Confused by the title? It’s fine, we weren’t sure on how to say Hué either (it’s ‘ha-whey’, said as one syllable). Get it? It’s a pun. I’ll get my coat…
But our pronounciation of Hué problem was not our biggest challenge on our recent two stops. After battling sickness on an overnight bus from Nha Trang to Hoi An (mostly motion sickness, to be honest), no problem seems too big right now.
The hell highway to Hoi An
We have mentioned the overnight buses before and, this time, we took an 11 hour ride with Sinh Tourist (much better than Futabus Lines, as we talked about here ). However, the bus was not the problem necessarily. The main pain was the road.
Vietnam’s roads are awful. The main highway (Highway 1) is not much more than a country road, except with cars doing 70mph and lorries overtaking on blind bends. It’s a white knuckle ride, that’s for sure.
And that’s why, in Hoi An, we began a relationship with motorbikes. First up, at our homestay in Hoi An (the lovely Viet’s Family River homestay) the family all ride motorbikes and will happily take you to local attractions in and out of the guidebooks, all for free. The coconut farm (pictured) is perhaps the best trip we have done so far on our trip.
Away from the traffic
Still, Hoi An is not in love with motorbikes. Why? Well the town center is pretty damn old and so, to protect the buildings and keep the streets clear, there is a ban on motorised vehicles pretty much all of the day. I was a fan of this – it’s nice to breathe fresh air and not move out of the way of beeping motorists every two seconds.
But while Hoi An is charming, it’s pricey. It is perhaps the priciest place we have been in Vietnam so far. And while the history is cool, they certainly charge for it. The Old Hoi An Town ticket for example, at 120,000 Dong (10 dollars), is a rip-off. Most of the sights are small and disappointing, and could probably be visited by just walking in. No one checks your tickets 90% of the time.
But Hoi An is a great base to take tours, especially on bikes. Nearby (well, 40km away) is My Son – a historic collection of Cham temples. While I wasn’t that impressed with the site, it’s a cool visit. I hear that the sunrise there is stunning.
Then there’s a decent beach just outside of Hoi An which is apparently great, again reachable by motorbike only really.
And then there are the nearby towns of Danang (some 45km away), and Hué (some 110km away). Both are easily linked by easy rider tours (there are plenty).
The easy Easy Rider ride
And so that’s how we went from Hoi An to Hué: on the back of a motorbike. Going via the Hai Van pass, the Marble Mountains, and various beaches, we had an excellent time (even if we were a bit sunburnt). For small trips, it is definitely the best way to travel. But would I jump on the bike again tomorrow for another few hours? My bottom might not want to.
So now we are in Hué, soaking up the Imperial City sights and enjoying the somehwat peaceful atmosphere.
Next stop: Hanoi. We are cheating and flying there, as we don’t want another motion sickness episode (and 24hrs on a bike is just too much time, and money, to spend).
We’ll check back in when we are there and, after this entire trip, we will go into each step in more detail. Right now, there is just no time – there’s too much to see!