When travelling the 340km distance from Phong Nha to Hoi An, you have 3 options: you can take the train (7 hours), the bus (8 hours), or you can take the bus from Phong Nha to Hue before continuing via motorbike to Hoi An. Fares start at $11.
To start with, we do NOT recommend to travel straight from Phong Nha to Hoi An. Instead, split your journey into two by first travelling from Phong Nha to Hue. Stay here one night and rent a motorbike todrive from Hue to Hoi An over the Hai Van Pass.
If you don’t want to ride a bike, we recommend taking the train. The train goes along the same route and offers almost the same views, so you will still catch a glimpse of the beautiful Hai Van Pass.
An advantage of the bus is that they depart from the main street in Phong Nha and also drop you off close to the center of Hoi An. The disadvantage is that buses take a different route through a tunnel so you will miss the scenic highlight.
Traveling the Hai Van Pass by motorbike
The Hai Van Pass is one of the highlights of central Vietnam and often compared to the ‘Great Ocean Road’ in Australia. There are several companies offering motorbike rental with a pick-up in Hue and drop-off in Hoi An. This includes transport of your luggage with their own van to Hoi An.
When you want to travel by train from Phong Nha to Hoi An, you have to take the train from Dong Hoi (not Dong Ha!) to DaNang.
You will be travelling for a huge part of the day, but it will also include an amazing train journey between Da Nang and Hoi An! Still, to get the best experience, we recommend travelling this part with a motorbike.
Step 1: Phong Nha to Dong Hoi Railway Station by Bus
Duration: 1-1.5 hours Cost: 60,000 VND ($2.60)
From Phong Nha, you can catch a local bus from the main street to Dong Hoi. The drop-off point in Dong Hoi is a 15-minute walk or a short taxi ride for 25,000 VND ($1.10) to the railway station. You can also book a taxi for 500,000 VND ($22) straight to Dong Hoi railway station.
Step 2: Dong Hoi Railway Station to Da Nang Railway Station by Train
Duration: 5h 20min Cost: 210,000 VND ($9)
There are about 10 trains operating on this route every day. We recommend taking any of the trains leaving around sunrise. Remember that you need daylight to fully appreciate the beauty of Hai Van Pass. With the SE1, you are also able to use public transport from and to the railway stations.
From Da Nang railway station to Hoi An center takes 45 minutes by bus. You can take the public bus for 20,000 VND ($1), but you can also book a shuttle bus which brings you closer to the center of Hoi An.
When booking online, the only available option when travelling from Phong Nha to Hoi An by bus is Queen Cafe. Luckily, they generally receive good reviews. Tickets are priced at 280,000 VND ($12.50).
If you are booking with local agencies, we recommend Hung Thanh. Their bus leaves in the early morning from Phong Nha. After a 4-hour bus ride, the bus will make a short stop of one hour in Hue. From here it takes another 3-4 hours to Hoi An.
Camel Travel is another bus company operating on this route, but we don’t recommend it. They have received several complaints from passengers travelling in the opposite direction. Some travellers complained that they were dropped off in Dong Hoi, which is 45km from Phong Nha.
Departure from Capture Cafe at the main street of Phong Nha (they sell delicious cheesecake here). The bus will make a short stop in Hue on 49 Chu Van An St, from where the bus will continue its journey to Hoi An.
Departure from Phong Nha Backpacker Hostel at the main street of Phong Nha.
Departs from Central Backpackers Hostel in Phong Nha. Arrives at Queen Cafe Bus Stop, along Ton Duc Thang in Hoi An.
You think you can only find good banana pancakes in Thailand? Wait till you get them for breakfast at HaLo HomeStay. This homestay has it all: The high-end standard of a hotel combined with the family feeling of a homestay. The owners serve a lovely breakfast and will do everything to get most out of your stay. You can explore Hoi An with their free bicycle rental and reach the Old Quarter or beach within 5 minutes.
When Halo Homestay is already fully booked, there are still several other great options to stay in Hoi An. Flame Flowers Homestay is one of them. Expect a very warm welcome from the owners. They will feel like family from the moment you meet them.
Looking for a more luxurious experience right next to the beach? This little villa is within walking distance from the beach and is a perfect place to stay when you want to escape from the busy city life. Chill at the beach, relax at the pool and have a great night of sleep in a comfy bed.
The online activity platform Klook offers many tours in Hoi An at great prices. I used it now for a couple of times and had great experiences. And the prices are often even lower than when you book with a local travel agent!
And most important, by booking the activity in advance, you avoid the problem of fully booked tours.