Golden Bridge

8 Top Must-Do Things in Danang

Danang is a seaside town in Central Vietnam. Danang is now the third-largest city in Viet Nam behind Ha Noi and Ho Chi Minh (Saigon). This is where the Vietnam War started for America. The Americans first landed at China Beach, now known as My Khe beach. The beach was actually named by the American troops who visited during the Vietnam War for R&R.

This white sandy 20-mile stretch is considered to be Vietnam’s most picturesque beach. Now there are a number of high-end resorts within the vicinity should you be in need of pampering. Most offer a rich choice of treatments at their spas and a range of dining options. The beach itself offers many modern enjoyments, including parasailing, sunbathing and surfing.

Danang used to be a sleepy beach town, but not any more. Today Danang is booming. There are plenty of things to do during your stay here. I have lived here for almost two years, and I have found some iconic and interesting things you can do in Danang. Here are my suggestions!

1. Lady Buddha

Standing at an incredible 70 meters, this monolithic beauty looks serenely across the bay. She’s visible from almost anywhere in the city, and she can always see you, too (that’s what her inscription says). But it’s best to look at her up closer, because you can appreciate just how tall that actually is. She can be seen from any Danang beach and on a clear day, even from Hoi An. That’s big.

Lady Buddha isn’t on Google Maps. She’s located at the Linh Ung Pagoda, which also has ornate walkways, temples, and a ton of other statues which I guess are her backup dancers. The pagoda is a ten minute scenic drive from central Danang, and you won’t need directions. The pagoda is easily reached by car or motorbike or a GrabBike. Definately worth seeing, but it shouldn’t take long.

Historically there never was a Lady Buddha. The prince, Gautama Buddha, was a real historical figure, who saught the end of suffering. Over time women felt a female better represented the principle of compassion, hence the representation of Guanyin or Guan Yin, or Lady Buddha. But that didn’t stop people from making statues to her. If you get into a fight with your significant other, please leave me out of it, just leave your comments below.

Monkey Mountain

Visit Monkey Mountain

While you are here, this is Monkey Mountain. This peninsula is home to an endangered species of monkey. They are colorful and mischevious. Plan to have a picnic while you are nearby and maybe you will see some. There isn’t much official information or a visitor center. However, this peninsula has magnificent views of the city and surrounding area. If you like touring, rent a motorbike so you can stop when and where you find a view. Near the top, is the nearly abandoned US Radar installation. There is also the legend of fairies playing chess and a few statues to mark the spot. Take your cameras. There is very lush vegetation everywhere. If the day is hot, then this is where you can cool off and get a view.

2. Explore Marble Mountains

There are actually five large rocks that jut up from the otherwise flat land and rice fields in and around Danang. The largest one is filled with caves and tunnels, which aren’t always obvious from the outside. During the war, this is where a Viet Cong field hospital was located, hidden-in-plain-sight, in direct view of the Marines on the beach below.

There are endless caves and cave-ettes. Ok, I don’t know the word for small caves, but there are many. Tell me the word for it in the comments. Many of the enclosures are open above, so some sunlight enters the smaller spaces. There are many statues and grottos. Some of these caves and statues are very large. And, so are the stairs! If you are not athletic, I recommend you take the new elevator with see-through walls to the top. You will have a nice view, sans Marines, of the beaches.

LaLuna Restaurant

One of the best restaurants in Danang is LaLuna. I stop there whenever I can. They serve American style food in several languages. It’s very good and reasonably priced. Can you ever have too much Mango? How about Mango pancakes! it’s just across the street from the elevator entrance to Marble Mountain. Marble Mountain is a half-day trip, so I suggest you can stop at LaLuna for a meal, see the caves or vice versa. I don’t make any money for referring LaLuna, I just like it.

3. My Khe Beach

My Khe beach Danang

Danang is a beach getaway! My Khe is the beach directly east of the city, and Non Nuoc is a few KM south, but as a general rule, the farther you get from the high-rise hotels, the less crowded it will be. Most tourists go at the hot time of the day. My recommendation is that you visit the beach when most local folks arrive at the beaches, around 4am. It is less crowded, you can watch the sunrise, and you can do your yoga.

4. Visit Hoi An

Visit Hoi An

Plan to spend a full day or two in Hoi An. There is a lot to see. I recommend that you plan to stay overnight at a HomeStay close to the center of town. Hoi An is called the Ancient City, it’s also a UNESCO World Heritage site. It’s representative of Southeast Asian trading ports dating back hundreds of years. It’s a beautiful town and wonderful to see. This is also a tourist city and everywhere there will be opportunities to spend your money.

Hoi An is quiet and it feels good after the chaos and motorbike horns that are literally everywhere else in Vietnam, to walk a quiet, lantern lit street in Hoi An, past the traditional shops and restaurants.

The most iconic image is the hundreds of colored lanterns that are hung from trees, the building fronts and from ropes above the streets everywhere. It’s only 40 minutes south of Danang. I recommend you take a GrabBike or GrabCar there. You will want to walk and chat and eat and sit and walk some more. You may also want to take a boat ride up the river.

At night there are usually candle-lit lanterns released on the water. This is very romantic. Bring your significant other and plan to participate in this made-for-tourists experience. The whole town is lit and you can see this from many places near the river and from the bridges over the river.

5. Eat Some Seafood

Eat Some Seafood

Dan Nang is on the ocean. Lots of fisherman get fish. The restaurants serve a lot of fish. You should probably try some fish. There are lots of FRESH seafood restaurants in Danang and Hoi An. You can tell by the fish tanks along the walls of the restaurant with fresh caught fish, crabs, shrimp, lobster and octopus and more. These tanks usually have a different species in each one and they were caught today! You can choose the one you want to eat and go pick your table. It will never be fresher.

6. See Dragon Bridge

The Han River splits Danang into two parts: the mainland section and the beach section. Connecting these two parts of the city are many bridges. Each bridge is an entirely different design. One of these is the Dragon Bridge (Cau Rung). There are other bridges and most of them are very recent. The small unused yellow bridge next to the “string” bridge was the first bridge across the Han river. It was built by the Americans during the war.

The Dragon Bridge is a gigantic bridge (can you guess where I’m going with this) with a dragon in the middle. At night, all of the bridges (and many other sites and buildings) are lit up with LEDs. The dragon and the rest of Danang become a gorgeous light show. On the weekends the dragon breathes fire and smoke at 9pm (21:00). There is usually a crowd for this and it doesn’t last long. I recommend you get there early and bring your camera.

7. Ba Na Hills

Ba Na Hills

Ba Na Hills is a theme park about 45 minutes drive west of Danang. This was originally built by the French. It looks a lot like a Disneyland. It’s pricey compared to the other things on the list. I recommend that you go early and plan to stay the day if this is your thing. It gets flooded with tourists quickly. The “town” is either remarkably European-style, or obviously artificial, depending on your point of view.

Take the Cable Car

Take the Cable Car

The cable car is majestic. It is the longest non-stop single track cable car in the world, a full 5000 meters long. This ride will make you question the mechanical integrity, and maybe your own sanity, as you hang suspended a quarter-mile between the towers, but the view is worth it.

Golden Bridge

Golden Bridge (Big Hands Bridge)

Also Ba Na Hills is where the Golden Bridge is located. This footbridge includes giant hands that appear to support the golden walkway. The actual support includes metal beams. The bridge opened in 2018 and was an instant Instagram icon.

8. Visit SunWheel Theme Park

SunWorld Theme Park

The park opens at 3pm (15:00). Originally named Danang Wonders, then Asia Park, then SunWorld, now called Sun Wheel but it now supports Ferroli advertising. The SunWorld theme park is still a great place to take your kids. It’s also not a bad place to take your inner kid. The architecture and rides are fun. The frozen dragons that come up through the pavement throughout the park are impressive. This is where the giant Ferris wheel is located.

This wheel is enormous and gets bigger as you get closer. I recommend you plan to ride the wheel twice – once when the part opens so you can see the city and again at sunset or after dark when you can see the city lit up with LED lights everywhere.