Getting around in Hoi An

Chua Cau (Bridge Temple), Hoi An. Photo: hoianpost.com

Chua Cau (Bridge Temple), Hoi An. Photo: hoianpost.com

GET TO HOI AN

By airplane

Footsteps in Vietnam – The nearest airport is in Da Nang which has domestic connections to Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Hue with Vietnam Airlines and VietJet Air and some international flights to Bangkok, Singapore Siem Reap, Cambodia (for Angkor Wat) and charter flights to China.

A taxi from Danang airport to Hoi An costs about US$22 using a taxi with a meter. This is one occasion where haggling to set a fixed price is cheaper than going by the meter, but good luck with this – despite clear signs everywhere listing fixed price fares to destinations including Hoi An (should be 400,000 dong) most drivers seem unwilling to discuss a fixed price. Meters will typically run to around 450,000 dong. Air-conditioned Minibus-Taxis cost US$5 per person (there are no minibuses in airport, you should go first to the city). The ride takes about 45 min.

A word of caution about flying Jetstar: they are frequently up to 8 hours late, many times arriving at Danang from Saigon at 02:00.

Go Travel Vietnam (GTV), 61 Phan Chau Trinh St. on the corner of Le Loi Street, (English speaking consultant: +84 915 454 949) offers transfers from Hoi An to Danang Airport and Train Station at 5 set times per day for 80,000 dong. This is by far the cheapest way to get from Hoi An to Danang airport or train station in October 2012, you must go into GTV to pre-book at least one day in advance. They can also organize private car transfers from your hotel or from the airport or train station as well for 290,000 dong. They were also able to arrange motorbike transfer to the airport for 150,000 dong for a midnight flight.

Book your flights online, travel agents charge you 30-50% more.

By train

There is no railway station in Hoi An. The nearest is in Da Nang, which receives several trains a day from Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hue, Nha Trang etc. Most travel agents and hotels can book a train ticket for you.

Da Nang Railway Station: 202 Hai Phong, Tan Chinh Ward, Thanh Khe District, TP Da Nang, Phone: + 84 511 375-0666.

See note above regarding transfers between Hoi An and Danang train station for 80,000 dong with Go Travel Vietnam.

Hoi an streets

Hoi an streets

By bus

There are two different bus stations in Hoi An now (older guide books just show the one on D Hung Vuong)and the public buses to Da Nang leave from the station about 2 km north west of the centre on Le Hong Phong.

xe om from Hoi An bus station to the old town should be around 10-15,000 dong.

There is a public bus (#1) from Da Nang bus station to Hoi An bus station that costs 18,000 dong and takes c. 45 min. There seems to be no fare written on the side of the bus, but the Ohh La La Socola cafe (14 Thai Phien Da Nang) provides anti-scam maps dated 25 Feb 2013. On the bus they try to charge foreigners 50,000 dong, close to the price of private vans from a hotel in Hoi An to the airport in Da Nang, close to the cost of a bus from Da Nang to Nha Trang (3.5/4h versus a 45 min trip). Locals support the scam by pretending they are also paying 50.000 dong, insist on the fare and they will lower it to 30,000, insist and pay the official one. Expect no change if you have a 20,000 dong note. Beware of bus drivers putting your luggage at the front and sparing you the nicest front seat, likely they want you to pay 50,000 dong and threaten to kick you off. As soon as they see other foreigners to pick up they kick you off in their favour. Buses are frequent – every 20 or 30 min pick time, else every hour – so you can simply sit down, have a coffee, enjoy air-con while talking to nicer locals and then jump on the next bus. Same goes for Hoi An – Da Nang. The bus passes through downtown Da Nang and near the train station as well. If you come from Da Nang airport, the closest bus stop of the same route to Hoi An is at the roundabout where the streets Nguyễn Tri Phương and Điện Biên Phủ meet (a nice 10-15 min walk, since you can walk along the lake). This bus stop is clearly marked with a road sign.

There are no shortage of travel companies and private buses travelling to and from from Hoi An to destinations such as Hue, Hanoi, Saigon, Dalat and Nha Trang.

Open-tour buses run daily up and down the coast from Da Nang, Hue (3.5-4 hr, 60,000-100,000 dong as of Mar 2012) and Nha Trang (9-10 hours overnight, US$10-15 as of April 2013).

By motobike or taxi

It is easy to take a motorbike or taxi to and from Da Nang via the Marble Mountains (see below), from where you can catch a train onwards. This trip cost 460,000 dong from Da Nang bus station, by the meter. Mai ling taxi in Jan 2012.

By boat

The traditional boat "Ghe nang". Photo: workheritagesite

The traditional boat “Ghe nang”. Photo: workheritagesite

Hoi An has a river system stretching hundreds of kilometers – this was the ancient transport network of the Cham Kingdom as they moved goods between the highlands and then through Hoi An and onto China. Speedboats or traditional ghe nang sailing on the river or sea.
GET AROUND
The centre of Hoi An is very small and pedestrianised, so you will be walking around most of the time. Motorbikes are only banned from the centre of town during certain times of day, so keep an eye out for them; even in the most narrow alleys. Evenings are especially busy with motorbikes two, or even three abreast competing with pedestrians for even the smallest space on the street! The city’s government does not allow motorbikes to enter the Old Town on the 14th and 15th of each lunar month. On those evenings, a lot of activities, including traditional games such as bai choitrong quan, and dap nieu are held in all over the town.
Hoi An's alleys are too narrow for cars. Photo: ttvnol.com

Hoi An’s alleys are too narrow for cars. Photo: ttvnol.com

To go to the beach or reach some of the more remote hotels, it is easy and cheap to hire a bicycle (c. 20.000 dong per day in Jan 2013). For mountain bikes, head to Anh Cuoc shop, at 635 Hai Ba Trung. Taxis can be found in the middle of Le Loi St, over the river on An Hoi or called by phone. When busy, taxis may refuse your fare back to your hotel from town if it is too close, opting for larger fares. Arranging a shuttle from your hotel may be a better option although prices can be higher. A local 15 minute taxi fare is around 60,000 dong.

Motorbike taxis  (“xe om”) , of course, are always an option. Some shops have electrical bicycles (especially along Duong CuanDai, close to the centre -75.000 dong, Jan 2013). You can also charter boats for about US$1/hour.

Traffic in the area of Hoi An is minimal, so if you’ve been avoiding getting on a bike in the big cities, small towns and the surrounding countryside like Hoi An are ideal to get used to the road rules.

Get a car to visit My Son early in the morning, about an hour away, or the Marble Mountains, about forty minutes north towards Da Nang. Motorbike hire for the My Son trip is cheap in town at 80-100,000 dong. Be prepared to get lost around Hoi An – signposts and road signs are rare.

The old Champa way was to travel by the river system. The rivers of Hoi An cover hundreds of km and offer an interesting & adventurous alternative to travelling by road. Get on a boat and you’ll begin to see a whole lot more of Hoi An and the Delta.

Motorbike

Cost of motorbike rentals in Hoi An town as of Feb 2013: US$4-5 per day (80-100,000 dong) A hotel may charge double. You get a step-thru with auto clutch. These will take two porky Europeans easily enough! There are any number of small shops renting them, you will be offered a helmet usually. Take it every time- there are plenty of roadside helmet checks. Failure to wear one results in the bike being confiscated and a US$75 fine. Worse, you probably haven’t got a Vietnamese driving license and there are no papers to sign, no agreements made so you are on your own legally. Ride to the outskirts of Danang to visit the stunning Marble Mountains. If you look left from An Ban beach, you can see the Marble Mountains ( 3 prominent lumpy hills) clearly – the high rises further on are Da Nang. Bear in mind the total lack of signposts, and just keep looking left at the flat terrain until it isn’t flat any more! You are on a 2 lane road all the way. It’s standard practice for the bike to have only enough gas to make it to the next gas station. In addition to gas stations, there are also little hand-operated roadside pumps everywhere; these can be convenient, but they’re more expensive. The proprietor may show you a sign with a few calculations for non-Vietnamese speakers such as 3 litres is 90,000 dong. You actually see the gas draining through a calibrated sight glass. In a commercial gas station they can, and do bang in half a tank then shut the machine off to serve someone else. The amount in money has gone from the display, and he tells you a totally made up figure. All this makes the roadside hand pump with sight glass a lot more foreigner friendly. Gas costs around 25,000 dong/litre and one litre is enough for sightseeing to the beach and back and zipping around town. If you take a trip – lets say you ride to My Son 2-up – then you will use about 4 L. It’s inevitable that you will get lost 5 times between Hoi An and and My Son! Luckily fuel is cheaper out in the countryside.

Note: Foreign International Driving licenses are NOT valid in Vietnam and in case of accident, a foreigner driving a motorcycle without a valid license is at fault and will pay! Also personal insurance may not be valid for someone riding on a motorcycle with a driver who does not have a valid license.

Cyclo

Xich lo (cyclo) in Hoi An. Photo: 4hours1000places.com

Xich lo (cyclo) in Hoi An. Photo: 4hours1000places.com

Like in Hanoi or Saigon you can easily find cyclo service in Hoi An. The fare is similar to taxis but much more comfortable for the experience. Cyclos are able to go to every corner of Hoi An that cars can not, and moreover please you with leisure feeling. Besides, cyclo riders are always a good source of information where you can ask for everything you want. Some of them can speak English or French.

SEE MORE:

Hoi An – A town of food

Places you should visit in Hoi An

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