Da Nang vs Nha Trang: Which to Visit?

Developed as coastal resorts, Da Nang and Nha Trang are quite similar cities.

In my previous post about the top 5 must-visit beach destinations in Vietnam, I briefly described Nha Trang as a scaled-down version of Da Nang.

In this post, I will provide a more detailed comparison between Da Nang and Nha Trang, dividing them into different aspects to explain which city has the upper hand in each area.

Please note that this post is based on my personal experiences and opinions.

Overview of Da Nang VS Nha Trang

First of all, before comparing Da Nang and Nha Trang, it’s important to note that these two cities are on completely different scales.

Da Nang is one of the five centrally-governed cities designated by the Vietnamese government and the 3rd or 4th largest city in Vietnam. Its residential population alone is about 1.2 million, three times that of Nha Trang. 1

Moreover, Da Nang serves as the largest and central city in the South Central Coast region of Vietnam.

So while Da Nang functions as a complete “city”, Nha Trang mainly serves as a resort and tourist destination rather than a full-fledged city.


* Winner: Da Nang

While some people may visit Da Nang or Nha Trang just to enjoy a hotel vacation at a luxury resort, most will still do some sightseeing when visiting a foreign.

In that regard, Nha Trang is no match for Da Nang. Da Nang is one of the cities with the most tourist attractions in all of Vietnam.

This is not just based on Da Nang as a single city, but because the route connecting Hue – Da Nang – Hoi An in central Vietnam is so well established for tourism.

  • In the south, Ho Chi Minh City has no proper tourist attractions nearby.
  • In the north, Hanoi has Ha Long Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage site and symbol of Vietnam, but it’s not close and tours are mandatory, which is a downside.

In that sense, the Hue – Da Nang – Hoi An route can satisfy anyone, whether they take a tour or go backpacking.

  • Hue: The former capital of Vietnam.
  • Hoi An: Consistently ranked as one of the top tourist destinations not only in Vietnam but in all of Asia.

On the other hand, there’s nowhere to go in Nha Trang. Everything in Nha Trang can also be found in Da Nang.

The only nearby city accessible from Nha Trang is Dalat, but it’s not close to Nha Trang, and as a resort town itself, Dalat also lacks outstanding tourist attractions.


Winner: Da Nang

Vietnam is a large country and almost all passenger transport companies use Da Nang or Hue in central Vietnam as their main hubs.

Therefore, Da Nang has a wide variety of transportation options for traveling to other cities in Vietnam such as Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi.

For example, there are no direct buses from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi, but there are buses from Ho Chi Minh City to Da Nang to Hanoi. However, Nha Trang is not a city with such abundant transportation options.

Many routes do not pass through Nha Trang, which can be easily confirmed by searching on Vexere, Vietnam’s largest passenger transport booking site. The number of transport options departing from Da Nang is several times higher than those departing from Nha Trang.

Using Vexere alone, you can easily travel all over Vietnam.


* Winner: Da Nang

Although both Da Nang and Nha Trang are not cities known for their nightlife, if we must compare, Da Nang is ahead in almost every aspect.

Da Nang at least has options like clubs and bars. However, Nha Trang lacks even those.

Of course, there are one or two famous spots, but they are woefully inadequate compared to Da Nang. The options are far more numerous than in Nha Trang.

But if nightlife is your primary purpose, visiting Ho Chi Minh City instead of these two cities is the right choice.

In my opinion, even if you combine the nightlife of all other Vietnamese cities except Ho Chi Minh City, it falls short of Ho Chi Minh City.

Such a scene cannot be found in either Da Nang or Nha Trang.

Beach / Sea

* Winner: Nha Trang

Both Da Nang and Nha Trang boast stunningly beautiful beaches and long coastlines.

Although both cities are coastal resorts, when considering the beaches alone, I think Nha Trang is better than Da Nang.

In my personal opinion, the sea in Nha Trang is calmer than in Da Nang. Regardless of the season, the waves in Da Nang are often high, which frequently makes me feel that it’s not safe to go into the sea.

Moreover, with fewer visitors, I believe Nha Trang’s beaches are quieter and cleaner.

At least for scuba diving, Nha Trang is the best in Vietnam.

Additionally, marine activities are more diverse than in Da Nang. Nha Trang is home to Vietnam’s most famous PADI diver center.

So foreign tourists visiting Nha Trang receive about 3 days of training and obtain a diver’s license. It is an international license that can be used worldwide, including in Korea.

Of course, if you don’t plan to enter the sea and only use the hotel or resort pool, you don’t need to worry about this.


* Winner: Tie

It’s difficult to determine which city’s food is superior. Both cities offer inexpensive and delicious food.

While almost similar, the biggest difference is that Da Nang focuses on central Vietnamese cuisine, while Nha Trang focuses on southern Vietnamese cuisine.

Just as food varies by region in Korea, the differences are even more pronounced in Vietnam. Even the same pho tastes different in southern Nha Trang, central Da Nang, and northern Hanoi.

If you, the reader, have visited Ho Chi Minh City before, you may not notice a significant difference in Nha Trang’s food. The differences exist but are minimal, whereas in Da Nang, you can feel the differences.

Another difference in the food scene between the two cities is that Nha Trang seems to have a greater variety of tuna-related dishes since tuna is caught there.

Travel Convenience

* Winner: Da Nang

Before the COVID-19 pandemic in 2018, the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism compiled the number of foreign visitors to different regions of Vietnam. 2

The ranking was indicated by province rather than city, but if converted to cities, it would be as follows:

  1. Ho Chi Minh City (7.5 million)
  2. Hanoi (5.7 million)
  3. Ha Long Bay (5.2 million)
  4. Hoi An (3.8 million)
  5. Da Nang (2.8 million)
  6. Nha Trang (2.8 million)

Simply put, the central region of Vietnam, where Da Nang is located, was visited by more than twice as many foreigners as the south-central region, where Nha Trang is situated.

Although this statistic is based on 2018 data before the COVID-19 pandemic, I can assure you that the gap between Da Nang and Nha Trang has either widened or at least not narrowed by current standards.

As more foreigners visit, travel convenience is also much better in Da Nang. The tourism support center operated by the Da Nang city government and the DanangFantasyCity website provide information on upcoming events in Da Nang.

Da Nang is much more sincere towards foreign tourists. Photo: Da Nang Information Center

Conclusion of Da Nang VS Nha Trang Comparison

When comparing almost every aspect, Da Nang is far ahead of Nha Trang.

If you can only visit one of the two cities, I recommend visiting Da Nang. The downside of Da Nang is that there are a tremendous number of Koreans.

Koreans make up half of all foreigners visiting Da Nang. 3

On the other hand, if you dislike the presence of many Koreans and the sea is really great, if you plan to swim a lot in the sea, enter the sea every day, and enjoy marine activities, or if the luxury resort you want to visit is only in Nha Trang, then go to Nha Trang.

In Nha Trang, the beach (sea) is the beginning and the end. Other than that, I don’t think there’s anything Nha Trang can compete with Da Nang in.

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