During the 3 days I was in Hanoi, I visited most of the sightseeing spots around Hanoi Old Quarter, I tried delicious banh cuon (Banh Cuon Gia Truyen) and egg coffee (The Note Coffee). I even managed to squeeze in a Golden Star 2 Days 1 Night Halong Bay Cruise at USD$100 per person.
It’s time to make my way to the next stop Hoi An.
How to Get from Hanoi to Hoi An
There are basically 3 ways of getting from Hanoi to Hoi An. Hoi An does not have its own train station or airport, the nearest airport and train station is Da Nang. I will list the 3 options from the cheapest to the most expensive:
Hanoi to Hoi An: Sleeper Bus (USD$15-16)
This is the only option that allows you to make your way directly to Hoi An from Hanoi. The journey itself takes 17 hours and this is the cheapest option of the three. Hung Thanh Travel (Telephone: 0203.508.399 (8am – 5pm) / 0979.110.111 (8am – 10pm) operates many bus routes, including the Hanoi to Hoi An sleeper bus. There are mixed reviews online, so take this option with caution.
Tip: Arrive at least 1 hour before your departure time as the bus may depart a little earlier at times. You will not be given a refund if you miss your bus.
Hanoi to Hoi An: Train + Transfer
The journey takes 16-17 hours, so most travelers will choose to take an overnight train.
There are 4 types of seats on Vietnamese trains. Hard seats are wooden seats, soft seats (Hanoi to Da Nang ~USD$32/person) are cushioned seats that can recline. Hard sleeper (Hanoi to Da Nang ~USD$27-35/person) comes in 6 beds in one compartment while soft sleeper (Hanoi to Da Nang ~USD$37-39/person) has 4 beds in one compartment. If you are travelling from Hanoi to Da Nang in an overnight train, I strongly suggest getting a soft sleeper. The train timetable for Hanoi to Da Nang can be found here (updated on 15 May 2018). I recommend booking with Baolau or 12Go Asia over Vietnam Railways because I have read horror stories online about no ticket issued.
Livitrans and Violette trains are privately-run sleeping-cars that are attached to SE1/SE2/SE3/SE4 trains between Hanoi, Hue and Da Nang, aimed at foreign tourists. These cars have 4-berth air-conditioned soft sleeper compartments similar to the Vietnam Railways soft sleeper but with upgraded on-board service provided by the private companies. Price is around USD$85 one-way per person from Hanoi to Da Nang. You can book Livitrans and Violette train tickets at either Baolau or 12Go Asia.
From Da Nang train station, you can either take private car (VND$460000 – 700000 ~USD$20-30), taxi (VND$350000 – 536000 ~USD$15-23), bus (VND$25000 ~USD$1) or ride a motorbike (VND$130000 ~USD$6) to Hoi An.
Hanoi to Hoi An: Plane + Transfer
Going from Noi Bai International Airport to Da Nang International Airport is the most time-efficient but most expensive method. Vietnam Airlines, Jetstar Pacific, Hanh Air Lines and Viet Jet Air flies between the two cities. The trip takes around 75 minutes and it costs USD$20-175 per person.
From Da Nang International Airport, you can take Hoi An Express (USD$6) or a taxi (USD$15-23) to Hoi An.
How I Got from Hanoi to Hanoi to Hoi An by Train, Bus and Taxi
My girlfriend and I decided to go with the train option because we wanted to experience train travel in Vietnam. I have read that the train ride between Hue and Da Nang offers scenic view of the South China Sea.
I tried to book my train ticket with Vietnam Railways but it does not accept international credit cards. I ended up buying my train ticket from Baolau, the transaction was smooth and fuss-free.
Train Ride from Hanoi to Da Nang
After a delicious bowl of beef pho at a roadside stall, my girlfriend and I arrived at Ga Ha Noi (Hanoi Railway Station). The waiting room (phong doi tau) is clean and furnished with long wooden benches.
Our train arrived on time and there is a guard outside every door to check your ticket. We walked along the narrow corridor and arrived at our compartment. I managed to book two lower-bunk soft-sleepers at Baolau and I was very happy with what I saw. The bedsheets, pillow case and blankets are all clean. There is a lamp and a power socket where I can charge my electric appliances.
This is what I love about travelling: it makes me realize that I need very little to be happy. A clean bed, a lamp and a power socket is all I need.
The train is equipped with washing basin and toilet. They are definitely not the cleanest but they serve their function.
After washing up, I put on a pair of earplugs and fell asleep to the rumbling of the train.
I woke up very early next morning, hoping to catch the sunrise from the train but it was raining heavily. Although I didn’t get to see the sunrise, but the heavy rain allowed us to see maginificant waves as the train ran along the coast of South China Sea. You can watch a video of the scenery from the train here.
There are pushcarts where you can buy porridge, steamed corn, snacks and drinks. We each had a bowl of steaming chicken porridge and steamed corn for breakfast.
Da Nang to Hoi An Bus Station by Bus and Taxi
There are several ways to get from Da Nang Railway Station to Hoi An. My girlfriend and I decided to take the Bus #1 because it is the cheapest portion and we wanted to experience bus travel in Vietnam.
I tried searching online for the location to take the bus #1 but there were only vague instructions. The bus stop is actually located two streets down from the left further-most corner of Da Nang Railway Station. If you are unsure, just type “155 Le Duan” and Google Maps will tell you exactly how to reach the bus stop. It is located next to an electronics store next to the main Le Duan road.
The bus ride from Da Nang to Hoi An will take approximately 70-80 minutes and we were charged VND$100000 (~USD$4.30) each. I realized that we were overcharged because we are tourists, but since it’s not a lot of money, we decided to let it go.
The bus terminated at a shabby-looking Hoi An Bus Station. It was raining and we were soaked and cold so we decided to take a taxi to Hoi An Old Town. The 10-minute ride cost us around VND$40000 (~USD$1.70).
The route that my girlfriend and I are very happy with the route that we chose. It is not the cheapest nor the most expensive way to get from Hanoi to Hoi An. But the train, bus and taxi rides are an experience in itself.
I hope you find the information useful. Please share it with friends and family who are visiting Vietnam.