Friday, April 9, 2010

Hue to Hoi An in style

After experiencing the beautiful city of Hue from the back seat of a couple of motorbikes - really fun and exhilarating and, on occasion, terrifying - we decided to use the same means of transport to travel to our next stop, Hoi An.  It's about 150 kilometers to Hoi An but the trip would take us most of the day as we had a few stops planned along the way.

Our trusty drivers were Mr. Tai and Quan of Hue Adventures (, the same guys that took us on the Hue city tour.  We met them at their restaurant, the Avocado on Nguyen Tri Phuong Street, and started to load up our backpacks.  We were really worried about how they were going to deal with the backpacks which looked really big next to the motorbikes but they wrapped them in plastic and strapped them on the little parcel shelves on the back of their bikes.  You barely knew they were there.  Lee's pack even doubled as a nice backrest!  Then we hit the road.

We've traveled on so many buses throughout our trip so traveling by motorbike was a completely different experience - a welcome change and so much fun.  The traffic getting out of the city was pretty crazy.  The horn is key in Vietnam.  Every single driver uses it and they use it often.  Basically if any vehicle is within 30 feet of another they will lay on the horn to let the other driver know they're there.  Trucks and buses give a bit more warning and if you hear one of them and you're on a motorbike it means get the hell out of the way.  The rule is the bigger vehicle gets the right of way - bicycles give way to scooters, scooters, to motorbikes, motorbikes to cars, and so on.  EVERYTHING gives way to buses because they're huge and the drivers are generally psychotic. Anyway, although it looks and sounds like complete chaos, the drivers seem to know what they're doing (you have to tell yourself that when you're on the back of one of them doing 60) so after a while you get used to it and just sit back and enjoy the scenery.

We made a short stop about 15k out of Hue to take a look at the local fishermen working in their long boats before heading pressing on towards the Elephant Falls for some swimming.  It's called Elephant Falls because it is a waterfall with a large Elephant carved into a rock. The falls had various wading pools, a large main pool, a natural water slide, a large rock that you could jump from and a wooden bridge. We immediately changed into our swim suits and jumped into the cold water which provided some much needed relief from the beating sun.

After about an hour of swimming we were back on the road....and then off again....Court's bike got a flat!  Luckily there are almost as many motorbike mechanics as there are motorbikes so we were able to get it fixed and we were on the move again.

We climbed a mountain and stopped at an American bunker at the top.  The views were amazing.  Vietnam's coast is beautiful and much hillier than we thought it would be.  We made our way down the winding roads on the other side of the mountain and into the city of Da Nang for a late lunch.  Tai and Quan took us to a great little restaurant that they often go to and ordered us a delicious multi-course lunch that included fresh fish, noodles, steamed vegetables, rice, omelet, and soup.  We made a brief stop at the famous China Beach but it was a little overcast so we decided just to grab a couple of pictures and carry on moving.

View from inside the bunker
Our final stop was at Marble Mountains.  Marble Mountains is a cluster of five marble and limestone hills located in Ngu Hanh Son ward, south of Da Nang city in Vietnam. The five 'mountains' are named after the five elements; Kim (metal), Thuy (water), Moc (wood), Hoa (fire) and Tho (earth).  All of the mountains have cave entrances and numerous tunnels, and it's possible to climb to the summit of one of the peaks. There are also several Buddhist sanctuaries within the mountains.  The area is famous for stone sculpture making and stone-cutting crafts.  The stairs to access the mountains are pretty steep and there are a lot of them so we got quite a workout.  We spent about an hour exploring the caves, tunnels and sanctuaries before jumping back on our bikes to go the final few kilometers to Hoi An.

Mr. Tai had recommended a hotel in Hoi An so we decided to check it out.  Upon arrival at the Houang Trinh Hotel ( we were greeted with hot green tea and some delicious coconut macaroons.  The room was great and was only $12-a-night so we checked in immediately.

This trip was definitely one of the highlights of our travels so far.  After having such a good time over the last 2 days with Mr. Tai and Quan, we were sad to leave them.  In fact, we briefly considered having them take us all the way to Saigon but we already had plans to meet up with Kate and Lizzie (our travel companions from Australia) in Hoi An so we couldn't do it.  As we said our goodbyes we promised to see them again on our next visit to Vietnam.

1 comment:

  1. Hi guys,

    do you have a contact for Mr. Tai? I lost his phone number and email address. I did the same trip as you and stayed in the same hotel in Hoi-an. Such a nice place. Anyways, if you could would you please please please forward any contact details, if you have them, to

    Thnak you,