The Best Routes – The Hai Van Pass
The Hai Van Pass is the most well known stretch of road in Vietnam, famed for its beautiful coastal and mountain views while offering stunning curves throughout the ride.
The pass is located between Hoi An and Hue which themselves are 130km apart so the pass can be easily achieved within a day with renting a motorbike or scooter in one of the cities and returning it in the other.
If you are following our route then you get a nice section of the Vietnam countryside near Hue which is on a quieter smaller road and similar to what you see throughout much of the Vietnam countryside. For parts of this you will be on the edge of a lake and for a small section at the right time of year you will see some rice fields. This is a good taste of what I would consider riding a bike through the real Vietnam.
After this you can head down the QL1A to get to the northern most point of the Hai Van Pass but I would recommend sticking as close to the ocean as you can and there is some new roads here which are much quieter that the highway. They are a little longer but with no traffic then are much nicer to ride. You can easily spot these on the map as they are very straight and stand out.
This bring you to the start of the Hai Van Pass, it is 21km long from here to the southern most point and full of brilliant views and a great road to ride so while it is not long it is all special. Thanks to the tunnel which has been built through the mountain, allowing the majority of traffic to bypass the pass, it has become much quieter for those wanting to enjoy the beauty.
During the 21km there is plenty of photo opportunities and a few cafes overlooking the coast allowing you to take your time and enjoy the Hai Van Pass properly by sitting down with a beer or coffee and take in the view.
The quality of the road from here all the way to Hoi An is very good and some of the best you will find in Vietnam. This means beginners have nothing to worry about and more experienced riders can push their bikes a little harder and enjoy the stunning bends.
After the south of the pass it is just a short ride to Hoi An which is easy to do as it is just one continuous road but there is not too much to see on this section.
There is a few places that can be seen between Hue and Hoi An such as Bach Ma National Park and Elephant Springs, the beaches of Da Nang and Ban Co peak. With any or all of these the Hai Van Pass can easily become a full day activity or longer if you have the time and want to stop in Da Nang for the day.
While the Bach Ma National Park and Elephant Springs are nice they don’t compare with some of the other national parks or waterfalls in Vietnam and if you have or plan to rent motorbikes or scooters in Phong NHA National Park or in Da Lat to see the waterfalls then expect these to be much more stunning but if this is the only section you intend to do by motorbike then these are worth checking out.
As for the beaches in Da Nang these are very nice, clean and beautiful beaches although they can be busier than some of the beaches found further south such as in Quy Nhon. So if you are renting a bike for the whole country or have already brought a bike then I would recommend the beaches of Quy Nhon as the priority over Da Nang but if not then it is worth a stop or even a full day.
Bana Hills is one of the newest sights to be seen in the section of the country and really take a whole day to enjoy. It has quickly become famous for the Golden Bridge, which is the bridge being held up by 2 hands overlooking the Da Nang mountains. But actually Bana Hills is much more than just this bridge as it is a very big resort which offers many different things and is likely to not appeal to most backpackers and instead cater more to families.
Ban Co peak is just on the peninsula off from Da Nang and gives a great view of the city and the coast all the way to Hoi An. Opposite the peak there is parking for a few thousand VND allowing you to climb the small distance to the peak for a view and photo opportunity.
Thanks to the BBC Top Gear team back in 2005 the Hai Van Pass as become a very popular part of Vietnam to see and rightly so. The best way to see Vietnam is undoubtedly by motorbike or scooter and if time doesn’t allow you to rent a bike for the whole country then this is the easiest and most convenient section of the country to do. During the 130km you get to enjoy mountain and coastal views, beaches, a national park, a more countryside ride and most importantly the feeling and freedom and riding a bike through Vietnam.
As the ride from Hoi An to Hue is good quality roads but a lot of mountains most good quality motorbikes or scooters are fine for the trip but we would recommend semi auto Honda Waves for beginners as they make easy work of the mountains, while for the more experienced riders that want a manual motorbike we offer Detech Wins, Honda XR and Honda CBF / Master depending on how much power you want for the ride. We also have some automatics for rent but whichever bike you choose we will make sure that you feel comfortable riding it before you go.
If you want to know details about renting a motorbike to do the ride yourself just click on the link below.
You can see our route on the link below.