Da Nang Airport (DAD) is the port of entry for the city of Da Nang, the largest city in central Vietnam, as well as many different regional attractions, such as the popular My Khe beach or the UNESCO recognized cultural village of Hoi An.
The airport may have humble origins as a small regional airfield for colonial France, but thanks to the region swapping hands between so many different military forces the airport actually saw plenty of use and expansion over the years.
It was originally built by the French in the 1940s and called Tourane Airport, however, it quickly fell to the Japanese during World War Two who used the airfield as a military staging post for the rest of their South East Asia conquests. Following WW2, the airport was upgraded by the returning French with a 2.4 km long concrete runway and then further upgraded again by the American forces during the Vietnam war with a 2nd runway. Today, the airport is a huge complex with two vast three-kilometer runways, two main passenger terminals, a helipad and sprawling fields of concrete for future expansion.
Not only that, but the airport is being further upgraded by the local government, with a recent $160 million USD improvement extending one runway to 3.5 km to land much bigger aircraft like the Airbus A350 or Boeing 777X. And they need these upgrades too, with the airport now catering to six million travelers a year and an average of 150 flights every 24 hours.
Terminals at DAD
Da Nang is popular with low-cost carriers so travelers will be spoiled with options, with most major Asian cities accessible through the international terminal. Plus, Da Nang has flights to most other airports in Vietnam by all the local carriers, including all of the major tourist destinations.
There are two terminals, with Terminal One for domestic travelers and Terminal Two for international passengers. Both terminals are fairly new, with the first built-in 2011 and the 2nd completed as recently in 2017. Combined, these terminals future proof the airport to cater to 10 million passengers over the next few decades. The airport currently serves only around six million passengers a year so you will find the airport large, with plenty of facilities and room to breathe.
As the airport is spacious and empty, it will take little time to pass through security and you won’t need to arrive hours ahead of your flight. The terminal’s offerings are quite sparse so you won’t want to wait too long as you will quickly exhaust your options.
Like many airports in Vietnam, Da Nang actually has all the airside (past security in the terminal buildings) restaurants and services priced in US dollars. The common idea behind this is that if you can afford to fly in Vietnam, then you can afford to pay the high prices. Bargain hunters are recommended to buy and eat before they cross over if they don’t want to suffer the huge markup.
Another word of warning for airport shoppers is the unusual lack of convenience stores. There are no bookshops, 7/11s or supermarket stores in the airport to buy essentials. There are the usual duty-free stores that you expect at most airports but again, you are going to pay higher prices than throughout Vietnam.
Transportation at DAD
Once you are out of the airport you have several transport options to get you into Da Nang or towards one of the other regional destinations.
There is a local bus to Hoi An that leaves every hour (although it is less active during the early hours of the morning) for around 110,00 Dong ($4.75 USD).
But those in groups are better suited to take a taxi from the airport. Stick to the Mai Linh and Vinasun branded taxies as they are generally much fairy than the more ‘independent types’. Make sure you ask for the driver to use the meter. Da Nang’s center is only 2.6 km from the airport (shorter distance than one of the runways) so a taxi will be one of the better ways to get there. It should not cost you over 200,000 Dong (~ $9 USD) from the city center to center Da Nang
If you have a local sim card you can download a car-share app called Grab (essentially Uber) in which you can hire a car for around 50% of the price of a taxi.
Arrivals also need to keep in mind that you need your luggage sticker when you leave the baggage hall. There are some team members that will be checking your tags at the exit to ensure you have the collected the right suitcase, so you don’t want to throw your tag away.
Da Nang is a fantastic destination and this new airport has been designed with the future in mind. Foreigners looking to enter Vietnam might want to consider this airport your first port of call and entry into the country, thanks to its efficient immigration and cheap local transport options.