The weather called for rain every single day of our trip and the real-time instagram updates were just as glum. Torrential dounpours, flooding, high winds; you name it. Somehow the heavens opened just in time and apart from a bit of fog in the mornings, it was nonstop sunshine. The weather can be pretty unpredictable in these parts, so here’s hoping your forecast will be just as bright. xo
What To Expect: The Good, The Bad, The Heavenly
There was so much hype about Da Nang in Korea that we had high expectations to say the least. Supposedly it was such a “hot place” that even K-celebrities couldn’t get flights. I needed to go. There was no question.
My first thought when I saw the sprawling beaches of Da Nang was that no one was on them. The beach stretched on for as long as the eye could see and the main strip was packed with hotel after hotel, but only the rare person could be sunbathing or taking a stroll. This is where I found Da Nang to be the most deceiving. I thought we were going on a beach vacation, but the beach was more or less deserted and the only people I saw using it were the fisherman in the morning on those cool coconut looking boats.
That being said, Da Nang, for me, turned out to be a more cultural experience rather than a relaxing beach trip. As you can see, the city is not lacking in its beaches, but I wanted to be around the hustle and bustle and expect there to be LOTS.
Like most cities, Da Nang really livens up at night and the best part was leaving the hotel and watching the THOUSANDS and I mean THOUSANDS of motor bikes weaving in and out of traffic. It was the most satisfying people watching of my life.
I never felt unsafe being out at night in Da Nang. People were friendly and helpful, but sometimes their offer of help was a bit overwhelming. One thing you can expect when walking around at night (day time too, but not as much) is that every empty cab driver will beep at you, asking if you need a ride. It’s a nice gesture if we had happened to be looking for a cab, but when you’re trying to just take a walk and you’re getting beeped at literally every 20 seconds, it can put a damper on your experience. I have no tips to give whatsoever with this, no matter what we did we would just have to keep telling every stopped cab driver that, no, we actually wanted to walk.
One of the most popular day trips to do from Da Nang is a visit to the ancient city of Hoi An. This is one of the most special places I have ever been to and requires more than the “quick visit” every website tells you to do. Expect that when you get to Hoi An and the sun goes down, you will want to stay longer than the time your shuttle bus is scheduled to return to your hotel. The whole charm of Hoi An is to see all the lanterns light up at night and surprisingly the nightlife seemed way better than downtown Da Nang. I was so surprised to see lots of English and Australian guys promoting different bars and handing us free drink tickets. I really wanted to stay, but our shuttle was at 9 pm. Lesson learned!
Remember, too, that depending on where your hotel in Da Nang is, Hoi An is not as close as it seems. From Intercontinental it would take over an hour and half one way. That is if traffic is okay too. Most resorts will take you via shuttle bus for free to Hoi An or charge a very small fee.
The last things to expect in Da Nang is to pay next to nothing for the best food of your life, have the beaches to yourself and expect the partying and the beeping to never stop.
Where To Stay
No matter how long your stay in Da Nang I do STRONGLY recommend two things: stay at least one night in Hoi An and bite the bullet and spend at least one night at the Intercontinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort. (WORTH EVERY PENNY!!) Won the award for the world’s best luxury resort for three years in a row!
The one thing to keep in mind is that the resort is really far from everything else in the city (at least 20 minute drive.) So if you’re looking for seclusion, this place is for you! Or, if you’re like us, you just want a taste of the resort and a few good instagram pics. Beware that the food is pricey here and unless you don’t mind taking an hour cab ride there and back, getting to the city isn’t an easy option.
The resort, however, was a dream come true. Sure you’ll pay $9 for a Bahn Mi that you would pay $1 for down at the street markets, but it is so worth it.
You can take your pick of hotel in Hoi An really, but I think staying somewhere close to the river would be breathtaking.
Da Nang is kind of split off into three areas of where I would recommend staying.
- If you’re looking for nightlife and a bit of glam – Novotel Danang Premier Han River
- If you’re looking to really get away from it all – Hyatt Regency Danang
- If you’re looking for a bit of both & some savings – A La Carte Da Nang Beach
Novotel is home to one of Da Nang’s most famous bars, SKY36. The name comes from the fact that it’s located on the 36th floor, Da Nang’s highest rooftop bar. The views are stunning and there were even fire and dancing shows to accompany the DJ. There are lots of Korean tourists here, so don’t be surprised if the DJ throws a bit of kpop in there. It really got the crowd going when he did, which was fun. All the bartenders are usually practising their flairing when they’re not making you another yummy cocktail. Expect to pay back home prices for this rooftop gem. The crowd is mixed in age and you won’t really find too many people dancing. The dance floor area is mostly packed with tables for bottle service and people bobbing around them.
Novotel is also down the street from many clubs, some of the best food spots and hands down Da Nang’s coolest attraction: The Dragon Bridge. (It actually breathes fire, but only on Saturdays and Sundays!!)
The Hyatt Regency is a little ways away from the heart of Da Nang and is situated on a pretty sweet strip of beach. The resort is gorgeous and still close enough to the city that it wouldn’t be a hassle to get to, if needed. There are tonnes of amazing IG photo opportunities at this resort (especially the palm-lined pool!!) and it’s under $300 USD per night, which is really reasonable for this level of facility. You’re far away enough from the action that you can really feel like your resort is on another planet. This resort is also very close to Hoi An and should take you only about 20 minutes to get there.
Be warned, however, that when you leave this resort to go out, you may be hit with a shocking view of the great disparity in Vietnam. The area outside the resort is rather underdeveloped, like many parts of Da Nang, which disappointed some people I know who went there.
The resort will have people in the pool and on the beach, but don’t expect it to be too crowded, your rest and relaxation is the hotel’s primary concern. Do plan to visit their in-house spa, as it is renowned in the city, but with prices that match the notoriety. Head to town if you want spa services that don’t break the bank.
Finally, for those who want a fun resort without spending a fortune, I give you: A La Carte Da Nang Beach. I actually ended up staying here a few nights myself to save a bit of money so I can give you a good run down on the pros and cons. First of all, I would say that this is more of a family style resort cause of the kitchen in the room and the overall feel. The rooftop infinity pool is amazing! Fun atmosphere, good drinks, but maybe a little on the small side. The hotel is across the street from the beach, but, once again, no one is actually swimming on it so it feels a bit lacking. There are also tonnes of not yet completed beachfront restaurants and complexes, which makes you really feel like they are wasting the potential.
The resort is quite far from Hoi An (about an hour) and not within walking distance of anywhere touristy. You can get to Hoi An from the resort shuttle for a small fee. Otherwise taxis are a must from this resort to even get to any decent restaurants. We, however, really liked the food and drinks at the pool, so you don’t have to go anywhere if you don’t feel like it. Order the goat cheese cake — to die for!!
Where To Eat
You really can’t go wrong eating at any food stalls in Da Nang. A lot of the places will look like a giant outdoor seating space with huge logos for Tiger beer covering the walls. Each of these massive stalls serve different types of food, but rely on locals to know what each place sells, since there isn’t much advertised in terms of menus. Take a risk, go in and order something that you have no idea how to pronounce.
I found probably the greatest meal I’ve ever had abroad in Da Nang. Now, be warned, this place is NO FRILLS. It is the epitomy of hole-in-the-wall, but the food is out of this world. When you walk in, no one speaks English, they will guide you to a seat at a table that you sometimes have to share with others. To order we just pointed to food that we saw people eating and our table neighbours were nice enough to show us how to eat the foods correctly.
The place mostly serves Banh Xeo, which is like a crispy yellow meat pancake that you wrap with rice paper and top with different greens then dip in a rich peanut sauce. They also sell pork skewers and some famous milk drink that we were too chicken to try.
P.S. this whole feast cost us $6 USD
The next place is in Hoi An, which lived up to its hype and was surprisingly full of English people who would rather pass on the “coriander.” Tucked away on one of the many lantern-lit side streets of the ancient town is a foodie’s dream house called: Morning Glory. I wish we had more time to explore some more of Hoi An’s cuisine, but if, like us, you only have one night in this magical town, you will not be disappointed with the food at this place.
Finally, back in Da Nang’s center is a small breakfast place called PHO 75. Again, super no frills place, but has years of reputation behind it. We had a traditional pho breakfast which cost us maybe $2 USD and even got to chat a bit with the owner. We came a little after breakfast time cause we slept in, but we heard that this place gets crazy busy before 9 am.
Honestly we did go try some more expensive places while we were there, but it was nothing to write home about. The local food from anywhere is pretty much always cheap and delicious, just don’t order any duck rice bowls from a place called — I forgot.. just don’t order any duck rice bowls from anywhere!!
What Not To Miss
Have I mentioned Hoi An? I have? Really? Okay, well don’t miss it!
I wouldn’t miss seeing the dragon bridge spit fire/water every Saturday and Sunday night. I believe it starts at 9pm, so after sundown. By the head of the dragon is a square where a lot of local kids play and a great place to catch the show. When it’s done take a walk along the river and maybe catch dinner on one of the many boat restaurants along the banks.
Even if you’re not into the nightlife scene, everyone really must go for a drink up at SKY 36 bar. The views are unreal and the atmosphere will kick start your vacation.
Finally I would say that you NEED to take advantage of the spa services in Da Nang. Some places can be sketch if you know what I mean… but we got a Swedish stone massage for under $20 and pedicures for $1.50. Yes, I repeat: $1.50. It’s awesome!!
What To Skip
We just happened to walk by the Han Market and decided to walk in, since it was on every travel guide for Da Nang. I found the place really disgusting to be honest. There were a lot of open bags of nuts, candies, etc. and you could very clearly see the cockroaches running through and across the open bags. I know this is a tropical climate and almost impossible to avoid, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t at least close the food up. On top of that, the rest of the products were not of any interest to me or to any of the other tourists that were there. We all had looks of disappointment in that place.
There was a tour we kept seeing for the white Buddha and we were thinking about paying the money and doing it. Then on the way to the Intercontinental. BAM! It was RIGHT THERE. No need to pay for a tour to go see it, just grab a cab and go on your own for free! It’s not that far out of the city, maybe a ten minute cab ride away.
I’m still on the fence of whether Bana Hills is worth it or not… I mean, if you have the time? Go for it!
Hope you have a great time planning your Da Nang vacation xx
If you need help, click above to see my 3-day Da Nang itinerary.