Moving on from the old Imperial capital of Hue, it’s time to hit the next city on your Vietnam bucket list. Once a thriving trade port along the silk route, Hoi An is likely your next stop heading South. The distance from Hue to Hoi An is approximately 125 kilometres. However it can range from a three-hour train ride to four-hour car ride. Partially through flat terrain, then on to narrow cliffside roads overlooking Central Vietnam’s coastline.

The journey to Hue from Hoi An is connected by the famous Hai Van Pass. A remarkable 24-kilometre section of mountain road, on the coast looking out to the East Vietnam Sea. It is one of the most beautiful scenic routes in Vietnam. So have your camera ready.

Perfume river - Hoi An to Hue
Looking out over Hue’s famous perfume river. Photo: Travis Hodges

Struggling to find the best way to get to Hue from Hoi An? Well look no further! Below you’ll find plenty of options to choose from to best suit your travel plans. Hidden gives you the lowdown, from solo travelling on a motorbike to private group tours.

A Quick History of Hue

Located on the banks of the Song Huong “Perfume River” lies the Imperial City of Hue. Hue (pronounced “hway”) is widely known as Vietnam’s “most royal city.” Once the home of the Emperor, it is now the resting place of seven imperial tombs and the Forbidden Purple City, surrounded by thick stone walls. Although many of its buildings were damaged during the war, it’s managed to retain much of its former glory. Today this vast 19th-century citadel encompassing the city, its palaces and shrines are one of the city’s major drawcards.

Imperial City of Hue - Hoi An to Hue
The Imperial City of Hue Photo: Travis Hodges

Scenic Route Option from Hue to Hoi An:

Train

Anyone can go from point A to point B. But for a long trip why not add some beauty to it? We think that one of the best and most affordable routes is by taking a train with Vietnam Railways. Above all, the train journey is spectacular, complemented with a beautiful view of Vietnam’s coastline. From Hue, the train ride is a comfortable and scenic option to head to Hoi An. On the right side of the train, you’ll see expanses of beautiful countryside, and on the left side, there’s the beautiful coastline and secret beaches.

Train guards - Hoi An to Hue
Train guards prepare the Reunification Express for departure. The train from Hoi An to Hue. Photo: Travis Hodges

A train ticket ranges from 40,000 to 90,000 VND (1.70 to 3.90 USD) depending on the seat you choose. You can purchase them at the train station or via a third-party service, 12go.asia. The train ride varies from 2.5 hours to 4 hours depending on the time of day.

Yes, you read Da Nang, but unfortunately, there isn’t a train station in Hoi An yet. However, if you don’t mind adding another 45 to 60 minutes to your trip, this would be a great, safe, scenic route to take. Because getting to Hoi An from Da Nang train station isn’t too difficult. Check out our other article, How to get from Da Nang to Hoi An (& Vice Versa), for options.

Da Nang Train Station: 791 Hai Phong St – Duration: 2.5-4 Hours (depending on departure time)

Hidden Hint: If going by train, sit on the right side  to have a clear view of the coastline.

Man looking out the train - Hoi An to Hue
Looking out at the scenery during the train ride from Da Nang to Hue

Bus

There are several direct bus options to get to Hoi An. We’d suggest using The Sinh Tourist or Hanh Cafe services, they are notably good buses to use. Costing around 100,000 VND (4.30 USD), The Sinh Tourist bus has two schedules: one departing at 8:30 am and arriving around 12:30 pm;. The second departing at 1:45 pm and arriving around 5:15 pm. You can book your ticket and pay online for 99,000 VND (4.30 USD).

Sinh Tourist – Address: 38 Chu Văn An – Business hours: 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., daily – Duration: 4-5 Hours (depending on traffic)

Shuttle Bus

Hue Shuttle bus offers a service to Hoi An and is a good option if you are a group or want to take a small bus (they limit passengers to a maximum of 10). They pick you up at your hotel in Hue and drop you off at your hotel in Hoi An. However, the price is 240,000 VND (10 USD). Also if the shuttle bus is not full, then they may pick up people on the way. The ride will take around four to five hours. The first departure is at 7:00 am and the second at 2:30 pm. This would be the best option if you wanted quick and easy travel without the need to go to a pickup location.

Hoi An Express – Duration: 4-5 Hours (depending on traffic) – Address: 11 Nguyen Cong Tru st, Hue 

Private Car

Why not make a day trip out of your travel to Hoi An and visit some of the most popular tourist spots along the way?  Including Marble Mountains, My Khe Beach, the Hai Van Pass, and Lang Co Beach. Turn a potentially dull four-hour trip into a six-hour adventure. So get out of the car and stretch your legs, walking up the 156 stone steps at Marble Mountain. After that grab a quick dip in the ocean at My Khe Beach.

With a 5-star rating on TripAdvisor, VM Travel Hoi An has “very cool and nice driver(s)”. They will happily take you, your family, and friends on a day tour, ending at your destination in Hue.

Rooftops of Hoi An Old Town - Hoi An to Hue
The rooftops of Hoi An Old Town. Photo: Travis Hodges

Private car prices range from 1,180,000 VND (50 USD) for a 4-seater car (12.50 USD/person) to 1,680,000 VND (72 USD) for a 16-seater (4.50 USD/person). So, if you have a bigger group, it’s nearly the same cost as a direct bus or train ride from Hue to Hoi An.

The Itinerary

The day’s itinerary starts with pick-up at your hotel at your specified time (we think the earlier, the better to get the most daylight). Firstly heading to Lang Co Beach, then driving through the Hai Van Pass (“Ocean Cloud Pass”). After that it’s on to My Khe Beach, Non Nuoc Stone Carving Village to Marble Mountains. Finally,ending up at your hotel in Hoi An. Upon request with an additional 200,000 VND (8.50 USD) per car, you can also visit Elephant Springs. They consist of small waterfalls and ponds you can swim in.

*Note that entrance fees to Marble Mountains and lunch is not included. Read this article for more information about the popular site.

VM Travel Hoi An – Address: 91 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai – Duration: 5-6 Hours – How to book: Online

Marble Mountains - Hoi An to Hue
Marble Mountains – one of the most popular attractions between Hoi An and Da Nang. Photo: Travis Hodges

Motorbike

In the land of motorbikes, scooters, and organised-chaos traffic, why not make the ride to Hue by motorbike? The trip is on partially flat terrain on Hwy 1, but do note that this is a truck-filled highway, which can be a bit hair-raising at times. We wouldn’t recommend this route for new drivers.

From there, you head up the narrow, winding, cliff-side road through the Hai Van Pass.  A magnificent ride—full of scenic lookouts. The direct trip from Hue to Hoi An is approximately three hours. But we recommend that you take it slow. Stop a few times at the top along the way and take in the captivating beauty of Central Vietnam.

If you don’t have a motorbike, there are a few rental companies in Hue that let you rent one-way and drop off in Hoi An. Read our complete guide to going from Hue to Hoi An by motorcycle.

Hidden Hint: If you have luggage or a backpack, some companies will transport your belongings to your hotel in Hoi An. It’s then ready and waiting upon your arrival in the evening.

Motorbike rider from Hoi An to Hue
Motorbike riders on the Hai Van Pass. Photo: wnfdiary

MotorVina Motorbikes is based in Hoi An and have a garage in Hue has various motorbike rental options ranging from 300,000 VND (13 USD) to 1,000,000 VND (43 USD) per day. They offer a service to transport your luggage and backpacks to your end destination in Hoi An. As well as insurance and support for all engine and technical problems, should you have any. They will also pick up the bike in Hoi An from your hotel or specified destination.

MotorVina Motorbike – Address: 14 kiet 42 Nguyen Cong Tru, Hue – How to book: Online

Adventure Tours

New to riding and not yet comfortable making a long trip on a motorbike? Check out booking an adventure tour and sit backseat on a motorbike with an experienced local driver. So you can then focus on the scenic view instead. Most adventure tours will take your luggage and drop it off at your end destination in Hue. In addition to getting to Hue, you’ll also stop at a few popular destinations along the way. You’ll even have an opportunity to cool off with a swim.

Easy Rider

One of the first adventure tours in Hoi An is Easy Rider. A day tour by motorbike costs 1,100,000 VND (47 USD). But if there are more of you, consider renting a jeep for 1,300,000 VND (56 USD) per car, minimum of two people. Mr. Thong will be your tour guide, and he has been doing this route since 2014 with a 5-circle rating on TripAdvisor.

The trip starts with an 8 am pick up at your hotel. From there you’ll head to Marble Mountains, My Khe Beach, and go through the Hai Van Pass. You’ll also stop for lunch and a lookout here.  After that you make your way to Lang Co Village and Elephant Springs, where you can also swim. You’ll end up at your hotel in Hoi An at 4 pm with your luggage waiting for you.

Easy Rider – Address: 109 Le Hong Phong St, Hoi An – Duration: 8 Hours – How to book: Online

Easy Rider Motorbike
One of Hoi An’s ‘Easy Rider’ motorbike drivers with his bike. Photo: Travis Hodges

Le Family Riders

Another 5-circle rater on TripAdvisor, Le Family Riders, is a great and even bigger adventure tour option. This adventure tour includes entrance fees, drinks, lunch on a floating restaurant, and baggage transport by car. Similarly to Easy Rider, you’ll stop at Marble Mountains, go through Hai Van Pass to relax at the top and take photos. Then you’ll have lunch in the fishing village, and swim at Elephant Springs before heading to your hotel in Hue. This tour is similar in cost at 1,160,000 VND (50 VND) per person. The pickup time is at 8 am, ending in Hue at 4 pm.

Le Family Riders – Address: 44 Dang Thai Than, Hue – Duration: 8 Hours – How to book: email/call reservation

Hidden’s thoughts

In conclusion, from safety with a view on a train or bus to an adventure on a guided or self-guided motorbike ride, experiencing the beautiful Hai Van Pass is unforgettable. Because the view overlooking Vietnam’s coastlines, secret beaches and rice paddies is just breathtaking.

But if you’re running short on time and are a solo traveller or a couple on a budget, take the bus. Then you won’t have to worry about getting to Da Nang to catch the train. However if your budget can stretch a little more, opt for a shuttle bus. The added convenience of having a hotel pickup and drop off and only 10 passengers can’t be overlooked for double an already low price.