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Da Nang in Central Vietnam is one of those incredible backpacking destinations that is unfortunately skipped by so many travellers.
Many people find themselves being short on time, and rush through Vietnam only aiming for the main destinations like Ho Chi Minh City and Ha Long Bay.
Such a shame, because lots of people just don’t realise that there are so many amazing things to do in Da Nang!
The common theme is to fly or catch the train into Da Nang and head straight to the fascinating UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hoi An, only 30km away. People often use the city simply as a transit stop, and they miss out on so much.
For those that know about what to do in Da Nang, this hip and thriving Vietnamese city proves to have a lot going for it. It definitely deserves catching some of your time.
The city of Da Nang is the third largest in Vietnam and has had a tragic yet fascinating history.
From the 16th century Da Nang has steadily grown in size and importance from being a small trading port to becoming a large shipbuilding site in the 19th century.
Eventually Da Nang became the largest commercial port in the region. It was in Da Nang that the French first landed to conquer the country.
It was also the first place that Europeans arrived in Vietnam, when the Portuguese explorer António de Faria anchored off the coast in 1535.
In 1965 the US military arrived and began building air and army bases around the area. The vicinity around Da Nang was heavily affected by the chemical Agent Orange. The harsh chemical was primarily stored at the international airport in town by the United States, eventually seeping into the soil and water supply.
The Americans used Da Nang, and its gorgeous China Beach, as a place for rest and recuperation for soldiers fighting elsewhere in the country.
These days its history is all but a distant memory for the youth and travellers who grow up and visit the city.
There is a booming restaurant and food scene developing and its proximity to natural attractions like the Hai Van Pass and the Marble Mountains make it a great place to get out and explore the outdoors.
If you are looking for the best things to do in Da Nang, then look no further than this article!
The Top Things to Do in Da Nang
You’ve found yourself in the city and are curious about what to do in Da Nang. Do you hit up the coast first, or wander the bustling streets?
Maybe you’re feeling hungry and want to try the famous Vietnamese cuisine!
Or if you are an adventurous person perhaps you long desire to rent a motorbike and hit up the Hai Van Pass.
The list of things to do in Danang just goes on and on, but let’s start with the five best activities in Da Nang.
The Marble Mountains
The Marble Mountains (Ngu Hanh Son or “Five Elements Mountains) are a cluster of marble and limestone hills just 7km from the city, and one of the best things to do in Da Nang!
The mountains are full of caves, tunnels and Buddhist shrines just waiting to be explored!
Ancient folklore says that a dragon emerged from the sea and laid an egg on the beach. 1000 days and nights passed and eventually a exquisite lady was born.
The remains of the egg shells grew into the Marble Mountains that you can see today.
Over the centuries the Marble Mountains were used as a safe haven for soldiers and a place of worship for Buddhists. Today it is one of the most popular attractions in the city!
For years the hills were mined for their valuable stone, although that has been recently banned. You can see examples of intricate stonework in the roadside workshops surrounding the Marble Mountains.
If you are feeling energetic you can climb to the summit of one of the mountains, offering absolutely spectacular views over the entire area.
Marble Mountains Entrance Fee: 20’000 VND
If you’re interested in going on a guided tour of the Marble Mountains, then the company Get Your Guide offers great value, all-inclusive tours.
Son Tra Peninsula
The beautiful rainforest that juts out into the sea from the city of Da Nang is called the Son Tra Peninsula. At a size of over 4000 hectares, this place is massive!
Rent a scooter or motorcycle to ride along the newly-built road to the end and check out the nature reserve, and stop off to visit one of the most important religious sights in the area, Quan Am.
Keep an eye out for the red shanked duoc langars that live on the Son Tra Peninsula. They are quite beautiful if you catch a glimpse of one!
Son Tra is a perfect getaway from the city and perfect for those wondering what to do in Da Nang.
There are plenty of untouched beaches along the peninsula and some excellent viewpoints, making this one of the most pristine beautiful places in Da Nang.
Hai Van Pass
Made famous in an episode of the TV show, Top Gear, the Hai Van Pass has now become a bucket list item for thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts (and amateurs) and adventurers looking for alternative things to do in Da Nang.
This 21km mountain pass between Da Nang and Hue offers some of the most incredible ocean views in all of Vietnam.
A new highway tunnel that has been built to bypass the road ensures that traffic numbers now are low, although the ride can still be quite technical; especially if you are inexperienced or the weather turns bad.
Rent a scooter from town and leave early in the morning if you plan on being back in Da Nang the same day.
There are also a number of tour companies that can help you ride the Hai Van Pass if you aren’t a confident motorbike rider.
Check out our guide on riding the Hai Van Pass.
You can book a full-on motorbike tour of the Hai Van pass on Get Your Guide.
Eat The Food
We didn’t know that Da Nang had such a happening food scene until we stayed at the amazing Funtastic Hostel, which is sadly now closed.
Owned by Summer from Danang Cuisine, one of the most famous food blogs in the country, she really opened our eyes to the culinary delights around the city.
Naturally, being so close to the ocean, fresh sea food is on many restaurant’s menus. There are plenty of awesome street food to try as well if you are on a budget. For our biggest and best recommendation go eat at Tam’s Pub And Surf Shop.
Make sure you have a few hours spare to listen to Tam’s fascinating stories of what life was like growing up during the war (and try her vegetarian burgers). If you’re hungry, don’t miss these best places to eat in Da Nang.
If you’re more of a street food type of person, then you’ll have no shortage of restaurants to eat at. Just cruise up and down the road and grab a chair at any of the busy spots!
Non Nuoc Beach
When people think of Vietnam, surfing is not something that immediately springs to mind. But still, it is possible to go surfing in Vietnam!
There is a growing surf community here who take advantage of the consistent and fun beach breaks along My Khe Beach, commonly known as China Beach.
If surfing isn’t your scene you can always go for a swim or simply relax on the spotlessly clean sand.
No missing out on some chill out time when you’re at the beach! Seriously – spending time at the beach is one of the best things to do in Da Nang!
If you really feel like splurging out make sure you check out all the incredible beachside resorts in Da Nang (and use the code: AGODANMD10 to get 10% off your hotel stay).
Where To Stay In Da Nang
There are tonnes of great accommodation in Da Nang, from 5-star beachside resorts to funky backpackers and cheap guesthouses. Really the only thing you are limited by is your budget!