Travel Diary,  Asia,  Destinations,  Trains, Planes & Rideshares,  Vietnam

From Tam Coc to Hue by overnight bus

I booked this bus trip through my hostel for something like $20 USD. It included transport over to the bus station (which was just down the street, haha!) and a small snack bag and a large water bottle.

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Overnight VIP cabin bus

Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos for this bus because I got sick (a cold) right before my trip. I didn’t have any cold meds with me and very few acetaminophen, and when I visited the (tiny!) pharmacy in Tam Coc, I could only get regular Ibuprofen.

A hostel friend gave me some Lemsip, a British cold/flu medicine, which did help. Rather than spend my last day exploring Tam Coc like I meant to, I hunkered down in the hostel’s common room after check out and took a nap.

This was the first time I was sick in public– in retrospect I should’ve rescheduled my bus for the next day and booked a room, but I really wanted to leave the area. I felt compelled to keep moving south, partly because I was on a time crunch. I only had one month until I needed to be in Singapore for my flight back to California, and I was determined to cram as much travel in as I could before then. That inflexibility led me to getting sick off and on throughout the rest of my Asia travels, whether from cold or sinus or heat rash.

Learn from me! Take it slow and REST when your body starts breaking down!


The downside of overnight buses is that they usually leave very late, so that means a lot of waiting between check out and onward travel. Hence my hunkering down in the common area sleeping for most of the day.

Like previous bus trips, I booked the VIP cabin bus which had nice big bunks to lounge in. Regular sleeper buses also have bunks to lay down in, but they’re 3 to a row and rather small. The VIP sleeper buses have 2 bunks to a row, and they’re big enough to fit two people into if you need to.

The roads between Tam Coc and Hue weren’t bad, and I slept fairly well.

Arriving in Hue

Next hurdle: the overnight bus gets into Hue at a staggering 6:00 am.

This is an insanely early time as no hostels or hotels are open, and barely any restaurants.

Befuddled by my restless night in the road, I let myself get picked up by a motorbike taxi and taken to my hostel for a VERY overpriced 200,000 dong / $8.20 USD. Grab bike prices were like 17,000 dong, to compare. Luckily I was able to get inside and drop off my luggage, at least. The driver then took me to a cafe that was open and I grabbed some coffee and a parfait for breakfast.

Then I booked a private day tour with the same driver for $20 USD (good price). This was just transport and some very small explanations of the places we visited, but I could go at my own pace.

A day tour in Hue

The tour was pretty fun, and since it was a private one I could take as long or as little as I wanted at each stop. We stopped at the major Hue sights, including the abandoned water park and a couple temples.

We of course stopped at the incense village, where locals make incense by hand and offer them to travelers for a small inflated price. The ladies at the incense shop let me roll my own stick incense, and then showed me the rest of the wares. I did buy some cinnamon incense cones, which I ended up giving to my brother for a souvenir.

I think I went faster than expected though because the tour wrapped a bit sooner than originally booked. We said something like 5 hours and we finished in 4, so the guide took me over to the Citadel.

Hue Citadel (Da Noi)

This is maybe the main attraction in Hue, and well worth visiting. It’s the old Imperial City constructed in 1803, and in pretty good shape. It’s also an UNESCO World Heritage Site and undergoing restoration in some parts.

The Citadel is HUGE, and a complete loop takes several hours to walk through. You can rent an English audio tour thing, which is well worth it because it’ll explain what you’re looking at– or you can get a real-person tour guide for a little more. I got the audio thing and took a shorter tour route, as it was starting to rain by early afternoon.

Hue Melody Hostel

I then walked back to my hostel via the river (where I saw some really cool boats) and checked in. I stayed at Hue Melody Hostel, about 10 minutes or so from the river and about 20-30 minutes walking from the Citadel.

My bed!

Because I was sick, I booked a private room on an upper floor which came with an ensuite and a mini fridge. The room was basic but comfortable, and the owner and his family were SO nice. They gave me fruit before check in and checked on how I was doing during my stay. The hostel is right near a walking street (night market) and some really good restaurants.

Hue is a pretty cute little town with some amazing historical sights, well worth checking out if you’re in the area.

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Journal date: November 13-14, 2023

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Anastasia is a former librarian turned digital nomad. She's been traveling the world full time for two years and has visited 18 countries so far! Just Gone Wandering is a travel resource for solo female travelers on a backpacker's budget-- or slightly more-- and highlights amazing places to visit as well as providing tips and tricks for traveling smart and frugal. Read more...

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