Da Nang is one of the most desirable cities to live in of all Vietnam. Vibrant and dynamic, ever-moving forward at a perfect pace with well-rounded infrastructure development, the city has proved to be highly efficient in transportation. So, getting around Da Nang should be easy and enjoyable for all travelers.
Da Nang is the most developed city on the central coast of Vietnam and there are a lot of modes of transportation available. The autonomous government of the city has been keen on pursuing sustainable development and creating a business-friendly environment that lures in many private investors. Da Nang has the best roads in Vietnam: spacious and well-organized. The urban traffic is smooth-sailing unlike that of Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, even during rush hour. There, you can get around pretty stress-free, either on foot, by bus, taxi, or on your own motorbike. Going outbound is relatively easy as well, with long-distance buses, a railway, and direct flights to many domestic and international destinations.
In this article, I will cover traveling around within the three main populated areas of Da Nang and briefly about getting to other locations outside the city as well. Let’s dig in!
The three main districts of Da Nang – Thanh Khe, Hai Chau, and Son Tra
Unlike Hanoi or HCMC, the places of interest in Da Nang are scattered around the whole city stretching miles in all directions. For that reason, going from one attraction to another on foot is a heavy chore, so you should use motorized transportation. Nevertheless, crossing the streets in Da Nang is pleasurable and you can closely observe your neighborhood at a slower pace. There are three main areas in Da Nang: Thanh Khe, Hai Chau, and Son Tra. Each area has its own distinctive features which I will summarize below.
- Thanh Khe District is the most local living quarters with the highest population density. The district is surrounded by the most markets, supermarkets, and electronic stores in Da Nang. Also, Thanh Khe is the transportation hub of the city, containing the main bus station, the train station, and it’s close to the airport. Apart from a single solitary beach and a peaceful, local feeling, there aren’t any tourist attractions in the area. Thanh Khe is a perfect getaway for those who are truly looking for a real local atmosphere, you can just walk around and explore the alleys, seeking the hidden cultural charm.
- Hai Chau District is the heart of Da Nang, with all the conveniences that you need. It is the commercial, cultural, administrative, and educational center of the city as well. The international airport is here and the transportation infrastructure is fully-developed as well. Hai Chau District represents the soul of Da Nang, a top-notch, multicultural, and dynamic city with many restaurants, coffee shops, bars, shopping malls, skyscraping buildings, and fancy hotels. There are lots of points of interest for you to experience: the magnificent architecture of the seven bridges, the Asia Park with the famous “Sun Wheel” – Ferris wheel, the Museum of Cham Sculpture with timeless artifacts, and the poetic along-the-river walkway – the Bach Dang street – where you can watch local youngsters performing sports, arts, and music at night. So, if you are looking for a young and active all-you-can-get neighborhood with fantastic nightlife surroundings, then the Hai Chau district is truly for you.
- Son Tra and Ngu Hanh Son districts, located in the eastern bank of the Han River, are the paradise sectors of Da Nang with the sun, the wind, the golden sand, and a mountain jungle wilderness. Sea activities, cycling along the beaches, or hitch-hiking through the monkey jungle, you get it all. This area features one of the best holiday experiences in Vietnam. What would your day look like, staying in Son Tra or Ngu Hanh Son district? Start by jogging in the early morning along lines of palm trees by the beach, observing the local fisherman bringing in their catch. Then have a nice day under the shining sun. When the sun gives way to dusk, you can relax at a nice café or a restaurant that caught your interest and fill yourself with the amazing cuisine of the central coast of Vietnam. Everything is at your leisure, no hassle and just a few steps away from your stay – restaurants, bars, cafes, and even parks are there all for you. Staying in the Son Tra and Ngu Hanh Son district is going to bring you a comfortable feeling of a chill-out vacation in a home away from home.
Have you decided which is your favorite neighborhood yet? I highly recommend staying in Son Tra and Ngu Hanh Son district, for the best accommodation experience. It is quiet and private enough, has all the facilities that fulfill your holidays and it’s just a few kilometers to the busy city center. Especially the My An beach area, located in the district; it’s a rapidly developing neighborhood with fantastic night-life, many restaurants and cafes pop up every day, bolstering your stay to the max. Check out our Christina’s accommodation in Da Nang, all located in this area, just a few steps to the beach. It might be the perfect place to enjoy your time in Da Nang.
“How do I get around in Da Nang?”
From the Airport: Private Car
Sometimes figuring out transportation from here to there on your relaxing vacation can get stressful. If you just want to make it easy on yourself and avoid feeling overwhelmed by all the questions on price and route, then just book a private airport transfer. Team Christina’s has developed an airport transport line called Muvv that is accessible with just a click. You can book in advance, and not worry about your transportation even before you depart. What if you make a last-minute order? Don’t worry, since Christina’s airport transfer will be there within just a few minutes.
It is fairly easy to get a Grab car anywhere in Da Nang. This will save you a bit of money compared to a taxi. You just need to get the app ready for your smartphone before your travels. One big disadvantage you must think about is, these apps require an internet or data connection so think about a mobile data package before you visit Vietnam. Check this comprehensive guide about service providers in Vietnam. Pinpointing exact pickup and drop-off locations should prevent miscommunication issues. In addition, using Grab will allow you to pay by credit card.
If you have a hard time using Grab, then you should resort to using taxis. From the city center or the airport, you can effortlessly catch a taxi without making prior arrangements. Every one of them is equipped with a reliable meter, and rarely a scam occurs, so expats appreciate them. Have your destination address written down to show to the driver, avoiding miscommunication. To avoid high rate taxis, you should choose a well-known taxi brand:
- Mai Linh Taxi (green taxi with Mai Linh Group logo): +84 511 352 5252
- Vinasun Taxi (white taxi with Vinasun Taxi logo): +84 511 368 6868
- Tien Sa Taxi (yellow taxi with Taxi Tien Sa logo): +84 511 379 7979
There is a new shared taxi service, like Blablacar in Europe, that recently launched and is available in Da Nang – Dichungtaxi. Book your taxi online and the system will send the booking information to their drivers for pickup. To save money, you can share the taxi with travelers heading the same way by choosing the “share” option. If not, you can always take a “private” taxi. This new service is potentially cheaper than other options and it lowers the probability of being scammed since their pricing is fixed based on the package you select.
Going from place to place in Da Nang by bus is pleasant as well, especially since it’s just 5,000 VND. Although the bus is the cheapest travel option, it will take a bit longer and consume more effort (getting there and waiting for the bus) compared to other options. Bus services start at 5:30 in the morning and stop operating at 4 PM, with high frequency.
For your convenience, you can use Google Maps and its schedule explorer to pinpoint the nearest bus stop near your stay and the arrival time of the bus. The ticket can be easily purchased on the bus but make sure to pay the right price, 5,000 VND per ride everywhere in Da Nang. If you just arrive at the airport with plenty of luggage, this option will be less convenient because the nearest bus stop is around three kilometers away.
Traveling by motorbike is the most exciting option of all. It is the most popular form of transportation in Vietnam for locals and travelers alike since it allows for ultimate flexibility.
However, if this is your first time in Vietnam and you are not familiar with driving a vehicle similar to the motorbike, I would not recommend this option because it is fairly risky. Traffic in Vietnam is quite different from traffic in other countries; driving requires a special set of skills like situational awareness, good reflexes, excellent balance, and guts of steel. If you do not have this set of skills, do not take the risk.
There are two common types of motorbikes: manual and automatic transmission. Automatic bikes are the first choice for most travelers because they are easier to handle, especially in light of the slew of new traffic laws you must obey. Just turn the throttle and it will run. However, if you also plan to visit other nice spots in the area including Son Tra peninsula or challenge yourself to Hai Van pass, then the manual bike will be more suitable since you can manually control the torque (force) which is essential to going uphill.
Remember to check the bike carefully: tires, horn, brakes, and lights. If you have rented a manual bike, then also check the gear pedal. Make sure all functions are in good condition and take a photo of the shop, with contact and address, or take their business card with you in case something unexpected happens on the way and you need their assistance. The average price for a bike rental is 130,000 VND (6 USD) per day. Some shops will give you a discount for a longer rental period. There are a few small shops that provide bike rentals for less than 130,000 VND per day but this is because they rent older motorbikes; make sure nothing is missing or wrong with the bike if you choose this option. Here are some well-known bike rental shops in Da Nang city:
Truong Dat motorbike rental – 65/86 To Hien Thanh:
Contact: Mr.Tuan: +84 969 722 744 or Mr. Hung: +84 969 822 844
Le Truong motorbike rental – My Khe Beach
Contact: Mr. Thuan: +84 981 331 331
You will have to leave your ID or your passport – sometimes they allow a copy – at the rental shop in order to rent a motorbike and ensure the bike’s safe return. You can either go directly to the shop to retrieve the bike or you can pay the shop extra money and they will bring it to your place.
I recommend not renting a car for yourself in Vietnam even if you have experience driving on the right side of the street at home. There are too many motorcycles swarming around and the traffic laws are very different in Vietnam, especially for cars. Therefore, you should only rent a private car service with a local driver.
If you want to go on a day-trip to certain points of interest or somewhere out of Da Nang, ask your accommodation if they can arrange a private car for you. Check this article first for places that you may want to visit: Outdoor Activities in Da Nang. Provide the private car operator with your pickup address and time and they will pick you up. Negotiate the prices with the operator and you can also discuss with them your preferred day-trip, it should be more or less 12,000VND per kilometer.
You can also arrange a private car through any car rental service in the city, always ask for the price before confirming the booking. Here are some trustworthy companies:
- Da Thanh travel: +84 511 355 0022
- Vu Khoa travel: +84 511 355 2768
- Quang Da Thang travel: +84 511 363 8638
Call the car service company and provide your details such as pickup time, location, and even flight number so they can pick you up on time without any hassle. The private car option is as comfortable as it gets and you can arrange with the operator if you want to visit some sites along the way. If you are traveling in a group or with your family, this will be the best way! In addition, a private car pickup is available at any time whereas taxis are more difficult to find during the quiet hours of the day.
“Where should I visit outside of Da Nang?”
Da Nang is also located at a vantage point on the coastline of Vietnam, close to three UNESCO heritage sites: My Son Sanctuary, Hoi An ancient town, and the Imperial city of Hue. Look closer, and you will find that the city is also surrounded by plenty of sceneries also: the Marble Mountains, Hai Van Pass, Tra Que Vegetable Village, and some secret waterfalls as well. For a bit of an adventure to the middle of nowhere, you can take a ride on your own bike up in the Truong Son ranges. Below, I will compile a brief introductory list about these sights that I recommended.
- My Son Sanctuary is the biggest Champa architecture complex in the country, situated in a blessed and isolated location, inside a two-kilometer diameter basin surrounded by mountains and jungles like a natural fortress. The sanctuary is 40 kilometers away from Da Nang, located in Quang Nam province. You should check out this article!
For the most awesome experience of My Son Sanctuary, Onetrip is always at your service, and they take you on a longer ride, paying a visit to more points of interest rather than going straight up to the site.
Hoi An is a renowned ancient city; it used to be the busiest international trading port in Southeast Asia and is one of Vietnam’s most attractive tourism destinations. You will walk in the alleyways decorated with traditional lanterns, lined by faded yellow ancient tea houses, and enjoy the most alluring and magical moments in this tranquil old town. Have a look at what you can do for one day in Hoi An here!
- The Marble Mountains – Ngu Hanh Son, is located on the way from Da Nang to Hoi An, which can be conveniently visited if you are traveling to the ancient town. Literally called “The Five Elements Mountains,” the Marble Mountains have all the components that craft a mystical heaven on earth: golden sand beaches, rich plantations, blue oceanic views, hidden sacred temples, and pagodas within the marvelous caves among the five magnificent limestone mountains. Apart from these, you can pay a visit to the marble stone sculpture facilities in Ngu Hanh Son area if you like.
In this article we introduce the Marble Mountains: Everything About the Marble Mountains in Da Nang.
- Tra Que Vegetable Village is just past Hoi An ancient city. Located three kilometers away from the center of Hoi An, Tra Que, with its lush grassland, marvelous rice fields, and tranquil lakes, is well-known as the only freshest and cleanest vegetable supporter for the region. It is one of the most beautiful rural areas of Vietnam. There, you will experience what Vietnam countryside is truly like while at the same time, allowing yourself to escape momentarily from the busy city life. It really is the perfect getaway for anybody. Check this out for a fantastic village adventure offered by Onetrip!
- The Imperial city of Hue, people often think of the fancy palaces and ancient temples breathing the nostalgic flavor of glorious dynasties, with the vivid evidence of the last feudal dynasty. Not only that, the gentle and relaxing pace of life here is a breath of fresh air. Some famous landmarks of Hue are the Citadel (the most famous of the monuments) and the Thien Mu Pagoda (the city’s official symbol). Plus, the food here is insanely delicious as well.
- Hai Van pass is along the way from Da Nang to Hue, and serves as a natural border between these two regions. Hai Van pass, the pass of butts and sea, used to be the most challenging route in all of Vietnam, with twisting roads heavy fog, and the occasional rain, this pass is often dangerous during dawn and dusk. The pass is famous for its scenic beauty – “A deserted ribbon of perfection – one of the best coast roads in the world” – Jeremy Clarkson from Top Gear, that provides an excellent adventurous experience. You can either stop by for a little time on your way to Hue, or fully discover the whole surrounding area of the pass with Onetrip for a whole day.
- Truong Son ranges one-day ride is one of the most fantastic trips that I have ever taken on my own. I took a 220-kilometer round-trip ride from Da Nang to the P’rao town of Dong Giang region up in the Truong Son mountainous area. On the way up, you see endless blooming tea farms, as you ride toward the center spine of the range, the scenery starts to open up like a panorama of green mountains, crystal-clear lakes, and interesting ethnic villages. Proceeding downhill, the views change dramatically, with magnificent rivers flowing down and big hydroelectricity infrastructures, and a breath-taking village hugged by mountains, rivers, and lurking sun rays welcoming you back to the ground level. There are many locations that you can explore on the way like hidden waterfalls, jungle paths, and rural villages for example. This is the route that I took for my own adventure. You can always craft your own.
Now that you have the necessary information, put on your tourist shoes and hit the road! Book your flight (and check out a comprehensive guide to Da Nang International Airport), make the easy arrangements and be ready for the adventures ahead. Cheers.
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!