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Making the most of historic Hue is not just about exploring among the ancient architecture of the Imperial City. Hue has a good choice of restaurants and bars too, which gives it quite a cosmopolitan vibe where one or two days can quickly turn into a week.
However long you choose to stay in Hue, a trip to Hoi An, just south along the coast, is always next on most travelers' itineraries. Hoi An is a beautiful place to visit with boat rides on the Perfume River and trips to local tailors and spa centers making it an ideal location to catch your breath on your travels down through Vietnam.
Making the ride from Hue to Hoi An is very straightforward. It's 126 kilometers (78 miles) between the cities and you have three overland options to choose from: minivan, bus or private car. Buses are split into two classes: Economy and Local Sleeper. They're air-conditioned, have reclining seats and take around four hours to reach Hoi An from Hue. Cars are all Standard class, include a local private driver, and take around three hours to get from Hue to Hoi An. Minivans come in three classes: Standard, VIP and Van. Minivans are all air-conditioned and take about four and a half hours to ride from Hue to Hoi An.
No matter which mode of transport you opt for, there will be rest breaks along the way for refreshment and comfort breaks. It's a relatively short ride but still gives you enough time to relax or catch up on some background reading en route.
Travel recommendation: grab some local food and drink for the journey as it's bound to be less expensive than what's available at the designated rest stops.
What you'll see when traveling from Hue to Hoi An depends on when you depart. The earliest time you can leave is at 7.30am by bus or 8am by minivan. This gives you just enough time to get some last minute snacks before setting off in time to reach Hoi An for lunch. Private cars can depart whenever and from wherever you wish to ensure you arrive in Hoi An at a time that suits you. Also, you don't have to arrive at a departure point 30 minutes before your designated start time, which is recommended if traveling by bus or minivan. Also, an early start might well promise a Perfume River sunrise for one last time - a wonderful sight to take in prior to setting off.
Once you're on the road you'll get to see roadside communities and countryside scenes. Rice fields and bamboo forests are prevalent along the road from Hue to Hoi An. Also, in some areas, you'll still be able to see the sea. A stop off at the beach will give you a tempting taste of things to come on Vietnam's idyllic east coast.
The fastest way to get to Hoi An from Hue is with a Standard Car by Hue Happy Travel. You can organize hotel pick up and drop off, and the ride takes around 2 hours 45 minutes.
The cheapest way to get to Hoi An from Hue is with a Local Sleeping Bus by The Sinh Tourist which costs $7 and takes around 4 hours to arrive.
The most popular way to get to Hoi An from Hue is with a Standard Minivan by Danang Online Travel. It takes about 7 hours for an 8.00am departure, which includes sightseeing stops, and 4 hours for all other departure times; costs $17.
Buses come in two classes: Economy and Local Sleeping. They provide an efficient and cost effective way to get from Hue to Hoi An. All buses are air-conditioned and have reclining seats. They take about four hours to make the 126 kilometer (78 mile) journey and will usually include a rest break midday through the ride to stretch your legs, use the bathroom and stock up on snacks, drinks and souvenirs. Buses depart from several different locations in Hue, the earliest at 7.30am and the latest at 3.30pm. It's recommended that you arrive at least half an hour prior to the departure time to avoid a stressful rush and being the last traveler to walk down the aisle.
Minivans take about the same amount of time as a bus to get from Hue to Hoi An – around four hours – but they benefit from having fewer travelers and more space to stretch out. Minivans come in three classes: Standard, VIP and Van. They're a little bit more expensive than taking the bus but the ride is much more comfortable, and relaxing. You can also book a whole minivan if you're traveling as part of a small group or with newfound friends. This also gives you the chance to share travel costs so works out at actually a fairly good rate.
Minivan pickups in Hue:
Minivan drop-offs in Hoi An
Only the Vietnamese are allowed to drive in their country. This means that private cars actually are chauffeur-driven. Drivers often speak relatively good English and will be happy to hum along to their own choice of music on the car stereo or give you some background info on what you're seeing pass by your window. The flexible nature of having your own car and driver is what makes this a great way to travel and well worth the additional cost if you've got to be in Hoi An at a specific time of day.
There are around 13 total buses and minivans leaving from Hue to Hoi An each day, in addition to private car transfers.