Last Updated on 3 years by Tam Le Van
Why should I get from Hoi An to Hue by motorbike?
About 120 kilometers away to the North of Hoi An, Hue is another capital of culture in Vietnam. It boasts of a couple of UNESCO tittles, both tangible and intangible heritages. The most noticeable one is the Imperial City where Nguyen dynasty’s kings based for over 140 years. It’s a part of the Complex of Hue monuments. In addition to, foods in this city is abundant and of unique features what could not found nowhere else throughout the country.
First of all, organised tours just give you minutes to visit highlighting sites or even only one stop such as Hai Van gates. As an explorer, not really enough for you to fully understand, fully feel the place you set your foots on. Beautiful beaches, magnificent mountains, spectacular viewpoints, stunning cultural buildings or scences about local people’s daily life will not missed out if get your own vehicle. Among all, Hai Van pass offers the most things to see and experience. If get on a tour bus, you have not many chances to take photos or spend a long time to enjoy pretty landscapes on it because lacking of parking and busy traffic. Your driver may quite rush you to be back his car/bus for that reasons. Probably, you need more to appreciate everything or just relax. Lastly, cost for a motorbike trip is cheaper than packaged tours. Thus, it’s the best ways to get Hue from Hoi An.
Discovering fantastic places between Hoi An and Hue is perfect for a day out. If look for something different, check your license, take a motorbike and just do it.
Motorbike rental in Hoi An and the best shops
Vietnam is a “kingdom of motorcycles” so there is no hard to find one when travel across the country. Hoi An’s not an exception. At the present, you have so many choices of place to hire a motorbike in this must-visit destination. Your hotel, local roadside shops along main streets or professional stores absolutely can be your final selection. They have their own advantages and disadvantages, all shown in our guide. Check out it through http://hoianlife.net/the-best-hoi-ans-motorbike-rental-shops/. The pricing generally is not too different between them but higher costs often go with higher level of helpfulness.
All you need to know about Hai Van Pass
Hai Van pass is a must see attraction between Hue and Hoi An. Not only always in the itenerary of organised tours, but also in bucket list of solo travelers. There are very much panoramic viewpoints overlooking blue ocean, small beaches, rocky cliffs and lush tropical forests offered all along 20 kilometer length of this natural wonder, thank to its location where the mountains meet the sea. Beauty of Hai Van pass is at its best during the summertime when everybody can travel under a clear sky, with gentle winds and without rains. Historical buildings dating back from different times in history on the top (nearly 500m ASL) are also good to visit.
On the other hand, experiencing the ride on Hai Van’s rugged roads is stunning, no matter you are driver or behind a driver. Before make up your choice, you should carefully think of which one better to keep the safety and joy during the trip. Read our full guide to this Vietnam’s best coastal road through http://hoianlife.net/all-you-need-to-know-about-hai-van-pass/ for further information.
Tips for driving in Hai Van Pass
More than any, Hai Van pass is the most challenging route the motorbike riders have to overcome from Hoi An to get Hue. It’s been well known for rugged terrain with many twists and turns since a long time. This legendary place features deep valley towards the sea and high mountains to the another side. Drivers may face numerous dangers if do not really control the steering wheel. Make sure you have experiences in driving the motorcycle enough (license probably is a must-have). Getting the motorbike with gears also will help you to reduce affects from unexpected troubles.
Keep in mind to save contacts like telephone/Whatsapp number or Facebook (the most popular social media to Vietnamese) of someone in the shop you hired motorbike, to get in touch when needed.
During the wet season, road surface often gets slippery, streams cross the road at somewhere and cloud/fog covers parts around Hai Van mountain top. Rain coat, waterproof footwares, proper clothes and qualitied helmets are items need to prepare. Observing carefully and moving slowly are our advices in this time of the year. Morever, land slide is often seen. When needed, stop to check what happen in front of you to keep your safety at most. Trucks’re not allowed to access the new tunnel for security so a lot along the whole pass. Don’t try to overtake them, seriously. Lastly, the evening will be not good time to drive up. The darkness limits your far sight and no households live there to give you a help in emergency situations.
Places to stop en route from Hoi An to Hue
Da Nang must-see attractions
#1 The Marble Mountains
|Location: Huyen Tran Cong Chua street, Hoa Hai, Ngu Hanh Son
|Opening hours: 7:30 a.m until 5 p.m daily
|Ticket required: yes, 40.000 VND for entrance and 15.000 VND for each way of elevator
|Travel tips: Footwares suited to walk on steps, bring water, properly-covered dresses to enter temples, cash, bargain when shop stonework survenirs
|What to expect: Mount Thuy offers 200-year-old ornate Buddhist temples like Chua Linh Ung and Chua Tam Thai, large open-ceiling caves and stunning panoramic viewpoints, have the chance to know more a traditional craft of making stone sculpture
|For full information: Hoi An Life’s guide
Karst towers of the Marble Mountains seen from its top @Cong Troi (the Heaven Gate) Dong Huyen Khong, the largest cave and old temples 1825-built Chua Tam Thai, one of two major Buddhist temples on the Marble Mountains
#2 My Khe Beach
|Location: Phuoc My, Son Tra district (along Vo Nguyen Giap street)
|Opening hours: All day
|Ticket required: no
|Travel tips: Prepare personal swimsuits, sun cream and hat/cap in advance, should not get during the hottest months to protect your skin health as well as typhoon season with dangerous waves and extremely strong winds
|What to expect: An uninterrupted stretch of white fine sand with a distant view of green hills in the Monkey Mountain and Cham islands, crystall-like water and very gentle waves in the dry season, proper to outdoor activities for all family members, water sports available in the summer holiday, wide range of seafood restaurants including some seafront ones, one of the best sunrise-watching spots in Da Nang
|For full information: Hoi An Life’s guide
#3 The Monkey Mountain (Son Tra Peninsula)
|Location: Tho Quang, Son Tra
|Opening hours: 24hours to visit Lady Buddha pagoda, 7:30 a.m to 7 p.m to access or camp around upper parts of the peninsular
|Ticket required: no
|Travel tips: Bring water and cash, properly-covered dresses to enter Lady Buddha temple (the best known place), select a manual transmission motorcycle if like to drive up the top zone of peninsular (automatic one not allowed) and also drive carefully over there to keep your safety
|What to expect: Lady Buddha Pagoda on its East side houses grand architecture, scenic lookouts and Vietnam’s tallest Lady Buddha statue, other parts offer awe-inspiring sceneries between the mountain and sea as well as Danang city view, have the chance to meet monkeys or rare red-shanked douc if lucky.
|For full information: Hoi An Life’s guide
Dinh Ban Co, the Monkey Mountain’s summit where fairy mans usually play chess together in the legend High view points around the Monkey Mountain are nice to watch sunset On the East side of the mountain, newly-built Chua Linh Ung Bai But features a giant Lady Buddha statue
#4 Da Nang Museum of Cham Sculpture
|Location: 2 Hai Thang Chin street, Hai Chau
|Opening hours: 7 a.m until 5 p.m daily
|Ticket required: yes, 60.000 VND for entrance and 20.000 VND for an audio guide if needed
|Travel tips: No dresscode required when visit, should be combined with other attractions for a day out,
|What to expect: See up-close the largest collection of sculptures created by Champa kingdom through its different historic stages, including many Vietnam’s National Treasures
|For full information: Hoi An Life’s guide
Architecture of Cham museum features a mixture of Western, Asian and Champa styles Sculpture of the Apsara dancers in the museum @Tra Kieu room
#5 Dragon Bridge
|Location: the intersection of Nguyen Van Linh and Vo Van Kiet streets
|Opening hours: all-day
|Ticket required: no, free access to everybody
|Travel tips: Fire show available in every weekend from 9 p.m (traffic not allowed during this time), near Cham sculpture museum and Son Tra night market that nice to combine together
|What to expect: Have the chance to see a bridge of Vietnam’s largest steel structure and of architecture designed uniquely across the world, as well as its fire show weekly, pretty river sceneries can be catched from its top in cool breezes
|For full information: Hoi An Life’s guide
Well-known places between Hai Van Pass and Hue
Lang Co Beach
Lang Co means “stork village” in some ways of explaination from local people. This name is used for whole town and its beach then. Several scientists also consider that it originally means “tomb of Co” (respectful call of the female whale) because of popularity of whale worship in the region.
In general, Lang Co beach is a 10km long uninterrupted stretch of sand by towering Hai Van pass and green Chan May mountains. It’s quite unspoiled and less busy than any other well known ones in Central Vietnam. In 2019, its greater area became a member of the Club of Most Beautiful Bays in The World due to outstanding values of scenery and biodiversity. Previously, Nha Trang and Ha Long bays officially joined.
Swimming in Lang Co beach at some times of the year is risky, especially the estuary where the ocean and lagoon water flows combat. Ask local people who you can talk with once get a swimsuit and enjoy. Popular spots are close by two churches of Loan Ly and Sao Cat. If like to get foods with cooling breezes after, Vietnamese style restautants are around. They’re good places to know cuisine culture of townsfolk and sample fresh seafoods. For a different way of cooking, come to kitchens inside seafront resorts such as Thanh Tam Seaside Resort or Langco Beach Resort.
The Oyster Lagoon
To the another side of Lang Co town spit, brackish-water An Cu Lagoon is known as The Oyster lagoon because of hundreds of oyster farms establishing on it. Annually, local farmers use old car tyres to put into the most suitable area to draw natural oysters to come for living in 3th lunar month. Because of wealthy nutrient source from Hai Van pass’s mountains, they quickly develope and can be collected 9 months later. To remove these high-in-zinc mollusks, people traditionally hang up the tyres and twist them by hands then. Ladies take falling oysters, use a small knife to shuck, classify into types (big/medium/small) and sell for local restaurants. Someone directly set their collectings right by the main road for sale as well, with a reasonable price. To clear tyres for a new harvest, they’re put on the road surface and vehicles will help to break left pieces of shell when move on.
Not only brings the great value to local economy, An Cu lagoon also is a must-stop tourist attraction between Hoi An/Da Nang and Hue. It features extraodinary landscape between cloud-capped towering mountains and shimmering body of water in the tropical sunshine. It’s quite shallow generally so you can look all creatures and its bed by naked eyes. During the low tital, there is a white sand dune emerging and creating a natural path where people can walk on as well as take pictures with fisherman bamboo boats or swings. Keep in mind that you will pay for this with a changing price, depending on different times. If like to get a coffee or cold drinks, there are a couple of lagoon-facing cafeterias nice to come. The Lagoon or Bayview Cafe are popular.
Pearl and cajeput essential oil: shopping in Lang Co
At cafeterias by Lang Co lagoon, you can see some pearls on display for sale. They’re raised in local farms on neighbouring water bodies, especially to the North of the town. Pricing is quite different between places but generally cheaper than many parts of the country. Ask people in the shop you come for detailed information.
Between Phuoc Tuong and Phu Gia mountain passes, you can see so many cajeput essential oil shops. They features row-to-row yellow colored bottles and a steam furnace standing next to. To make the oil, local makers will take home leaves and small branches of native cajeput trees called as Tram gio. While someone have the own farm in neighbouring sandy soil areas to exploit, many people have to buy. After 4 hour distillation, first drops flow out and then extracted into bottles with different capacity for sale. According to the history, Catholic missonaries taught locals how to make this valuable product. The best cajeput essential oil shops are in Loc Thuy commune, due to highest quality ones produced here.
Cajeput essential oil is not allowed to bring in any flights around Vietnam. If travel by bus or train, that’s okay.
Canh Duong Beach
After conquering successfully Phu Gia mountain pass, main roads to your right-hand side led to Canh Duong beach. Its half-moon shaped seashore stretches 8 kilometers and ends at foots of wooded Chan May range. Overally, this little heaven is better known by local travelers and nearly all services are designed for these by that reason. Compare to its neighbour Lang Co, natural qualities are not inferior but less mentioned on guide book. Canh Duong beach is a hidden gem to international sun seekers.
In recent years, camping becomes a popular activity in Canh Duong beach. Tent rental, drinks and foods also are available during the day, with an affordable price (it seems the same at the bulk of Hue’s attractions). See online reviews prior to make your decisions to stay overnight here. You should come in busy times if worried about the availability of services and even security. Weekend or the summertime are good days. In case you like more peaceful atmosphere, pick any of the week to camp and just ensure that the weather supports you. Additionally, typhoons often come inland in last months of the year making this beach not proper for any things to do, not only camping or swimming.
Suoi Voi (Elephant Stream)
The Elephant Stream is popular spot to cool down in the summer. It features small clear-water pools surrounded by multi-shaped rocks (the central one is like an elephant making its name). In this eco-friendly attraction, local build some bamboo huts with a thatched roof to serve visitors. Drinks (with ice) and cook-to-order foods are available in the daytime. Discuss with hut owners about what you like to eat, its style and price (using online translation is the best way to talk with). Sitting will be cheap for “guests” and charged if without any food orders.
Fact: You have two choices of route to get Hue after cross Phuoc Tuong Pass: six-lane National Route 1A (Quoc lo 1A) and coastal road. See Hoi An Life’s recommendations below to know good stops according to each one of them.
Suoi Mo (Dream Stream)
National Highway 1A (Asian Highway 1)
Bach Ma National Park
Bach Ma national park (Vuon quoc gia Bach Ma) is one of Vietnam’s last naturally-grown forest stretching from Laos border to the sea. It’s officially established in 1991 due to its very high values of biodiversity. According to latest statistics, it is home of nearly 2.400 flora and 1.700 fauna species, including numerous endangered ones in world and Vietnam Red books. Especially, nature scientists record 363 species of bird, 30% of totality in the country. For that reason, Bach Ma is popularly called as “kingdom of bird” and draw a lot of bird watchers from different parts of the world.
To get this eco jewel from National highway 1A, just drive along Bach Ma road and then you will see its entrance. Leave your motorcycle at nearby parking.
The highest point of Bach Ma national park is at 1.450m above sea level. At there, travelers can catch such striking panoramic views to coastal areas and sea. To get it, you have two choices: walking along car road or renting a private car at the ticket counter. Probably you can have a share with other travelers but need to wait. Depening on different times of the year, it takes you a long time or not. Weekend days and summer are the most select choices to visit this well-known destination. Beside that, 300m high Do Quyen waterfall and trekking routes are other highlights. All together, worth it to spend a day to explore and be closer to natural world. See our full guide about Bach Ma national park via.
Bach Ma Village-Thac Truot Bach Ma
Thac Nhi Ho Waterfall
A pretty area of 7m high waterfall and two crystal-like natural pools in Bach Ma range, 4 kilometers away from National road 1A and center of Loc Tri commune. Exactly, Nhi Ho means “two pools” in Vietnamese. As same as the Elephant spring, this’s the popular spot to locals to cool off during hot summer. Parking fee is 5.000 VND for motorcycle and you will pay more, 10.000 VND to enter the waterfall.
To get it, search UBND xa Loc Tri (Loc Tri’s people committe), follow the road next to and keep going until the end. Nhi Ho waterfall is at there.
300-year-old Banyan Tree at Da Bac Wharf
Right on your right hand roadside from Hoi An to Hue, you can see a giant banyan tree. It’s 300 years old and related to loading activity of supplies from the North by ship during Vietnam war (the greater network called as Ho Chi Minh trail on sea). The name of wharf at its foot is Da Bac, meaning “white rocks”. There is a small temple built by local people under its shade because they believe that “old tree is sacred”. See its exact location here.
Thien Vien Truc Lam Bach Ma: Bach Ma Truc Lam Zen Monastery
Located around a green hill on Truoi lake, 2006-built Thien Vien Truc Lam Bach Ma is the home of monks practicing Truc Lam zen (a Vietnamese own sect created by Tran Nhan Tong king in 14th century). It consists of over 20 constructions with a traditional architecture in modern materials and one giant-size white marble Buddha statue on the neighbour hill. All of them is set in an extremely peaceful atmosphere and full of relaxing vibes. Its surrounding tropical forests are belonged to buffer zone of Bach Ma national park.
From National highway 1A, you need to drive further 6 kilometers through rural villages and gardens to get Truoi dam. At there, will pay for a round trip by boat to reach the foot of Thien Vien Truc Lam Bach Ma’s hill once walk up 170 steps. The fee is 240.000 VND (about eleven US dollars) with regulated capacity as 12 people. Keep in mind that boat owners are just okay to move in case you purchase a private boat (full charge) or enough twelve passengers. Share with other visitors if possible (usually busy in the weekend or public holidays so should choose these days to travel).
Thanh Toan Tile-Roofed Bridge
Located in tranquil Thuy Thanh commune, Thanh Toan tile-roofed bridge is an architectural jewel that rarely found in the country nowadays. It’s built in 1776 by sponsor money from Ms.Tran Thi Dao with an elegant Nguyen dynasty’s royal style. In order to honor this contribution, villagers workship her in bridge’s central altar after her dealth and always keep memorial rituals. Originally this national heritage site helps to connect two parts of the village as well as bring a home for who need somewhere to sleep by night. A new bridge constructed nearby and better living conditions make both functions stop today. However, people still come here to rest and get a nap in the midday, especially in the summer. About layout, it owns same characters to Japanese covered bridge in Hoi An.
Close by Thanh Toan bridge, travelers can visit a museum of farming utensils and try fresh sugar cane juice to refresh before explore next places. Driving cross windy rice fields or along riverside routes is all awesome to head Hue center. If have time not enough to visit this National heritage from Hoi An, take a bicycle and make self-guided trip to it somewhen in next days. One of the best things to do in Hue, very worth it to try.
In Vietnam, there are only three old bridges registered as a national heritage site. One at Phat Diem church town, Cho Luong market in Nam Dinh province and Thanh Toan tile-roofed bridge in Hue.
Abandoned Water Park (Ho Thuy Tien Lake)
Originally this place is a designed beautiful park. It’s constructed in 2000s with a large artificial lake, pine hills, flower gardens, watergame facilities as well as a tall cement-made tower with grand dragon shape. In 2004, officially opens to visitors but quickly goes down a few months later. Nobody can make sure why. Exact reasons are still in mystery. After that, its doors are closed up to the present and seem that no more efforts to recover it in near future. Tourists skip it from their travel itenerary and just locals enter to do excercise in every morning. The best times to visit Hue’s abandoned water park is after the dawn and late afternoon.
From Hoi An, you can get Ho Thuy Tien lake via AH1 (Quoc lo 1A) and Khai Dinh road. At sometimes, there are several persons requesting you to pay for its entry. This fee is “illegal” but not a lot (less than one dollar in our own recent visits). If have no mind about, go ahead and start your exploration. Put your motorcycle somewhere and remember locking it.
The most highlighted building inside the park is the Dragon head. Cross the bridge to enter it. In black water ponds near you, crocodiles are still alive. Someone say they’re raised by locals but other people share that these beings are left following park’s abandonment. Keep your eyes well to avoid dangers from them, although locked up. Along steps leading to the top, you also see various creative graffities making the feelings more mysterious. That’s fantastic to get some pictures to memorize your trip with. From the dragon mouth, scenic views can be captured. Within the surrounding area, you have not much times to walk around and see “the painted car” and abandoned water slides by the lake shore.
Coastal Road QL49B
Loc Binh Beach
Mountains embrace this hidden gem beach three sides making it such pretty.
An Bang Cemetery “City of Ghost”
Situated in Vinh An commune, An Bang cemetery features dozens of large tombs with a specific ornate ceramic mosaic decoration. Their style has the succession from pre-existed tomb of Khai Dinh king built in 1920. Because of its “unusual” characters, much Vietnamese visit this stunning place to satisfy their curiosity. International travelers just stop here in recent years, mainly guided by tour operators.
Why locals make the tombs here so big? Local residents believe that life on the Earth is just temporary, the permannent one in the world after dealth. Therefore, they soon think about their house for the next life, more focused than other regions in Vietnam.
Thanh Duyen Pagoda and Tam Giang Lagoon
On the pine hill near a river estuary, Thanh Duyen pagoda is firstly built in 17th century and invested into a larger scale two hundred years later by 2nd king of Nguyen dynasty Minh Mang. In 1836, this man listed it as one of national pagodas (the same status to pagodas of the Marble Mountains). Several centuries ago, building bricks of a Champa temple were found around it. Today, this old religious site includes a three-arched gate as the main entrance, Buhha hall, pavillion and tower on the mountain top. Within first and middle days of each lunar month, local people come here to pray for good health, better life. Views over poetic Tam Giang lagoon (largest of its kind in South-east Asia) can be catched from many positions in Thanh Duyen pagoda.
Thap Cham Phu Dien Tower
In the heart of coastal sand dunes, Thap Cham Phu Dien tower (also known as Thap Cham My Khanh tower) is discovered by mistake when mining workers exploited titan ore in the site. Excavation works are carried out then to fully understand this intricate 13rd centuried temple. It’s the best standing monuments Champa kingdom left in the Northern Hai Van pass region, culture scientists say. Techniques about making brick and building skills are still in secret. Nowadays, Hue authorities build a covering structure by glass to protect Phu Dien tower from moving sands and strong winds from sea.
There is no ticket required to enter. Put your motorcycle by the main road and walk to visit. No dresscode regulations here as well, different to My Son sanctuary near Hoi An.
Beach Bar Hue
Down the South of famous Thuan An beach, Beach Bar Hue is an atmospheric place to chill out, get refreshments and savour delicious foods after your long-distance trip from Hoi An to Hue. On nearby stretch of sand, sun lounges are available to relax on with sea breezes and peaceful sound of wave. For more details, browse its homepage via http://www.beachbarhue.com/.
Thuan An Beach
Before get Hue center, spend time in Thuan An beach to swim or relax with cooling winds. Local sellers deal in many snacks and light foods that good to taste. Check out restaurants by the shore if like to have heavier dishes. It takes you around 20 minutes (15 kilometers) to reach Hue’s center then.
Places to eat from Hoi An to Hue: Hoi An Life’s picks
Restaurants in Lang Co
Lang Co is a beach town therefore it houses seafront restaurants, mainly Vietnamese style. Their business time often stretches from midday until the night. Due to mostly serving for local residents, general price is reasonable. You should use English translation when come. Morever, there is a couple of seafood restaurants by An Cu lagoon’s shore, on another side of the town. These places are popular lunch and dining destinations to both tourists and locals. You will pay a little more because they’re more invested, better seatings and service. Pretty landscapes between lagoon, towering mountains and cloud are immediate from their windows. Living sea creatures’re abundant in type and kept into glass water tanks with a fixed price shown clearly. Visitors can ask information, how much needed and choose favourite way of cooking before sit and enjoy delicious dishes. Cash is prefered at nearly all places to eat in Lang Co.
Between Lang Co and Hue
You can find somewhere in Phu Loc town to get a meal. Check out locally-owned restaurants along National highway 1A first, because they’re regularly visited by local people as well as riders&passengers. In Hue city’s outskirt, Quan An Ba Suu is another place worth it to stop. This is well known for its tasty Banh uot heo quay (fresh rice papers eaten with roasting pork, fish sauce and raw vegetables). It lies to your left-han side from Hoi An to Hue, the other side of the median strip.
Restaurants by the shore of Tam Giang Lagoon
Some restaurants by Tam Giang Lagoon’s shore offer good foods to try, especially seafood dishes. Just in the outskirt of Phu Loc town, Gai Dang and Hai Truong restaurants are highlights. Their sauce of ingredient is from local fishermans living around.