If you’re keen to do Vietnam with kids, Danang is a good port of entry. It’s a convenient place to fly into areas such as Hoi An and Hue and there are plenty of direct flights from major cities such as Hong Kong and Singapore. But Danang is so much more than just an airport. There are brilliant beaches, delicious food and luxury resort living for the ultimate family holiday destination with kids.
Danang with kids makes for a very easy family vacation. If you only want to explore Danang proper, you need bring nothing more than a bathing suit and a resort booking. Happily, Danang town has very little to offer tourists which means you can lie guilt-free on the sand all day without ever leaving your hotel.
But if you are the restless sort that likes to explore and experience some local culture, there are plenty of easy day trips from Danang to travel to with kids.
The main reason to come to Danang with kids over other parts of Vietnam is the beautiful Cua Dai Beach (also known as China Beach) and My Khe Beach. These enormous beaches stretch from Hoi An to Danang and are the perfect place for some R&R. It’s safest to swim around where the lifeguards are (generally the more popular parts of the beach).
[For more beach safety tips, see the suitcases&strollers interview with the team from Bondi Rescue.]
Scattered along the sands and out to sea are the picturesque traditional Vietnamese fishing boats and in the hotter months the sands are packed in the late afternoon with locals cooling off after work – a lively and fun sight. Along the main road next to the beach at sunset, roadside stalls set up selling snack and beers which is an amusing way to interact with the locals in the early evening.
The most popular tourist destination around Danang is the historical township of Hoi An. This is definitely a must-see on any itinerary and – at a short 20-minute drive from Danang township – well worth even just a day trip. The charming village is full of quaint shops, cute restaurants and is a good place to take a cooking class, visit some of the local farms or cure that shopping itch.
[For more travel tips on things to do in Hoi An with kids, see the suitcases&strollers story here.]
Near to Hoi An is Marble Mountain – actually a group of five small hills (“mountain” is a bit of an ambitious word!). It’s worth devoting a couple of hours to walking slowly up Thuy Son (Water Mountain), the only one of the five you can climb. The pathway is a series of steps up and down and into secret hidden grottoes filled with religious statues and places of worship. Along the way you’ll see locals ambling along, snacks in hand or Bhuddist monks making their way to prayer.
If you have the time and the kids are interested, it is worth engaging a tour guide to talk you through the history and significance of the several caves. But if your kids prefer to just run and explore, this is equally as fun.
While there is an elevator up to Thuy Son, once you get up there everything involves lots of steps so it is not suitable for a stroller.
The coastal drive from Hoi An to Danang is quite a pretty one and as you head to the edge of the coast you will be greeted by the Lady Buddha, perched out over the cliffs of Monkey Mountain overlooking the beach. You can walk or climb up to see the giant 67-metre Goddess of Mercy statue where there is also a temple, a monks’ library and festivities during the Buddhist holidays.
If you head up there at dusk you will see the Lady transfer from calming marble white to a multi-coloured light show with a fluorescent green laser between the eyes to match.
Another fun free activity with kids is to head out to see the awesome Dragon Bridge. At over 600 metres long it is quite impressive in the daytime but in the evening it is particularly spectacular for families. On weekends (Saturdays and Sundays) in the evenings the bridge is closed to vehicular traffic and crowds are entertained with a fire and water show direct from the dragon's mouth.
While the Danang area is not particularly known for it’s culinary prowess in the way that Hanoi is, Vietnamese food in general is still extremely healthy and easy for kids to eat. If all else fails, there are almost always deep fried spring rolls and baked goods to be found everywhere.
An unexpected highlight of a trip to Danang is to book a dinner at La Maison 1888 at the InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort. A few times a year the famed three-Michelin-starred godfather of fine dining, Michel Roux, jets in from Switzerland to host master classes and chef’s tables with lucky guests (see the four-part video below of Michel Roux creating his Salmon in Puff Pastry with Beurre Blanc a L'Aneth). Chef Roux is disarmingly charming and this is a rare opportunity to have a private and intimate interaction with a true culinary legend.
Even when Chef Roux is not on site, he is extremely involved in the restaurant and has hand picked the wine list and menu items personally, so eating here is still a memorable experience.
Because La Maison 1888 is a fine dining restaurant children are not allowed, so you will need to organise a babysitter through your accommodation. [For travel tips on how to eat in expensive restaurants with kids, see the suitcases&strollers story here.]
Perhaps one of the most impressive and kid-friendly all inclusive family resorts in Danang is the InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort. This spectacular property (designed by architect Bill Bensley) is perched on the cliffside overlooking Bai Bac Beach and is a unique mix of Chinois chic for parents and kid-friendly fun.
For a start, the private Bai Bac Beach is glorious. The sand is spotlessly clean, the water is clear and extremely flat which makes it perfectly safe for kids. There is no access for non guests of the resort so there are no pesky vendors to deal with either.
The kids’ facilities are pretty impressive too. There is a sizeable kids club with a nautical theme and a separate teens gaming section.
The resort can organise activities such as fishing, there is quite a large cinema and on the beach there is even a kids’ bar where the children can order smoothies, ice creams and cotton candy.
But beyond these, there are lots of small touches throughout the property the whole family will appreciate. Because it is built into the wall of Monkey Mountain, the layout of the resort is extremely steep (with some seriously spectacular views) so the easiest way to move about the resort is via golf buggy (an obvious kids’ favourite). Better still is the “Nam Tram”; a very cool boat-shaped tram that ships guests up and down the height of the resort. And whenever parents are after some kids-free time, there is the spa and nail studio by Bastien Gonzalez.
The one caveat on these glorious facilities is that everything is based around plummeting views which means you must keep a very strict eye on climbing toddlers around balconies and windows.
Danang and the surrounding region are highly susceptible to monsoon storms that can cause serious environmental havoc. It’s best not to travel to the region during monsoon season (roughly September to December) – check the weather reports before you book and depart.
It is not safe to drink the water from the tap in Vietnam. Only use bottled water for drinking and be wary of children drinking water in the shower or the bath.
To read more about the historical city of Hoi An with kids, see the suitcases&strollers story here.
suitcases&strollers stayed as a guest at InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort