A view of Da Nang from Hai Van Pass. Photo by Christian Berg
In the early morning there is a palpable sense of positive energy in Da Nang. It’s impossible not to feel the buzz of Da Nang life and be swept along with it, so be sure to set the alarm clock early at least once on your stay. Along the shore, fishermen sell the day’s catch, football and volleyball matches spring up all around, and people jog, stroll or simply relax as the morning breeze kicks up and waves wash the sands.
The Son Tra Peninsula strikes out into the ocean, its densely forested hillsides are home to rhesus macaques, long-tailed macaques, pygmy lorises, and the endangered red shanked douc langur -- one of the world’s most striking primates. Grab some binoculars, hire a motorbike, and head out for a day of wildlife spotting.
A couple of hours outside of Da Nang lies My Son Sanctuary, a UNESCO-listed complex of abandoned temples dating from the 4th to the 14th century. Hidden among the jungle, some towers are overgrown and many are in ruin, but enough remains to whisk you back in time. To learn more about Cham culture, visit the superb Cham Museum of Sculpture in Da Nang, home to the largest collection of Cham sculpture in the world.
Da Nang is a dream destination for foodies, with scores of seafront eateries serving every night of the week. Banh mi—the Vietnamese baguette—is taken to a new level here. Mi Quang is another delight and every Da Nang local will offer an opinion on where to find the best. Each bowl features yellow rice noodles, pork, shrimp, and a flavour-infused broth topped off with chopped peanuts, quail eggs and plenty of fresh herbs.
Marble Mountains, a collection of five outcrops topped with atmospheric pagodas, is a rewarding daytrip from Da Nang. Not far away, Ba Na Hills has made a comeback in recent years thanks to a record-breaking 5km cable car that rises almost 1,300m from sea level. The view across the mountain and jungles from the cable car is spectacular, but the fun begins at the top with an alpine coaster, funicular railway, 18-hole golf course and more.
Hai Van Pass is one of the finest stretches of coastal road anywhere in Vietnam. Climbing for 9km out of Danang, you'll be rewarded by views of deserted beaches and jungle-clad slopes. The descent on the other side leads to the Lang Co lagoon, where floating restaurants will be happy to serve you a fresh seafood lunch.
Rise early and enjoy the buzz of My Khe beach before a ride out onto the Son Tra Peninsula in search of primates. Escape the afternoon sun at the Museum of Cham Sculpture then head for a sundowner at Sky 36.
With an extra 24 hours choose from a cultural visit to the UNESCO-listed My Son Sanctuary, a road trip over the stunning Hai Van Pass coastal road, or a ride in a record breaking 5km long cable car up to the fantasy theme park of Ba Na Hills.
Danang is a great destination nearly year round. The best months to visit are from March to May and September to October, when the weather is warm and crowds minimal. June - August is prime time for local tourists; it’s very hot then but very little rain and the sea is clear and calm.
The Danang International Airport has a number of daily connections from Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, as well as other major cities in Vietnam. There are also a growing number of international connecting flights from Hong Kong, Cambodia, South Korea, Japan, China, Bangkok, and Singapore.