If you’re looking for beaches and nature in Vietnam, Da Nang is the place to visit. After Ethan and I moved to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam to teach English, we decided to make Da Nang our first long weekend trip. We really loved it, at least just as much as its neighbor Hoi An. For us, it was the perfect way to relax, enjoy fair prices, and see the sites that give Vietnam its famous natural beauty.
Beaches of Da Nang
The beach tracing the outer edge of Da Nang seems to go on forever. It’s great because, if you drive far enough, you will likely be able to find a spot where you are mostly alone, even during the high tourist season.
Weather in Da Nang
We went on a relatively cool day. At about 75° Fahrenheit (24° C) in February, no one especially cares for the beach since it’s just a little too cold to jump in the water. Check out Da Nang’s average temperatures here. Be careful though—you can still get burned, even after weeks of traveling through South East Asia. On a clear day, the sun is very strong.
Interesting natural features surround the city of Da Nang. To the south lay the Marble Mountains. To the north, you will find Monkey Mountain. We only had enough time for one. It was a tough decision, but we chose a full-day scooter tour of Monkey Mountain. We booked it through Airbnb Experiences, our favorite way to book authentic tours. I’m not an affiliate, but you can find the tour we took here.
Buddhist sites near Monkey Mountain
Goddess of Mercy/Lady Buddha
We spent all day visiting the Buddhist sites near Monkey Mountain including the giant Goddess of Mercy/Lady Buddha statue that overlooks the city. It’s 67 meters or 220 feet in height. You can see it from all along the coast in Da Nang. Official site here.
According to our guide, a series of terrible storms hit Da Nang in the years before they erected the Buddha. They have been fine ever since.
We were shocked to learn that there is a library for monks located inside the Buddha. It’s not really open to tourists, which is fine. I firmly believe that a few things should be left strictly to locals and worshipers.
Linh Ung Pagoda
The Lady Buddha is right next to the very impressive Linh Ung Pagoda. The pagoda itself is super impressive architecturally. But the stairs, gate, statues, and bonsai-filled courtyard look just as stunning. Despite living and traveling in Vietnam for weeks by this time, I had not yet visited a pagoda. I have no strong opinions on the matter, but I thought it would make me feel like an intruder or even an imposter as I am not a Buddhist.
This location, however, is full of tourists and worshipers alike. Our guide said that February was the local tourism high season, because lots of people visit from throughout Vietnam and China. I took off my shoes and observed the inside of the temple quietly but did not take any pictures. I didn’t want to distract from people’s worship in any way.
Monkey Mountain’s natural scenery
After living in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) for almost a month, being surrounded by the wide open sea and all the jungle vegetation felt amazing. My biggest tip for this sort of tour is not to ride with two people on a single bike. Ethan and I shared a bike to save a little money on rentals, but as two average sized Americans, we could hardly make it up the steeper roads. One girl left the tour early and they needed someone to ride her bike, so I took over. That was a lot more comfortable for Ethan and I. I felt grateful because it gave us the power we needed to make the ascent.
Along the road, we saw wild monkeys for the first time in our lives. Thankfully, the monkeys in Da Nang are not so accustomed to tourists that they beg for food, try to take your belongings, etc. They just observed us quietly as we observed them.
We also had a picnic on a gorgeous hillside, stopped to see an 800-year-old Banyan tree, and visited a fishing village. We probably could have accessed a lot of these places without a guide, but that can take so much research and we usually end up feeling lost and frustrated. For the price of these tours, it’s well worth having a guide who you can follow along the twisting roads and can tell you the history of the area.
Dragon Bridge show
Every Saturday and Sunday as well as on holidays, there is a show on the Dragon Bridge near downtown Da Nang. Visit the city’s official webpage here. We weren’t sure what to expect, but our Monkey Mountain tour guide recommended going. Tourists and local families alike show up to watch.
The police shut down the bridge to traffic at about 8:40 p.m. The show starts a little after 9 p.m. and lasts about 15 minutes. We showed up about 30 minutes early and waited so we could have a good view. Since it’s so short and traffic is quite congested before and after the show, I would recommend planning something else to do in the area at the same time, such as trying one of the many riverside restaurants or coffee shops.
Golden Bridge day trip
The internet-famous Golden Bridge is about 8.5 km from the city of Da Nang. What surprises most people when they start their research is this: the bridge is actually within a theme park named Sun World Ba Na Hills.
Unfortunately, we hadn’t done our research and were shocked at the Disneyland-like park we were directed toward. We paid the admission and took the picture though. You’re going to want to read up on the positives and negatives of the theme park before committing to a day trip to the Golden Bridge.
Accommodations come at a very fair price in Da Nang—cheaper than in Hoi An because it’s less
Still, that didn’t matter too much since hostels are all about the common areas.
What should I try on my next trip to Da Nang? Leave a message in the comments.
Dreaming of traveling though Vietnam? Pin this resource for later: