Danang and Hoi An should be stops on anyone’s visit in central coastal Vietnam.
Both places are hot destinations in the budget travel crowd, and where there are tourists, there will be more development.
Danang (or Da Nang) is a beach city currently on a building boom – more so than any other city we’ve seen in Vietnam so far, probably because it has so much to offer on a terrific beach spanning a long coastline.
I’d go back to Danang and Hoi An in a heartbeat. We were only in both places for a few days each, but that was enough to convince us to go back sometime to stay longer.
In Hoi An, we wandered around the city at sunrise before the throngs of tourists roused their groggy heads from beds. We had the city almost all to ourselves. Locals were up – they use the cooler, early morning hours to get a jump on their day.
We took pictures at sunrise; went to street-side cafes; wandered the market; strolled the river at night; lit box candles and made wishes; took a great bike tour of a nearby island with a delightful university student (bike tour review here); talked with locals and found the greatest ice cream stand in town; went to the fabulous An Bang beach (review here).
We also took a “basket boat” tour with “Tin Basket Boat Tour”. An older woman was our guide and we had a blast. (Other reviews, details, contact info can be found here.)
I also met a friend in real-time after meeting her in a Facebook group. She lives in Hoi An. Sometimes you just meet people and click right away – as if you’d known them forever. This woman was that for me – and I’d love to see her again!
Danang and Hoi An both have beaches. In Hoi An, the beaches are outside the historic city – so don’t miss seeing An Bang, as I mentioned above. It’s gorgeous and you can find spots that a relatively secluded.
In contrast, Danang’s beach is much longer, and it runs the length of coastal city.
Tedly and I relaxed on “China Beach”; roamed alleys between main roads; watched the fire-breathing dragon bridge at night; took a trip to the amusement park at Sun World Ba Na Hills (Tedly’s review here).
The tourist park is more than 4500 feet above sea level, so it’s a nice quick break from the heat below. While that’s great, it’s not at all like Dalat, which I liked a lot (more info here).
We also went to the Lady Buddha of the Hills and the Marble Mountains while in Danang. Worth the trips if you want the views. My preference is Lady Buddha – I love sea views and you could see the Danang skyline in the distance.
Geographically speaking, the beaches at Danang and Hoi An (An Bang is Hoi An’s closest beach) are basically the same. The sand runs that far down the coastline. And it’s prime real estate for more development.
Danang and Hoi An both are awesome!
Expats who live in Hoi An often drive to Danang to stock up on bulk supplies, or get serious medical care – they are only about 45 minutes apart.
I could go back to both Danang and Hoi An for an extended period of time: Hoi An and its gorgeous An Bang beach for those times when I want relative quiet; Danang when I’m after big-city amenities. Actually, wherever we could get the best deal on a month-long rental is the city we would go to – and then simply visit the one where we weren’t temporarily living.
Here is some irony: Danang is where my father landed ashore as a Marine during the Vietnam War in 1966. Although he remembers Danang and other towns and villages from his tour of duty, he probably wouldn’t recognize much today.
- Phong Nha’s phenomenal caves
- Ninh Binh’s dreamy landscape
- Must-do: live on a Vietnamese floating house
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