When my days of solo backpacking in Hoi An were coming to an end, I still had one awesome thing to do: road-tripping the Hai Van Pass!
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This stretch of route in the middle of Vietnam got its celebrity status when Top Gear named it one of the best coast roads in the world and it’s now one of those top bucket list items in all adventurer’s things to do in Vietnam!
The Hai Van Pass can be done in either direction, either from Hue or Hoi An (or Da Nang).
By train you get some really cool views right next to the sea, however, you’ll have to do the route only between Hue and Da Nang as there’s no train station in Hoi An.
I got a couple of friends taking the train and they had good feedback about the 2 hour journey.
The Easyrider option is always good for those that are not confident with riding a motorbike in Vietnam, which is a fair thing as people can drive like crazy in this country and I met several travellers that suffered really nasty accidents.
Remember, you may ride a motorbike wherever your home is (I refer mainly to Europe and North America) but to ride in Vietnam is a different story.
You can check my post about travel insurance where I mention I couple of things to be aware of on this subject.
In my case, I chose to rent a motorbike. There are plenty of places in Hoi An to rent motorbikes and the prices, and most importantly, the quality! varies vastly.
Things to look for when renting a motorbike
Whenever you approach a rental place, ask to give a try to the bike, test the brakes, check for any strange sounds and have a look at the tyres, if there’s no thread left on them is better to go somewhere else.
Once you’re happy with all this, you can negotiate the price.
The rental guys also transferred my rucksack to the drop off point in Hue at no extra charge, this is a huge plus as that way you can ride a lot more comfortable or alternatively bring a friend with you.
Hai Van Pass: The Trip
The route is about 120 Km, and the Hai Van Pass itself is only around 21 Km. Still, you can count on spending a few hours on and off the bike as there are plenty of viewpoints and spots to take pics.
The motorbike rental places will usually hand a map showing the route and its highlights.
There are a couple of places such as the Marble Mountain or the Elephant Spring where you can deviate a bit for more sightseeing, I didn’t have time to stop by these places as I started my day by doing My Son Sanctuary tour, which is located 40 Km west of Hoi An.
Calculate at least 4-5 hours to complete the Hoi An-Hue trip as you will stop many times to take photos.
It’s a very easy route to follow but check maps.me every now and then as when you’re in the city of Da Nang you will have to take a left turn towards Da Nang Bay. This bay is a good area to top up the petrol in the scooter.
Once you leave Da Nang, you will start climbing through stunning scenery.
It’s a twisty road so make sure to stay well on the right hand side of the road as you can have trucks and buses overtaking on the opposite direction without caring too much who or what comes ahead.
There’s plenty of room almost everywhere as well for ad-hoc stops to take photos and enjoy the views, I stopped so many times!
Even that on the day was cloudy and at the very top of the mountain (THE Hai Van Pass itself) you couldn’t see more than a few meters ahead due to heavy fog/clouds it was absolutely brilliant!
When you finally go down at the other side of the mountain the road will be pretty much a straight line to Hue where you will be welcomed by the Perfume River and the Citadel.
The Hai Vann Pass is an awesome way to move between two of Vietnam’s most famous cities. With incredible views and extra excitement of a motorbike adventure instead of the usual bus/train transfer.
Have you got any questions about the Hai Van Pass or my days around Hoi An and Hue? feel free to drop a line! 🙂
Check out the rest of my posts about my time backpacking in Vietnam for more ideas on your next adventure!