Da Nang, Hoi An and Hue are all attractive tourist destinations in Central Vietnam that have everything from beautiful beaches and majestic scenery of the mountains to the ancient architecture and unique cultural traditions. If you are planning to travel to the central part of Vietnam, our trip itinerary of 7 days in Central Vietnam can save you lots of time.
Central Vietnam Highlights
Da Nang: Da Nang is the third largest city in Vietnam and main entry point of the central region. Da Nang is a unique destination that combines various attractions such as exclusive bridges, Ba Na Hills and beautiful beaches of the city.
Hue: Hue, located on the bank of Perfume River, had been recognized as one of the World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. Hue, the capital city of Vietnam during Nguyen Dynasty, is famous for its natural landscape and historical attractions.
Hoi An: Hoi An was once (from the 17th to 19th century) a bustling port city and had become one of the most popular attractions in Vietnam. Hoi An has a distinctly Chinese atmosphere with colonial houses, narrow streets and colorful lanterns.
Travelling in Central Vietnam was the next part of our Vietnam trip itinerary which was started by spending 10 days in Northern Vietnam. During the first part of our trip, we’ve visited several popular destinations in Northern Vietnam such as Hanoi, Cat Ba, Halong Bay and Sapa.
This is an exact trip itinerary of our 7 days in Central Vietnam that might help you to plan your trip and choose the best places to visit in this region.
Day 1: Hello Da Nang
Afternoon: We took a Vietjet flight from Noi Bai International Airport (HAN) in Hanoi to Da Nang and landed at Da Nang International Airport (DAD) at about 14:00. Da Nang Airport is new and modern and situated just about 5 km from our hotel at My Khe Beach. We decided to take a private transfer from Da Nang Airport to our hotel as our taxi experience in Vietnam wasn’t the smoothest because of taxi drivers doing their best to scam us before. Our private transfer in Da Nang was hassle free and in reality, it was as affordable as taking a taxi. However, you can try taking a taxi from Da Nang Airport to you hotel and the taxi fare should be around 100,000-150,000 VND with a fair taxi driver.
If you are coming from abroad, don't forget to buy Vietnam SIM Card that you can pick up upon your arrival in Da Nang Airport to stay connected with your friends and family.
After transferring to our hotel for check-in, we’ve paid a visit to Cham Sculpture Museum and then spent the rest of the day on My Khe Beach.
Evening: We started discovering Da Nang that was decorated in colorful lights of city’s famous and unique bridges and buildings by Han River. If you are lucky enough to be at iconic Dragon Bridge on Saturday and Sunday night, you will see a giant steel dragon spiting fire and water from its mouth.
If you are interested, you can join the My Xuan Cruise to soak up at night life of Da Nang City in 45-minute journey along Han River. You will see Da Nang from another side, admiring these sparkling bridges, and enjoying performance on board.
Overnight: Hotel in Da Nang - Essenza Hotel & Spa
Day 2: Da Nang (Ba Na Hills)
Morning: After the breakfast served at our hotel, we’ve prepared to enjoy full day of mixed experiences at Ba Na Hills. Ba Na Hills is located 30 km from the center of Da Nang and there are many ways get there from Da Nang. We took a shuttle bus to Ba Na Hills from our hotel and it took more than 1 hour to get there. As we booked the shuttle bus and Ba Na Hills Tickets online, this was our very best decision during this part of the trip to Vietnam because we didn't need to waste time lining up to buy tickets at the foot of the hill for getting a ride up the hill on the cable car.
We arrived at the cable car station about 10:00 but would suggest coming earlier to avoid the crowds as the situation at the time of our visit was quite tense there. Ba Na Hills complex at altitude of 1,500 meters above sea level is best known for the amazing Golden Bridge, but there are plenty of other amazing things to experience. We started our visit from Linh Ung Pagoda with its 27-meter tall Buddha statue, French wine cellar, and lovely flower garden.
Afternoon: After buffet lunch, we continued exploring the spectacular French Village and joined games in Fantasy Park, one of the most modern indoor game centers in Vietnam with a series of interesting games such as 4 – 5D Film, Skiver, the Death Race, and Dinosaur Park. We returned to the cable car station and went back to Da Nang at about 15:00.
If you want to immerse yourself in the atmosphere, you can spend the night on Ba Na Hills at Mercure Ba Na Hills French Village for the full package of experiences at Ba Na Hills.
Evening: We visited Han Market, which is considered as a shopping paradise in Da Nang. This market is the place where you can buy any souvenir at a reasonable price. After doing some shopping at the market, we came back to our hotel.
Overnight: Hotel in Da Nang - Essenza Hotel & Spa
Day 3: Da Nang - Hue
Morning: We woke up early in the morning to walk along My Khe Beach to enjoy fresh air.
Just before lunch, we said goodbye to the beautiful city of Da Nang and continued our trip northward to Hue – the former capital of Vietnam. We took a train from Da Nang Railway Station, and traveled by the coast and through Hai Van Pass to arrive at Hue Railway Station. The journey took us only 2 hours 30 minutes with an experience that is briefly described here: From Da Nang to Hue by Train.
Beside of the train, there are many other options for getting from Da Nang to Hue and you can easily to choose the best one here: Best Way to Travel from Da Nang to Hue.
Afternoon: We arrived in Hue after 15:00. Hue was the feudal capital of Vietnam from 1802 to 1945. This compact and quiet city is widely known for magnificent architecture, pagodas and royal tombs laid in small villages and surrounding hills.
After checking-in at the hotel, we just spent the rest of day walking along Perfume River.
Evening: When the sun went down, Hue City was still lively and we went out to enjoy Hue street food at the local restaurant.
Hue is known not only as an ancient capital but also as the city with unique and diverse cuisine consisting of many delicious specialties. We ended the night with happiness by continuing to fill our stomachs with Vietnamese BBQ along with local beer.
If you have no idea about delicious local dishes that must be tasted while visiting Hue, check our list of Hue Food Specialties.
Overnight: Hotel in Hue - Kha Hotel
Day 4: Hue
Morning: We started our day and planned to find a place to exchange money so we headed to the area around Dong Ba Market. This market is the most famous market in Hue where you can see locals shopping for food. This is the place where you can enjoy Hue specialties as well as see explore the simple local life. And yes, the best money changer in Hue is also located nearby.
After that, we visited the most famous landmarks in Hue starting with 2 royal tombs:
- Minh Mang Tomb: Minh Mang Tomb is considered as the most majestic of all Royal Tombs in Hue. Minh Mang Tomb is an architectural complex consisting of 40 constructions including temples, pavilions, and palaces.
- Khai Dinh Tomb: This is the final resting place of Khai Dinh, Emperor of Vietnam who was ruling the country from 1916 to 1925. The tomb is beautifully constructed and it was built over 11 years, on a steep hill outside of the city. Khai Dinh Tomb is a blend of Western and traditional Vietnamese style architecture.
Afternoon: After lunch, we continued our trip around the city and visited the Imperial City (the Citadel), which was the place where Nguyen Dynasty’s Emperors and royal family worked and lived for almost 145 years (1802 to 1945).
Not far from the Imperial City, Thien Mu Pagoda, which now became the symbol of Hue, can be found. This pagoda is 21 meters high and was built under the reign of Emperor Thieu Tri in 1844 on a hill overlooking the Perfume River. Thien Mu Pagoda is one of the oldest and prettiest religious buildings in Hue and all Vietnam.
From Thien Mu Pagoda, you can go on a dragon boat ride along the river to enjoy the nice scenery on the way back to Hue City. However, don't forget to negotiate the price, as one-way boat ride should cost around 150,000-200,000 VND per boat.
Evening: After having a dinner at the local restaurant, we started exploring nightlife in Hue and went strolling around Nguyen Dinh Chieu Street or Hue Walking Street which is located right next to the Perfume River. This is the place where we went for shopping and eating local snacks.
Overnight: Hotel in Hue - Kha Hotel
Day 5: Hue - Hoi An
Morning: After an early breakfast at the hotel, we headed out from Hue to Hoi An by sightseeing bus.
On the way from Hue to Hoi An, the bus made short stops so we could visit several beautiful attractions in the area such as:
Thanh Toan Bridge and village: The place to be for travelers who want to escape the bustling city of Hue in the countryside and enjoy the real Vietnamese rural surroundings.
Lang Co Beach: More than 10 km long white sand beach with clear blue sea water. We only stopped here for some photos but if you have more time, relax swimming at the beach as well.
Hai Van Pass: This is one of the most scenic mountain roads in Vietnam. Hai Van Pass is an approximately 21 km long mountain pass on National Route 1A in Vietnam. It is the natural border of Thua Thien-Hue Province and Da Nang City. The bus stopped at the ancient gate on the top of Hai Van Pass so we could admire the beautiful panorama and landscapes of both provinces from above.
Afternoon: The journey on the bus continued without a lunch break but we paid a visit to Marble Mountains (Ngu Hanh Son), the popular sightseeing spot in Da Nang. We discovered some of the stunning caves and temples there but we didn’t get a chance to see the beautiful view from the top of the mountain due to the time limit. At the foot of the mountain, there are food stalls where you can grab some food for your lunch and stone village where local skilled sculptors create various marble products.
Full review of our trip on the tourist bus from Hue to Hoi An that took us to visit various tourist attractions on the way can be found here: Sightseeing Bus from Hue to Hoi An [Review].
After that, we departed to Hoi An and the bus dropped us off at the hotel nearby Hoi An Ancient Town around 14:00.
Evening: We started exploring the charming Hoi An. Within a walking distance from our hotel, we discovered ancient buildings designed in special architectures such as Japanese Covered Bridge, Chinese Assembly Halls, and Tan Ky Ancient House.
Hoi An at night is really lively and magical with colorful lanterns hung all around. We just enjoyed a leisurely walk around the ancient town to see the beauty of the streets at night and try some local delicacies.
We had dinner at the local restaurant and ate Cao Lau Noodles, Hoi An Chicken Rice and White Rose Dumpling. Hoi An is widely known for its delicious food, and the best examples of local cuisine are listed here: Hoi An Food You Must Try.
Overnight: Hotel in Hoi An - Hoa Vang Riverside Villa
Day 6: Hoi An
Morning: After breakfast, we started our morning by Cycling around Hoi An to visit attractions at the day time. The ancient architecture of Hoi An is a fascinating combination of Vietnamese traditional characters with Chinese and Japanese influence. We passed the Japanese Covered Bridge which is considered the symbol of Hoi An. After that, we’ve visited Hoi An Central Market and the ancient port to see the local daily life.
We continued our cycle ride through countryside surrounding Hoi An and got an opportunity to see rice fields, meet local farmers and their water buffalos. The local farmer even invited us to take a ride on his buffalo. Finally, we arrived at our destination, An Bang Beach and spent some time relaxing and swimming on the beach.
Afternoon: We enjoyed a leisurely cycle back to the center of Hoi An. We had our late lunch at the local restaurant and got a cup of coffee and sweet treat at small café in the old town. Make sure to check our list of 12 Best Cafes in Hoi An when looking for the best place to get a cup of coffee in the area.
If you want to immerse yourself into the atmosphere of peaceful nature, you can go to Cam Thanh eco-village where you can ride on the traditional bamboo basket boat, admire the beauty of the nearby river and enjoy fun shaking basket boat performance. You can book Basket Boat Ride Admission Ticket in Hoi An in advance.
Evening: For dinner, we tasted some of Hoi An street food along the town’s riverside. There you will see many vendors making Hoi An dishes and offering them to try for locals and visitors on small plastic tables and chairs scattered by the river. The most popular foods here are Quang noodles, BBQ wrapped in rice paper, ice cream rolls, and Vietnamese pizza.
Along the river, you will see many locals selling small paper lanterns and candles to put it down for floating on the river. You can also ride a boat on the river for the most pretty romantic experience.
After that, we went to the night market on Nguyen Hoang Street. There were more than 50 stalls selling everything from street food to clothes. You can easily get some of local souvenirs such as silk lanterns back home just like we did.
Overnight: Hotel in Hoi An - Hoa Vang Riverside Villa
Day 7: Hoi An - Da Nang
Morning: After breakfast at the hotel, our guide and driver picked us up from the hotel to visit My Son Sanctuary, which has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. This was the capital and religious center of the former Champa Kingdom from the 4th to 8th centuries, now remaining just a complex of red brick towers and sanctuaries.
Afternoon: After lunch, we checked out from the hotel and departed to Da Nang International Airport (DAD) to continue our trip to the next destination. There are several ways to travel from Hoi An to the airport and we’ve chosen to take a private transfer to make sure that our journey was smooth and convenient.