I think every country and every destination has its charm and it teaches you a lesson you were meant to learn. For me, Vietnam was my first destination in Asia when we visited Ho Chi Minh and Phu Quoc island some years back. And I was happy we decided to go back and see Central Vietnam. Thus, here are our 5 days Da Nang itinerary and the best day trips from Da Nang you can plan for.
The Central part of Vietnam has so many incredible attractions and left us happy we had chosen it as our destination for the Christmas holidays. There are certain things everyone should do in Vietnam: take a day trip from Da Nang to Hoi An, see the Imperial City of Hue, and eat all that delicious Vietnamese food.
Da Nang may be Vietnam’s most popular and developing coastline destination, a great location for digital nomads and expats as well.
But let me tell you everything about it, and all you’ll need to know for when you plan your 5 days Da Nang itinerary.
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5 Days Da Nang itinerary
How to get to Da Nang, Vietnam
Pretty much mo matter from where you are traveling from, getting to Da Nang by plane is the best option.
Da Nang International airport is very well linked to both internal and international flights, and it will be rather easy and cheap to book such a flight.
For instance, we flew from Hong Kong during the Christmas season and paid roughly 200 USD. I normally search for tickets way ahead of time on Skyscanner.com and look for the best combination and options.
When traveling from another part of Vietnam, since driving from Ho Chi Minh City would take roughly 20 hours while coming from Hanoi 15 hours, flying in would be the fastest and most efficient way of travel from my point of view.
However, when you want to save the money, you can always take a night bus. The ride from Hanoi will take around 15 hours and will set you back around 22 USD, while the ride from Ho Chi Minh City will last more than 20 hours and costs 23 USD.
When to visit Da Nang, Hoi An, and Hue
In principle, the best time to visit Da Nang and the Central Vietnam part would be from February to May.
This being said, we went for Christmas and while I was scared it would rain a lot, we didn’t have any rainy day out of the 5 days in Da Nang. It is true we weren’t able to bath in the sea, mainly because of the wind and waves. But when you are not particularly looking for a beach vacation, I would still consider December – February as well.
Just bear in mind that for Christmas prices will be higher even though it is outside of high season.
When we went from Da Nang to Hue ancient town we noticed a slight increase in temperature and a lack of breeze. But haven’t really felt any change in the weather when traveling from Da Nang to Hoi An.
Where to stay in Da Nang
Da Nang is a bustling town, and wherever we turned our head there was at least one construction site. That means the region is continuously developing, thus new and more impressive hotels will show up through the years.
Even so, when I headed over to Skyscanner.com to check out hotels and prices, I found it easy to book a great hotel, on the beach, with great facilities, in a quiet area, at a great price.
What I usually look at when searching for a hotel:
- Great accessible location with regards to the places I plan to visit.
- Good reviews (over 8 on Booking.com) – and I usually go through them and see whether the very low ones are something that would bother me very much. People are different and have different expectations. I always check the TripAdvisor score, prices, and reviews before booking.
- Nice view from the room, the option of getting a room with a sea view when we travel to a destination by the sea.
- Additional facilities on site – a rooftop pool, SPA, beach etc.
- Accessible price range – I’m not going for the cheapest, but not looking to break the bank either.
These, of course, can change from one location to the other, but I really enjoy coming back to a place I like after a full day of exploration. Also waking up and having breakfast with a nice view is also a plus.
This being said, here are some options when it comes to where to stay in Da Nang. Since the town is not very spectacular and it is really crowded and crazy, we chose to stay by the beach and that’s something I suggest.
The Code Hotel and Spa – this was our choice and I’m really happy about it. Even though the hotel is the last tall building towards Lady Buddha, and you will have to get around by taxi or Grab, this means it is in a quiet place.
The people from the hotel went out f their way to make us feel welcomed and help us arrange the trip, the breakfast is delicious and very diverse, they have a rooftop pool, and the massages at their SPA are great (even though you might find cheaper places in town, but I was looking for proximity and quality over price).
The hotel is on the beach and our room was facing the sea and even though we had a room on the 18th floor I would hear the waves from my bad in the morning and just before we went to sleep.
Minh Boutique – with an impressive design, an outside pool, just 6 minutes away from the beach, this hotel offers also bikes for rent free of charge.
What I liked most when checking this hotel out was the super-cool green design with a lot of plants around, giving me the sensation that I am in a jungle.
Sel de Mer Hotel & Suites – a 5* hotel I would really afford because, let’s face it, prices in Vietnam are not as high as the ones in other parts of the world (wink wink, Hong Kong).
The view from the room with that immense blue before my eyes, the classic simple design, the interior pool, steam sauna, and SPA were just some of the things that caught my attention and why I would book this hotel for my next Da Nang itinerary.
Overview of Da Nang itinerary
Day 1 – Explore Da Nang
Day 2 – Da Nang to Hoi An and My Son Sanctuary
Day 3 – Ba Na Hills + time at the beach
Day 4 – one day in Hue Imperial City
Day 5 – Marble Mountain / Cham Island / Son Tra island
Day 1 – What to do in Da Nang
We found that the best way of getting around Da Nang was by Grab (or Uber or taxi if you feel safer with that). I downloaded the app on IOS (available also on Android), added a credit card, and I didn’t have any issues in finding a car no matter where we were.
Of course, you can always travel by public transportation, but I found the traffic in Da Nang a bit hectic. Thus, for us using Grab was the best option: fast, always paid between 35.000 and 75.000 VND for a ride (1.5 UDS to 3.5 USD).
A few highlights not to miss out on a day in Da Nang:
we started our day with a shopping session. Since we didn’t have any local currency we found a bank on one side of the market and exchanged some.
Whenever we go somewhere new, we always like to head to the market and see how locals live like, discover local products, and see the real prices of a place.
Following our visit to Ho Chi Mihn, we were expecting people to be more aggressive about selling their products, but we were surprised to see that the Han Market is not like that at all.
Tens of stalls with all kinds of products, from clothes to local spices, coffee, and fruit. People wandering around looking for something in particular, tourists window shopping, shop owners playing games just to make time pass by faster.
Later on, we went to see also a modern western-style shopping mall. Only because it was on our way to the hotel and we were curious about prices in comparison to the ones in Hong Kong.
When you’re really passionate about shopping and want to see all these in one tour without having to stress about getting around or locations, opt for booking a Da Nang Shopping tour.
Drink a coconut coffee
This is one drink I absolutely loved and drank daily throughout our 5 days Da Nang itinerary. Don’t let a day go by without trying this!
Once we finished our shopping session, we wandered around on some streets in the Han Market area and found a pretty little yellow traditional terrace. That’s where we sat, watching the people passing by, and tried the most amazing coffee: coconut coffee.
This is nothing much than a traditional Vietnamese coffee (which I already loved) mixed iced coconut.
If you are scared it will be too sweet for you, let me tell you I don’t put sugar in my coffee. In the right place, this drink is not extremely sweet and has a great texture because of the coconut milk.
Take a picture with the Dragon bridge
Maybe one of the most popular landmark in Da Nang, this is one of the bridges you would have crossed from the airport to the hotel when staying on the beach.
Step outside the Han Market and walk on the promenade along the river and take some great pictures.
If you want to learn more about the city’s history and its bridges, I recommend booking a half-day tour that will take you through the most important museums and bridges of Da Nang.
Spend some time on the beach and enjoy some local cuisine
The beach stripe spreads over many kilometers. And as you would expect from a town by the sea, there is not only one beach. Check out the best beaches in Da Nang here.
We headed towards the beach from our hotel and stopped at Temple Da Nang, where we ate a seafood hot pot and sat back and relaxed on the beach.
See Lady Buddha and Linh Ung Pagoda
As usual, we took a Grab and headed up the hill to see Laddy Buddha – the tallest Buddha statue in Vietnam, and the amazing view you get from up there.
The distance from our hotel and from the beach was not big, thus in only 15 minutes, we were up and ready to explore the pagoda, the beautiful gardens, and see the impressive statue from close by.
Below us, the Son Tra Peninsula was spreading its beauty. The garden was filled with flowers, and the pagoda stood tall with the blue sky as a perfect background.
Once we moved forward towards the statue, some cheeky monkeys were making noise in the trees around. Thus, expect them to be running around and be careful with your belongings.
Day 2 – Da Nang to Hoi An day trip
One of the most popular destinations for many visiting Central Vietnam is the pretty, yet smaller Hoi An. And you simply cannot miss going from Da Nang to Hoi An at least in one of the days of your Da Nang itinerary.
Another option is to book a night in Hoi An and feel the city to the fullest.
Unfortunately, we didn’t think about that and rented a private tour from Da Nang to Hoi An with a stop at My Son Sanctuary along the way. But I would allocate one full day to Hoi An and leave My Son Sanctuary for another day later on.
Best way to get from Da Nang to Hoi An
I always say that the best way is always the one you are the most comfortable with. And we are all different, thus have different expectations, need something else from our vacations and day trips.
The Da Nang to Hoi An distance is of only 30 km, but that trip can be enjoyable or not so much depending on what you like and how you choose to travel between the 2 destinations.
However, having said all that, I will help you out with all the options of creating your Da Nang to Hoi An day trip.
Book a private transfer
I’ll start with the private tour/private transfer options because that’s what we did. Once again, we wanted to do the best out of our 5 days in Da Nang itinerary, and live every second to the fullest. We also thought the prices in Vietnam were not extremely big so that we preferred comfort over the hassle of public transportation.
When you want to make the best out of the price you pay, choose linking two locations together: Marble Mountain and Hoi An in this case.
The price for a simple transfer from Da Nang to Hoi An starts from 6 USD/person and takes around 30-45 minutes. It is easy to book, and you don’t have to worry about bus stops, having to walk around, and can be booked return as well.
Or use Bookaway.com to best create your itinerary no matter where you are traveling from.
Travel by public bus
The cheapest, yet slowest and filled with hassle way of travel. Perfect for when you want to get from Da Nang to Hoi An on a budget.
Bus line number 1 is the one linking Da Nang and Hoi An, which leaves every 20 minutes from the Da Nang train station. Note that the bus will leave you 2 km away from Hoi An’s old town center, which means you’ll have an extra 20 minutes walk.
The price for a one-way trip can be somewhere between 30.000 – 45.000 VND (1.3 – 2 USD), with an extra 5000 VND fee for large luggage.
Another flexible option is taking the taxi/Grab. As I’ve said, we used Grab a lot mainly because it was very easy to order a car, we didn’t have to worry about having cash, the destinations were transparent and saved by me in the app, I could see the cost from the moment I booked the car.
However, the price for a Grab/Uber can change from one hour to the other, depending on traffic conditions. Normally, a ride from Da Nang to Hoi An would be roughly 380.000 VDN (17 USD), while a taxi can be up to 400.000 VDN (17.5 USD).
This is the most popular means of transportation in Vietnam, but I will let you decide if you have the courage to rent one and drive on the mountain roads.
Renting a motorbike for one day can be somewhere around 80.000 – 100.000 VDN (3.5-4.5 USD).
What to do in Hoi An for a day
As soon as our driver left us outside of Hoi An’s old town center, I started to see this is by far a more touristic town than Da Nang.
Hoi An is small, charming, filled with color, lanterns all over the place. But as beautiful as it is, it is also packed with tourists. And we were visiting somehow outside of peak season.
What should you absolutely not leave Hoi An without doing so that you could create your own one-day Hoi An itinerary?
Get something custom made
That was the first thing we did. We got drawn into a leather shop and my husband got sandals, a jacket, shoes, and a bag for me custom made in only a few hours.
They have great materials and colors, hundreds of models and the best thing is everything will be your size for sure. While you walk around and discover Hoi An, they’ll be working on your perfect dress or shoes.
Visit the 5 museums in town
Be prepared to fight some crowds along the way, because Hoi An is charming and because of that, it is crowded.
We walked around and over the Japanese Covered Bridge (packed with people) built many years ago to bring together the Japanese and Chinese populations who used to live here. We stepped inside an old Japanese house from the Japanese quarter, strolled the Lanter Market, entered the temple, and took plenty of pictures.
You can book a half-day tour of Hoi An and learn everything about its history and impressive culture.
On top, learn something about Vietnamese cuisine in a Hoi An tour and cooking class.
See the lanterns light up and take a boat ride
You simply cannot leave Hoi An behind without seeing it once the sun has set. Maybe the thing about including an overnight stay in Hoi An in your Da Nang itinerary. Looking back, I would have done it and maybe I’ll go back to spend the night.
Take a Hoi a 4-hour night tour with dinner, or simply jump in one of the colorful boats and let yourself taken through the lightened lanterns.
It is hard to believe this small town can get even more charming than that, but wait until you see it come to life at night.
Should you stay longer in Hoi An?
If you can skip something from my 5 days Da Nang itinerary, I would say yes – spend at least one night in Hoi An and explore every little hidden part.
Book a night at one of the following charming places, all with a score above 9 on Booking.com, and you won’t want to leave:
- Little Riverside Hoi An A Luxury Hotel & Spa – incredible design, on the river, a few steps away from the old town while offering a quiet location to its guests. Check out that impressive design and infinity pool by the riverside!
- Allegro Hoi An . A Little Luxury Hotel & Spa – from the same chain, I don’t only love the colonial architecture of this place, but also the pool, and its vibe overall. See when they are available here!
- Almanity Hoi An Wellness Resort – they have an airport shuttle, so you won’t have to worry about getting from Da Nang to Hoi An, and you can even choose to spend the whole week in Hoi An at this enchanting location. Check their prices here!
Day 3 – Ba Na Hills and My Son day tour
Ba Na Hill
Ba Na Hill station is a hill station and resort built by the French colonists in 1919.
Since the resort is at 1500 m above sea level, temperatures are way cooler, thus you might need to bring an extra jacket with you on your trip from Da Nang.
Take the Ba Na Cable car and experience the longest non-stop single-track cable car.
Another attraction in Ba Na Hills is one of the most Instagrammable places in Vietnam: the Golden Bridge Ba Na Hills. When you want to take a nice picture, make sure to get here before the crowds.
Book a trip and make your way from Da Nang to Ba Na Hills, take the cable car, and discover a wine cellar.
My Son Sanctuary
You can choose to move forward to My Son Sanctuary, or schedule a different day trip from Da Nang to My Son Sanctuary. We did My Son with Hoi An on the same day, but I think spending at least one whole day in Hoi An is better.
We left Da Nang on a rainy morning making our way towards My Son through the steep rocks and the many statue shops. The driver slowly took us through Vietnam’s countryside: people working on rice paddies, small and simple houses along the way, lush forest as we moved closer to the place the sanctuary is hidden.
My Son has been built between the 4th and 13th centuries and was the religious and political capital of the Champa Kingdom.
I still haven’t been to Angkor Wat, but moving through the forest towards the remains of what was once an impressive settlement, I could see the resemblance. The one in Cambodia is more recent and way larger but built by the same civilization.
The settlement is impressive, even more so when you learn it has been through the war as well and can also see the living proof of that. Walking around from one group of buildings to the other, we had some time to enjoy nature and its beauty as well. This place is so far from anything and a nature lover’s paradise.
Day 4 – one day in Hue, the Imperial town
No matter which one, one day of your Da Nang itinerary should definitely be a day trip to Hue, Vietnam’s Imperial capital town.
I had seen pictures of this interesting important town when we first visited Vietnam some years ago, but the distance from Ho Chi Minh City was too big thus we didn’t have the chance to visit Hue.
That’s why a day trip from Da Nang to Hue has been one of the reasons why we booked our vacation in Central Vietnam. And that’s for sure one of the day trips from Da Nang you should also consider raking.
The drive from Da Nang to Hue can take anywhere between 2 and 3 hours depending on the route they take. For our trip, we took both options: the more straight one through the tunnel, and the longer and more scenic one through the mountains.
What to do in Hue
We left Da Nang early in the morning with a group and guide heading towards Hue for a whole day tour. On the road, the guide told us a little bit about Hue’s history, the points of attractions we were going to visit, and the whole day itinerary and schedule.
Our first stop was at a pearl shop where I remembered how extremely cheap pearls are in Vietnam. Especially since I had a comparison with the recent pearls bought in Tenerife last summer. I couldn’t possibly leave without a pair of earrings.
Moving forward, the first official stop was at the impressive Tomb of King Tu Duc. Thanks to the guide we understood why the tomb is so dramatic: in their culture, it is believed that your house after death is more important than the one you live in during life on Earth.
King Tu Duc broth that to another level and its tomb looks exactly like a palace, having even terracotta soldiers to protect him.
Just before lunch, we stopped by at the Thien Mu Pagoda, dating from 1601 it is the largest pagoda in Hue. We climbed the stairs all the way to the top of the hill overlooking the Perfume River lined with all the colorful Dragon boats.
I loved the sen vibes at the pagoda, strolling around in the back garden, the pink small house, and the lotus flower pond. This place truly looked like a little peaceful corner of paradise.
For lunch, we ate at a great local restaurant. Not only the food was delicious, but also the design made us feel like we were eating inside of the Imperial City.
One other thing that I like about taking organized tours is that you get to meet people from all over the world, and usually, mealtime is when you have the time to socialize and learn interesting things. And that’s just what we did.
Finally, we got inside the walls of Hue Imperial City. We entered through one of the gates, only to exit another.
I could have spent a whole day strolling around the many streets and taking pictures of this impressive place. But we only had a few hours, and stopped by every now and then to learn about the history of the place, its kings, and so much more.
Part of UNESCO World Heritage, the Imperial City’s constructions began in 1804. I honestly thought it was much older, but even so, it bears a whole cultural and historical baggage.
Hue suffered important losses during the Vietnam war, and part of the structures have been destroyed. Out of 160 buildings, only 10 major sites remain following the Tet Offensive in 1968.
No matter if you stay in Da Nang, Hoi An or coming from somewhere else, there are plenty of options for spending one day in Hue:
- take a Hue City tour and river cruise
- book a tour from Hoi An or Da Nang
- take a half-day tour and boat ride
Day 5 – so many options
With only one day left out of your 5 days Da Nang itinerary, you’ll have a tough time choosing only one of the below attractions and cool destinations to explore.
One thing is sure, the 5th day will be all about nature and you’ll get some time off buildings and history:
- go snorkeling in Cham Island – this is a great activity even though you might not have the chance to experience it outside of high season. Take a speedboat ride, explore sea life, and have a traditional seafood lunch.
- explore Marble Mountain: climb the many stairs, explore cave temples, and the amazing views from the Son Tra Peninsula.
- Nui Than Tai Hot Spring Park from Da Nang – spend your day in the outdoor and indoor hot spring bathing areas, and experience hot mineral bathing in Long Huyet lake, mineral mud bath, Onsen.
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