The Da Nang airport is growing at record speed, but still much less bustle than flying into Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi. However, there are some things you should know about flying into, or out of the DAD – Da Nang Airport.
The new international terminal is the one I am going to focus on, since you’re likely going to be using that instead of the domestic terminal. The international terminal opened in 2017 and comes with some positives:
Beyond its new appearance and easy to navigate size, there are a few tips you should know to minimize surprises and help to plan your trip to DAD airport.
10 Things You Need To Know About Da Nang Airport
1. There Are No Convenience Stores
In (almost) every airport I’ve flown out of, there has always been that typical convenience type store. You know, the one that sells everything from extra phone chargers, headphones, magazines, bags of chips and packs of gum.
Well, in Da Nang Airport there is NO typical convenience store at all, which totally shocked me! You might find a Pepsi here or there, but not the kinds of shops that you’re likely used to having access to in the airport. I am the kind of girl who likes to pick up a new book or magazine before a flight, so I was surprised to not have the option here.
Make sure you have magazines, books, and other items you want for your flight BEFORE you get to the airport. DAD isn’t a great place to pick these things up last minute.
2. Yes, There Are Duty Free & Gift Shops
Once you are through security in the International terminal, there ARE some great duty free shops and gift shops for any last minute gift buying. (Or let’s be honest…for your own personal supplies!)
The duty free in the DAD airport actually has many brands and items that are hard to find within Da Nang/Hoi An. I saw all kinds of perfumes, skin creams, toners, makeup palettes, and other beauty products that were my familiar favorites. There are brands like Clinique, Clarins, Givenchy, Shiseido, Lancome, Dior, L’Occitane, Foreo, etc.
There are a handful of gift shops inside the international terminal, and they all basically sell the same items. They have souvenirs like: chocolates, Vietnamese coffees, dried mango, woven handbags, sarongs, t-shirts, hats, etc.
If you did any sightseeing through the markets in Hoi An or Da Nang, they will be the same sort of items you’ve already seen around. However, if you forgot to buy something at the market, they will most likely have it here.
Note: You will pay about 30% to 70% higher prices for gifts at these shops compared to in town.
3. Restaurant Choices Are Limited
Where you can eat:
After you’ve cleared security, you’ll find a few different restaurants to get a decent meal at. If you are a frequent flyer, you might find the selection to be rather small, but it gets the job done.
There’s a place to get fast food burgers, café type sandwiches and pastries, Chinese dim sum and local Vietnamese dishes. The brands are Puro Gusto, Burger King, Costa Coffee, Crystal Jade Kitchen, and Urban Market.
Be forewarned, these restaurants all charge extremely expensive prices, especially when taking into account they are still in Vietnam. I expect to pay much more in an airport, but it’s usually 2x’s the price of food in town. Not here. The Burger King charges in USD and costs 6x’s to 10x’s what a burger costs in Da Nang or Hoi An. After paying 50,000 VND for meals, the 650,000 VND bill was a total shocker!
I was really early for an international flight and had a few hours to spare, so I thought about ordering some dim sum at Crystal Jade Kitchen. I took and second to look them up on Trip Advisor first and boy am I glad I did! They have more negative ratings then they do positive! If you have a craving for Chinese, get some in town before your flight.
4. There Is An Executive Lounge
Yes, there is an Airport Lounge in the international terminal. No, I don’t recommend it. Here was the Google review I wrote about the Orchid Lounge while I was inside it waiting for my flight. (Apparently I was in quite the cranky mood!)
Okay, let me give you some context. I had been living in Hoi An for the past 5 months and was starting to get a little homesick for Western food and amenities. I am a loyal Priority Pass user, which gives me access to lounges all over the world. It’s become my sense of ‘normalcy’ as I travel, as most lounges all offer the same level of food and services.
I am not sure if it was my impending red-eye to Tokyo, or if I had just been in Vietnam too long, but I turned into a grump at the lack of choices and service at this lounge. I actually went down and got food at Puro Gusto and brought it back up to the lounge while I waited for my flight.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t go to the lounge, but don’t expect much! If you don’t have Priority Pass, you will have to pay $25 USD per adult to get into this lounge, which I think is a waste of money.
5. You’ll Find A Spa
In true Vietnam fashion, there is a foot massage and nail spa located through security inside the international terminal. If you are early for your flight they offer 45 minute and 60 minute foot massages, Underarm and leg waxing, and basic manicure/pedicures.
The pricing is actually not bad considering it’s in the airport, but that is where this spa might get a little sketchy.
I did not personally use this spa, but I did see some reviews from travellers who were a little ticked off at their tipping policy. Apparently, they demand a 30% tip after the service is finished and they don’t disclose that on their pricing menu at all.
If you decide to go, ask about their tipping policy and make sure you know the price beforehand.
6. It’s EASY To Get To Hoi An
While more and more travelers are starting to come to Da Nang as their end destination, Hoi An is still the hot spot destination. (And only getting more popular by the minute!) The great thing about landing at Da Nang is how easy (and cheap!) it is to get to Hoi An. It’s only a 45-minute drive.
Here are the options of getting to Hoi An from Da Nang airport:
If you booked a 4 or 5 star Hotel in Hoi An:
They will send a car or shuttle to get you. Sometimes it’s included in your rate, while other times there is a fee. A driver will wait for you with a sign at arrivals.
Take the Tourist Bus:
If you are a solo traveler you can save some cash by jumping on the tourist bus for only 110,00VND ($4.75 USD). It leaves the Da Nang airport every hour on the hour. Here is where you can check prices and times.
If there are 2 of more in your party, it makes more financial sense to book a private car or take a Grab.
Take a Taxi or a Grab:
If you have a Vietnamese SIM card (which you can get at the airport) download the Grab app, which is like the Uber of South East Asia. A Grab car will be 30%-50% cheaper than a taxi, and just as safe and professional. Expect to pay about 275,000 to 400,000 VND.
If you don’t have a SIM card, you can always grab a taxi at arrivals. A taxi will be the most expensive option, but good for someone who has not planned ahead and just needs a ride last minute. A taxi will want to charge you anywhere from 350,000 to 550,000 VND. Negotiate price before you get in and make sure they know where your hotel is beforehand.
Best Option: Get a Private Driver:
Da Nang to Hoi An is still one of the cheapest places in the WORLD to get a private driver. We always used the same driving company to get back and forth from the airport, since they have really great rates. Expect to pay 250,000 to 300,000 VND ($10 to $13 USD) for a car to pick you up at arrivals and take you into Hoi An. My husband Trevor became friends with the owner of this driving company, so drop his name to get the best price.
7. Gates Are Located Downstairs
I had a moment when I was in the airport that I thought would be useful to share.
I walked from one end of the terminal to the other looking for my gate, but not seeing it anywhere. Once I looked around I realized that all the gates were actually downstairs (accessible by escalator or elevator) and not on the same level as the shops/restaurants. Oops! It might seem like a no-brainer for some, but after spending lots of time in airports I sort of just run on autopilot and assume the gates are across from the shops.
8. New International Flights Are Being Added All The Time
Since Da Nang an Hoi An are considered top destinations right now, new direct flights are being added all the time. In late 2018 Qatar Airways launched a new direct flight from Doha, connecting the middle east with Da Nang with the best airline in the world. New announcements have been made to expand current services to airports in Korea, Taiwan and Thailand and to launch new direct routes to Haneda, Tokyo.
Because of this, expect delays when going through immigration at peak times. On Trip Advisor many people have complained about the longer than normal wait times due to understaffing during busy hours.
The good news is you can get to Da Nang easier and cheaper the more flights that are added! It has never been so accessible to the rest of the world as it is now.
9. There Is An Visa on Arrival/E-Visa Counter
If you need to apply for a visa online before arrival, YES – Da Nang is an airport that you can land at in order to pick it up. At first I thought perhaps only the large major airports in Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi would have the Visa service, but Da Nang does as well.
I have picked up my Visa in Hoi Chi Minh AND Da Nang, and I must say Da Nang was much faster and easier. There are less people going through this airport which made the entire Visa process faster and less stressful.
If you are still unsure about how getting a Visa online works, we made this easy Vietnam Visa guide to show you exactly how we did it.
10. Keep Your Baggage Ticket/Sticker
For extra security, the Da Nang airport actually checks your baggage claim tag sticker/ticket as you leave the arrivals hall.
I have gotten into the habit of throwing these away once I find my luggage, or losing them in the depths of my purse. More often than not, airport staff will actually be checking and matching your tickets to ensure you have the right luggage, so keep it out and handy.