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Hoi An

Getting there and away

Air

Da Nang's new international airport is located 35 kilometres from Hoi An. The journey takes about 30 minutes by metered taxi and it should cost in the region of 300,000 VND, depending on your drop off point. Expect to pay more at night.

There are a good few horror stories about taxi drivers stopping off to pick up a 'friend' who will try to encourage you to stop off at his sister's tailor /shoe/souvenir shop along the way, but this is a rare occurrence. If it does happen be firm with your driver and make him leave his friend on the roadside.

The other 'scam' is usually not a scam at all and involves your driver using his mobile or being unable to find your hotel. This is because there are so many hotels in Hoi An that sound the same when spoken with a Western accent that they genuinely don't know where they are going, so they will phone a friend to ask or take you to the wrong hotel completely. To avoid this write down your hotel name, address and phone number and give it to your driver.

    Train

    The nearest train station is in Da Nang. Heading to Hoi An, you won't have any trouble catching a xe om willing to take you to Hoi An -- if anything, you'll likely have to fend off willing drivers. Expect to pay around $8. A stop at the Marble Mountains on the way will cost you an extra $2.

      Bus

      There is a bus station in town -- on Nguyen Tat Thanh at the corner of Le Hong Phong. One might assume, as we did, that you can save big by catching a regular bus rather than booking something in town. But we learned otherwise. There are departures from this station to the north and south, especially Da Nang, which cost 17,000 VND, but drivers are notorious for trying to get more from foreigners. The buses go every half hour and take around 45 minutes; try to take along a map of Da Nang though, as the drop off points are not quite central. Services stop at around 18:00; if you miss the last bus you'll be paying to make your own way back.

      Some sample Open Tour tickets:

      Da Lat: takes 18 hours and costs US$17
      Da Nang: takes 45 minutes and costs US$4 to $6
      Hue: takes 5.5 hours and costs US$9
      Mui Ne: takes 17 hours and costs US$17
      Nha Trang: takes 12 hours and costs US$12
      Qui Nhon: takes 6 hours and costs $9
      Saigon: takes 21-22 hours (depending on via Mui Ne or Da Lat) and costs US$20

      Through buses to Laos are also available and go via Hue. Do be warned that the buses that take this route are not in the best condition, and the route is one of the most dangerous with reports of crashes (and fatalities) regularly. Like most of Southeaset Asia, even if you do pay the extra for a better class bus, you'll likely be put on whichever one is working at the time. In our experience you are far better off making your way to Hue and booking a minibus to take you to the border, or taking the shorter route to the border at Pakse via Kontum.

      Savannakhet: US$23
      Vientiane: US$25

      If you're headed somewhere other than the major destinations, you can get the Open Tour bus to drop you off, but the arrival times may be in the middle of the night. To catch a regular bus, you'll need to get to the nearest town along Highway 1A, Vinh Dien, 10 kilometres away. You can reach it by heading west out of Hoi An on Hung Vuong. There is no bus service to the town from Hoi An, but a xe om should cost 50,000 VND. From there, you have to stand by the road and flag down a south-bound bus for most alternate destinations. Otherwise, just head to Da Nang and get the bus to where you want to go from there.

      You can also get a motorcycle to Da Nang for around US$7, but most xe om drivers are not very inclined to do this route as they make more money staying local. It's not unheard of for them to try charging up to 400,000 VND and it takes a lot of effort to haggle down the price. You are far better off taking alternative transport unless you want to make many stops along the way.

      Minibus
      Most tour operators and the larger resorts offer air-con minibuses to and from the airport and train station. These run regularly throughout the day and must be pre-booked. Prices vary depending on operator; the two most reliable are Hoi An express (110,000 VND) and Go Travel Vietnam, whose minibuses are cheaper but less frequent at 80,000 VND.

        Boat

        This is not an option for onward travel, but a very pleasant way to while away a few hours and take in some of the islands and river coconut palm fringed waterways off the Thu Bon. Just head down to the river on Bach Dang Street and you'll be accosted by crowds of boat owners shouting 'Boat trip!'. Prices vary according to the boat and the duration of your tour but expect to pay around 40,000 VND for a half hour evening cruise in a tiny fishing sampan or up to 500,000 VND for a large private boat for a four-hour tour.

          Other

          Cyclo
          Although not strictly necessary to negotiate the streets of Hoi An, a cyclo is a good way to take in the old town and get your bearings. The best place to pick one up is from the street opposite the Quang Trieu Assembly Hall by the bridge over to An Hoi. You'll need to flex your haggling skills but expect to pay in the region of 100,000 VND for an hour-long tour.

          Private car
          Most tour operators and hotels will happily order you a private car and driver. Prices range from 250,000 VND for the one-way route to Da Nang and go up to 600,000 VND for the day, which is a good option if you want to do all the usual tourist sites like the Marble Mountains and Cham and military museums in Da Nang. Drivers must have a license and most (but not all) speak some English, so do make a point of requesting this when you book. If you need a guide it will cost you an extra 100,000 VND but you could organise one through Hoi An Free Tours and save yourself the expense.

            Getting Around

            Hoi An is small enough that you can hoof it around the old town without difficulty, and even if you're staying up on Hai Ba Trung, it's only a two-kilometre walk into town itself. Bicycle rentals make life a bit easier and extend your range -- cheap, too, at 20,000 VND per day. Many hotels simply throw in the use of a bicycle for free. There are so many motorbikes for rent, prices are good -- US$5 is pretty standard, but bargaining, especially if you need a bike for more than a day, will get you far. Be sure to check the bike out -- many are falling apart.

            A xe om to beach should cost 20-30,000 VND. Late at night you won't find any, but there are always taxis and any of the businesses will happily order you one; make sure they run the meter. It should cost about 100,000 VND to the town centre from the beach (in the day it's about 70,000 VND). An Bang is nearer town than Cua Dai and you are less likely to get scammed from here; it's a million times better for late-night eating and drinking. Cua Dai closes down at about 20:00 or 21:00, while at An Bang at least four places stay open until you decide you have had enough.

            At Cua Dai you can ride right past the guard trying to get you to park and leave your bike at the restaurant on the beach you stop at for free. New laws are in place that mean if you take your bike on the beach it will be impounded. At An Bang you have to park your bike at one of the numerous bike parks, but they are almost on the beach. Most will charge anything from 10,000 to 100,000 VND (we kid you not) for parking, but if you go to the big one at the end on the left run by Huggy (he hugs everyone) he charges 2,000 VND and if your bike and you are still there when he goes home he will bring it to you for free. It's not a great idea to ride a bicycle home in the dark.


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