Last updated on March 17, 2024 by Stefano Ferro, founder of MEL365, following extensive travelling in Vietnam

Is it better to stay in HOI AN or DA NANG in Central Vietnam?

It’s always hard to decide between Hoi An or Da Nang. They both have great advantages but also some weak points. In fact, considering that Hoi An is just 30 km south of Da Nang, I usually suggest staying in one and organising a day trip to visit the other.

The Old Town of Hoi An is so charming with atmospheric lanterns, temples, bridges and cafes from its days as a trading port. Meanwhile, in Da Nang, you will find more luxurious resorts and a great coastal lifestyle.

In this extensive 17-point showdown I compare side-by-side all you need to know to make a choice, from costs to beaches, safety, nightlife and more of Danang and Hoi An.

But let’s dig straight into the key points.

The Japanese Bridge, or Cau Chua Pagoda at night
The Japanese Bridge, or Cau Chua Pagoda at night – Hoi An

Hoi An Vs Danang – Key points

Below is a table with the key points of this comparison. Keep reading for a more detailed description

SubjectHoi AnDa NangMy Opinion/Final Call
Budget TravelMore affordable with budget hotels and local eateries.Slightly more expensive with higher hotel and meal prices.Hoi An offers better value for budget travellers.
Family-FriendlySafe, walkable, and close to beaches. Limited activities for kids.More activities for kids like amusement parks and beaches.Da Nang is better suited for families due to more entertainment options.
Romantic GetawayCharming historical centre, with lantern-lit streets, and boutique hotels.Luxury beach resorts and fine dining options.Hoi An is more romantic with its atmospheric setting.
NightlifeLimited, with most venues closing early.More vibrant with bars and late-night cafes.Da Nang offers a livelier nightlife scene.
BeachesBeautiful beaches but some erosion issues at Cua Dai Beach.Pristine beaches with more extensive coastline.Da Nang edges out for better beach options.
SafetyExtremely safe with minimal crime.Very safe but with usual city precautions.Both are safe, but Hoi An feels more worry-free.
Old Town CharmUNESCO-listed, pedestrian-friendly with rich history.Less preserved, more modern cityscape.Hoi An is more charming and historically rich.
3-Day ItineraryHoi An for a cultural experience, and Da Nang for a mix of beach and city.Beach relaxation, city exploration, and nearby attractions.Hoi An for a cultural experience, Da Nang for a mix of beach and city.
Food SceneBlend of local and international flavours, famous for custom dishes.Diverse food options with both local and international cuisines.Hoi An for traditional flavors, Da Nang for variety.
AccommodationNu Ni HomestaySun River HotelHoi An for a more quaint stay, Da Nang for luxury beach resorts.
Size ComparisonSmaller, more compact area. All within walking distanceLarger city with more extensive areas to explore.Hoi An for a cozy feel, Da Nang for a big city experience.
Public TransportationLimited to taxis, bikes, and shuttles.More extensive network including trains, buses and metro.Da Nang offers better public transport options.
Shopping and SpasUnique boutiques and affordable massages.Larger malls and diverse shopping options.Da Nang for more shopping variety, Hoi An for unique finds.
Internet & ConnectivityAdequate for basic needs, not ideal for heavy usage.Fast and reliable, suitable for business and remote work.Da Nang is better for those needing strong internet connectivity.
Airport AccessibilityAbout 30 minutes from Da Nang Airport.Very close to Da Nang Airport.Da Nang is more convenient for airport access.
Hoi An Vs Danang – Key points

Is Da Nang or Hoi An cheaper in Central Vietnam

Hoi An

Hoi An offers good budget travel options. Hotels and guesthouses start from around $15 per night for basic lodging. Vietnamese dishes at local eateries cost just $2-3. The street called Hai Bà Trưng, starting almost from the pedestrian bridge connecting the historical centre of Hoi An to An Hoi Island, has the best value for money options.

Attractions in Hoi An like the assembly halls, the temples, the bridge and beaches have minimal entrance fees. Hoi An provides excellent value for budget travellers.

Da Nang

Da Nang is the third largest city in Vietnam, definitely more expensive than rural Hoi An. Budget hotels average $25-35 per night. Local food starts at around $2 per plate but restaurant meals cost more. Entrance fees are cheap but transport, shopping and tours add up.

Da Nang offers reasonable value but it’s nevertheless more expensive than Hoi An.

Sunset on the Han River the place to be in the City Centre for dinner and drinks in Da Nang
Sunset on the Han River, the place to be in the City Centre for dinner and drinks in Da Nang

Da Nang and Hoi An for families

Hoi An

Hoi An works well for families thanks to its safety, walkability and beach proximity. Renting a bike is always great fun and it works particularly well if travelling with grown-ups. Most of the town is closed to the traffic from 3-4 pm till late, which gives a no-worries experience to parents travelling with the little ones.

Many hotels have family rooms, small apartments and pools. Hoi An’s beaches are surely the number one attraction for families. Besides that, do not expect too much. In saying that, Hoi An can make for an affordable, casual family trip.

Da Nang

Da Nang has more to keep kids entertained, like amusement parks, water parks, an aquarium, and museums. You should not miss a visit to Asia Park and its outstanding Sun Wheel which lights up at night.

Add also to your must-do list the short trip to the Bà Nà Hills resort, a reconstruction of a French Village up in the hills connected by cable car and the famous pedestrian Golden Bridge, suspended in the air and lifted by two gigantic hands.

Da Nang has also a few sandy beaches of which My Khe Beach is one of my favourites for families. Another great place to spend some time with the kids

While not a top family destination, Da Nang’s modern amenities and activities make it better suited for travel with children over slower-paced Hoi An.

View to the coast from the resort along the beach of Da Nang
View to the coast from the resort along the beach of Da Nang

Hoi An and Da Nang for couples

Hoi An

Hoi An is incredibly romantic for couples with its atmospheric old centre full of cafes, lantern-lit streets, and unique boutique hotels. Beach picnics, bicycle rides in the countryside, and couples’ spa treatments provide quality time together.

I still remember like yesterday my first trip to Hoi An 25 years ago with my future wife. It was one of our first trips together. We had such a romantic time. Today the city is certainly more commercial, with the Lantern Festival happening every night, but still so beautiful and unmissable

Hoi An ranks among Vietnam’s most charming escapes for couples. My tip: stay in An Hoi Island or in the countryside for the most romantic time.

Da Nang

Da Nang also caters well to couples with its luxury beach resorts perfect for a relaxing getaway. The city offers some nice rooftop bars, fine dining, and peaceful coastal scenery away from the bustle.

The two destinations are completely different, with Hoi An offering a more boutique secluded experience and Danang providing a more extravagant stay.

Hoi An, the city of lanterns
Hoi An, the city of lanterns

Nightlife in Da Nang vs Hoi An

Hoi An

As a historical town, the focus is on heritage preservation and the night scene is very limited. The area lacks proper clubs or bars, with activity focused on the pedestrian streets around the Japanese Bridge.

There is a night market with a few places to have a drink and some street food but I would not consider it one of the most exciting parts of Vietnam. Most venues close by 11 pm out of respect for residents. For partying, Hoi An is not the place to be.

Da Nang

Da Nang offers livelier after-dark activities in the form of rooftop and poolside bars, Irish pubs downtown, craft beer breweries, and late-night cafes.

While tame compared to major cities, if you are located in Central Vietnam Da Nang beats Hoi An for its lively nightlife and energy.

View of the famous Dragon Bridge in Da Nang
View of the famous Dragon Bridge in Da Nang

My Khe Beach Vs Bang Beach Vs Cua Dai Beach

Hoi An

The Hoi An beach is actually 4.5 Km from the city centre and it’s divided into two sides, Bang Beach in the north and Cua Dai Beach in the south. They both offer scenic shores with fine sand, gentle waters, beach lounges, and seaside eateries.

The main difference between the two is that Cua Dai Beach has been eroded in the last few years and there is no more sand in a few sections. In fact, some of the resorts had to place big rocks to stop further erosion into the hotel itself.

Bang Beach is also more commercial, with restaurants and bars facing the sea, great for the last drink of the day and dinner with a bit of sea breeze.

Da Nang

Da Nang edges out Hoi An for beaches with 30 km of pristine white sand and sparkling East Sea waters. My Khe is considered one of Vietnam’s finest beaches. Many upscale resorts line Da Nang’s shores but public beaches still exist for enjoying the area’s scenic seaside charm.

For a more secluded and beautiful beach, I also suggest visiting Cham Island, a short boat trip from Hoi An. You can easily organise a trip there from either Danang or Hoi An

Cam An beach, off Hoi An and close to Da Nang
Cam An beach, off Hoi An and close to Da Nang

Safety in Danang vs Hoi An

Hoi An

Hoi An is an exceptionally safe destination with minimal crime or harassment aimed at tourists. You can easily walk day or night thanks without any worry, thanks also to attentive police presence and friendly locals.

Aside from the usual travel precautions, Hoi An provides a worry-free visit.

Da Nang

Da Nang is also considered very safe by global city standards. Violent crime is rare and tourists can walk freely around downtown. Standard vigilance is advised as petty theft may occur in crowded areas.

Ironically, poor traffic safety poses more risk than crime for visitors. But overall Da Nang is quite secure.

Hoi An Ancient Town vs Da Nang Old Town

Hoi An

Hoi An Ancient Town is Vietnam’s most atmospheric and pedestrian-friendly old quarter. The vibrant riverside downtown dazzles with colourful shophouses, a covered Japanese Bridge (UNESCO World Heritage Site), Chinese temples, and charming cafes. Exploring by foot or bike reveals its rich history.

I particularly enjoyed my walks in the early morning, photo-documenting the local and picturesque traditional market, an experience to do around 7 am when most travellers are still in bed.

Da Nang

The Old part of the city near the Dragon Bridge retains some French colonial buildings but lacks the preservation and vibrant street life of the historical sites of Hoi An. The area houses municipal offices rather than tourist attractions.

Da Nang’s history was sadly demolished in the Vietnam War while Hoi An survived it.

Hoi An Old Town main street in the early morning, the best time to enjoy it without a crowd of people around
On a sunrise photo walk of the historical centre of Hoi An

3 days in Hoi An or Da Nang?

Hoi An

With 3 days, spend 1 day in Hoi An wandering the atmospheric Historical Centre and soaking up the charm. On another day, rent a bicycle or a scooter to explore the green countryside and the beaches of Hoi An.

On the third day, organise a day trip to either the Hai Van Pass where you will have breathtaking views or the My Son Sanctuary (UNESCO World Heritage Site) often referred to as the small version of Angkor Wat. On my last visit a few years ago they were still cleaning the nearby area from the war landmines.

You can even think of visiting a local tailor to organise a dress or a suit (they usually take 2/3 days to do it). You may not know that Hoi An is actually the most famous Vietnamese city for custom-made clothes (tip: pay only a small deposit, not the full amount, when ordering)

Da Nang

In Da Nang, spend the morning at My Khe Beach, the afternoon in the city centre, and the evening riverfront Han Market.

Devote another day to history museums and the Marble Mountains or for day trips to Hai Van Pass, Ba Na Hills or Son Tra Peninsula for nature and sightseeing.

Leave the last day for more relaxation by the pool and a day trip to Hoi An to enjoy the town till late in the evening.

Climbing stairs to the little buddha inside the pagoda of the Marble Mountains of Da Nang
Climbing stairs to the little Buddha inside the pagoda of the Marble Mountains of Da Nang

Should you visit Hoi An or Da Nang for the Food Scene

Hoi An

Due to past foreign traders, Hoi An cuisine blends Vietnamese flavours with international influences. Local specialties include cao lầu noodles, fried wontons, grilled pork rolled in rice paper, and Quang style mi quang noodles, along with good seafood. Food stalls and cafes abound.

My favourite spots are on An Hoi Island, right in front of the river, or on Hai Bà Trưng Street, starting almost from the pedestrian bridge connecting Hoi An Old Town to An Hoi Island.

Da Nang

Da Nang offers a huge array of Vietnamese food from street eats like banh xeo crepes to fresh seafood. The area is famous for rice noodle soup called mì Quảng.

Being a major city, Da Nang has excellent restaurants featuring pan-Asian and international cuisines. Vibrant markets sell produce and snacks.

Accommodation – Stay in Hoi An or Danang?

Both destinations are great places to stay in Vietnam, however, they are totally different in what they offer.

Hoi An

Accommodation in Hoi An ranges from budget guesthouses and homestays for $25 per night to boutique hotels from $60-100 per night. Book at least 2-3 months ahead for the peak summer season. Stays during Tet holiday around January-February also fill very fast.

In this guide, I mentioned all the differences between staying on the beaches in Hoi An and in the Historical Centre. There is also a third possibility that I mentioned in my guide to where to stay in Hoi An which is the countryside, more romantic, a great place to stay on ng aroa trip with your partner.

Below is a summary table of the best areas to stay in Hoi An

Area
NBHD
Best forAvg. CostSuggested
Hotel
Bars &
Restaurants
CharacterNightlife
Old TownHistory
Character
$$$-$$$$Nu Ni
Homestay
351
An Hoi
Island
Happening,
First time
$$-$$$Quynh Chau
Homestay
433
Cam PhoBudget$-$$Minh Phat
Homestay
221
Cam ChauNature,
Romantic
$-$$$Hoian Tranquil
Lodge
24
(Nature)
1
BeachQuiet, Beach$$-$$$$KA Villa321
Comparative table of the best areas to stay in Hoi An
Best areas to stay in Hoi An
Best areas to stay in Hoi An

Da Nang

Da Nang offers extensive lodging from simple hotels at $30-50 per night to luxury oceanfront resorts averaging $140-250+ per night. Like Hoi An, booking well in advance for mid-summer or holidays like Tet is essential for top options in town.

Staying in Danang is the right choice if you are after a beach holiday. However, consider that Da Nang is the largest city in Central Vietnam, so it may not work if you are after a traditional and characteristic stay.

You can read more in my guide to where to stay in Da Nang. Here below is a summary table of the best areas to book your accommodation.

AreaProsConsAccessibilityAttractionsRestaurantsFamiliesNightlifeCharacter
City CentreCentral location, attractions, nightlife, RestaurantsCan get very busy, might be noisyGood, close to public transport and AirportHan River, Danang Museum of SculptureExcellent, diverse optionsIt can be noisyExcellent, vibrant nightlifeModern, bustling, historical
Beachside (My Khe and Non-Nuoc Beach)Proximity to the beach, water sports, luxury resortsPrices of accommodation can vary widely, might be crowded during peak seasonTaxis and busesBeautiful landscapes, very quiet, great views of the bayGood, beachside bars and restaurantsExcellent, family-friendly beachesGood, relaxed beach barsModern, beachside, relaxed
Son Tra PeninsulaBeautiful landscapes, very quiet, great views to the bayLimited accommodation options, out of the actionRequires transportation, best with a rented vehicleNature, hiking trails, Bai But Beach, Lady Buddha statueLimited, local optionsGood for nature-loving familiesLimited, more about nature and relaxationNatural, secluded, romantic
Da Nang Bay (Avoid)Quieter side of Da NangLess developed, not as tourist-friendlyRequires transportation, less developed infrastructureLimited, local marketsLimited, local street foodNot ideal, no attractionsLimited, not as tourist-friendlyLocal, less developed
Hoi AnRich in history and culture, charming and less busy than Da NangRequires transportation, further from the airportRequires transportation, further from airportUNESCO World Heritage SiteGood, traditional Vietnamese cuisineExcellent if travelling with grown-up kidsLimited, quiet cafes and riverside restaurantsHistorical, cultural, traditional
Comparing the best areas to stay in Da Nang
Best areas to stay in Da Nang
Best areas to stay in Da Nang

10 Things to do in Hoi An and Danang

Hoi An

ActivityDescriptionIdeal for
1. Ancient Town ExplorationWander through the UNESCO-listed streets, admiring the blend of Chinese, Japanese, and French architecture.Culture enthusiasts
2. Lantern Making WorkshopLearn the art of making traditional Vietnamese lanterns, a symbol of Hoi An.Hands-on travellers
3. An Bang BeachRelax or swim at this serene beach, known for its soft sand and clear waters.Beach lovers
4. My Son Sanctuary VisitExplore these ancient Hindu ruins, a UNESCO World Heritage site in the nearby jungle.History buffs
5. Evening River CruiseEnjoy a tranquil boat ride on the Thu Bon River, especially beautiful at sunset.Romantic escapades
6. Tailor-Made ClothingGet custom-made clothes from skilled local tailors, a unique Hoi An experience.Fashion enthusiasts
7. Street Food TourSavour local delicacies like Cao Lau and Banh Mi on a guided food tour.Foodies
8. Thanh Ha Pottery VillageWitness the art of pottery making and try your hand at crafting your own piece.Art lovers
9. Japanese Covered BridgeVisit this iconic 18th-century bridge and its adjacent temple, a symbol of Hoi An.Photographers & Historians
10. Cycling in the CountrysideRent a bike and explore the lush countryside, passing rice paddies and traditional villages.Adventure seekers
Top 10 things to do in Hoi An

Danang

ActivityDescriptionIdeal for
1. Marble Mountains VisitExplore this cluster of five marble and limestone hills, famous for their caves and temples.Nature and history lovers
2. Dragon Bridge ExperienceWitness this impressive bridge, especially during weekends when it breathes fire and water.Photographers & Families
3. My Khe Beach RelaxationEnjoy one of the most beautiful beaches in Vietnam, known for its long, white sand coast.Beach enthusiasts
4. Ba Na Hills and Golden BridgeVisit this mountain resort and walk the iconic Golden Bridge held by giant hands.Scenery lovers
5. Hai Van Pass Motorbike RideTake a thrilling motorbike ride along this scenic coastal road, famous for its breathtaking views.Adventure seekers
6. Han Market ShoppingShop for souvenirs, local crafts, and taste local food in this bustling market.Shoppers & Foodies
7. Museum of Cham SculptureDiscover the rich history and art of the ancient Champa Kingdom.Culture and art enthusiasts
8. Sun World Da Nang WondersExperience this amusement park, perfect for a day of fun with family or friends.Families & Fun seekers
9. Linh Ung Pagoda VisitAdmire the stunning views and the giant Lady Buddha statue at this serene pagoda.Spiritual seekers
10. Son Tra Peninsula ExplorationExplore this lush national park, home to diverse wildlife and panoramic views.Nature lovers
Top 10 things to do in Danang

Should I stay in Da Nang or Hoi An for my honeymoon?

Hoi An

Hoi An provides a remarkably romantic backdrop for couples with its lantern-lit cobblestone streets, unique boutique hotels, and charming cafes. Wandering the old town, cycling through rice paddies, and beach picnics make for wonderful shared memories.

Hoi An absolutely charms honeymooners.

Da Nang

Newlyweds can also enjoy a relaxing honeymoon escape in Da Nang at one of the luxury beachfront resorts with spa pampering. Da Nang offers more high-end amenities for couples along with art galleries and cultural sites to explore during the day.

Overall, Hoi An’s quaint ambience excels for romance.

Night photography in Hoi An
Night photography in Hoi An – Old lady selling lanterns

What place is bigger in size, Da Nang or Hoi An?

Hoi An

The Hoi An UNESCO old town area spans just over 2 square km along the banks of the Thu Bon River. Everything is within walking distance. The greater Hoi An region extends around 150 square km including beaches like An Bang, with the most interesting areas easily reachable with a bike

Da Nang

Da Nang covers almost 1,300 square km of central Vietnam, with 1.1 million residents in the city proper. Between the greater metropolitan area and sprawling township, Da Nang stretches over 15,000 square km.

Public Transportation in and to Hoi An Vs Da Nang

Hoi An

Local transport in Hoi An includes metered taxis, motorbike taxis, bicycles for rent, and shuttle buses to the beaches. Everything within the old town can be easily walked. To visit nearby towns or the Marble Mountains, you will need to join a tour or take a private transfer.

There is no train station in Hoi An, however, there are many bus options that can take you south to Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi in the north.

Da Nang

Da Nang has an extensive network of local buses, metro lines, taxis, motorbike taxis, and bike shares. However, traffic congestion can slow travel, especially in the heart of Da Nang. Trains and planes connect the city to Hanoi, HCMC and the rest of Vietnam. Overall, the transport infrastructure is far larger than what you can find in Hoi An.

One of the best train routes in the world connects actually Danang to Hue. It was one of the highlights of my recent trip. A stunning trip along the coastline.

The train with the spectacular view, from Da Nang to Hue
The train with a spectacular view, from Da Nang to Hue

Shopping, spas and massage

Hoi An

Hoi An offers wonderful shopping especially in the old town. Boutiques sell art, custom clothing, lanterns, handicrafts and more. Markets have produce and souvenirs.

There are fewer major spas compared to beaches but massage is affordable. Prices are fixed rather than requiring bartering.

Da Nang

Da Nang has modern malls, department stores, boutiques, and local markets to explore. Shopping centres like Da Nang Indochina Riverside Mall house designer brands along with Vietnamese goods.

Da Nang also boasts many reputable spas and massage parlours charging reasonable rates. Overall it offers far greater shopping diversity and scale compared to Hoi An but it can get very busy too.

Internet & connectivity

Hoi An

Being a heavily touristed area, Hoi An has sufficient internet for basic needs provided for free at hotels, cafes and restaurants. Speeds allow regular usage but may lag for major file downloads or frequent video calls.

It’s probably not the best for digital nomads, but good otherwise for the average needs

Da Nang

As Vietnam’s tech hub, Da Nang enjoys fast and reliable internet on par with other Southeast Asian capitals. WiFi speeds are great for business travellers, remote workers, and heavy data usage with fibre optic infrastructure.

Uploading a YouTube video takes seconds and honestly, it is so much quicker than when I am back in Melbourne.

Da Nang outpaces Hoi An for connectivity needs.

Lady selling flowers at the Hoi An Market
Lady selling flowers at the Hoi An Market

Da Nang Airport to Hoi An

The Da Nang International Airport sits just 3 km outside the city centre. You can reach Hoi An easily via pre-arranged hotel transfer or taxi in around 30 minutes, covering approximately 25-30 km between the airport and Hoi An ancient town.

Shared shuttle vans also make the trip economically, but you need to pre-arrange that. Organising on-site is not the best idea unless you are a master at bargaining.

Stefano Ferro - MEL365.com Founder and Editor

About the Author

Stefano is a seasoned travel expert and the visionary founder of MEL365.com, a leading travel website with traffic across 6 continents. With a rich background in the travel industry, Stefano spent four pivotal years at Amadeus Travel Distribution System, gaining invaluable insights into travel technologies and distribution.

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