After spending a few days in Hue, I was ready to move on to Hoi An, arguably the most touristic city in middle of Vietnam. There are a few options for this travel:
- Bus from Hue to Hoi An
- Easyrider motorcycle tour
- Train from Hue to Danang, followed by bus to Hoi An
I’m not a big fan of buses, so I immediately dismissed the first option. I considered the motorcycle option because you get to stop at however many stops along the way (within reason) and make an adventure out of it. This option cost about US$50, so definitely the most expensive of the three options above. In the end, I decided against it because I didn’t want to be in the hot sun for 8 hours. This ended up being a good decision since it ended up being raining the day I traveled!
Buying train ticket for foreigner was slightly complicated because of the Vietnam railways website doesn’t accept foreign credit card (even though it says it does, transaction always fails). There are 2 ways of getting around this:
- Go to train station and buy from ticket counter
- Buy through a third party website baulau.com which charges 40,000 dong service fee and 10,000 credit card fee.
Considering the ticket price was 60K, I thought the 50K extra charge was a little ridiculous. But this might be a good option of people trying to buy the ticket from overseas.
I ended up going to the train station the day before my trip. I checked the availability online so I know the prices and even the seat numbers available. I suggest you write this down in case the clerk doesn’t speak English (mine did). There are a few options for seating:
- Hard seat – cheapest option and not too bad for this 2.5 hour ride.
- Soft seat – my ideal option.
- Hard sleeper – 6 beds per room, 2 stacks of 3 beds.
- Soft sleeper – 2 beds per room, 2 by 2.
Since soft seat were sold out, I ended up choosing soft sleeper. Make sure you pick a bottom bunk so you can see outside the window. Seat number divisible by 4 and 1 before that is TOP bunk. Price fluctuates for unknown reason, I paid 79K from Hue to Danang.
The sleeper bed does not fold up to become a seat, do you will be sitting on your bed the whole time. It’s freeeezing too, so make sure you have your jacket handy. They do provide pillow and duvet that most likely were used by someone sleeping from Hanoi to Hue. There’s free drinking water, sink and toilet at the end of the car.
The view starts with rice fields with hills in the background. Then the train meanders up the mountain, going through occasional tunnels. You’ll pass a lake and then the sea (both on the left side) before you arrive in Danang 2.5 hours later.
Upon arrival, you will be inundated with offers to drive you to Hoi An. Cheapest I was offered was 150K. Which is probably worth it for 4 people. Since I was traveling alone, I went to the closest bus stop 5 minutes away. Bus supposed to run every 20 minutes, it says “Hoi An – Danang” on it. I was warned that the conductor will try to charge more for foreigners. Sure enough, she asked for 40K, while the normal price is 20K. I had exact change and refused to give more no matter how hard she tried. She even tried to kick me off the bus, but I persevered. I was the only foreigner out of 10 that paid 20K. The others paid 40K and one even paid 50K. Her excuse is I have a bag, but 3 tourists came in without big backpacks and were still charged 40K. You might not want to bother, but I wanted to try to see if I can stand my ground.
We got dropped off at the Hoi An bus station and there were motorcycle taxi milling around offering rides. I paid 20K for about a mile ride (haggled from 50K). If you know your prices, you will sound more confident in haggling and they will give in.
Total time: 9:50am – 2:30pm
Total cost: 40K
Travel date: April 2017