How to travel Hoi An to Hue Central Vietnam in a budget way in a week
My wife and I spent a week in Central Vietnam visiting UNESCO World Heritage such as Hoi An Ancient Town, Hue Forbidden Imperial city, and Myson Holly-land. We stayed in Hue for 2 nights and the rest in Hoi An. We did schedule our plan as below for our trip to Central Coast Vietnam for a week:

Day 1 Danang international airport arrival – transferred by private car to Hoi An
Day 2 Hoi An free walking exploring the old town
Day 3 Hoi An to Hue by private car day tour over Hai Van Pass
Day 4 Hue Imperial City with a sightseeing group tour
Day 5 Hue walking around center and take a train to Danang, Hoi An
Day 6 Hoi An My son day trip
Day 7 Shopping, tailor-made, transfer to Danang international airport flight home.

The first thing we should arrange in advance is hotel accommodation. We had tried to book a room on booking.com, agoda.com… but it’s very hard for us to find out the best hotel suitable to our budget because their hundreds of hotels in Hoi An are the same. We couldn’t compare which one was better. We had to post for help on the Travel Advisor travel forum and waiting for other travelers’ experience sharing. But luckily we found on search google a hotel option from a local website that features out most useful hotel information and price so we easily decided which one quickly.

We stayed in Like Hotel (Former was Thanh Van 2 Hotel) for 2 nights. it’s a standard hotel not right in the center of the town but 10’ walking to the town was ok for us. The room was $30.00 for us with a daily buffet breakfast and free swimming pool, internet free.

During the rest time in Hoi An, we stayed at Phu Thinh Boutique Resort to relax. It’s a nice boutique hotel, swimming pool, outdoor buffet restaurant for breakfast with a large room cost $45.00.

The second thing we think of was transportation for our trip to Central Vietnam. We were recommended by a friend who had been in Hoi An before to use Hoi An Private Car transfer service. As my friend said, they were very promptly responded to our email request and offered us really competitive price for our transport service.

Our driver from Hoi An Private Car transfer during our trip to Central Vietnam
The quote for Da nang airport transfer to Hoi An is $18.00. The cost for transport by private car with English speaking driver to Hue was $56.00 (Of course included stop some highlights on the way such as My Khe Beach, Marble Mountains, Hai Van Pass, Lang Co Beach, and the lagoon. We were interested in stopping at Elephant Spring but not enough time)

We decided to walk around the town not join for group or private tour. The entrance fee in Hoi An was 120,000vnd ~ $6.00 for adults. They will ask you for an entrance ticket every time so should keep it during your time of walking inside the old town. If you stay a couple of days in Hoi An and could visit the old town not only one time you can keep your entrance tickets for your stay in Hoi An. Because most of the shopping centers, restaurants were in the old town, so we were sure that you would go to it not only one time during your stay in Hoi An.

On our third day staying in Central Vietnam, we transferred to Hue Imperial city by private car from Hoi An Private Car Company. The driver was welcome us to the hotel lobby then transfer to Hue city. Our trip took around 6 hours driving included the time stopping at My Khe Beach. It’s a very nice beach in Danang city. We didn’t have time to swim here but we wish to do it if we were advised before. You could prepare towels and ask the driver for swimming here.

Next, we stop for hiking in the Marble Mountains for visiting the highlight of Danang city. Marble Mountain was worth a stop. Named after the ancient oriental philosophy including the 5 elements creating the universe: metal, wood, water, fire, and earth, it is a series of caves and temples atop a large mountain. No need to see them all if you don’t have time — several access points are depending on your interests. AND a lot of stairs if you don’t choose the elevator access point 🙂 We spent about 1.5 hours here and visiting two caves, a temple, and a pagoda.

Hai Van Pass is the real winner on this tour. An amazing drive and stop at the top of the pass where we were rewarded with fantastic views and also a visit to some war monuments.

Our last stop at Lang Co Beach for a short break and walk along the beach before transferring to our hotel in Hue city – New Star Hotel – $30 per night with a daily buffet breakfast and free use swimming pool.

On the fourth day we thought of a way to explore on our own but in the end, joined in Hue deluxe group tour booked from the hotel. The cost was $39.00 included English speaking tour guide, a minivan (maximum 8 persons on the van), Vietnamese lunch, all sightseeing entrance fees. We found Hue’s entrance fees were the most expensive in Vietnam: Imperial citadel: $7.5, Royal tomb $5 for each. On your day tour, you could spend nearly $22.5 for entrance fees while another place in Vietnam on average was $5. But it’s ok for us. Pay one time in your life for learning Hue and Vietnam history was worth. And it’s true. The landscapes and Hue sightseeing was fabulous and worth our money. It’s a very interesting trip.

Hue was also famous for a food tour and Imperial cuisine but we just spent our time for Hue local food along the streets. Ask your hotel receptionist for it, they could be your trusted local guide to show what to try local food during your stay at each place in Vietnam.

You can spend time for a walk at night market along Le Loi Street – opposite to Morin Hotel, it’s along Perfume River you could find it easily. We didn’t buy anything here because they did not attract us much, so we thought we should do it once back to Hoi An.

On the last day staying in Hue, we didn’t want to take a private car transfer back on the same way to Hoi An. So we decided to go to Danang by train then connect to Hoi An by private taxi transfer company.

Train tickets cost around $4 for each – soft seat with air-conditioning on a train (It’s so cheap right?). It took three hours from Hue to Danang train station. You can choose from the schedule at 8:30 am 10:30, 12:30, or 20:00. We took a day train to make sure got a stunning view from the train over Hai Van Pass as many posts at the travel forum.

Half of the way, choose the best location on the train to make sure you got a great photo for your trip. To get these nice pictures below I had to stay in the toilet for an hour waiting for the views. The train would go through at least 7 tunnels so be careful with your camera during taking photos from the train’s window. Foods and drinks on the train were available for you so do not worry about it when traveling on a train. But for your convenience, you should prepare some snacks in your bag was better. Because most of them were double the cost from outside. After nearly 3 hours, we finally arrived at Danang train station. Our driver was welcoming us with the welcome board at the arrival gate then smoothly transfer to Hoi An for check-in at Phu Thinh Boutique hotel in about 40 minutes.

We spent the rest time of the day at the swimming pool after the train journey transferring. Hoi An by night was a lovely way to walk around and taste the foods.

The next day, we traveled to Myson ruined temples – World Heritage Site near Hoi An Old Town to learn about the Champ Kingdom and its history in Central Vietnam. The trip was wonderful running by Hoi An Private Car. The tour guide Mr. Bin was informative, knowledgeable, and extremely helpful to answer all our questions during our trip. We did a 5 stars review on the trip advisor for them after the trip end.

We didn’t book a private package tour. Just ask them to arrange a private car suite for your group and ask them to arrange a good English-speaking tour guide to save your cost. We paid entrance for our own for $7.5 for each (before was $5, it’s just increasing to $7.5 from 1st Jul 2015)

Our 1-week trip finally has gone smoothly, we spent the last day for shopping some souvenirs for our friends in Hoi An. We also made tailors at BeBe Shop and it was perfect. It’s $90 for a suite. The tour guide explained that the quality was the same but big silk companies would charge higher because they would pay more fees to manufacture the same product.

We share our total cost for our a-week trip for your reference as below. Hope you can balance your budget and stay longer and do more in Central Vietnam.