Hue or Hoi An? Which one to Visit?

So you have finally arrived in Da nang City and mapped out what you can do there for a few days. You figured that you have two extra days to play around with, but you are torn between which cities to choose after your exploration? Well, we have differentiated these two cities based on distance, things to do, historical significance, food explorations, and other interesting facts, so you don’t have to:


Hue Imperial City: Established as the capital of unified Vietnam in 1802, Hué was not only the political but also the cultural and religious center under the Nguyen dynasty until 1945. One of the big draws in Hue is the tomb of the Ancient Emperors and The Imperial Citadel. These two are probably the main reasons why so many visitors travel there.

Hoi An Ancient Town: is an exceptionally well-preserved example of a South-East Asian trading port dating from the 15th to the 19th century. This picturesque town is every photographer’s paradise, The intricate, colorful lanterns, ferry quay, market scenes, buzzing cafes, sumptuous food, pagodas, and historical places are just a few reasons why tourist flocks there all the time.



Travel by train from Da Nang to Hue takes about 2,5-3 hours.

Travel by bus/van/minibus from Da Nang to Hue takes about 3-4 hours.

Travel by taxi/private car from Da Nang to Hue takes about 1.5-3 hours.

The closest major airport to Hue, Viet Nam is Phu Bai International Airport (HUI / VVPB). This airport is 16 km from the city center.

Hoi An

Travel by bus from Da nang to Hoi An takes about 1 hour

Travel by taxi/ private car from Da nang to Hoi An takes about 40 minutes

There is no train available from Da Nang to Hoi An

The closest major airport to Hoi An, Viet Nam, is Da Nang International Airport. It is 29 km from the city center.

Currently, at all international airports in Vietnam, there is a service to support all Immigration procedures and fast track service. You can choose between standard service or VIP or CIP service: Assisting visitors to get visa on arrival fast without queuing + Escort visitors going through VIP or CIP gate for fast checking at the passport control. For a fuss-free entry to Vietnam, search Vietnam Airport Support for more details.

Although the travel period from Da Nang to Hue is relatively long, the scenery is just spectacular especially if you will cross the Hai Van Pass, the highest pass in the whole country also dubbed as one of the “best coastal roads in the world” by the UK program, Top Gear, in their Vietnam Special (2008).

World Heritage Site

Both Hoi An and Hue are listed in UNESCO World Heritage Site, so there is not much competition there; however, if you opted to continue your journey to Hoi An, you can easily access another heritage site from there to My Son. It is located in the Quang Nam Province – 70 kilometers southwest of Da Nang. It is also 30 kilometers west of Tra Kieu, the ancient capital of the Cham folk. It is about a 1hour motorbike ride from Hoi An, and the entrance fee is 150,000VND. There are plenty of private tours that arranged the half-day trip to My Son ruins from Hoi An.

River Tour

If you like navigating cities through the river, then both Hoi An and Hue provide this kind of activity.


The Perfume River is one of the most famous waterways in Vietnam. There is a charming waterfront promenade along the banks of the river, and this makes a great place to come for a scenic walk in the evenings. There are tours available that come with lunch or an elegant dinner cruise.

Hoi An:

Enjoy a scenic cruise on the Thu Bon River, explore the floating village of Thanh Ha ceramic and Kim Bong woodcarving villages, and marvel at the enchanting natural landscapes scenery of Cua Dai. You can also opt for a tour that comes with meat and fresh seafood bbq

When you go to Vietnam, you will realize that every region has a specialty depends on which part of the country you are heading to, but my conquest of each place always starts with delicacy or the city’s most famous dish.

Food Explorations

Bun Bo Hue or Cao Lau?

Before visiting Hue, I’ve already heard a lot of good things about the food scene there; some claim that it has the best Vietnamese food of all. I first heard Hue because of my favorite noodle dish called Bun Bo Hue (Hue Beef Noodle Soup) comprising thick rice vermicelli and various toppings in a thick soup, the spiciness and saltiness and umami flavors are just perfectly balanced in my opinion.

While you are at Hue, you may also want to experience famed Imperial Banquets, as Hue was once one of the most important royal cities in Vietnam this kind of style has been practiced.

Hoi An:

Nobody goes to Hoi An without tasting the famous Cao Lau. It is Hoi An’s definitive dish, comprising chewy udon-like rice noodles, Chinese barbecued pork slices, beansprouts, croutons, and fresh herbs in a pork-based gravy. Some stalls are adding peanuts, rice crackers, scallions, lime, and chili jam.

Traveling with a cause

Whenever I travel, I try to support a charity or an organization where I can give back to the community. Charities in Vietnam are desperately needed and appreciated, as social spending by governments is often negligible in many areas.


The Healing, the Wounded Heart Shop, is the place to come in Hue if you want to pick up some gifts or souvenirs while also helping the local community. The shop sells a range of handicrafts made by dedicated, hardworking, selfless disabled people who need your support. The organization used to fund heart surgery for local impoverished children.

Hoi An:

Lifestart Foundation Workshop is a non-profit charity organization, retail outlet, and workshop in Hoi An Ancient Town, where you can purchase beautiful handicrafts made by impoverished and disadvantaged locals. Among the unique products available here include woven handbags, hand painted tee-shirts, and vases made from chopsticks. As shop overheads and running costs are taken care of by the foundation, all profits from the sold handicrafts are given to the locals who made them.

I often find myself weighing which place I should visit next when I have limited time, so I hope this article helps you consider the options. Both places offer a unique experience, but depend on your interests; you can choose your next destination.

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