6 epic reasons to visit Da Nang

Shards of light streaming through the collapsed ceiling of Huyen Khong cave Marble Mountains

Da Nang, Vietnam’s captivating coastal city, beckons families with its pristine beaches, majestic mountains, vibrant culture, and delectable cuisine. Here are six epic reasons to visit Da Nang.

Imagine a place where pristine beaches meet ancient temples, where mountains cradle cable cars that whisk you through the clouds, and where the aroma of sizzling street food mingles with the salty sea air. That place is Da Nang, the friendly gateway to Central Vietnam.

This friendly city has a rich and turbulent history, having witnessed the rise and fall of the Champa Kingdom and the arrival of European traders, and born the scars of the Vietnam War.

Da Nang © Aleney de Winter

Today, those scars stand as reminders of the endurance and strength of a city where modernity gracefully intertwines with tradition. A city where high-rises stand alongside pastel-hued French colonial architecture and buzzy seafood markets overlook swathes of gold sand beaches littered with traditional basket boats.

Basket boats in Da Nang

Only 1 hour and 25 minutes by air from Ho Chi Minh City, here are six reasons we think you should add lively, lovely Da Nang to your Vietnam itinerary.

Linh Ung Temple

Linh Ung Temple on Son Tra Peninsula

At Linh Ung Temple on Son Tra Peninsula, a magnificent 67-metre-high statue of Guan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy, is the star attraction. Gazing out over the sea and Da Nang city with gentle eyes, the serene expression of the benevolent Buddha, is as commanding as her size. A revered figure in Buddhism, and an early supporter of they/them pronouns, the gender-neutral Guan Yin is the Bodhisattva of Compassion, and associated with mercy, kindness, and the alleviation of suffering.

Guan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy at Linh Ung Temple on Son Tra Peninsula is a colossal 67 metres high

But there’s more to this temple complex than the colossal Buddha , which integrates art, religion, and nature in seamless style. Adorned with a gracefully curved roof, the main hall of Linh Ung Temple is supported by pillars swathed in dragons. At its heart is the Buddha Shakyamuni statue, radiating spiritual significance. Flanking this serene figure are impressive Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva and Buddha Tripitaka statues.

The gentle breeze from the sea carries with it a sense of calm, adding to the overall meditative atmosphere of the place and I am happily cocooned in the serenity. At least until a bolshy pig casually saunters by, snorting and snuffling me out of my reverie.

The Marble Mountains

Marble Mountains

Just seven kilometres from the city, The Marble Mountains are a cluster of five marble and limestone hills concealing an enigmatic array of caves, tunnels, towers, and pagodas crafted by Mahayana Buddhists and the Nguyen Dynasty Kings. Originally a place of worship, these mountains took on a dual role as a covert base for Vietnamese revolutionaries during the war.

Shards of light streaming through the collapsed ceiling of Huyen Khong cave Marble Mountains

We ascend the stone stairs and meander blossom-strewn paths to stunning Huyen Khong cave, where the collapsed ceiling invites in shafts of ethereal light. We delve into Tang Chon cave’s numerous sacred nooks and crannies, adorned with marble statues.

caves at Marble Mountains Da NAng

Then we’re off to hell. At least the intriguing Am Pho Cave version of hell. Secreted in its depths is a portrayal of the Buddhist Underworld, where sinners undergo punishment for their transgressions, as they strive for redemption and work themselves towards heaven. It’s wonderfully macabre, but a good reminder to behave myself.

Ba Na Hills

Golden Bridge at Ba Na Hills

One of the most popular reasons to visit Da Nang is Sun World ba Na Hills, an epic hill station and resort that seamlessly blends natural beauty with whimsical architecture. Perched high above Da Nang, it is accessible via the breathtaking Ba Na Hills Cable Car, which holds the record as the world’s longest non-stop single track cable car. The hills feature a replica French village replica, lush gardens, a wax museum, and Fantasy park, a theme park with rides and attractions inspired by the writings of Jules Verne.

But is the iconic Golden Bridge that it is its biggest drawcard. A remarkable architectural feat that stands at an elevation of approximately 1,414 metres above sea level, the bridge is held aloft by giant stone hands. Opting for an early morning visit on weekdays is advisable, as it tends to be less crowded, allowing you to appreciate the stunning views and architectural brilliance without the peak time crowds.

Stunning Beaches

Basket boats in Da Nang

Often referred to as China Beach, My Khe Beach is an iconic stretch of sand that holds a special place in history. During the Vietnam War, American soldiers dubbed this coastal haven “China Beach” due to its proximity to a R&R facility for American troops.

Beach in Da Nang

But My Khe Beach is more than a historical footnote, it is a thriving destination with vibrant beachside activities, including water sports, beach volleyball, and seaside cafes serving some of the most delicious seafood in Vietnam.

My Khe Beach also offers surfers a variety of wave conditions, suitable for both beginners and more experienced riders. Numerous surf schools and rental shops line the beach, offering equipment and lessons for all skill levels.

Surf art on My Khe Beach (China Beach) Danang

If you prefer to beat the crowds, Non Nuoc Beach is a pristine gem nestled away from the hustle and bustle, where gentle waves lap at the shore, inviting you for a refreshing swim or a leisurely stroll along the water’s edge. But if you’re craving a taste of local life, An Bang Beach is the answer. Lined with colourful fishing boats and traditional restaurants, it offers a glimpse into the heart of Vietnamese culture. Head offshore to explore vibrant coral reefs teeming with marine life, embark on a thrilling kayaking adventure through hidden coves, or learn to surf the waves alongside experienced instructors.

Dragon Bridge & Han River

Cầu Sông Hàn, known as the Love Lock Bridge, Da Nang

A visit to the Dragon Bridge, spanning 666 metres across the Han River makes for a flamboyant addition to your Da Nang itinerary. Designed as an actual dragon to symbolise the dragon’s role in local mythology and folklore, its sinuous body is adorned with thousands of LED lights in a rainbow of fluctuating colours. The head of the dragon surprises us by spewing fire and water as we cruise close by on a dinner cruise, accompanied by the vocal stylings of traditional Vietnamese singers and a few too many glasses of local Huda beer.  You can select from a variety of dinner cruise options that run the gamut from budget to luxury.

Fire breathing Dragon Bridge Da Nang

The Han River, flowing gracefully beneath the Dragon Bridge, serves as a lifeline for the city, nurturing its vibrant waterfront culture. Along its shores, bustling markets, riverside cafes, and vibrant promenades offer a glimpse into daily life in Da Nang.

Cầu Sông Hàn, known as the Love Lock Bridge

Take a short walk up along the the east bank of the Han River to Tran Hung Dao Street and Cầu Sông Hàn, known as the Love Lock Bridge for the couples who have left their padlocks as a sign of their commitment to each other.

Da Nang food

Seafood is a specialty in Da Nang

One the most appealing things about a visit to Da Nang is the food. The city offers a tantalising blend of fresh seafood, flavour-packed street food, and delectable regional specialties. Whether you’re craving an upscale dining experience or a casual bite on the go, Da Nang has something to satisfy every palate and budget.

Given Da Nang’s thriving fishing industry, fresh seafood takes centre stage. From grilled fish to steamed clams and stir-fried squid, the options are as abundant as they are delicious. Hai San Be Bien Restaurant is lively restaurant located right on the beachfront offerings a vibrant atmosphere and a vast selection of fresh seafood, cooked as you like it. Another favourite is Bun Cha Ca Ba Phien, renowned for its Bún Chả Cá (rice noodles with fish cake), a must-try local favourite. For more upscale dining we loved The Deck House Restaurant’s stunning ocean views and innovative seafood menu of fresh, locally-sourced catches.

Bánh xèo

Bánh xèo (Vietnamese crispy pancakes) are another Central Vietnamese delight. The savoury, crispy, and crunchy crepes, stuffed with an assortment of shrimp, grilled meats, aromatic herbs and sprouts, are an absolute flavour bomb. They seem to be a particular favourite with kids! There are dozens of restaurants serving them up in Da Nang but we liked Central Banh Xeo Ba Tinh and Banh Xeo Co Ba.

For an authentic culinary experience with teh added bonus of great shopping, explore the city’s vibrant night markets.

Markets - incense

Son Tra Night Market has a great excellent location between Dragon Bridge and Cầu Sông Hàn. We also like Le Duan Night Market’s for its smaller but authentic selection of street food stalls and Helio Night Market Da Nan, a gastronomic haven in the centre of town that showcases Vietnamese cuisine.

Tips for exploring Da Nang with kids.

Best time to visit Da Nang
The best time to visit the city is from February to May. The weather is pleasant, with sunny skies and low humidity.

Visa requirements
At the time of writing, all Australian citizens require a visa to visit Vietnam regardless of the purpose of their travel or the length of their stay. You can apply for an e-visa for tourism on the official Vietnamese visa website. Processing times for e-visas range from 3-5 working days but we advise to apply well in advance of your trip to avoid delays. Your passport will need at least 6 months validity, beyond your Vietnamese holiday. For the most up-to-date visa details and regulations, check the official websites of the Vietnamese Government or the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Wear weather-Appropriate Clothing
Known for its tropical climate, Da Nang is known for its high temps and humidity. Pack light, breathable clothing and comfortable shoes to ensure your family stays comfortable while exploring. Sun hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen are essential.

Keep your crew hydrated
Hot and humid weather can lead to dehydration, especially for children. Ensure that you carry enough water and encourage everyone to stay hydrated throughout the day. Explore local coconut water vendors for a refreshing and naturally hydrating natural drink. The local government also encourages residents and visitors to use bottled or boiled water for drinking and brushing teeth, and nix ice in drinks. to avoid waterborne illnesses

Respect Local Customs
While Da Nang is relaxed beachside atmosphere it is still rich in cultural and religious sites. When visiting temples, pagodas, or other religious places, always dress modestly and observe local customs to show respect. Carry a scarf or shawl to cover shoulders or knees  if needed when entering religious sites (this includes kids). This cultural sensitivity enhances the overall experience for your family.

Getting there
VietJet offers affordable non-stop flights between Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Ho Chi Minh City, with connecting flights to Da Nang.

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Hey, I’m Aleney! A mum, award-winning travel writer, magazine editor and gallivanting glutton. He’s Raff, the “boy” in boyeatsworld, and a fearless foodie, adventurer and eco-warrior. Along with his all-singing, all-dancing, all-adventurous sister, Sugarpuff, we’re exploring the world’s colour, culture and cuisine on a food safari for the junior set.

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