world 2018” and admired by The Guardian as “The world’s most impressive pedestrians’ bridge”.

Admire the Golden Bridge by yourself at sunrise in the Ba Na Hills

The weather dilemma

Weather speaking, sometimes it can be hard to know if it is worth going to the hills or not. But you can check the weather on the surveillance cameras down at the cable car station before buying the tickets, which is super practical. However, as said above, it changes very fast too. We arrived at the bottom to see that a bright blue sky was waiting for us on top ☀️ Nonetheless, it only took our 10-min of gondola ride for it to change entirely, welcoming us with very big clouds at the arrival… until it even turned into a complete fog right after, as you can see on the second picture! It was really crazy to witness such a quick unpredictable change!

Do not expect a perfect weather on top as I have been told it is like this most of the time. But if you go at a different period of the year, or if you are just luckier than me, it might happen! If you have a drone like us, same recommendation: take it with you in case, but be aware that you will probably not be able to use it.

Rest of the park

Apart from the bridge, there are many other things to see in the rest of the park. The moody fog didn’t ruin our experience at all; on the opposite, it created a very special, mystic & peaceful atmosphere. Wander around the different temples, gardens and towers, there are many places to explore!

In addition to the traditional Buddhist representations, as pictured above, you will also find some very “international” corners, as below. The park is also filled with plenty of restaurants, over 20 actually, offering cuisines from all over the world.

Italian gardens in Ba Na Hills Sun World, Da Nang

French Village

The French Village was probably my favorite part. It replicates all the details of an old-fashioned countryside village in France, with cobblestone streets named in French, vintage signs, typical architecture… There is even a church and a replica of the Moulin Rouge!

The lovely French Village in Sun World, Ba Na Hills, Da Nang

We stopped our exploration to have breakfast in Le Petrin café – which is French enough to play only French songs –, and coming from 2 frenchies, it was really good! The croissants & hot chocolate I took actually made me very nostalgic, after living in Asia for many months already. I can definitely recommend this address; it is yummy and not really expensive. We payed 12€ for 4 cakes/croissants & 2 hot chocolates.

Breakfast in Le Petrin Cafe with croissants and hot chocolates in the French village of Sun World Ba Na Hills

In total, we spent 4h up there (including the cable car both ways), from 6:45am to 10:45am precisely, which was enough to see everything we wanted. We didn’t do the sensational rides and attractions on our side. If you want to enjoy them though, you can easily stay for a full day! It is even possible to sleep up there in one of the several hotels of the park.

Mercure Hotel Map in the French Village of the Ba Na Hills, Da Nang
Cable car schedule to go on top of the Ba Na Hills, Da Nang

Practical info

  • Open from 7am to 10pm. Go at the opening or even a bit before like us to be among the very first.
  • The entrance will cost you 750,000 dong (VND) per person for adults, 500,000 for children, which makes respectively 29€ (32 USD) or 19€ (21.5 USD). If I understood well, you get a free buffet meal included in the ticket. It can sound quite expensive but honestly it might be the only paying activity you do during the weekend, so I think it compensates.
  • From Da Nang center, the easiest way to go is by Grab, the Asian equivalent of Uber, or by motorbike if you rented one. Obviously, it will be longer and less practical with the second option, but cheaper. By Grab on our side, we payed 11,3€ (13 USD) and it took around 25 minutes as there was no traffic so early in the morning.
  • Make sure to bring some layers and a windbreaker to cover yourself once on top, the temperature will be half of what it is in the city!

2. Leave for the insanely charming Hoi An

As we spent our morning only in the Ba Na Hills, we still had time to go to Hoi An for the whole afternoon & beginning of the evening. The traject via Grab took around 1h and cost us 23€ (26 USD). We arrived at noon and stayed until 7pm, which was enough according to us. I detail everything about our time there and the things to do in this blogpost.

3. Watch the fire & water show on the Dragon Bridge

Back from Hoi An, or after your day in the city/Ba Na Hills if you adapted that itinerary, there is one place you must absolutely admire by night: the Dragon Bridge. Da Nang is nicknamed the city of bridges, as it contains 10 of them, but this one is certainly the star of the show!

The Dragon Bridge by night in Da Nang, Vietnam

Commemorating Da Nang’s liberation after the Vietnam War, this impressive steel dragon-shaped bridge symbolizes power and good fortune. With its 6 lanes crossing the Han River, it is the longest bridge (666m) and ultimate emblem of the city 🐉

To see it in full glory, be sure to watch the free Fire & Water Show happening every Saturday, Sunday and on public holidays at 9pm sharp on the bridge itself. Be sure to arrive earlier to secure an unobstructed viewing spot, as it gets crowded around 8.30 already. You will be able to admire the dragon actually breathing fire for real … Of course, they close the road during the show, which lasts around 5 minutes, including two fire breathings separated by 2 minutes. It ends with a big water jet spit out on the crowd, twice again. Depending on the wind direction, you might get soaked if you stand on the bridge!

A dreamy sight by night

On each side of it, you will get to admire the Han River Bridge (on the right when you are facing the head of the dragon), and the Tran Thi Ly Bridge (on the left). They are both particularly stunning at night too, as their structures and playing lights shine better in the dark. Many people actually book night river cruises along the Han River to admire all those dreamy designs better.

View on Han River from the Dragon Bridge by night, in Da Nang

As for the Dragon bridge, it is also absolutely beautiful during the day, especially at golden hour as you can see below. We got back there on Day 2 before going to the airport for those pictures!

DAY 2

4. Visit the fascinating Lady Buddha & Linh Ung Pagoda

After a first very full day, this second morning can start a bit slower, unless you want to be among the first people on site again. Indeed, this first spot of the day is one of the most famous in Da Nang itself. Located on the Son Tra Peninsula, a 30-square kilometers natural space on the side of the city, Lady Buddha is definitely worth the visit. She is 67 meters high, and then the highest Buddha statue in whole Vietnam – quite impressive from below! And obviously, being a feminine version of Buddha, (which I think is so cool for once!) makes it even more special.

Lady Buddha from below, the tallest buddha statue of Vietnam

The details of the lotus-shaped temple she stands on are also very pretty. As the statue can be seen from every corner of Da Nang, it became a very attractive tourist site, but actually the crowds were very manageable, even on a Sunday.

The monument is not isolated; it belongs inside the courtyard of Chùa Linh Ung, a pagoda that is itself the largest one in Central Vietnam. There, you will find many signs of the local architecture, like dragon-shaped roofs for instance and other sophisticated details. You will get to admire traditional statues embodying the 4th main emotions: joy, anger, love and hate.

Go a little further from the Lady Buddha, to wander in some also pretty yet much calmer parts of the pagoda, filled with other majestic temples and panoramic views on the sea & the famous sandy beaches. No one was exploring those surroundings while it was just as interesting. Another proof that you can get very nice surprises no one looks at, even in touristic places!

Practical info

  • Open from 6am to 7pm. Preferably come in the morning to avoid the crowds, but no need to be there at sunrise. We went around 10/11am and it was ok.
  • From Da Nang center, it cost us 6€ (7 USD) by Grab.
  • Free access in the pagoda. No need to be dressed a specific way.

5. Relax on My Khe beach

So that beach view you get from Lady Buddha? It’s time to head towards it!

Beach view from the road to Da Nang seaside

Before anything else, Da Nang stays a seaside destination, and My Khe beach is the biggest and prettiest beach of the city. Its incredibly white sand, coconut or palm trees and crystal-clear water made it named as “one of the most attractive beaches on the planet” by Forbes magazine. As explained, you can see the Lady Buddha from there, as it stretches from the Son Tra Peninsula to the other side of the coast, at the foot of the Marble Mountains. Quite enough material for a long walk on the beach, right?

Wandering on the famous My Khe Beach in Da Nang, Vietnam

However, probably because we went in February, the wind was insanely strong. Therefore, we couldn’t swim in the blue sea, but it felt like pure paradise already to lay down in the soft sand and admire the views. Make sure to take a windbreaker just in case, and look for protected areas if the weather is like this for you too. No worries, you will find many restaurants along the beach with super nice views. There, you should try some local food, and especially seafood, which is logically prevalent in this coastal city. Unless you are a vegetarian of course, and in this case, count on their yummy vegetables. Enjoy your lunch and then go back to your spot in the sand for an afternoon nap!

Seafood lunch on the beach in Da Nang, Vietnam

Practical info

  • Advantage of this period: there was nobody!
  • The Grab trip from Lady Buddha to My Khe beach cost us 4€ (4.5 USD). If you come from the center directly, it will be around half of that, or you can also walk during about 20/30 minutes. We did it on our way back and it is a straight line!

6. Go take a picture of the Pink Church

Now that you are fully relaxed, and slowly approaching the end of Day 2, you might be interested by another visit. And in the city center this time, finally! Da Nang Cathedral, also referred to as “the Pink Church”, is not the most impressive huge place, but its cuteness definitely makes up for it. Built in 1923, it is a heritage of French colonialism and was conceived specifically for the catholic French colonial population in Da Nang at that time. Both its candy-pink color and gothic architecture are super pretty!

The pretty Pink Church in Da Nang Center, Vietnam

From what I understood, it is quite rare to be able to enter in the church outside of mass hours. If you are a Catholic, go in the morning instead for the service (typically on Sundays at 9am) and you should be allowed inside. We are not worshippers anyway, so we only admired it from the outside, but it is already worth it. If the front gates are locked, there is a back alley on the left side leading to a smaller street and entrance.

7. Enjoy the chill cafes and restaurants

As we spent Day 1 outside Da Nang (our two meals on the Saturday were taken in Hoi An), and had Day 2 lunch on the beach, we didn’t try any restaurant in town. However, if you get more time than us, and/or if you’re a foodie, don’t worry, you will definitely find many options! Da Nang has a very good reputation in terms of local cuisine, and also nightlife. Every time we were walking in the streets, especially on Saturday evening, we witnessed so many bustling bars and cool restaurants that all looked very nice. For more information, tips and addresses, you can consult this blogpost.

Banh Mi sandwich, the local specialty in Da Nang, Vietnam
Please note this picture is not mine. Source © here

In terms of local street foods, as everywhere in Asia, you will have choice too! Try the Bánh mì especially, a type of baguette sandwich usually filled with ham or pâté, cucumber, cheese… In general, what to put inside is up to you! You will find it both in small street stalls and in stylish popular shops. We also tried some delicious pastries sold in the street but I don’t remember what they were exactly, sorry.

BONUS : Take a day trip to one or several sites nearby

If you spend more than just a weekend in Da Nang, which I recommend if you can, there are plenty of other places to see. Here is a (non-exhaustive) list of things I wish we’d have time to do ourselves!

Explore the Marble Mountains

Located about 20 minutes south of Da Nang, towards Hoi An, you can definitely couple them with your visit of the Ancient Town. They consist in 5 marble and limestone mountains, each named for an element: Thuy Son (water), Kim Son (metal), Moc Son (wood), Hoa Son (fire), and Tho Son (earth). All 5 have interesting natural caves and tunnels to explore, as well as Buddhist temples built into them.

Marble Mountains near Da Nang, Vietnam
Please note this picture is not mine. Source © here

Be sure to arrive early to beat the heat and the crowds. The marble rock inside of the caves is quite slippery so shoes with traction are recommended.

Entrance Fees: 40,000 VND (1,50€ – 1.7 USD) / person
Elevator ride to the top: 15,000 VND (0,6€ – USD) / person
Opening hours: from 7am to 5.30pm daily

Wander around the Mỹ Sơn Ruins Sanctuary

Near of Hoi An as well, on the west, Mỹ Sơn Ruins are about an hour drive from Da Nang. Another easy day trip to do! It used to be the religious and political capital of the ancient Champa Kingdom between the 4th and 13th centuries. Indian Hinduism was the main spirituality at the time. Made of brick buildings, beautifully contrasting with the vibrant lush vegetation backdrop, this preserved archeological site is small and easy to walk around in a few hours.

My Sons Ruins Sanctuary
Please note this picture is not mine. Source © here

Once again and for the same reasons than above, be sure to get there early if you can, or bring an umbrella to shade you from the harsh midday sun.

Drive along Hai Van Pass

Defined as one of the most beautiful coastal routes in all of Vietnam, the Hai Van Pass is famous for many reasons – cultural, historical, and geographical. The easiest and most popular way to admire it is to rent a motorbike and cruise up the winding road on your own.

Hai Van Pass route in Da Nang
Please note this picture is not mine. Source © here

The views of the bay from the very top of the mountain are known to be absolutely spectacular. You will also find plenty of quaint stops along the way to rest and enjoy a drink with the best views!

Admire Huê Monuments

Last but not least, and even more far away, you can also go to Huê Monuments complex. Originally established as the capital of unified Viet Nam in 1802, Huê used to be a cultural, political and religious center under the Nguyen dynasty up until 1945. Learn more about it on the Unesco website as it is registered on their World Heritage List.

Huê monuments complex
Please note this picture is not mine. Source © here

When to go?

Just like many other South East Asian countries and cities, Da Nang has the most pleasant temperatures from February until April. The hot/dry season on the contrary, goes from May to October in central Vietnam, with high temperatures reaching up to 40° Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) sometimes. July is generally the hottest month of the year, so if you don’t like the heat, avoid it. During summer, midday temperature can indeed be unbearable. But if you are a fan of grilling on the beach, then it will be the best moment for you to try this destination.

Romantic postal card picture of Da Nang Ba Na Hills, Vietnam

The following winter months are cooler, although you can expect some rainfall from September until January. There are generally typhoons during the month of November so it’s best not to plan your trip during that time frame.

Internet access

As you will be roaming around and also ordering Grabs (maybe), I can only recommend you to buy a Vietnamese SIM card as soon as you arrive in the country. You will easily find one in Da Nang airport’s shops. Our costed 7€ (8 USD) with Vinaphone, and included unlimited data for 7 days (with 2Gb per day in 4G).

Dragon representation in front of Lady Buddha with view on the sea, Da Nang

That’s it for this weekend itinerary about Da Nang! I hope you found it helpful. The city is developing everything for the tourists at the moment, so there are many new attractions to enjoy. More direct flights are also being added all the time! Da Nang is doing its best to satisfy every visitor, from cultural explorers to landscape photographers, adventurers, and foodies. So do not hesitate any more minute and go!

If you liked this blogpost, or if you have questions left, do not hesitate to let me know in the comments, I will answer you with pleasure. You can also contact me directly on Instagram! Let’s talk very soon!

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20 Comments

  1. 20 June 2020 / 14:55

    Such an interesting city! You shared so many amazing places here I am very impressed! I want to book a flight right away!

    • Blondiewanderlust
      Author
      21 June 2020 / 11:22

      Thank you Ophelie! You would love all those places I’m sure!

  2. Courtney Byrneheim
    20 June 2020 / 15:31

    Your guide is making me want to go back to DaNang! Sitting by the beach drinking a Vietnamese iced coffee would be so lovely! I was at Ba Na Hills but in 2017 before the Golden Bridge opened. Even in the fog it still looks cool!

    • Blondiewanderlust
      Author
      21 June 2020 / 11:23

      Oh Courtney that is such a sweet compliment thank you!! I miss it too already honestly! And the Golden Bridge is definitely a great reason to go back!

  3. Antoine
    20 June 2020 / 16:10

    What an amazing tour with you
    One of the best I have done in Asia so far!

    • Blondiewanderlust
      Author
      21 June 2020 / 11:26

      Yessss! Vietnam is so amazing. Can’t wait for the next ones <3

  4. 20 June 2020 / 16:12

    Such a great travel guide! We had to cancel our Vietnam trip this year but will save this article for our trip next year (hopefully!).

    • Blondiewanderlust
      Author
      21 June 2020 / 11:29

      Thank you Madeleine, I’m so happy you liked it! Ahh, I know the feeling, had so many trips cancelled too… So I’m saving tons of blogposts as well haha!

  5. Taylor
    20 June 2020 / 18:15

    This is an amazing blog post on Da Nang! I loved it there and the beach was so beautiful. I also went to a delicious vegan Vietnamese restaurant, which was mouth watering!

    • Blondiewanderlust
      Author
      21 June 2020 / 11:30

      Thank you dear Taylor, yours was great too! Loved it too. Mmm sounds perfect!

  6. 20 June 2020 / 19:17

    Your photos are amazing! I can’t wait to take some of my own in beautiful Da Nang one day. Saving this blog for future travel planning.

    • Blondiewanderlust
      Author
      21 June 2020 / 11:31

      Oh I am so glad you liked them, thanks! Hope it will be helpful for when you go there then 🙂

  7. Helena
    21 June 2020 / 03:24

    Amazing guide! we’re hoping to live in Da Nang for some time in the future and will definitely use this! especially love that photo of the Marble Mountains!!

    • Blondiewanderlust
      Author
      21 June 2020 / 11:32

      Thanks Helena! Ohhh really? How cool! Well even if I only spent 48h there ahah, but I might go back in the future, especially to explore the Marble Mountains by the way!

  8. 21 June 2020 / 09:03

    Craving the Banh mi so much right now, you can’t believe it! So sad that I missed Da Nang when I was still in Asia, I need to catch up with this!

    • Blondiewanderlust
      Author
      21 June 2020 / 11:33

      Hahahah I’m not surprised, it is good! Yes you do, that’s another reason to come back now 😀

  9. 21 June 2020 / 16:32

    This is such a cool post! I loved Vietnam and want to go back so badly! Hoi An looks amazing and I have not been so I definitely need to add it to my list!

    • Blondiewanderlust
      Author
      22 June 2020 / 02:48

      Thank you Bettina! I really want to go back to Vietnam as well! Well I didn’t reveal so much about Hoi An here, but the blogpost about it is coming veeeery soon, so stay tuned 🙂 I’m sure you would love it!

  10. Suvarna Arora
    21 June 2020 / 17:17

    I have Vietnam on my list for long and I can’t wait to use this itinerary when I plan. This is an amazing guide lovely.

    • Blondiewanderlust
      Author
      22 June 2020 / 03:02

      Vietnam is such an amazing destination! I hope this itinerary and the others to come will help you plan the trip you dream of then. Thank you so much Suvarna!

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