How To Get From Hanoi To Hoi An (& Vice Versa)

An Are you travelling around Vietnam and want to know the best way to get from Hanoi to Hoi An?

Vietnam can be quite tricky to explore, especially for first-time travellers. Most of the things you know about public transportation do not apply here. Trains can be more expensive than flights, buses require seat reservations, most stations look chaotic, official prices are difficult to find and scams are common.

But take a deep breath and let the Hidden team alleviate your worries! In this guide, we provide all the different ways to get from Hanoi to Hoi An, along with everything you need to know to make your trip safe and enjoyable. We warn you of the common mistakes and scams, so you can achieve stress-free travel. You are after all in one of the most exotic and compelling countries in the world, so start planning!

Hanoi's famous train street: Hanoi to Hoi An
Hanoi’s famous train street, one of Hanoi’s most photographed locations. Photo: Travis Hodges

Let’s Start The Journey:

Hoi An is located 798 kilometres south of Hanoi. As a rule of thumb, you are looking at a solid 17 hours on the road to cover the distance and 1 hour and 20 minutes by air to reach the nearest airport in Da Nang.

Luckily there are quite a few ways to get to Hoi An from Hanoi. Depending on your budget and time constraints, you can opt for a bus, train, aeroplane or even motorbike—all of which come with pros and cons.

Bus and motorbike will get you directly into Hoi An, while the train and plane will get you to Da Nang city, just 30 kilometres north of Hoi An. From Da Nang, you are a short ride away (45 to 90 minutes) to Hoi An, either by local bus, express shuttle bus, taxi, or private car. You can read more on how to get to Hoi An from Da Nang in our article here.

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Hidden has put together everything you need to know about each mode of transport, along with some tips and common traps you need to avoid, so you can make an informed decision and get the most out of your journey!

Bus Service

If you choose to travel by bus, you will be spending close to 18 hours in a Vietnamese Sleeper Bus. Likely, these are a bit more comfortable than regular buses. Most of them have inclined, allocated seats or padded flatbeds, Wi-Fi, TV, and charging outlets.

There are quite a few companies that will take you from Hanoi straight to Hoi An. However, it is also quite challenging to figure out which are the good ones and how to avoid being overcharged.

Sinh Tourist and Hung Thanh Travel are the two companies commonly prefered by locals. Both have daily buses leaving Hanoi at 6 pm. If you decide to go directly to Hoi An your ticket will cost you around VDN 320,000 (14 USD), and you will arrive between 11 am and 1 pm the following day. You take the bus from their offices in Hanoi and will be dropped off at their offices in Hoi An. See the map at the foot of this article for the pick up and drop off locations.

Hidden Hint: Keep in mind that prices do vary. So, before booking, ask around to find the best deal!

Bus Stoping Place

You also have the option to stop at major cities along the designated routes (Ninh Binh, Phong Nha, Hue, and Da Nang). This way you will be able to see more of the country and break your journey into smaller sections. An open ticket costs a little more than a standard ticket (570,000 VND or 25 USD). If you choose this option make sure to check the bus route, as not all buses stop at the same cities. Remember to also reserve a seat on the next leg of your trip a couple of days in advance.

If you want to save yourself a journey to the bus offices, the easiest way to book your ticket is to talk to your hotel receptionist or accommodation host. They will usually book the ticket for you and explain all the details. Travel agencies are also a popular option and usually offer hotel pick up service within the Old Town area.

Pros:

Sleeper buses are the cheapest way to travel around Vietnam. Their prices are very alluring, especially for last minute or low budget travellers, and they can be a good alternative to trains. Their greatest advantage is the “Open Tour” option. By buying an open bus ticket you get to hop on and off the bus at major cities along the route. The beauty of the open ticket means you can spend longer in places you like and less time in those you don’t. It is the perfect way you to see more of Vietnam and travel spontaneously without hassle.

Cons:

If you are going directly to Hoi An you will spend almost a full day on a bus. Between the onboard music, bumpy roads, honking and swerving, you might find it difficult to get some sleep. Ear plugs and eye masks are highly recommended. Also, there is no toilet on the bus, you will have to wait till the next rest stop.

Busses in Hoi An
Busses line up on the outskirts of Hoi An

Train

There is no railway station in Hoi An. The nearest railway station is in Da Nang, which receives several trains a day from Hanoi. From Da Nang to Hoi An you will need to take a different transportation method. It is a very short trip with lots of available options for all budgets referred to earlier in this article.

The train journey from Hanoi to Da Nang takes 15h 30m to 16h 30m. Most travel agents and hotels will buy you a train ticket for a small commission. But, you can also buy it online using 12goasia. Hidden recommends buying your tickets at least one day in advance to ensure a seat or sleeper. Allow even more time during peak holiday seasons.

The seat types include a hard seat (wooden seat), soft seat (aeroplane seat), hard sleeper (6 berths, 3 tiers in a cabin) and soft sleeper (4 berths, 2 tiers in a cabin). Ticket prices vary depending on the train, with the fastest being more expensive. Lower berth is the most expensive, while upper berth is the cheapest.

Generally, prices start from VND 396,000 (18 USD) for a hard seat, VND 520,000 (22 USD) for a soft seat, VND 749,000 (32 USD) for a hard berth, and VND 943,000 (41 USD) for a soft berth.

Reunification Express Train: Hanoi to Hoi An
The Reunification Express train winds through the lush Vietnam landscape. Photo: Travis Hodges

Cheapest Price

If you wish to travel in a bit of luxury, there are some four-berth VIP options available at VND 2,005,000 (87 USD) per bed, these promise the most comfortable surroundings and a classier way of travelling.

You can also send your motorbike in all major coastal cities including Vinh, Dong Hoi, Hue and Da Nang. However, you do not travel with your motorbike; it goes on a separate freight train. From Hanoi, it will take up to two days for your bike to arrive in Da Nang, and it will cost around VND 530,000 (23 USD).

Hidden Hint: Try not to sleep during the Hue to Da Nang leg of the trip as it offers some of the most scenic views of the country. We recommend you take a night train from Hanoi and secure a seat on the left-hand side so that you can experience the spectacular view in daylight.

Pros:

The Vietnamese rail system offers a reliable, affordable and relaxing way to travel around the country. The route from Hanoi to Hoi An offers spectacular scenery and excellent coastal views. It is a great mode of transport for those looking to see a little more of Vietnam in a comfortable way. Travelling in an air-conditioned sleeping berth sure beats an overnight bumpy bus ride along the QL1A highway.

Cons:

Vietnamese trains are ageing. Although they are quite dependable, do not expect to find modern, superfast, spotless, European-like trains here. If you have only a few days in Vietnam, spending 17 hours on a train might not be the best option for you, both time and comfort wise.

Train in Da Nang: Hanoi to Hoi An
A train sits in Da Nang train station. Vietnam’s rolling stock is fairly old, so you won’t find European levels of comfort or service.

Plane

Flying is probably the most hassle-free option. There are various daily connections from Hanoi to Da Nang. The closest airport to Hoi An is Da Nang, and the flight from Hanoi takes just 1h and 20m. From Da Nang, it will take you 40 to 90 minutes to reach Hoi An, depending on your means of transport. Read our Da Nang Airport Guide here.

Pros:

A plane is unquestionably the fastest and most comfortable way to travel to Hoi An. If you book in advance, it can also be one of the cheapest ones as well. Flights start as low as VND 560,000 (24 USD) with all three local airlines, Jetstar Pacific, VietJet.Air, and Vietnam Airlines, holding the highest rankings for safety. We flew with low budget Jetstar Pacific airlines and found it really comfortable and punctual.

Cons:

Hopping by air from one city to another makes it hard to get under the skin of a destination. If you are looking to see more of Vietnam, crossing the country by bus, train, or motorbike will take you through its landscapes, giving you a greater idea of what the place truly has to offer and allow you to visit more places along the way.

Hidden Hint: Hanoi’s international airport is the second biggest transport hub in Vietnam. Depending on the date and time of your arrival, you might come across long security queues. Make sure you arrive at least two hours before your scheduled departure time to avoid any extra stress.

Da Nang International Aiport: Hanoi to Hoi An
Da Nang Airport’s International terminal.

Motorbike

Another popular option to reach Hoi An from Hanoi is by riding a motorbike. Don’t eliminate this option just because you don’t own a motorbike in Vietnam. There are many motorbike shops operating throughout the country that offer ‘one way’ rental options. This simply means that you can start your journey in one city and leave the bike in another.

Hidden Hint: If you know about bikes, you can easily buy one from a mechanic, a rental shop, or a fellow backpacker for a few hundred dollars and then resell it when you reach your final destination. Most rental shops offer 24-hour support and a 50% buyback.

Style Motorbikes has shops both in Hanoi and Hoi An, with a large range of bikes available, which basically means that you can rent your bike in Hanoi and drop it off in Hoi An. Daily rates start at 230,000 VND (10 USD), while monthly rates start at 4,370,000 VND (190 USD). To rent you must pay a security deposit or leave your passport with them. Security deposits start at 13,800,000 VND (600 USD). We advise that you do not leave your passport with them as although they will send it to your final destination, hotels in Vietnam require a passport to secure a room.

You Can Ride Without Feel Any Worries (Driving Licence)

Although you don’t need to show a driver’s licence to rent a motorbike from Style Motorbikes (they offer free driving lessons to inexperienced riders), we highly recommend that you have a valid driver’s licence before you get on a bike. Roads in Vietnam can be busy, unpredictable and dangerous. The country has one of the highest road mortality rates in the world, 15,500 reported deaths per year, known as Vietnam’s “hidden epidemic.” Clearly, this is not the country to learn to ride, and there is no insurance that will cover you without a valid driver’s licence, should the worst happen.

Da Nang International Aiport: Hanoi to Hoi An
Scooters and cars share Hanoi’s busy and narrow streets.

Very Easy To Rent And Riding

Bike rentals come with a helmet. There is also a large stock of helmets and safety equipment available for sale. Recommended routes with marked highlights are also available to download on your phone.

The journey is close to 800 km or 15 hours driving. The inland Ho Chi Minh Trail route offers breathtaking scenery of mountains, rivers, and local villages. It will take you only an hour more on the road, but you will have avoided the heavy traffic of trucks and buses on the more direct coastal route of the QL1A highway. Hidden highly recommends that you don’t go straight to Hoi An and then take at least three to four days to enjoy the scenery on offer.

Reservations are usually encouraged since stores often run out of motorbikes. You can contact them directly via Facebook or email. Payments are made via cash or credit cards, and you can also use PayPal for the security deposit.

Pros:

When riding a motorbike through Vietnam, it’s more about the journey than the destination. You get to have total freedom and your own tailor-made itinerary. You get to decide how many days you want to spend on the road and which stops you would like to make along the way. If you like riding on the back of a bike, traversing half the country from Hanoi to Hoi An is an amazing way to see this diverse land and experience untouched Vietnam.

Cons:

The roads in Vietnam are as unpredictable as its weather. If you are travelling halfway through the country you will run into some average to poor roads, heavy traffic, roadside markets, livestock, heavy rainstorms, and cold conditions. Make sure you are prepared for this adventure because riding in Vietnam is more than just a “sunny beach holiday.”

To enjoy this unique experience, you need to spend at least three to four days on the road. If you are paying a short visit to Vietnam, you might need to consider another travel option.

Hai Van Pass: Hanoi to Hoi An
A group of motorcycles wind up the Hai Van Pass on a clear day.

Common Stops Between Hanoi And Hoi An:

If you are taking your time travelling through almost half of the country, then there are a few stops we suggest you take a look at, that will have you picking your jaw up off the floor. Begin with Van Long Nature Reserve in Ninh Binh, the most bio-diversified wetland natural reservation area in Vietnam, an absolute must-see. Continue with Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, a protected area in north-central Vietnam known for its ancient limestone karsts and a vast network of caves. It includes the huge Son Doong cave and Phong Nha cave, which is big enough for boats.

When you reach Hue, be sure to make a stop at its Imperial City, an old citadel housing the emperor’s residence, temples, palaces, and main government buildings. Right before you reach Da Nang, the Hai Van Pass is going to convince you to pull over multiple times to enjoy the view. You can read our complete guide to the Hai Van Pass here.

Ba Na Hills and Marble Mountains are also two top sights that are definitely worth a visit. Both of them are located very close to Hoi An and can be easily explored on your way there or as day trips from Hoi An. You will find everything you need to know about these very popular attractions in our articles: Ba Na Hills and Marble Mountains.

 

Hidden’s Thoughts:

Taking some time to travel from Hanoi to Hoi An makes for an unforgettable experience. If you feel comfortable enough to ride a bike we highly recommend riding the Ho Chi Minh Trail. This incredibly quiet road offers spectacular scenery and is ideal for nature lovers who want to experience untouched Vietnam.

If you’re not keen on getting on the back of a bike but would still like to see the country, an open bus ticket is your best bet. This very affordable option gives you the opportunity to explore the major cities en route at your own pace, without the hassle of driving yourself. If you’re travelling as a family or in a larger group and would like to see a little more of Vietnam, consider taking the train. It’s a novel option for a group/family of four to travel in your own private cabin. Otherwise, the easiest, most direct option is, of course, to jump on a plane and be here on the ground in Hoi An, strolling the lantern-lit streets in less than two hours.

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