Experience The Best Of Da Nang & Hoi An In 72 Hours
Whether you have two days or two weeks to travel, our Da Nang & Hoi An city guide covers the must see sites, local food recommendations, where to stay, how much the city will cost, an example itinerary, and how to get around the city - including how to get to and from the airport.
By far the two most interesting cities in Central Vietnam, Da Nang is the fastest growing city in Southeast Asia, and Hoi An, the most touristic. Usually we don't group two cities together in our Layover Series, but these cities are almost synonymous with each-other. Only a 20 minute motorbike ride away from one-another, Da Nang & Hoi An are two cities in Vietnam that should not be missed.
Da Nang: With a population of nearly 4 million, this city is the third most populated, behind Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Not only does Da Nang boast one of the best coast lines of the entire country, there are possibly more things to do in and around this city than any other. Within the city itself, you can visit the pristine coastlines, explore Marble Mountain, hike Son Tra Peninsula for a birds-eye view of the city and surrounding mountains and coast, get lost in one of the many inside or outside markets, and visit Lady Buddha: a statue taller than the Statue of Liberty, respectfully. Outside the city, you can visit UNESCO World Heritage City Hoi An, UNESCO World Heritage City Hue, UNESCO World Heritage Site My Son, or you can visit Ba Na Hills: a French-colonial city built on top of a mountain that currently holds the record for longest cable car in the world. Additionally, Da Nang is known as the commercial and educational capital of Vietnam and is often called the "City of Bridges" as it boasts four massively impressive bridges and about half-a-dozen others that connect the city.
Hoi An: With a substantially lower population of 120,000, Hoi An welcomed more than 3.2 million tourists in 2017. Claiming a UNESCO World Heritage City title in 1999, Hoi An is an exceptionally well-preserved example of a South-East Asian trading port dating from the 15th to the 19th century. Its buildings and street plan reflect a unique blend of influences, indigenous (Cham) and foreign (French). Prominent in the city's old town, is a covered "Japanese Bridge," dating to the 16th-17th century - Walking through Hoi An feels as if you're walking through an ancient fairy tale. Additionally, This UNESCO City is home to the most tailors and massage parlors we have personally ever seen in one location. From shoes, jackets, suits, to wedding dresses, you can get anything custom-made just for you at a fraction of the cost; and while you're waiting you can grab a massage at any of the plethora of options.
Getting To & From The Airport
Da Nang has one International terminal and one Domestic terminal. Both are located next to each-other, about 10 minutes away from the city center. The International Terminal has just opened (in 2017) and brings more than 8 million passengers to Da Nang annually - compared to 1 million passengers annually only 10 years ago in 2008.
There are only 3 ways to get into Da Nang city from Da Nang (DAD) International Airport.
1. Taxi (Fastest option - no waiting for your GRAB to arrive. There are plenty of Taxi's waiting just outside the arrival hall)
Cost: A one-way 10 minute trip will cost around 110,000 VND ($5.50 USD)
Cost: A one-way 10 minute trip will cost around 100,000 VND ($5.00 USD) + 10,000 VND airport exit fee (only applicable if you are in a private car, such as a GRAB)
3. Coco Bus
Cost: 250,000 VND, because you have to purchase a 24-hour pass, as this is a hop-on hop-off tour service.
If you are going straight to Hoi An, you can either contact your hotel, hostel, or homestay and arrange a ride, or take a GRAB for a cheaper fare than a taxi.
First Things First - What/Where To Eat?
"You don’t have to go looking for great food in Vietnam. Great food finds you. It’s everywhere. In restaurants, cafes, little storefronts, in the streets; carried in makeshift portable kitchens on yokes borne by women vendors. Your cyclo-driver will invite you to his home; your guide will want to bring you to his favourite place. Strangers will rush up and offer you a taste of something they’re proud of and think you should know about. It’s a country filled with proud cooks – and passionate eaters."
- Anthony Bourdain
Must-See's Of Da Nang & Hoi An
Da Nang and Hoi An offer visitors a plethora of sightseeing options, but with the right plan, both cities can be explored and mastered in 72 hours. Here are the must see sights of these cities that you can explore and conquer in 72 hours. There are 8 must see attractions between these cities that we have included, that have come to define both of these cities' global popularity. From the ancient streets of Hoi An, the fire breathing Dragon Bridge in Da Nang, the breathtaking beach in both cities, the views of Da Nang city from the tallest tower, Marble Mountain, or Lady Buddha - it's all broken down below.
Exploring Da Nang & Hoi An On Public Transportation
Da Nang & Hoi An are both well structured and connected cities. Thus their public transportation is easy to use and affordable. When sightseeing, we recommend hopping on any of the options below to reach your desired destination. All options are reasonably affordable and will take you anywhere in the city or between the both of them.
***When bar-hopping in Hoi An, do not ever take a motorbike taxi or take any kind of taxi by yourself. Unfortunately, Hoi An is run by the local mafia and the motorbike "taxis" will take you where you want to go and then rob you. Likewise, always take a taxi with a friend; power in numbers. However, Hoi An is so small there is really no reason why you shouldn't walk.
Coco Bus - When sightseeing in Da Nang, there is a new hop-on hop-off tour company. There are more than 25 bus stops including at the most famous attractions: Marble Mountains, My Khe Beach (Da Nang), Cham Museum, Dragon Bridge, and more.
Purchase your Coco Bus Tour pass on the bus itself, at Cocobay Information Centre, or at the Danang International Airport.
Price: 250,000 VND/ticket
Hop on hop off
Valid for 24 hours
Get Absolutely Anything Custom Made!
In both of these cities (however more notably, Hoi An) you can literally get anything custom made. More well known in the local backpacker community than the nightlife, picturesque streets, or cheap food and drinks, this is quite possibly the best city in all of Southeast Asia to get clothes, shoes, luggage, or accessories costum made to you liking. There are probably more than 100 tailors within either city, waiting to cater to your every desire. Prices can vary depending where you go, what you want, or the amount of product you are willing to buy. Make sure to explore many shops before you decide on one. Our favorite shop is just outside the main walking part of the city, as we find the quality remains the same but the price is notably lower simply because of location.
Where We Stay
There are tons of accommodation options in both Da Nang & Hoi An, from hostels, Airbnb, bed & breakfasts, or many five-star hotels.
In Da Nang, we choose to stay at a new container hostel called ROM Casa. "Ideally located between the Han River and Da Nang’s best beaches (300 m from My An Beach), ROM Casa gives you access to all that the city has to offer and is easy to reach with the international airport only 5km away. Made out of renovated shipping containers, the hostel offers all the necessary facilities in an amazingly stylish environment. Private and dorm rooms come with air-conditioning, personal lockers, reading lamps, power sockets and Wi-Fi access. The hostel offers a lot of common areas to relax in. You can read a book on our rooftop terrace, bask in the sun by our container pool or you can join the fun playing with our board games or foosball table. In the mood for a little more excitement, you can sip your cocktails, gaze at the stars and enjoy a good old BBQ with your feet in the sand in our outdoor bar. Downtown and the main city museums are just 10 minute ride. Don’t be shy and ask our lovely staff, they will be happy to give you some tips about what to discover in Da Nang and the local culture."
($12.50/night for a 4 bed mixed dorm or $38.50/night for a private twin room).
In Hoi An, we choose to stay at the famous Tribee Kinh hostel. "With small shared dorm rooms (3-4-5-6 people/room) and NO BUNK BED, air-condition, en-suite bathroom, especially large and funky common area, kitchen, Tribee Kinh has relaxed atmosphere (and a bit party) which is an oasis for you to refill your energy after long time traveling or long day with load of activities. With full week event schedule, activities, friendly (and sometime crazy) vibe and excellent customer service you would be mad to book any where else in Hoi An."
($10.00/night for a 4 bed mixed dorm or $20.00/night for a private twin room).
Travel Tips & Helpful Hints
Do I need a visa? Yes. If you are from Africa, the Middle East, India or Brazil you need to apply for a visa in advance. If you are from anywhere else, you can apply for a visa online and pick it up at your arrival port of entry once you get ot Vietnam. See more information here.
What is the power voltage? Vietnam uses the same power plug as Greater Europe. The voltage is 240v whereas the US is 110V - so your devices may get a little warm while charging.Most places in Vietnam have universal plugs in restaurants, or hotels, so whatever plug you have will, more than likely, work just fine.
What about smoking weed or drinking in the streets? Weed is illegal. If caught, more than likely you will just have to pay a bribe. The more you posses on your person, the larger the bribe. A lot of people smoke, so more than likely you will be just fine. Just be smart about it. As far as drinking goes, it is permissible to drink in public. Just don't be a drunk a**hole, and please don't drink and motorbike drive. SERIOUSLY!
What's the best way to get between these two cities? There is a yellow local bus, that runs between both of the cities every 15 minutes. It costs 20,000 VND (or $1 USD), and takes about 35 minutes.
What is the currency and its value? The currency used in Vietnam is called the Vietnamese Dong (VND). The current value (at the time writing) is 23,000VND = $1 USD.
72 hours in Da Nang & Hoi An Example Itinerary:
This example itinerary can work in either direction.
Welcome to Da Nang. First things first, grab some breakfast and head to Marble Mountain first thing in the morning. The weather and temperature will be much milder. Give yourself a 2-3 hours to explore.
After you explore Marble Mountain, head north back towards Da Nang. Grab lunch at a seafood restaurant near the beach and some fresh beer from a street vendor.
After lunch, keep heading north, now heading towards Lady Buddha and Son Tra Peninsula. Once you get to Lady Buddha, stop and check out the temple grounds it stands on. This will take you about an hour to walk around the entire thing.
Once you have seen Lady Buddha, keep heading up Son Tra Peninsula until you reach its peak: Ban Co. From here you can see a great panoramic view of the city and sea. If you go exploring a little you may even come across old US radio huts from the war. This is a great place to watch the sunset.
After you have watched the sunset, head back into Da Nang city. Grab some dinner and head to the Dragon Bridge at 9pm for the show. *We personally recommend visiting 7 Bridges Brewery for an awesome view of the show and a great IPA. This is a much better view than being in the crowds on the street.
Now that you're feeling a but buzzed off of awesome beer and have seen the Dragon breathe fire and spit water, head to The Workshop for a nightcap and a fun, art filled night.
Head back to your hotel or hostel and get a good nights sleep for your adventure in Hoi An tomorrow.
Wake up, grab some breakfast and head to Hoi An. You can either take the local bus, taxi, GRAB or drive your motorbike (if you're feeling up to it. The road (beach road) can be a bit dangerous as all kinds of vehicles, at all kinds of speeds use it to travel between these two cities).
Once in Hoi An, get yourself settled into your hotel or hostel and start exploring.
You can literally spend all day just walking around the city, taking pictures, eating street food, and drinking fresh beer.
If you're going to get something custom made, make sure to do it as soon as you get there, so they have plenty of time to finish it over the next 24-48 hours while you're in town.
After you have dinner, and the sunset falls behind this beautiful city, head towards the ancient city center and start bar-hopping. A backpacker favorite is Tiger Tiger Bar.
Good morning. Hungover? Probably. Grab some breakfast and start your day with a walk by the river.
Either rent a bicycle, motorbike, or walk to An Bang beach. *We recommend going to Soul Beach Restaurant for some of the best food, amazing drinks, live music, and a relaxed hippy-esque atmosphere.
So What's It Going To Cost?
Here is how much we spent, and what we spent it on, in 72 hours.
Food: Breakfast: We spent an average of $4 USD each, every morning at local bakeries/coffee shops.
Lunch: We spent an average of $5 USD each, everyday at local restaurants..
Dinner: We spent an average of $5 USD each, every evening.
Total for Food = $14 USD each/per day.
Beer: Between the fresh beer we drank in Hoi An, and the awesome craft beer we had in Da Nang, we spent anywhere from $0.10 -$4 per beer.
Average Total for Beer = $5 USD each/per day.
Accommodation: Staying at both ROM Casa in Da Nang and Tribee Kinh in Hoi An, we spent an average of $11.50 USD per night, per person)
For 2 people to stay 3 nights (at two different hostels), we spent $35 (total).
Transportation (Including getting to and from the airport via taxi): We took the local bus to and from Da Nang & Hoi An which cost $1.00 per person, each way. In order to get around the city, we rented a motorbike for 100,000VND per/day or took a GRAB if we were going out to the bars at night.
Total for Transportation = $14.00 USD each (total for 3 days).
Activities: We basically walked around a bunch and found the free activities to do: like exploring local markets, watching the sunset on the beach in Hoi An and the view of Da Nang from Novotel, and going to the Dragon Bridge show on Saturday night. We also explored Marble Mountain which only had an entrance cost of ony $2, saw Lady Buddha, and explored Son Tra Peninsula/Monkey Mountain, for only the cost of putting gas in our motorbike - so hardly anything at all.
Total for Activities = $10.00 USD each (total for 3 days, including gas).
So, What Did We Spend In 72 Hours?
That's about $38.33 USD per person, per day.