Five Free Things to do in Da Nang

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Whether your passing through or staying for a while, there is always something going on in this epic city. We’re here to tell you about five free things to do in Da Nang.

No great introduction to any new destination has to start with a hefty price tag and Da Nang is no exception. In fact, Da Nang has the unique advantage of offering both beach and city activities.  That alone, makes it the perfect all-round vacation destination.

Five free things to do in Da Nang

Free Thing #1 – DA NANG FREE WALKING TOUR

Free walking tours are the best way to get a genuine introduction to this amazing city.

The guides are local university students who are are passionate about their city.  It’s also a chance for them to meet new people from all over and to practice their English.

For visitors, this is a chance to meet someone who can tell you more about the local food, entertainment and living side of Da Nang.

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Exploring Da Nang with an amazing free walking tour

The tour lasts about 2 hours and includes five planned stops. Between those, you get a ton of information on where to explore further on your own. It’s super easy to book too, just head to their Da Nang Free Walking Tour website.

Now, we listed this as a free thing to do in Da Nang as you don’t have to pay for the tour. There is an opportunity to give you guide a tip at the end IF you want to. More on that in the link below.

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Come with us as we explore our first Vietnam destination, Da Nang with an amazing free walking tour

Travel Tip!: Test your haggling skills at Han Market while you have an interpreter there with you. That way you can communicate with the seller and you can come back with a bit more confidence later to buy more.

Free Thing #2 – DA NANG BRIDGES

It’s true! Da Nang, is also known as the city of bridges and for good reason. It has 7 bridges and three of them are super stars with their own history. They are Han Bridge, Dragon Bridge and Than Thie Ly Bridge.

The most recognizable of the three is the famous Dragon Bridge. This one comes alive every Saturday and Sunday night at 9PM. Make sure to check it out as not only is watching the bridge fun, but watching the crowd is fascinating too.

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A real dragon that spits real fire! For real!!

Travel Tip!: Not fond of crowds? Then head down Tran Hung Dao street towards the Than Thie Ly bridge where you’ll find the street side vendors. They’ll prepare you a fresh coconut or sugar juice of your choice on request. All you have to do is grab a seat at one of their adorable tiny chairs and tables with the perfect view of the action. A fresh coconut should set you back about VND35,000 (~USD1.50 / ~AUD2.10) and the seat if free.

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Free Thing # 3 – DA NANG FRESCO VILLAGE

This was one of the neatest things we found in Da Nang and believe is part of a worldwide movement.

Local residents were looking for a way to get tourists and locals to interact more with each other. The idea of a fresco village came about and they set out inviting local artists to be part of the initiative.

Their aim was to transform their labyrinth of narrow alleys and high walls into an outdoor gallery where artists could show their talents and visitors could enjoy the artwork for free.  You just have to find the narrow entrance to let the magic begin.

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When street meets art gallery and you can experience it for free!

You can explore this spot in your own time, admiring the artworks and take as many pictures as you like. Each painting tells its own story and there are so many, you wouldn’t know what to look at first.

The Da Nang Fresco Village isn’t far from the city side of Dragon Bridge and absolutely worth the visit.

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Experience a personalized tour of the Da Nang Fresco Village

Travel Tip!: There is a small ‘outdoor food courtyard’ where you can buy a traditional Vietnamese herbal drink. There are other refreshments and light street food available too. It’s not expensive and the money goes back into the project for maintenance and expansion.

Free Thing #4 – MY KHE BEACH

One of Da Nang’s stand out features is without a doubt its spectacular beach called My Khe, (pronounced Mi KE beach).

One of the best things to do on it is to simply walk along it, no matter the time of day. From dawn till dusk it’s everyone from tourists to locals’ favorite playground. It’s a great place to meet locals to, especially in the mornings.

Along Vo Nguyen Giap road is plenty to do, eat and drink too but it will cost you. Not much, just not free.

Travel Tip!: Find a cheap beach cabana for the day. If you want to experience the most epic chill beach day of your life, then hire a lounger under a beach hut/cabana. It will cost you around VND40,000 (~USD1.70 / ~AUD2.40) but shop around, there are a few options. This way you get a comfy spot for the day and you don’t have to worry about getting fried. Also, where there’s a cabana, there’s usually refreshments too and loads of street food vendors that wander along the beach. Perfect, huh?

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Free Thing #5 – LINH UNG PAGODA (Son Tra)

If you’re sitting on your beach lounger chilling on My Khe beach then you will notice a gigantic white figure standing at the base of the Son Tra Peninsula. What is it you ask?

She is the famous Lady Buddha and she is an epic 72 meters tall. The Lady of Mercy isn’t the only amazing thing about this spot either. It’s perfect spot for sunrises and sunsets, not to mention great photos.

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Say hello to the magnificent 70 meter high guardian of My Khe beach

The complex sits on 20 hectares so there is a lot of room. It is super popular with tourist crowds ! If you want the place almost to yourself, then you need to get in and out, well before 8AM or after 5PM-ish.

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Come meet the mysterious tall lady of Son Tra in Da Nang

There is a small catch with this one. The complex is free to enter but you will need to get there which will either be by GRAB, taxi or a rental bike.

Neither of these options are expensive as it is a short ride out there and well worth a visit! If you do rent a bike/scooter than Son Tra Peninsula is another awesome free thing to go and check out!

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If this is your first visit to our site, then welcome!  Head on over to our Things to do in Vietnam Page where we tell you about more things you should add to your Vietnam itinerary.

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Thanks for reading guys and we’ll see you in the next post…

Linh Ung Pagoda – Son Tra Peninsula

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Visiting the most famous Lady in Da Nang at the Linh Ung Pagoda in Son Tra

Is it worth trekking out to the Linh Ung Pagoda when you’re in Da Nang? Lets find out.

Where the Linh Ung Pagoda?

Situated on the Son Tra peninsula north of My Khe beach, the tall white figure looking down the beach is  kind of hard to miss. Furthermore, this religious icon is one of Da Nang’s largest and best known landmarks. Who or what is it? She is the impressive 67-meter tall Lady Buddha (also known as the Goddess of Mercy).

The pagoda encompasses approximately 20 hectares and took six years to construct. Surrounded by lush green vegetation and panoramic ocean and city views, it’s a feast on the eyes. You have that feeling of being in a remote location without being too far from civilization.

Linh Ung Pagoda Entry Fee

This particular pagoda sports nine temples in total and endless gardens to explore. If you love taking photos, you could be here for hours. I loved it, and I would definitely go back again for more (but at an early hour this time). Best part is, it’s free!

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Looking for a place with an electric vibe that is perfect for any traveler at any time? Come find out why you should add Da Nang to you must see list for Vietnam!

Update: I wrote this a while ago and since then we’ve been back. This time we got there at 6:30AM and it was bliss. It was hot, even that early (during April) and there were a couple of other smart people out there with us but not many. For two hours we explored in relative peace and got better photos and footage, much to our delight. Highly recommend going out there early morning, especially in summer as it gets hot fast in the mornings.

This pagoda is unique too in that you can visit it during the evening, unlike others in Vietnam. I’m keen to do this at another time as I’m sure the view back to the city at night is pretty spectacular.

We weren’t sure what to expect from this visit either as neither of us has been to a pagoda and thought it a temple initially.  Turns out, a pagoda is an area with several temples and shires in or on it but isn’t one itself.  Never too old to learn aye? Ha-ha

Why is there a place of worship in a random, semi remote spot?

Legend has it a buddha statue mysteriously washed ashore on the peninsula one day. Locals believing it to be an auspicious sign, named the spot “Bai But” (Buddha’s sanctuary on earth), and erected a shrine.

From there on in, the Goddess or Mercy became their watchful deity. Offering protection and strength from the wrath of storms, and bringing peace to everyday life.

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We can only find a couple of accounts of this story online, but we can confirm it is still the original site of worship. Today it offers a place to pray as well as a unique visiting experience. If you’re lucky enough to speak to one the monks, they might tell you a tale or two about the ancient history of the temples. We hear that is rare though.

How to get to Linh Ung Pagoda

A short ten-minute drive from Da Nang city will get you to the entrance of the park. You could walk there from the city, but it’s a long way and all uphill. Be prepared with good shoes and plenty of water if you do decide to go that way.

Arriving at the entrance you’re greeted by an impressive stone staircase.

At the top of the staircase is the three-entrance gate, hence the name Linh Ung (three gates) Pagoda (an area where there are multiple temples and shires, which this site has many of.)

Once you cross the threshold, you’re surrounded by a serene scene of beautiful manicured gardens, dotted with statues. If that doesn’t impress you, the view back over the ocean certainly will.

What is there to see?

The Goddess of Mercy

The garden won’t hold your attention long though. You instinctively want to gravitate towards Lady Buddha and her calming effect. Even with the selfie-stick wielding crush robbing you of the experience.

(I’ll be honest and say I could only handle the crowd for a short period of time. By 10AM the place was already crawling with busloads of tourists and that’s on us. We did get there later than anticipated and read about the madness. They were running around snapping pictures as fast as they could, then scurrying off to the next spot with little regard for anybody around them.) The best times to go seems to be early morning or evenings. Something to keep in mind if you’re only in town for a short time.

Getting away from the selfie stick brigade

Not quite the peaceful experience you were expecting? Me either but fear not, there are plenty of quiet spots to retreat to.

The Goddess of Mercy is impressive and you can’t help but feel safe in her gentle gaze. She has another treat hidden at the base of her feet though. Nestled inside the 30-meter diameter lotus flower pedestal is a small temple.

Close your eyes and spend a minute here to absorb the cool and tranquil calm, it’s heavenly on the senses. It can be hard to tune out those few that treat it like an amusement park, but well worth the visit.

Finding peace from the crowds

I did take a few minutes outside a couple of the other temples too. Walking past the main temple to the right, we found two buildings joined by an alfresco-ish type roof. It recognizable by the two rows of large wooden statues.

That spot was by far my favorite. It almost looked like an invisible force field surrounded the building. The crowd just seemed to unconsciously flow around and away from it. It was fascinating to watch

I sat there, absorbing the tranquil surroundings. Watching the crowd mill around as the ocean played backdrop to the whole scene.

I’m not sure if it was sheer luck or what? For those twenty minutes I only saw five people enter the space. I was grateful for the opportunity to spend the time with my thoughts. It’s a memory I will always cherish.

Also, on this trip I learnt never to turn your back on a Buddha statue. You should back away while still facing the statue before you turn around and walk away. (Please feel free to leave a comment if you can add to this.) While I’m not a religious person myself, I can respect others beliefs and be mindful of them.

The Bonsai trees and Arhats at Linh Ung Pagoda

The area in front of the main temple hosts an impressive collection of bonsai trees. Flanked by 18 arhats (those who have attained nirvana, but not full Buddhahood) frames this garden beautifully. Each one depicting a different human emotion. I would’ve loved to learn more about these guys but that might need an experienced tour guide.

I’ll keep you posted if I do learn more about them.

Travel Tip!: If you do go into any of the actual temples please be mindful that these are active places of worship. Be quiet and respectful to those inside the temple praying. Take off your shoes (always!), there are signs everywhere to tell you when to take them off. If you’re wearing shorts and singlets, please cover your shoulders and legs. Ladies make sure you carry a sarong or scarf with you, it will come in handy.

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On our walk to the last temple at the back of the park, we found another Buddha statue. Sitting peacefully under the canopy of a rubber tree, accompanied by four others. This spot seemed to go unnoticed by the crowds too. It’s the perfect place to sit for a minute and take in the view.

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A half day visit to the Linh Ung Pagoda in Da Nang

To the side and back of the pagoda is the Tap Sa Loi tower.  I wish I could give you more info but I’m finding it hard to source English info and translating Vietnamese doesn’t help much.

The last find on our Linh Ung Pagoda visit

What we can say is that has a distinct nautical feel to it and give me the impression this is where the maritime worshippers come to give thanks for protection from the elements and abundance from the ocean.

It also has a giant sleeping Buddha below it with another beautiful garden and view. This spot seemed less chaotic and worth a look.

See if you can spot the surprises in the bonsai trees (wink-wink), they are all over the pagoda.

Travel Tip!: Take plenty of water with you. We burnt through a liter in two hours (it was pretty hot). I didn’t see anywhere to buy more (not that I braved the crowded spots). Plus, if you bring your own, you’re not adding to the rubbish that is ever present. My trusty 1lt drink bottle goes everywhere with me and it was invaluable here!

There is a lot to enjoy at the Linh Ung Pagoda and it’s a pleasure to explore.  Volunteers do an amazing job of looking after the place and a dedicated team ensure the beautiful gardens look their best (we salute your efforts). And butterflies! The only other place I’ve seen this many butterflies, was the east coast of Australia. Plenty of birds to keep a keen eye out for too. I can go on and on lol, but it worth seeing if you come to Da Nang.

Wondering what else there is to do in Da Nang?

If this is your first visit to our site, then don’t forget to go to our Things to do in Vietnam Page for more ideas on what to see and do!

 We also have a pretty good library of all our Vietnam adventures on our  Leon and Tash YouTubel channel, perfect for those times where you just want to watch instead of read. Hope you enjoy it!

Thanks for reading and see in in the next post…

Da Nang – the must see city of Vietnam

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What was so special about Vietnam that we moved here? Da Nang of coarse...

This unassuming city hosted us for one day and night in 2016, on a backpacking trip travelling from Hoi An to Hue. At the time we knew nothing about Da Nang, hence the short stay, but boy did she surprise us!

So, that’s why in 2018 we went out on a limb, selling everything bar a few precious keepsakes to move here. To start our new epic twelve-month journey to discover Vietnam and all she has to offer. And the adventure started in Da Nang.

You’re doing what? LOL that is the first reaction we got from all our close friends and family. The exception was those who had already experienced this country to some degree. What we have in common with the latter is that we all want to come back! There is so much to see and do!

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Why Da Nang?

For starters, it’s pretty much in the middle of the country. Getting anywhere from here depends on your choice of comfort, whether it be flying or driving. And your travels are not limited to domestic destinations either. Da Nang sports an international airport too. But you don’t have to come here and leave for somewhere else.

Da Nang is becoming a world class destination. There are several activities and attractions already in place with more to come. We’ve seen significant changes in the two years since our last visit and impressed with what they have achieved in this time.

We also chose Da Nang because there was so much we missed the last time we were here. Now that we have more time, we can devour it and delight you with our tales.

Well then, where to start?! We were looking for a destination that offered affordable living. This included plenty of activities, food, transport and last but not least, accommodation. We found plenty here to keep us busy for at least our first three months. So here we go…

One of the world's most famous beaches

On our backpacking trip, one of the first things we learnt about was My Khe beach.

The driver looked a bit miffed that we didn’t recognize the importance of its name. So, he went on to explain that during the war, the American troops dubbed it ‘China Beach’. He got his desired reaction then. But, he went on to explain that the Vietnamese people aren’t very fond of this moniker and it would best not to call it that. Which was fair we thought, and why would you when it already has a beautiful name.

This impressive pale sand and blue water stretch of beach melts your senses. From its lazy waves, thatched beach shelters and comfy chairs, to palm trees dancing in the breeze. The best part is, there is 20-odd miles of it. While Lady Buddha watches over it all from her northern vantage point.

 

Surf to City

If sand and water between your toes isn’t quite to your liking there is an actual city to explore as well. Da Nang is central Vietnam’s largest city, boasting a population of 1.347 million (as at 2016). The city sits across from another well-known landmark, the Han river. She is accessible by four famous bridges known as Dragon Bridget, Thua Phuoc Bridge, Tran Thi Ly Bridge and Han River Bridge. Each is famous in its own right, but more on that in another post.

The city itself has plenty on offer to explore. We didn’t get the chance to burrow into its curious depths last time. But we will share our experiences with you as we delve deeper into this adventure.

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Food, glorious food

The city itself has plenty on offer to explore. We didn’t get the chance to burrow into its curious depths last time. But we will share our experiences with you as we delve deeper into this adventure.

While the beach may be the main attraction, the much adored Vietnamese cuisine is hot on its heels! There are absolute endless options, no matter what direction you go. Venturing a block or so in from the beach, you’ll find all the options aimed at the tourist market. Including the usual suspects plus some western options. If you’re brave enough to venture into uncharted territory you could be richly rewarded too. Consider yourself warned though, you’ll be Googling your fingers raw. English is scarce but you’ll stumble across some photos which does make it easier. Being patient could be key. If you don’t mind doing research on the fly, then you might find some hidden local gems to fall in love with.

We’d been here for little over a week and we already had a couple of local eateries locked down as favourites. Both offer delicious meals, great service and super affordable prices. Making it easy for those like us on a fixed budget lol. And there are plenty others around we want to explore more too.

The city also caters to all sorts of food buffs. Its pride-and-joy feature is its seafood and there are endless options as far as the eye can see. But fear not! There are plenty of options available for pork, beef and chicken lovers too. And if that is not your thing either, then you’re covered too. More vegan options are starting to pop up as popularity increases. Delivering some spectacular spots to get your eat on.

Dayum! How good is the coffee?!

And what about the coffee you ask? Well fear not, here you can find any caffeinated drink you can imagine and if you can’t find it, they will make it for you. Coffee is a huge deal here and they take immense pride in their craft. Which makes it an absolute pleasure being a ‘taste-tester’. Again, it wasn’t hard to find a great spot near our new abode. We are looking forward to finding loads of amazing new options on future foot patrols.

Ridiculously easy to get around!

Getting around is pretty easy too. There are a multitude of options from taxis to ride shares to the most popular which is renting a scooter.

We used taxis, share rides, rental scooters and eventually bought our own.  You can read . We tend to prefer foot patrol as we get to experience new areas in more detail this way, hence the lack of info at present.

(As I was writing this post, I was waiting for DHL to deliver my renewed driver’s license. I needed it to get my Vietnamese license. Did we need VN licences? It depends on what your insurance covers. Our policy would only cover us if we have the correct license for the vehicle operated. Our licenses had to be valid in our respective native country as well as the country we are traveling in. For this trip, we completed extensive motorcycle training to gain proper motorcycle licenses. We did this before we left and something we recommend you look into. What we learnt from our three-day course was invaluable from a skill and safety aspect. We like to do things the right way, it makes things easier in the long run. But do your homework and see what suits your travel and insurance needs best.)

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Accommodation in Da Nang

Last but not least is accommodation and there is no shortage on that front.

Airbnb leads the charge with hotels and private rentals in hot pursuit.

All you need to decide on is when, where, your desired comfort level, location and the city is your oyster.

We chose the Mai Boutique Villas in Son Tra for our first seven day. This was in the area we were thinking of looking for apartments and figured it would make a good base to work from. It was an affordable option and offered comfy clean rooms, great staff and plenty of areas to get some work done. The included daily breakfast was praise worthy. We miss our daily breakfasts 🙁

UPDATE: The Mai Boutique Villas no longer exists (we have a feeling it was because of the karaoke joint that moved  in next door LOL), but the link below will give you plenty of options to look at.

Planning on staying long term and want something more private? Then Facebook is your friend. We found our apartment via the expat pages and a local property agency. They helped us overcome the language barrier and made the whole sign up process easier.

Looking and choosing took longer than the sign up did. You have to know exactly what you want or it could take a whole lot longer. We did a fair bit of research before we left. We worked out that we wanted from an apartment and where we would like it to be. These specifics made finding options easy and we signed a lease four days after arriving in Da Nang. Easy peasy!

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Looking for your perfect accommodation in Da Nang?

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Affiliate disclosure: The information above and subsequent info they lead to will contain affiliate links for our accommodation partner, Hotels Combined. We trust and used them for most of our trip and we are happy to recommend their services (especially since they were so easy to use and found us really good choices too.) Now, you don’t get charged extra for using these links and we may earn a small commission from them which goes towards finding and managing all the awesome content on our site.  You are under no obligation to use these links but if you do use them, we want to salute and thank you for your support, we appreciate it!

If this is your first visit to our site, then welcome!  Head on over to our Things to do in Vietnam Page where we tell you about more things you should add to your Vietnam itinerary.

Don’t forget to subscribe and join our Tribe!  You’ll find us on Twitter, Facebook , Insta  and YouTube too!

Thanks for reading guys and we’ll see you in the next post…