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Explore Da Nang: The most livable city in Vietnam

Things to know about Danang in Central Vietnam

I recalled my reluctance to travel when border restrictions were starting to ease in Singapore and destinations around the world. It was not for a lack of interest, but rather a bout of travel guilt that stemmed from the inequalities and sufferings in our world – a fact further highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

That, as well as unjustifiable carbon footprints for the sake of leisure travel, doused my enthusiasm for travel. Nonetheless, I had a Jetstar travel voucher that would soon expire, and that gave me the perfect excuse brought me to Da Nang in late July. 

Putting travel guilt aside, I rediscovered how the industrial sea port evolved into a vibrant coastal city in Central Vietnam, and surprisingly it seems less touristy than when I first visited close to a decade ago. To date, Da Nang is Vietnam’s third largest city, located midway between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city.

With the year end holidays fast approaching, I thought it may be timely to share my experience in Da Nang. So if you are pondering whether Da Nang is worth visiting and what it it known for, here’re some travel perspectives and tips from a female traveller who’s been there, done that. 

What is Da Nang known for?

Da Nang – a sea port located along the South China Sea – is the largest city in Central Vietnam. I got acquainted with it about 10 years ago, when its tourism sector was just developing and it was mostly known as a gateway to its neighbour, Hoi An (one of the most popular destinations in Vietnam). 

Fast forward to the present, Da Nang now seems like a polished gem. A mere mention of this coastal city often brings to mind beautiful beach resorts by the glittering seas, and the Golden Bridge at Ba Na Hills that adds to its accolade of being the City of Bridges (more on this later). 

But there’s more to Da Nang than just the beaches and luxury resorts. Interestingly, this coastal city has been recognised as the most livable city in Vietnam – largely due to the varied landscapes and its good people. 

For those who have the time and interest to delve deeper, you may discover that Da Nang’s history is no less interesting than Hoi An, with myths and legends playing a role in influencing some traditions and customs

Is Danang safe to travel?

Yours truly exploring the beach and city sights on my own

In general, Vietnam is a relatively safe destination to travel. Da Nang, being a popular tourist destination, is considerably safe with minimal natural disasters and lower crime rates as compared to Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi. 

In my July trip, I arrived at Danang international airport around 8pm+ in the evening. As I was unsure of what to expect, I arranged for transport to my hotel ahead of time even though taxi and Grab were available. I was travelling alone for the first couple of days before my friend came to join me. Together, we spent close to a week in Da Nang. 

As a female traveller, I feel that people in Da Nang are very hospitable (but not those in-your-face kind) and it is easy to get around the city using the Grab app. Of course, one needs to stay alert in crowded areas in case you become a victim of petty crimes. Do your due diligence when booking tours and transportation; price and quality often go hand in hand, so if the price is too good, you may want to be extra cautious.

Things to do in Danang

Da Nang has many different landscapes and a variety of attractions that cater to both the young and old. That makes it a pretty family-friendly destination. My heart was full as I watched families frolicking on the beach and playing in the sea during my daily morning walks in Danang. I thought to myself then, “I would love to return with my family next time.”

Anyway, here are some must-visit attractions and activities in Da Nang for you to consider, if you are thinking of visiting in the near future. F.Y.I. I consider myself a pretty laidback traveller who enjoys slow travel, so for the more adventurous – this list can probably help you to wind down. 😛

Explore different landscapes

From mountains to beach to city and countryside, Da Nang has it all. If time permits, you should definitely explore all the different landscape for an all-rounded experience. 

Stay near the beach

Consider staying near the beach in the vicinity of Phước Mỹ (I stayed at the Dream Suite, which was a 5-minute walk to the beach and a 10-minute drive to the town center), as this area has a wide range of food options. There’s even a local market just around the corner. As the locals stay in this area too, it is vibrant yet not overly touristic as compared to the My An area. This means prices are more affordable too. 

Depending on the time of year that you are visiting, the beach actually has different opening hours. As I visited during summer (one of the hottest weeks in the year actually), I was blessed with beautiful sunrise – provided that I visit between 5am to 7am (lucky I’m a morning person). Things would get unbearably hot anytime after 7am, so plan your activities wisely. 

Visit the mountains

When visiting Da Nang for the first time, there are some must-visit attractions that you don’t want to miss. One of them would be the Marble Mountains, a sacred landscape with caves, pagodas, statues, and a beautiful view at the top. This will take less than ½ day and if you prefer to go on a tour, you can go on a day tour that includes other nearby attractions. 

Another popular Da Nang attractions not to be missed is Ba Na Hills, which features the world-renowned Golden Bridge with the giant hands supporting a curvy bridge. Ba Na Hills offers a glimpse of everything, in the sense that it comprises the local culture in a themepark that tries to emulate varied experiences from around the world. 

If you just went “huh?” from my description, that pretty much was what most of us felt after our one day tour at Ba Na Hills. And yes, you need at least 1 day to explore this hill top theme park (accessible only via cable cars for now). There’s also the option of staying overnight at Ba Na Hills. Although I was left baffled dazzled by the multiple offerings at Ba Na Hills, I would still recommend you to visit at least once. 

Head for the countryside / farms

I found myself envying residents of Da Nang as the varied landscapes promise various recreational and leisure activities for unwinding during the weekends. Prior to my trip, Dreamer cafe caught my eyes as they opened an outlet in the countryside, offering patrons the experience of relaxing by the streams, alongside cute farm animals and a steaming cup of coffee. They even set up tents!

At night, it seems there are live music. I was keen to experience a slice of nature in the bustling city but alas, time was not on my side. In the end, my travel companion and I didn’t managed to go into the countryside, only settling for their oasis in the city (more on this later). I promised myself that I would visit in my future trip. 🙂

Explore the city

Similar to vibrant cities around the world, Da Nang has much to offer in terms of food, shopping and museums.

[Museum-hopping] I love visiting arts museums, and the Da Nang Fine Arts Museum (free admission) was a delight to explore. The three-storey single building houses artworks of local artists that were well curated. If you want to escape the heat during the day, you can consider Da Nang Fine Arts Museum or the Museum of Cham Sculpture that gives a glimpse to history, people and culture in the region. 

[Cafe-hopping] If you are a fan of cafes that offer good ambience and quality coffee, then we are on the same page. Vietnam, being the world’s 2nd biggest coffee exporter, is famous for its Vietnamese coffee. Here are the cafes that I visited and enjoyed during my stay in Danang. 

Recommended CafesQuality of Coffee Variety of Drinks Ambience
Dreamer 
[230 Nguyễn Công Trứ, An Hải Bắc, Sơn Trà, Đà Nẵng 550000 VN]
☕☕☕☕☕☕☕😌😌😌😌
Z! Coffee & Roastery [109 Hoàng Kế Viêm,
Bắc Mỹ Phú, Ngũ Hành Sơn, Đà Nẵng 550000, VN]
☕☕☕☕☕☕😌😌😌
The 59 Cafe 
[59 Hải Phòng, Thạch Thang, Hải Châu, Đà Nẵng 550000, VN]
☕☕☕☕☕😌😌😌😌
Wonderlust Bakery & Coffee 
[96 Đ. Trần Phú, Hải Châu 1, Hải Châu, Đà Nẵng 840236, VN]
☕☕☕☕☕☕☕☕☕😌😌😌😌
BYW Coffee 
[89 Sương Nguyệt Ánh, An Hải Bắc, Sơn Trà, Đà Nẵng 550000, VN]
☕☕☕☕☕😌😌😌
Cộng Cà Phê
[98-96 Bạch Đằng, Hải Châu 1, Hải Châu, Đà Nẵng 550000, VN]
☕☕☕☕☕☕☕☕☕😌😌😌😌
I visited these cafes between July to August 2022.

[Foodies-exploration] Being a coastal city, Da Nang has plenty of fresh seafood and a great variety of cuisines to offer and the best part of it is the affordability. Besides going for the local food such as Banh Mi (baguette with meat fillings), Banh Xeo (pancake), Mi Quang (rice noodles) etc., there are actually many Korean grilled meat restaurants that are worth trying because those are so expensive in Singapore! 

Interestingly, there are also many options for those who take vegetarian and vegan food. One of my best meals in Da Nang was at Sangha – Vegetarian Restaurant which looks like a garden in the city center.  

Sangha Vegetarian Restaurant in Danang, Vietnam

For those who plan to stay in airbnb or service apartment (like myself), you can also consider getting fresh groceries and seafood from the local market and supermarkets, which promises an interesting experience. 

[Pampering-time] What’s a beach vacation without some pampering time? For the uninitiated, Vietnam is the perfect place for beauty services as they offer professional services at affordable rates. In fact, I never missed a chance to go for shampooing and head massage whenever I am in Vietnam. 

During my visit in Da Nang, I tried out the hairdressing services at the newly opened Hoa Kazuo Salon where a hair wash session + haircut and blowdry only cost around S$14. The hairwash session was super comfortable with superb head massage and my haircut made me look great! My friend and I also managed to snag a good 1-for-1 massage deal after our tiring day at Ba Na Hills, so do keep a lookout for good deals!

Is Da Nang worth visiting?

Da Nang is a well-loved destination for both domestic tourists and international visitors. With its varied landscapes, attractions and wide range of authentic local experiences [plus affordability], there’s plenty to love about this largest city in Central Vietnam. As a traveller who has visited Da Nang twice and still have plans to return, I would say that Da Nang is definitely worth a visit (or two). 

Da Nang is directly accessible from Singapore and various international airports. With that convenience, it also offers a gateway to explore nearby cities and old towns around Central Vietnam.

How many days in Da Nang is enough?

Depending on your intended activities, Da Nang is good enough for a weekend trip and just as pleasurable if you want to spend a week or two here like I did. 🙂

– End –

The above information is based on personal experiences and should only be used as a reference. For more information on the destination, do check out Danang FantastiCity!

From Me to You: A Simple Reference Guide For Your Travel In Vietnam

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