If you are planning to visit Da Nang in Vietnam, check out these insider tips to experience some of the best outdoor adventures that should not be missed!
Vietnam is an incredible country. From the unique and welcoming culture to the distinct food and coffee served on the streets, it’s a place that weaseled into my heart and convinced me to stay. The first year I lived in Vietnam, I taught English in bustling Ho Chi Minh City. In the second and third years, though, I joined the growing number of digital nomads and moved to the laidback coastal city of Da Nang, Vietnam.
This city really is something special. Most people use Da Nang simply as a stopover because of its international airport and close proximity to its more popular neighbor, Hoi An, but I highly recommend you stay a few days, or like me, a few years, in this beautiful place. Although compared to Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh, Da Nang feels quiet, it’s still home to over 1 million.
And that’s exactly why I loved this city so much. Given its size, there are plenty of great restaurants, bars, and things to do, but none of that takes away from the outdoor adventures within and around the city limits. Whether you choose to take in the scenery from a rooftop bar or balcony or immerse yourself in it completely, I’m sure you’ll enjoy Da Nang as much as I did.
6 Outdoor Adventures In Da Nang, Vietnam
Here are six outdoor adventures all nature enthusiasts will love!
1. Explore Son Tra Peninsula (Monkey Mountain)
Just outside of the city limits of Da Nang is the Son Tra Peninsula, also commonly called Monkey Mountain. This area is protected and has very little infrastructure on it to protect the, you guessed it, monkeys. There are a few different monkey species that call this area home, but the most special are the endangered Red-Shanked Douc. These beautiful monkeys really are a sight to see!
I’ve heard that they’re shy and hard to spot, but every time I ventured to Son Tra, I was rewarded by seeing quite a few. Just keep your eyes open and search the jungle for movement as you go through. If you’re really interested in learning more about these monkeys and ensuring you spot them in the wild, there are tours that specialize in spotting them while you enjoy hiking through the jungle.
Other than spotting the monkeys, it’s a beautiful place to simply enjoy the sites. The lush green jungle, rocky coast, and bright blue waters make exploring the Son Tra Peninsula a fantastic way to decompress from the week.
Also on the peninsula is Lady Buddha, an incredible statue that overlooks Da Nang and a place you need to visit while in Da Nang.
The best way to explore the peninsula is by driving your own motorbike, which must be a manual or semi-automatic bike. If you’re not comfortable on a bike, you won’t be able to make the entire loop, but you can still visit Lady Buddha or the lush Intercontinental Hotel by taxi.
2. Head To My Son Sanctuary
Another great place to visit, either by motorbike or tour, is the My Son Sanctuary. Only about an hour away from Da Nang, it makes for a great day trip. The drive there is mostly through rice fields and distant mountains, making the journey a scenic one, as well.
My Son is an area of partially ruined Hindu temples dating all the way back from the 4th through to the 14th centuries. I was honestly surprised at how well-preserved many of the temples are, especially given the bomb craters scattered throughout the area from the Vietnam War.
When my husband and I visited, we opted to drive ourselves and spend the day slowly walking around the temples with our dog. It was incredibly peaceful, and we only saw a handful of other people. It’s also possible to see the area on a guided tour. While this might give you more background information, the area has a lot of signs teaching you about the ruins, so you’re able to get some context even without a guide.
3. Sunbathe or Surf at My Khe Beach
My Khe Beach is the main strip of beach in Da Nang. Although the beach runs down the entire city and onto Hoi An without stopping so My Khe isn’t your only choice for sand and surf. What makes My Khe stand out, though, is this area always has chairs, umbrellas, and people serving beer and coconuts.
Regardless of which part of the beach you decide to spend the day on, when your toes hit the sand, look to the left for the best view. There, you’ll see Son Tra Penisula and Lady Buddha looking over you.
My Khe is also the best place to go to enjoy water sports. If you’re interested in giving surfing a go, Da Nang is a great place for beginners, given you’re in the city in the right season. The waves are strong enough for you to ride but aren’t nearly too forceful for beginners to feel overwhelmed.
It’s also possible to rent jet skis from here, go parasailing, or simply go for a swim.
4. Take In The Views From the Hai Van Pass
The Hai Van Pass is the strip of road that takes you from Da Nang to Hue. In particular, it’s the part that takes you over the mountains. This road is simply breathtaking. It’s a fun one to drive if you’re confident on a motorbike; otherwise, you can enjoy the scenery from a train ride to Hue or on a bus.
If you’re up for driving your own bike, you can either drive to the viewpoint or down to Lang Co and back to Da Nang for an exciting day trip or go ahead and take your bike all the way to Hue. Hue is the ancient capital of Vietnam and the present-day culinary capital and the perfect place to soak up Vietnam’s history. Just keep in mind the highway after Lang Co to Hue can get pretty crowded with buses and trailer trucks, so be careful while driving.
Regardless of how you explore the Hai Van Pass, I recommend you stop along the way to take some pictures, soak up the view, and stop for a coffee at the top of the mountain. In that same area are an old French bunker and plenty of restaurants and cafes.
5. Bike Through The Rice Fields In Hoi An
Hoi An is one of the most popular tourist locations throughout all of Vietnam and for a good reason. Here is where you’ll find the famous yellow alleyways littered with colorful lanterns.
While this alone is a good enough reason to visit Hoi An, for the sake of outdoor adventures, I recommend you rent a bicycle and ride through the rice fields.
Hoi An is only about 20 minutes south of Da Nang, so it is a great spot to head for a day trip or to stay a few days. It’s located just a few miles off of the coast, with the nearest beach being laidback, An Bang. From the beach to get into Old Town, you’ll drive through vast rice fields. If you look closely, you can see narrow cement paths through the rice fields. Believe it or not, these are actually roads. Most aren’t wide enough for cars but are the perfect width for motorbikes or bicycles.
Take a few hours and aimlessly explore by cycling through the area. You’ll be rewarded with great views of the bright green rice plants, friendly farmhands, and gentle water buffalo. Sunset is an especially nice time to peruse the area.
6. Hike Your Way To A Waterfall
When in Da Nang, from nearly everywhere you are, you’ll see mountains all around you. These mountains are all home to a plethora of waterfalls. The only difficult (or fun) part of this is finding where they are.
Most of these waterfalls are local secrets and aren’t promoted to tourists. So, to find most of these spots, you either need to join a group of locals or befriend a savvy expat who’s willing to show you the way.
To reach all of these waterfalls, you’ll either need to drive your own motorbike or ride in the back of one. If you’re aiming to reach by car, you might be able to find a few where that’s possible, but for the most part, a bike is the best way to go.
All of the waterfalls I’ve visited outside of Da Nang had the coldest water I’ve ever swam in. It’s possible, though, that it just felt that way, given the Vietnamese heat. Summers here are no joke and swimming in these falls is by far one of the best ways to cool off.
With this, you’re ready to fully enjoy all of the great outdoor adventures that await you in Da Nang. Just be sure to take some time off the adrenaline rush to sit down on a little red stool and try some delicious street food and strong coffee. A hot bowl of Mi Quang and a frosty coconut coffee are a must in the region!
About The Author Of “6 Outdoor Adventures In Da Nang, Vietnam You Won’t Want To Miss”
Kat is the founder of the popular expat website A Way Abroad. She’s been living around the world for the last ten years, spending 3 in Vietnam. She currently calls Saranda, Albania, home, but who knows where she’ll head next!
I hope you enjoyed this post and all of the outdoor adventures described by Kat.
If you are planning to visit Da Nang, make sure not to miss the Ba Na Hills and Golden Bridge tour, which is another unforgettable experience.
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