To many travelers, Da Nang is known mainly as a beachside destination to visit only if you have an extra day to burn and want to enjoy it while lying on a white-sand beach. And while Da Nang is great for this, there is so much more to see and do in the city but also in the surrounding area. From visiting the famed Marble Mountains or cruising over the scenic Hai Van Pass to trying various water sports and hiking in the surrounding hills there are tons to do for those with an adventurous spirit. If you love spending time outdoors, then check out our list of top outdoor activities in Da Nang below and you’ll find yourself wanting to add an extra couple of days to your stay in the city.

Marble Mountains

Top outdoor activities in da nang
Marble Mountains

Just seven kilometers from Da Nang you’ll find the most popular sight in the area: the famous Marble Mountains, or Ngu Hanh Son in Vietnamese. This cluster of five limestone and marble hills can be seen from afar and should be the top priority on your itinerary.

What makes these hills so special is their unique conical shape and the fact that they’re home to a labyrinth of tunnels and caves. In the past centuries, locals would use them for a wide variety of purposes, including worship, hiding troops during times of war, and even mining. This is forbidden now though as it’s been causing damage to some of the delicate structures.

Once you arrive at the Marble Mountains explore intricate carvings and religious artwork depicting heaven and a very spooky idea of hell, descend into the damp caves that serve as shrines and temples or climb to the top of one of the hills to enjoy a breathtaking view of Da Nang and the surrounding countryside.

If you need some more information about how to get there, what exactly to see, things to watch out for and the Marble Mountains’ history in general, check out our feature article of this must-see destination.

Location: Hoa Hai Ward, Ngu Hanh Son district, Da Nang city
Opening hours: 7 AM – 5 PM
Entrance fee: 15,000 VND

Hai Van Pass

what to do in da nang
Hai Van Pass

When traveling from Da Nang to the ancient city of Hue or vice versa, it’s absolutely worth it to take a detour and travel over the Hai Van Pass, also known as the Sea Butts Pass. If you’ve already made other travel arrangements, you can also do the Pass as a day trip from the city, by car or motorcycle. Either way, this is something you do not want to miss.

Hai Van Pass is probably one of the most scenic routes in Vietnam, snaking its way through verdant hills and around countless curves. It crosses over the Truong Son mountain range and reaches up to 500 meters of altitude, making it the highest pass in Vietnam. From the top, you have amazing views of Da Nang City, Tien Sa Port, Son Tra Peninsula, and the South China Sea.

Apart from beautiful vistas, Hai Van Pass also offers a glimpse into the country’s history. Along the road, you’ll see the several wartime gun towers, the ruins of a fort built by the French and used by South Vietnamese and US armies during the Vietnam War, the Hai Van Tunnel (the longest in all of ASEAN) and the ancient Tran Dynasty’s Hai Van Gate. If all the winding roads are getting to you, stop mid-way and try local seafood dishes or grab some strong Vietnamese coffee. That should fix up your stomach and make the rest of the drive more fun.

Adventure lovers should consider renting a motorcycle to fully explore the pass, it will take less than one hour to reach the top depending on how many times you stop for pictures. There are also hidden beaches down narrow hiking trails to be discovered. Make sure your rented bike is up for the task though, as this pass is steep. This is more for the experienced drivers as the many hairpin curves and blind corners can be a bit challenging for newer drivers. Do you feel up to it and are looking for a thrill? Then this day trip is for you!

Christina’s now offers a guided motorcycle tour of the pass in which you will get a unique look at what this area has to offer. I am sure you have tried Vietnam’s famous and delicious fish sauce. But do you know how it’s made? Take a ride up the pass and see for yourself.

Suoi Voi – Elephant Springs

things to do in da nang
Elephant springs

Coming down the Hai Van Pass and feeling like a quick, refreshing dip? Then stop at the Elephant Springs, or Suoi Voi as they are called in Vietnamese. It’s a group of natural pools and small waterfalls in what feels like the middle of the jungle. Go there on a weekday and you might actually be the only one there. Enjoy the tranquility, sit back and let the water cool you down, then have a picnic in the shade of the trees before getting back on your way.

Location: 50 kilometers north of Da Nang
Entrance fee: 5,000 VND

Day Trips:

Son Tra Peninsula and Bai Da Den Stone Beach

da nang travel guide
Blue waters at Son Tra

A wonderful day trip you absolutely should take from Da Nang is to Son Tra Peninsula, also known as Monkey Mountain. You’d best plan a whole day for this because there is so much to see. Right when you get there, you drive through Man Thai, a small traditional fishing village that supplies most of the seafood for local restaurants. Get there around 6 AM to witness the fishermen’s daily rituals before they go to work.

Keep going up the hill and you’ll reach your next stop, the Linh Ung Pagoda. This is where a stunning, white, 67-meter tall Lady Buddha stands and looks out of Da Nang Bay. She is said to protect the fishermen and local residents from storms and give them safe passage.

Further up the steep winding roads and you’ll see a sign pointing to a lighthouse. Follow it to get to one of the oldest trees you’ve ever seen. In a small clearing, a majestic Banyan tree towers over visitors and spreads an aura of peace. Take in the special ambiance of this place before continuing your journey.

Go back the way you came and now head towards the Son Tra Peninsula Resort. On the way, you’ll come by the Monkey Passage, a place where rope ladders are spanned across the street to help a rare local monkey species cross over safely. They are pretty shy but if you’re quiet and patient you might see one.

A little further along the road, you will reach Ban Co Peak. It’s the most famous and beautiful viewpoint on Son Tra and lets you look out over the whole city of Da Nang on a clear day. This spot is also known for its statue of Confucius playing chess, so stop by and pay him a visit.

If you still have time after all this, head down to Bai Da Den (Black Stones Beach). It’s a secluded beach and unique in the area thanks to its many big black stones. Relax there after all your exploring and go for a swim before heading back to Da Nang and calling it a day.

Luong Duong Springs – Turtle Springs

Also known as the Turtle Springs, Luong Duong is a wonderful place to feel close to nature. A quick, easy motorbike ride from Da Nang, this place is a wonderland of overgrown rocks, dense jungle and huge stone sculptures depicting the legend of Au Lac and the story of Vietnam’s origin.

Set right below the Hai Van Pass this place is fed with crystal clear water from the mountain. While most of the time it’s just a slow brook, during the rainy season some parts of it look almost like waterfalls.

Walk along the forest path and you’ll discover countless stones carved into the shapes of mystical and actual animals. If you look very closely, you’ll even find the image of a sleeping princess. Going a little further you will come across a Catholic chapel in a cave with a carved nativity scene. A few more steps further, there’s a small village where you can buy food and drinks. Head along the path a bit further to reach pools of sparkling clear water and go for a cool dip.

Ba Na Hill and Suoi Mo Springs

Ba Na Hill, a former French hill station, is now home to one of Southeast Asia’s biggest and most modern theme parks. But even if that’s not your thing, Ba Na Hill can be worth a trip for its beautiful nature, great trekking, and sweeping vistas. The best thing is that you get to enjoy looking out over Da Nang even if you don’t feel like climbing steep trails. That’s because this hill has one of Asia’s longest cable cars (five kilometers!) and it takes you right to the top.

From there you can see all the way to Son Tra Peninsula on a clear day. Afterwards, you can take one of the smaller cable cars to the lower areas of the hill to explore the ruins of some French colonial buildings and go for long (or short) treks in the verdant forest.

Once you’ve had enough of that and feel like cooling down, go back to the base of the mountain and find the signage for the Suoi Mo springs. After parking your motorbike, walk that last few hundred meters along a forest trail and you’ll find the natural pools.

It’s the perfect place to have a picnic (bring your own food, just in case the restaurant is not open!) and then go for a swim. Follow the river upstream a bit further to the waterfalls and see where it runs off into a canyon. While you’re exploring the springs, be careful and keep an eye out for signs telling you where not to climb or walk, as rocks and mud could be loose and slippery.

Location: 45 kilometers west of Da Nang
Entrance fee: VND 5,000 (for Suoi Mo springs)

My Son

water sports da nang
My Son Temples

As the former religious and political capital of the Champa Kingdom, My Son is an important heritage site you should absolutely include in your trip to Da Nang. Located in a valley about 90 minutes southwest of Da Nang, My Son is a sanctuary of Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Shiva, built between the 4th and 13th centuries.

To make the most out of your trip there, visit the museum before you explore the ruins. The detailed information and simple explanations of Hindu mythology and symbolism will help you better understand what you’re looking at. To do some more research before you go, read our feature article about My Son.

To get there you can either rent a motorbike and ride there yourself or join a tour. Going with a guide is highly recommended as he or she will be able to show you some of My Son’s nooks and crannies you might otherwise overlook and tell you interesting stories about the sanctuary and its surroundings. If this is something you’re interested in, check out our My Son experience here.

When heading there on your own, try to go as early as possible since it can get very hot towards midday. To beat the crowds, arriving in the afternoon is a good idea, but be prepared for it to be rather hot.

Location: 90 minute-drive southwest of Da Nang
Opening hours: 6 AM – 5 PM
Entrance fee: 150,000 VND

Beaches:

A trip to Da Nang would not be complete without a visit to one of its beautiful, soft, white shores. Whether you like to share your beach with other visitors, want to try surfing and other water sports or prefer to relax on a deserted coast, Da Nang has everything you need. The list of beaches below is a great place to start but by no means exhaustive. Maybe you’ll discover a new one while you roam around Da Nang!

Non Nuoc

Non Nuoc beach is one of Vietnam’s most famous beaches and also one of the most beautiful coastlines around the world. Located a twenty-minute drive from Da Nang, its soft white sands stretch for over five kilometers and offer guests the perfect place to enjoy the sun and play in the waves. There are many activities available as well, such as surfing, stand-up paddle, and kayaking classes.

Non Nuoc is only a short walk from the Marble Mountains so it’s the perfect stop after you’ve done your daily dose of sightseeing and want to relax to the sound of the waves.

My Khe

da nang beach
My Khe beach

Apart from Non Nuoc, My Khe beach is Vietnam’s other extremely well-known and popular seaside destination. It gained popularity during the Vietnam War when US soldiers were sent there for rest and recreation. After this, it developed a reputation for being one of the most luxurious beaches in Vietnam and today it attracts local and international visitors.

Being close to numerous World Heritage Sites, such as Hoi An harbor, it’s a great place to unwind after you’ve spent the day walking and exploring. Sit back and enjoy the view of the ocean and the nearby Son Tra peninsula or head over to The Village, a local guesthouse with a cool bar and, best of all, beanbags on the beach! It’s hardly possible to find a better place to chill out and have a beer at My Khe.

Pham Van Dong

Located a bit north of Non Nuoc, Pham Van Dong is a beach popular with local and international guests. Its white sands, gentle waves, and expansive lawns dotted with palm trees make it the perfect place to put your feet up and forget the rest of the world. This beach now boasts some of the best seaside facilities around. From large parking lots and permanently staffed lifeguard towers to public shower and changing facilities, this beach offers guests the ideal mix of comfort, convenience, and simplicity.

Xuan Thieu/Red Beach

Sunset-chasers listen up! Xuan Thieu or Red Beach is the place for you to be when the sun goes down. Spend the afternoon here, just a few kilometers north of Da Nang’s center, after visiting some interesting sights and as the day ends, watch the water turn a brilliant red as it reflects the last rays of light in an almost magical way.

An interesting historical note about this place is that it’s where the first US soldiers landed during the Vietnam War in 1965. While most of the compounds they set up there were converted to housing developments, some of them are still used by the People’s Army of Vietnam today.

Nam O Beach

17 kilometers north of Da Nang’s center and just past the Son Tra peninsula, the sands of Nam O beach stretch as far as the eye can see. Since it’s a bit farther from the city, it’s more quiet and great if you want to relax and chill without the crowds. When hunger strikes, stop by one of the stilted restaurants that are right over the water at high tide. They serve various seafood specialties such as goi ca, a Vietnamese version of sushi. Like raw fish? Then give this a try.

The surrounding towns are also famous for making some of region’s best fish sauce. Still need a great souvenir or want to bring a small gift for your local guesthouse host? Now you know what to get.

Tien Sa on Son Tra Peninsula

After exploring Son Tra peninsula, it’s time for a break and a dip in the ocean. And the best thing is, you don’t even have to go far. Tien Sa is on the western side of Son Tra, in a protected, calm bay. While the sand isn’t quite as white and soft as that of Non Nuoc, it’s the place to go if you want to avoid masses of people.

Generally, you will find more locals on this beach than foreigners which makes it ideal if you want to experience real Vietnamese beach life. That means restaurants serving up fragrant hot pots and other regional specialties that are super delicious and usually easy on the budget. Just make a note to avoid this beach during public holidays as it can get quite busy.

Read more: Best Beaches in Vietnam.

Water Sports:

snorkeling diving da nang
Parasailing!

Can’t get enough of water and the beach? Take advantage of Da Nang’s large offering of water sports. Whatever nautical activity you enjoy, chances are you can do it here.

Surfing

This might come as a surprise to you, but Da Nang has a steadily growing community of surfers. Word has been getting out that the city’s coasts have some pretty good waves, and this has been attracting surfers from around the world in recent years. Never stood on a board before? Don’t worry! There are many reputable surfing schools where you can take a beginner’s class and get your feet wet. They rent out equipment too, so don’t worry if you don’t have your own.

Some great places to go for surfing are Non Nuoc, My An, and My Khe beach. If you already have some experience, head there between November and March when strong winds can make for bigger waves. For beginners, April, May, August, and September are better as the waves are more consistent and only knee- or shoulder-high.

Beware of riptides and avoid going out alone. Being with a group is not only more fun, it’s also a lot safer, especially if you’re not a very strong swimmer.

Snorkeling

If surfing sounds like a bit too much action for you, maybe you’d rather go snorkeling? Da Nang has a few great locations to do this. One of the best is Nam O beach and the shores of Son Tra peninsula, so if you’re already there for a day trip, pack your snorkeling gear and get ready to make friends with the many colorful fish and corals that are at home in local waters.

snorkeling-1
Photo: mykhebeach.org

While you’re exploring Da Nang’s underwater life, please keep in mind to be careful and respectful of your surroundings. Corals are very delicate – please do not remove them and take home as a souvenir! If you want something to bring back from the beach, the best thing is to come early in the morning to find some beautiful shells.

Parasailing

Still feel a bit overwhelmed by snorkeling? You only have to stay tight in your safety straps and let the wind take you over the best views of the beach from above. In Da Nang, I believe the most popular (and also amazing) place to parasail is My Khe Beach. With its vast stretch of beautiful white sand, clear water, and mountainous scenes, there’s no doubt that you’ll have an extraordinary experience parasailing in Da Nang.

Parasailing
Photo: mykhebeach.org

Unlike surfing or snorkeling, you can parasail nearly year-round, it just depends if you dislike the rain. Now you only have to choose whether to parasail in the morning or afternoon. I should say that morning seems to be the better choice as the waters are often calmer with cooler temperatures than in the afternoon.

Arranging a parasailing trip in Da Nang is very simple. There’s a great number of water sport operators that you can find on the beach. From there, travelers can book this activity directly with about 500,000 VND per person for one round of 15 minutes. Remember to try this safe yet thrilling sport when traveling to Da Nang to get the most stunning view of this scenic beach!

Amusement Parks:

If you’ve had your fill of beaches and need a bit more of a thrill, you might want to check out Da Nang’s amusement parks. They’re popular with both local and foreign visitors and offer a welcome change from sightseeing and other tourist activities.

Asia Park

One of Asia’s most modern amusement parks today, Asia Park is a great place to enjoy a day of rides, attractions and shows. Even if you’re not into roller coasters and the like, you should stop by here to get on the Sun Wheel, Da Nang’s landmark Ferris wheel that can be seen from almost anywhere in the city. Especially during the night this is a wonderful experience as the wheel itself is beautifully illuminated and you have a supreme view of the whole city and its countless sparkling lights.

Asia Park is split up into two main parts to make it easier to navigate and help you find what you’re looking for. The main area is full of roller coasters, free fall towers and carousels, providing something for all age groups. The second area features scale models of ten Southeast Asian countries’ main sights and highlights their beautiful architecture as well as their traditional foods and traditions.

If you have some extra time or feel like you haven’t been on fun rides in way too long, this is a great place to spend an afternoon or evening.

Location: No. 01 Phan Dang Luu Street, Hai Chau District, Da Nang City
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 3:00 PM – 10:00 PM, Sun 9:30 AM – 10:30 PM
Entrance fee: 300,000 VND for adults, 200,000 VND for children

Ba Na Hill Fantasy Park

Above Ba Na Hills is Fantasy Park – you can find it inside an imposing structure resembling a medieval European fortress. Inside a super-modern amusement and entertainment park inspired by Jules Verne’s book Journey to the Center of the Earth and 20000 Leagues Under the Sea. It features a number of different rides such as bumper cars and free fall towers as well as activities like rock climbing and exploring the fairy forest or dinosaur park.

The rest of the park sprawls over the surrounding area and is home to more replicated European-style buildings. Various performances take place in the landscaped gardens and visitors can take the cable car or gondola from one end of the park to the other to see all it has to offer and get some great photos.

Whether all this is worth the rather steep entrance fee is up for debate. There are good and bad reviews of the park, but if you enjoy novelty entertainment and have some extra time on your hands, you can give it a try.

Location: No 93 Nguyen Van Linh St, Hai Chau District, Da Nang City
Opening hours: 7:30 AM – 9:30 PM
Entrance fee: 650,000 VND for adults, 550,000 VND for children

 

As you can see, Da Nang has a multitude of activities no matter what your age or preference. So, next time you’re in the area, reserve at least two or three days to explore and get to know this fascinating town. If we’ve sparked your interest and you want to book some tours right away, you can do that on our website or go and read more about Da Nang’s weather and best cafe shops in the heart of the city.

If you enjoyed reading this article and would like some more fun info about what to see, do, and eat (and a bunch of interesting cafes!) in Vietnam, follow us at the Christina’s Blog!

2 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Christinas,

    I am Trang, blogger on trangps.com. I am now staying in Saigon to live and work. I would love to connect travel bloggers here to an event called “Meet bloggers and writers in Saigon.” I would love to invite you to our event this December. If you are interested in it, please let me know.
    My email; [email protected]
    Thank you! Btw, I really love your blog so much!

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