Hoi An and Hue are two of the most visited cities in Vietnam, perhaps because they are close to each other and this makes for an easy combined trip with contrast and variety. Another attraction here is the Hai Van Pass, which is one of the best natural attractions in central Vietnam and conveniently lies on the way between the two cities.
There are different ways you can travel from Hoi An to Hue or from Hue to Hoi An, and the method you choose depends on what you want to see along the way. This is one of the most scenic trips you could ever make in one lifetime, and so choose your transport with care. It might be one of your best or worst travelling decisions!
How do I Get from Hue to Hoi An or from Hoi An to Hue?
In this article, we are going to share with you our experience of the trip, and how we did it. But first, let us run you through the available options for planning the trip.
Hoi An to Hue or Hue to Hoi An by Train
Vietnam is known for its network of old railway lines. Taking a train is generally a great travel option in the country. The trains are ridiculously cheap and surprisingly very comfortable. Trains also give you the chance to enjoy the scenery along the way. And this train from Hue to Hoi An or back does give spectacular views of the famous Hai Van Pass. The railway line runs over the pass, rather than under as the main roads do. Read more interesting facts about Vietnam.
Unfortunately, there is no train from Hoi An to Hue or from Hue to Hoi An – in fact there isn’t even a railway station in Hoi An! So, the section of the route when you travel from Hoi An to Da Nang is by bus, then you take the train between Da Nang and Hue. While this method has benefits of comfort and views from the railway carriage, it can also be time-consuming, complicated and disorganized in the transfer to or from the railway station. And there are no stopovers (other than in Da Nang) to see the beautiful attractions packed along the route.
Bus Hoi An to Hue or Hue to Hoi An
Taking the bus from Hoi An to Hue is a common option amongst travellers on this route. Using a bus for this journey is fast, cheap and convenient. Another reason why a bus is a common option among tourists is that the best buses are air conditioned and some are sleepers.
The problem is of course that these advantages minimise the adventure of the trip. And since the bus goes through the Hai Van tunnel, the chance of seeing the best of the famous Hai Van scenery is zero.
The bus is the choice of those for whom the value of their trip lies only in the destination. We believe that the journey should also contribute to the adventure. The missed opportunities of this central Vietnam route especially means that we give the bus our award for the most boring way to travel from Hoi An to Hue, especially if you use a sleeper.
The most reliable bus companies on the Hoi An to Hue route:
- The Sinh Tourist– This is arguably the best shuttle bus that operates this route. It also cheap, with a ticket costing just 120 VND per person. Although none of the staff speak a single word of English, the booking system is quite well organised and you don’t have to worry about the language.
- Camel Travel – Also a popular option for its cheap shuttle bus from Hue to Hoi An or from Hoi An to Hue. One disadvantage in Hue is that the bus station is some way out from the town centre .
- Phuong Trang Travel (Futa bus) – Another option is the Futa Bus. It is cheap and fast, and popular with locals. This makes for a sometimes noisy trip but arguably a less boring one!
- you can choose as well fast shared limo transfer which is a bit more expensive than regular bus but still, extremely cheep for foreigners
Traveling from Hoi An to Hue by bus is an efficient way to get from place to place and of course you will be able to watch the countryside of Vietnam through the windows, but you will not be able to see the Hai Van Pass or stop off along the way.
We did find one option for a bus transfer with a 15 minutes stop for taking pictures. You can book it here. This is a good option if you want to Go as fast as possible to Hue or Hanoi but still would like to see something on the way.
Take a tour
Companies such as Klook do both round trips and one way tours by air conditioned bus with several routes either/both through Da Nang and/or into natural landscape from Hoi An to Hue,
If you have your accommodation fixed either in Hue, Da Nang or Hoi An and you want to see Marble mountain you can take one of the tours to see Marble mountain or to see
Hoi An to Hue by Motorbike
This might just be the most adventurous way to travel between Hoi An and Hue. Said to be an amazing experience with opportunities to go wherever you want, including exploring the beautiful Bach Ma Mountain, it remains a fantasy for those of us travelling with kids.
If you dream about travelling by motorbike but you aren’t sure about your own road skills you can take a sidecar private tour. It’s a bit pricy but it looks fun.
Hiring a Private Car and Driver
This is how we did it – in our view, the best way to travel from Hoi An to Hue or Hue to Hoi An is to hire a private car and driver or possibly a taxi.
Part of the fun of having a car and driver is that your driver has an incentive to make the journey special for you – he is looking for good reviews and tips, so his incentives work for your advantage. Your driver may recommend detours worth taking to see special sights and places to eat, and he should be able to advise you on the time impact of these specials on your adventure. Be aware that drivers may get introductory commissions from any commercial places he takes you, but on balance, the benefits to you make this a great means of transportation for tours in rural areas worldwide wherever the economy makes this affordable.
Private car hire is perfect for kids, because you have the whole car for yourself. You can of course ask your driver to show you the most striking views of Hai Van Pass on your way, and most importantly, you will be able to stop off along the way for photos, food stops, exploratory walks and comfort breaks.
The prices for this route are reasonable compared with bus tours, and a negligible fraction of your holiday cost.
What is there to see between Hoi An and Hue?
Before setting off, have an idea of what you want to see and how long you want to spend on the Hoi An to Hue journey. We give some ideas below, but be flexible and leave a bit of spare time for your driver’s recommendations.
The Marble Mountains
Our journey started fairly early in the morning, and our first stop was the Marble Mountains. This was not our first time here, but even so, it was just as memorable as the first time. The knowledge and engaging nature of our driver enlivened our trip as we learned a few things about the area, so part of the fun was listening to his perspective and stories about the region. It is just a one hour drive from Hoi An to Marble Mountains. For those who don’t know about the Marble Mountains, they are a limestone karst mountain range with a series of caves and there are several shrines and temples to visit. It is a breathtaking region, and it’s a beautiful adventure climbing the steps to the peak of the mountains. It also has an elevator if you want to have fun the easier way.
Our next stop was the city of Dan Nang, which is on the coast between Hoi An and Hue. The city is famous for its beaches and amusement parks, but the latest attraction is the Golden Bridge above the city in the Ba Na hill resort. A pair of giant stone hands protrude from the verdant mountain crest, and carry a curving golden pedestrian walkway 150m long and 1,400m above sea level. If you want to make the excursion to this new attraction, book tickets on line in advance and allow at least three hours. The views are phenomenal; unfortunately the crowds are too. You have to arrive early to get ahead of them. Also in Da Nang, we strolled through rows of ornate chrysanthemums for breathtaking views of the sprawling Truong Son Mountains.
The Hai Van Pass
After Da Nang, it is a short trip to the top of Hai Van Pass, which at 500 metres, is the highest pass in Vietnam. The magnificent thing about the Hai Van Pass is how it curves back and forth, with some slight bends as well as some hairpin turns. These combine to provide spectacular views of the foggy peaks rising over the South China Sea, the twinkling lights of distant cities, and empty beaches. The Hoi An to Hue road was once dubbed by Top Gear as the best coastal road in the world.
Chan Mai Bay and Lang Co
The Beach is a10 kilometre stretch of sand 24 kilometres beyond the Hai Van Pass. The perfect fishing and resort beach and the network of lagoons and canals is a destination in its own right. If you have time you could spend a day or two just exploring this area and watching the sunset. Lang Co is also known for its picturesque industry making incense sticks.
The Fishing Village
Just beyond the Lang Co beach lies Lang Co Fishing Village. It was our last stop on the road to the city of Hue. The unassuming village is a ravishing canvas in which you can find a picturesque blend of sand, sky, sea, and mountains. Lang Co fishing village is visible against the backdrop of the Bach Ma Mountains, making it look like a horizontal silk strip framed by Hai Van pass to the south and Phu Gia Pass to the north.
However you make the journey., enjoy it and we hope you can collect as many happy memories along the way as we did. Leave a comment below about your experience, we would love to hear from you.
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