12 things to do in Vietnam's Da Nang other than visit the Golden Bridge
Seek out cool experiences and off-the-beaten-track attractions in Central Vietnam’s largest city.
- December 2019
For many travellers, Da Nang opens in new window is synonymous with the Golden Bridge — which is hardly a surprise, given the structure’s highly unusual appearance. After all, where else in the world can you find a pedestrian bridge seemingly supported by two enormous stone hands?
However, there’s so much more to see and do in Central Vietnam’s largest city — from hiking in the Marble Mountains to relaxing on the pristine sands of Non Nuoc Beach. Here are 12 things to do in Da Nang other than visit the Golden Bridge.
1. Hike the Marble Mountains
Located south of Da Nang, the dramatic Marble Mountains are a cluster of five limestone hills, each of which is named after a natural element. You can summit one of them, Thuy Son (Mt. Water), via a relatively easy hike, which will take you past intricate cave temples and shrines. At the top, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of the city.
2. Relax on Non Nuoc Beach
With its powdery white sands and clear waters, Non Nouc Beach at the foot of the Marble Mountains is one of the most beautiful beaches in Vietnam — and possibly the world. Sample fresh seafood at the various beachfront restaurants, enjoy a spa treatment at one of the nearby resorts, or simply just stretch out by the water’s edge.
3. Go surfing at My Khe Beach
Christened by the American troops during the Vietnam War, My Khe Beach is a top spot for surfing — especially from September to March — thanks to its fairly consistent breaks. Thrill-seekers can also try their hand at other water sports, from wakeboarding to kayaking and even paragliding.
Address: Phuoc My opens in new window
4. Explore Monkey Mountain
Once a US military base, Monkey Mountain is today a lush national park criss-crossed by jungle trails, along which you might glimpse wildlife such as the rhesus macaque and the pygmy slow loris. You’ll also find the Linh Ung Pagoda, a lofty 67m statue of the Goddess of Mercy — purportedly the tallest in Southeast Asia.
5. Admire the lights of Dragon Bridge
As its name suggests, this 666m bridge over the River Han is shaped like a dragon, which symbolises prosperity. It’s certainly a sight to behold — especially at night, when it’s illuminated by dazzling lights. The “dragon” even spouts water and breathes fire from its mouth during regular pyrotechnic shows on weekend evenings.
6. Visit the Museum of Cham Sculpture
This compact museum is dedicated to the ancient Champa empire, which controlled much of the South China Sea during the 6th to 15th centuries. Here, you’ll find over 300 terracotta and stone sculptures, from creatures like the Garuda (a legendary bird) to deities like Lord Shiva. Audio guides are available.
7. Snorkel in the Cham Islands
Explore the life aquatic on a day trip to these eight granite islands opens in new window, which are part of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The waters here teem with marine wonders, including over 100 species of hard and soft coral. Ferries depart from Cua Dai Beach opens in new window, a 45-minute drive from Da Nang.
8. Attend mass at Danang Cathedral
Built by French priest Louis Vallet in 1923, this Catholic church stands out with its pale pink, Gothic-style façade. It’s beloved among the 4,000-strong local Catholic community, with services taking place daily. English sermons are conducted every Sunday at 9am.
9. Discover a new religion at Cao Dai Temple
Another notable sacred site is Cao Dai Temple, which is dedicated to Caodaism — a religious movement that merges aspects of Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Islam and Catholicism. Inside, you’ll find a picture of Mohammed, Lao Tse, Jesus, Buddha and Confucius, as well as an enormous image of the Divine Eye, which features the yin-yang symbol at its centre.
10. Get an adrenaline rush at Asia Park
Kids and adults alike will adore this theme park opens in new window, which features roller coasters, arcades and an enormous Ferris wheel. But it’s not all thrills and spills; there’s also a cultural park on site, which spotlights 10 Asian countries like Japan and Singapore — each of which is represented by landscaped gardens, replica landmarks and more.
11. Go on a food tour
Eat like the locals do on a culinary tour designed by Summer Le opens in new window, an established food blogger and chef. The Da Nang native (or a member of her team) will take you to the best foodie spots across the city, where you’ll get to sample local specialties such as banh xeo (savoury fried pancake) and mi quang (rice noodles). Be sure to turn up hungry!
12. Travel on the Hai Van Pass
This 21km mountain pass opens in new window, which is part of National Route 1A connecting Da Nang and Hue, is widely considered to be one of the world’s best coastal drives. Rent a motorbike and traverse its full length, hairpin bends and all, to enjoy some seriously stunning vistas: think mist-shrouded mountains and white-sand beaches.