Da Nang and Hoi An are located in Central Vietnam, with a distance of roughly 30 km. To the north, Da Nang is the capital city of the region, with a contemporary appearance and down south, Hoi An is a well-preserved heritage city. Both are tourist centers, attracting 8,5 million and 5,5 million visitors respectively in a recent year. Just about international visitors, there are 3,5 million and 4,6 million. Because Da Nang and Hoi An are popular and famous the same, travelers often wonder to decide which is better to go or how to visit highlights in all cities.
This article shares common things and differences between Da Nang and Hoi An. It helps travellers easier to find out the favourite city or plan better the itinerary to discover both. We highly recommend reading travel guide to Hue, a destination where many travellers love to explore next. It owns Unesco-inscribed places and intangible heritages.
Da Nang Introduction
By the coast, Da Nang is a municipality, capital of Central Vietnam. It’s home to around 1,1 million people who have different ethnicities. Its populous heart is cut into two by the Han River flowing down from the Annamite Range. That’s why this big city has many bridges and such lovely parks along water edges. At night, all of them become the focal point that everybody wants to see. Famous international fireworks festival takes place here and amaze visitors every summer.
Not far away, there are white, clean sandy beaches with sun beds, seafood restaurants and bars in shaded palms. Another reputation of Da Nang comes from mountains on its four sides. It’s not over expecting to visit old Buddhist temples, majestic caves, huge Buddhas, world-record cable car, amusement parks and of course, the Golden Bridge. The bulk is nature reserves with a population of rare species, such as red shanked douc.
Read also: Da Nang Travel Guide
Hoi An Introduction
30 km south of Da Nang, Hoi An is a historic city with the core as a Unesco world heritage site. It’s famous for small streets and lanes filled with colorful lanterns that become so lightful, eye-popping at night. Used to be a busy international trade port, this stunner is a melting pot where different cultures have been gathered and exchanged. Thanks to that, visitors have the chance to see a variety of architecture, religion, food, customs and more here. Both peaceful countryside and sandy beaches are near the heritage core. Over there, visitors have the chance to do what locals do daily, such as go fishing, growing vegetables, planting rice, rowing basket boats, ect. Off the coast, Cham Island is popular for day trippers and divers who aim to discover gorgeous coral reefs.
Read also: Hoi An Travel Guide
Similar Things between Da Nang vs Hoi An
Da Nang and Hoi An are in the same geographical and cultural area, called Xứ Quảng. Apart from weather and friendly people, these are what visitors can find in any of them:
– Beach: The coast of Da Nang and Hoi An is long, sandy, palm-lined and edged by warm, unpolluted and rock-free water. It’s perfect to swim, sunbathe, relax and play sports or water games like surfing, SUP.
– River cruises: typically night cruise on Han River, sunset cruise on Thu Bon River
– Local foods: mi quang (white rice noodles served with bold broth, meats, raw vegetables and rice crackers), banh mi (bread filled with pate, meats, raw vegetables and sauces), banh xeo (rice pancakes), com ga (chicken rice), bê thui (rare cow).
- Hoi An Walking Food Tour
- Da Nang Walking Food Tour
Hoi An or Da Nang – Which is Better to Visit?
Tourist Attractions in Hoi An
The best known and most loved attraction in Hoi An is the Old Town. It used to be an international trade port from 15th to 19th century. Merchants and people from the rest of the world came here to seek goods and develop their own business. Due to its intactness, this lantern-filled area won the Unesco world heritage title in 1999. Amongst thousands, the best preserved buildings allow visitors to sightsee such as Japanese Covered Bridge, Old house of Tan Ky, Chinese Fujian Assembly Hall and more. The diversity of merchandise is easiest seen in the Central Market, from fresh, cooked ingredients, fishes to handicraft objects. At night, except the lantern festival, Night Market is another best place to see.
Sandy and unspoiled beaches in Hoi An are from 3 to 5 kimoters from the historic quarters. The nearest, most famous one is An Bang Beach. It has expanses of warm, clear water with gentle waves and sun beds in the shade of palms. Between this and the town, Tra Que Vegetable Village owns lush organically-grown gardens where visitors can be farmers and learn what they do daily. Near the estuary of Thu Bon River, the experience on a basket boat through Cam Thanh Water Coconut Forest can’t be missed. On the opposite bank of the Old town, bicycle riders love paddling across rice fields and villages in Cam Kim Island. Learning how to make a clay pot in Thanh Ha Pottery Village gives so much fun too. Although a little far, Vinpearl Land Hoi An Water Park is a good choice for families. Cham Island harbours a great marine biodiversity that is ideal for underwater activities.
Tourist Attractions in Da Nang
Da Nang boasts of poetic Han River running through its core and bridges spanning it. The star is the Dragon Bridge, one of the most unique bridges globally. Near the waterfronts, visitors have a short walk to see featured museums and night markets at night. Asia Park is the only amusement park in this central part, widely known for the ferris wheel and miniatures of wonders. 2 kilometers to the east, this city has a lengthy, white sandy coastline that comprises many safe swimming spots. The best known is My Khe Beach, one of the world’s sexiest beaches by Forbes.
Near the city downtown, there are majestic mountains and the one with the richest history is the Marble Mountains. It’s a group of jagged hills suddenly appearing on the plains. People build Buddhist temples and shrines on its slopes and caves. Ba Na Hills is another famous mountain. This hill station was established by the French in the early 20th century, at an elevation of nearly 1,500 meters. A world record cable car network and the mythical Golden Bridge are the bests of it. Nearby, Than Tai Hot Spring Park has been emerging to be a top place to go. Hai Van Pass in the north is the favourite of motorcyclists and cyclists nationally, thanks to the cool ride along the scenic route with many turns. To the northeast, Son Tra Mountain has the tallest Lady Buddha in Vietnam – 67 meters, the biggest Buddhist site in the city – Linh Ung Pagoda and populous communities of red shanked douc monkeys. A ride here is equally fun as the Hai Van Pass.
Both Da Nang and Hoi An are worth visiting and each one becomes famous thanks to appealing attractions. However, there are some slight differences between these cities that travelers may consider when planning the holiday. Firstly, the distance between top or best attractions in Da Nang are further than Hoi An. It’s needed to hire a car, book a tour or ride a motorcycle if you like to get around. In Hoi An, travelers can explore different places with only a bicycle.
Da Nang is famous for mountains where hiking, a trek or long walk is required to sightsee here and there. Little ones, elders and wheelchair persons may feel tired quickly and not really fully enjoy the place. On a delta, Hoi An’s old town and surrounding countryside are easier to access and discover. The town is pedestrian-friendly. Island and rural lands here are one of the biggest differences that Hoi An has but Da Nang doesn’t. If you are looking for trips there, choose Hoi An.
Hoi An or Da Nang – Which is Better for Activities?
Activities in Hoi An
– Old Town: sightseeing historical sites, museums and markets, making custom-made clothings, watching cultural shows, touring by cyclo, food tour or trying local foods, cooking class, handicraft workshops, shopping, lantern festival, lantern boat ride at night, sunset cruise, photo tour
– Countryside: cycling in Cam Kim Island, basket boat ride and fishing tour in Cam Thanh Village, farmer tour in Tra Que Village
– Beaches and Island: swimming, sunbathing, yoga/meditation/tai chi, water sports, Cham Island (snorkeling, diving, undersea trekking)
Read also: Things to do in Hoi An
Activities in Da Nang
– City centre: Han River cruise, fireworks festival, food tour, sightseeing museums, church, day and night markets
– Beaches and Island: swimming, sunbathing, surfing, SUP-ing, snorkeling, diving, jet skiing, parachuting, banana boat
– Mountains: the Marble Mountains (soft hiking, sightseeing, exploring caves), Son Tra Mountain (hiking, riding motorcycle, sightseeing, paragliding), Ba Na Hills (cable car, sightseeing, amusement park), Hai Van Pass (riding motorcycle/bicycle/jeep, sightseeing), hot springs, waterfalls, trekking in nature reserves
Read also: Things to do in Da Nang
No matter which city, travelers have many choices of indoor and outdoor activities to do. Around both Da Nang and Hoi An, it’s possible to find entertainment on the beach, amazing attractions to sightsee, amusement parks to have fun, interesting food tours to join, a good spa to rejuvenate, fishing trips and more. However, each has its own strengths that define itself in the tourist maps or differences to the sister city. For example, tailoring in Hoi An or the Golden Bridge in Da Nang. These are better things by category:
– Biking: countryside (Hoi An), rugged mountains (Da Nang)
– Festivals: Hoi An (lantern, monthly), Da Nang (fireworks, yearly)
– Trekking or hiking: Da Nang
– Yoga and mediation: Hoi An
– Classes and workshops: Hoi An
– Underwater activities: Hoi An
– Extreme sports: Da Nang
– Boat tours: Hoi An
– Shows or concerts: Hoi An
– Golf: Da Nang
Hoi An or Da Nang – Which is Better to Stay?
Areas to Stay and Accommodation in Hoi An
Travelers can book their loved accommodations in the beach, countryside or old town of Hoi An. Within the core of the Unesco world heritage, there are a few options, but each one allows the guests to feel most the local life. In the surroundings, hotels, boutique hotels, resorts, homestays, villas, hostels and guesthouses are so many. All are near main attractions (walkable distance) and run by English-speaking people. 5 minutes drive away, places by rice fields are exactly what travelers find to escape from hustle and bustle. By the coast, all-inclusive resorts are lined Cua Dai Beach – the last stretch of Vietnam’s finest sandy coastline. In other parts, homestays and backpacker hostels are occupied. In Cham Island, homestays there are cozy, providing the chance to be a member of a fisherman family. It’s ideal to lodge by the beaches and “go missing” for a while.
Read also: Where to Stay in Hoi An?
Areas to Stay and Accommodation in Da Nang
Main tourist areas to stay in Da Nang are beachfront, riverfront, peninsula and mountains. Along the eastern coast, travelers can find a perfect hideaway in Son Tra peninsula (especially the InterContinental resort), sea-facing hotels by My Khe – the city’s best beach, and luxury resorts in palm-edged Non Nuoc Beach. The finest weather is in the Ba Na Hills station, at an elevation of nearly 1,500 meters. It’s never wrong to stay overnight there. In the city core, the greatest view is provided from high-rise hotels by the Han River. In the summer, the guests can watch amazing fireworks performances from the window with ease. Some venues have the infinity pool to allow swimmers to see the pretty view from its edge, don’t miss the sunset!. Hotels, hostels, homestays, villas, and guesthouses are plenty around the city.
Read also: Where to Stay in Da Nang?
Both cities are worth it to stay and have so many options of accommodation to choose from, with a wide range of prices. So, travelers feel easy to find their own favourite location before flying to, to fit personal style, itinerary and budget. However, the distance between Hoi An and Da Nang is not long, and all provide similar things in many types. These are the bests of its kind:
– Isolated holiday: Son Tra Peninsula, Ba Na Hills (Da Nang), Cham Island (Hoi An)
– Beach resorts (luxury, all-inclusive): Non Nuoc (Da Nang), Cua Dai (Hoi An)
– Hostels: Hoi An
– Riverside hotels: Da Nang
– Rice field hotels: Hoi An
Hoi An or Da Nang – Which is Better for Shopping?
For many travellers, shopping is a part of their trip anywhere. Da Nang and Hoi An draw millions of tourists yearly, therefore things to buy in both cities are diverse enough to bring home some satisfied ones. Most-seen (popular) souvenirs are traditional handicraft products, paintings, shirts, leather items, cooking utensils, spices, coffee, more. Domestic travelers also love products prepared from seafood due to the wealth of fresh seafood in the area. While markets are most convenient, shoppaholics These are what each destination supply the bests:
– Da Nang: stone sculptures and accessories in the Marble Mountains
– Hoi An: lanterns, personalized suits or dresses, potteries in Thanh Ha village, wood products in Kim Bong village, local coffee beans. See details in Hoi An Old Town Souvenirs.
Da Nang Beach or Hoi An Beach?
One of things that both Da Nang and Hoi An have is the beach. Vietnam’s finest sandy coastline stretches from Da Nang to Hoi An. Four most famous beaches are on this shore, including My Khe and Non Nuoc in Da Nang and An Bang and Cua Dai in Hoi An. If looking for a beach holiday, pick any because all of them provide sandy expanses, clear water and many accommodations to book. However, for those who have some requirements, they need to spend time researching. We quickly outline what to expect of each one of top-rated beaches to make it easier, as following below:
– My Khe Beach: a lengthy and spacious sand strip, water sports, surfboard rentals and schools, bars (rooftop bars), restaurants (seafood restaurants)
– Non Nuoc Beach: quite, free from crowds, sun chairs, eating and drinking offers are all from resorts
– An Bang Beach: sand expanses with sun beds, restaurants and bars offering tasty seafood dishes, divine cocktails, live music.
– Cua Dai Beach: eroded recently, not many sand expanses left but it still provides pretty scenery and safe swimming.
Hoi An or Da Nang Nightlife?
There are many things to do at night in Hoi An or Da Nang, of course, including nightlife. In any city, travelers can find fun-filled spots with a long list of drinks from bartenders, social atmosphere and great music from DJs. In Da Nang, the bulk of top venues is on a high floor and by the Han River. In Hoi An, the largest concentration of bars is along Nguyen Phuc Chu St (near Old Town). However, due to some reasons, locals and Asians are the majority in Da Nang, and it’s Europeans and Americans in Hoi An. Therefore, there are slight differences between cities.
About the beach bars, My Khe and An Bang are two meccas for both locals and tourists. Live performances, fancy beverage and food menu, and trendy music are what to expect there. It’s easier to seek an ideal place to spend a night out on the An Bang seafront.
Read also: Da Nang Nightlife, Hoi An Nightlife
Hoi An or Da Nang – Which is Better to Visit My Son Sanctuary?
My Son Sanctuary is a world heritage site where 70 Hindu temples and ruins are located in a valley encircled by mountains. A visit around it allows visitors to learn about a new civilization or kingdom that disappeared from 19th century. It’s 70 km southwest of Da Nang and 55 km west of Hoi An. Therefore, visitors spend less time to get there if departing from Hoi An, over 1 hour by car. However, when having no other options than Da Nang or would like to start from the airport, the drive to My Son sanctuary is still convenient. The travel time is just 20 minutes more. Guided tours are many, easy to book from any cities.
Read also: My Son Sanctuary Tour
Hoi An or Da Nang – Which is Better to Visit the Golden Bridge?
Visitors often choose to stay in Da Nang if they plan to visit the Golden Bridge on Ba Na hills during their time in Central Vietnam. The reason is the shorter distance from Da Nang, than Hoi An. In other words, if they stay overnight in Da Nang, they will need only 45 minutes (27 kilometers) to see the world-famous bridge, instead of 1,5hrs (45 kilometers). By that, time is saved, and they can have more time in Ba Na hills station or relax. Group tours to Golden bridge are more available from Da Nang than Hoi An, and sure, the cost is also lower. For those who travel alone or with a budget, yes, Da Nang is better to save money. Due to the distance, again, private tours are more expensive than Hoi An.
Private Tour Guide in Da Nang vs Hoi An
Da Nang and Hoi An have 2 Unesco world heritage sites and many attractions with a long existence over centuries. In many places, buildings, points of interests and roads are plentiful, making it difficult for visitors to make a perfect itinerary for the best experience. If would like to deepen the understanding about local culture and history or save time in research, a local guide is needed.
Text us in whatsapp number +84968009827, we will help you to look for a guide who is knowledgeable and good at English.
Read also: How to Find a Private Tour Guide in Hoi An
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