If you’re making the trip from Hue to Hoi An, you must take advantage of the incredible sights on route. These 3 stops that make every day a journey.
Central Vietnam has much to offer for tourists. There are copious amounts of things to see and do, while maintaining a slower pace than Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. I’d like to discuss the three stops I made when I traveled from Hue to Hoi An Ancient Town. The journey by car with no stops would take approximately 2.5 hours. For me, I made a day of it and my lovely driver stopped off at the locations I chose. They will wait for you for as long as you need and fill you with information about their home wherever possible.
The best way to make the most of the journey from Hue to Hoi An is by hiring a private car. Well, this is certainly the way to do it if there are more than two of you. If not, hire yourself a bike, you won’t regret it. For more transport tips if you’re stuck, check out my recent post where I discuss ways to get around Vietnam. Now for the good stuff. Here are the three stops I made when moving South from Hue, to Hoi An.
Visit Lap An Lagoon
This was a lovely first stop on my journey South. This is a place where the mountains meet the ocean, displaying extensive and impressive scenery. It’s a remarkable and natural landscape. I was lucky enough to catch a couple having wedding photos taken. It was a beautiful moment, making the day extra special.
I must admit, when I visited it was rather misty, but this didn’t affect the time I spent there. I ate gorgeous local food from The Lucky Pearl while I relaxed, awaiting the next leg of the journey. In short, it’s a pleasant stop for a bite to eat with a scenic view, and a shop for fresh water pearl jewelry, on sale. There’s nothing extravagant to do, just pure picturesque satisfaction.
That’s the spirit of this place; it captures the simple life of Vietnamese locals. Stop here to observe how an old fishing village carries out day-to-day tasks, spreading the net to catch fish and farming oysters in the shallow water. The people here live in harmony with the land. It’s wonderfully bucolic.
Visit Hai Van Pass
I was so excited to travel along the Hai Van Pass. I’m a huge fan of popular British TV show Top Gear, a comedy show of all things car and motorcycle related. It’s hilariously funny, informative, and sends the three hosts — Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May — traveling to amazing places and testing some of the world’s most ordinary and extraordinary cars. The show put the road on the map and has escalated its popularity ever since.
I wasn’t disappointed. It’s been labelled one of the world’s most magnificent coastal roads, and for good reason. It’s a 20 km strip, 500 m above sea level, and with twists and turns like it was a Mario Kart track. No wonder Clarkson labelled it a “ribbon of perfection.” I was in a taxi but my did I wish I was on a motorbike.
You can take part in motorbike or jeep tours to experience the road with the help of a guide. Stop at the old French bunker at the top for a view like no other, over the South China sea and distant cities. There are shops and restaurants at this point, but be aware that lots of tour buses stop here. So, your best bet is to hop off, get a few photographs, and continue on to the next village.
Visit Ba Na Hills
West of Da Nang city, you’ll find Ba Na Hills. This is a popular destination for tourists because of its Arcadian, mountaintop resort, 1500 m above sea level. If you take a look at an aerial view, it’s overwhelmingly medieval, unlike anything you’d expect to see in Vietnam. While I am happy to have stopped here, I will warn you that the crowds and prices are both extremely considerable, so take that into account before making the trip.
The resort is a bit of a mashup of Western cultures. The old French town is wonderfully realistic, with cobbled streets and well-built European buildings. One might easily believe they were actually in France. I recommend trying the alpine coaster, a small-scale take on a roller-coaster which will take you through a small stretch of the resort on a little one-man cart. Go as fast or as slow as you like with the braking system at your fingertips.
Ride the cable cars for ridiculously brilliant views over Da Nang and the extensive coastline. In the photo above, you’ll see the Golden Bridge, which only opened in June 2018. It was built as a walkway between the cable car and gardens. While the structure is pretty cool, I must say I was a little disappointed to discover it was made of blatantly cheap materials — those hands aren’t stone at all!
There are plenty more things to see and do on your trip between Hue and Hoi An. For example, why not check out the infamous Marble Mountains? Or relax on Lang Co Beach? There are plenty of people who will be willing to point you in the right direction, based on your time limits, budget, and personal preferences. If in doubt, always check Lonely Planet. I really do recommend making the most of Central Vietnam. It’s rustic, unique, and extremely welcoming. Have I tempted you?