The Hai Van Pass: Motorbike Guide

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Last updated April 2015 | First published 2012 | Words and photos by Vietnam Coracle

Đèo Hải Vân – The Pass of Ocean Mist – is a mountainous stretch of road in Central Vietnam. On days when vapour from the South China Sea rises into the forests and clings to the mountaintops the pass lives up to its poetic name. But despite its romantic title the Hai Van Pass has always been something of a frontier: a boundary of kingdoms and climate, often fought over, sometimes tragic but never losing its ability to inspire awe.

Gazing north over the Hai Van Pass
Gazing north over the Hai Van Pass

During the ‘American War’ (as the ‘Vietnam War’ is known to the Vietnamese) the Hai Van Pass was known as the ‘Street Without Joy’. Back then, the pass connected the two war-scarred cities of Hue and Danang via the dangerous and hotly contested Highway 1. Thanks to a tunnel under the mountains, completed in 2005, the Hai Van Pass today is the ‘Street Without Traffic’. The majority of transport now takes the tunnel, which leaves the Hai Van Pass – one of the most scenic roads in Vietnam – to two-wheeled vehicles and the occasional oil truck (both of which are not allowed through the tunnel). The spectacular Hai Van Pass is perfect for a relatively easy, safe and short motorbike trip between the popular tourist spots of Hoi An/Danang to the south and Hue to the north.

Hai Van Pass
‘Street Without Traffic’ – looking south from the Hai Van Pass

The Hai Van Pass is a natural wall. It’s a mountainous finger jutting into the East (South China) Sea; an east-west spur of the Truong Son (Annamite) Range that runs north to south along the western spine of Vietnam. For centuries this natural barrier represented the limit of one kingdom and the beginning of another. The Hindu Kingdom of Champa resided south of the Hai Van Pass while the Confucian-Buddhist Kingdom of Dai Viet (Great Viet) was to the north. The two kingdoms fought constantly to control land either side of the pass. The Cham pushed as far north as the Dai Viet capital of Thang Long (Hanoi) in 1371.

Partly due to the favourable climate and fertility of the land south of the Hai Van Pass, the Cham in this area were known as the ‘Coconut Palm Group’. The Hai Van Pass sheltered the Cham from strong, cold winds and storms that blew from the north. Known as ‘Chinese Winds’ these still ravage territory north of the pass each year during the ‘typhoon months’ – around September and October.

Hai Van Pass - Chinese Winds
‘Chinese winds’ bring bad weather north of the pass

The good climatic conditions south of the Hai Van Pass helped to build the Cham civilization, which lasted for more than a thousand years from the 3rd century onwards. It was the lure of the land of the ‘Coconut Palm Cham’ that led to its eventual conquest. Dai Viet, to the north of the Hai Van Pass, was growing steadily thanks to liberation from Chinese rule in AD938 followed by two strong imperial dynasties, the Ly (1009-1225) and the Tran (1225-1400). Agricultural productivity and population were on the rise, but unpredictable weather and devastating flooding in the Red River Delta was a constant threat to stability. With China looming large over their northern borders, Dai Viet looked to the south for more land and a better climate for their growing population. After centuries of fighting, it was the Le Dynasty who finally defeated the Cham in 1471, annexing the sunny territory south of the Hai Van Pass for Dai Viet.

My Son Cham ruins
Ruins from the Kingdom of Champa at My Son, Near Hoi An

The appeal of the land of the ‘Coconut Palm Cham’ is still obvious today. If heading out of Hue on a wet, grey February morning and driving up the Hai Van Pass in thick, moisture-laden cloud, when you arrive at the top and look down on the sun-filled Bay of Danang to the south, it’s easy to imagine how attractive these lands must have been to the Dai Viet from the north. Curling your way up the switchbacks and hairpin bends, the motorbike engine struggling to deal with the gradient, and then rolling down the other side, wondering if the brake pads will wear away before you reach the bottom, it’s also apparent how the pass could have separated two civilizations for so long.

Hai Van Pass - Cham
‘Land of the Coconut Palm Cham’ – south of the pass

Whatever the weather the Hai Van Pass is a scenic route. As with other great views, the pass has often inspired wonder – sometimes in the most unlikely of contexts and least likely of people. When Paul Theroux was passing through Vietnam during his Great Railway Bazaar in 1973, the Paris Peace Accords had only recently been signed by the Americans, South and North Vietnamese. Direct American military participation in Vietnam was officially over, but the war still had two more long years before the ‘liberation’ of Saigon. As most of the Trans-Indochinois Railway (now the Reunification Express) that linked Hanoi with Saigon had been blown up, Theroux was only able to travel on short sections of the line that were deemed safe. Fortunately for him one of these safe sections was between Hue and Danang.

At that time Hue was a ruin. Having been pounded for years, not least during the Tet Offensive in 1968, the city was all mud and rubble. Danang, formerly a massive American base, was, according to Theroux, ‘a poisoned city’. But the landscape between these two wounded cities, including the Hai Van Pass which the railway snakes around just below the road, was still majestic. Perhaps because of the juxtaposition between the ugly urban destruction in Hue and the rural peace and beauty around the Hai Van Pass, Theroux, having travelled across Europe, the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent by train, was amazed by what he saw from his compartment on the Trans-Indochinois:

Of all the places the railway had taken me since London, this was the loveliest.

Beyond the leaping jade plates of the sea was an overhang of cliffs and the sight of a valley so large it contained sun, smoke, rain and cloud – all at once.

I had been unprepared for this beauty; it surprised and humbled me.

Who has mentioned the simple fact that the heights of Vietnam are places of unimaginable grandeur?

Hai Van Pass - Theroux
“The leaping jade plates of the sea” – Theroux

35 years later, Jeremy Clarkson, presenter of the popular BBC car show, Top Gear, had a similar reaction to the landscape around the Hai Van Pass. Famously sarcastic and not one to be easily moved – except by a good car – Clarkson and his co-presenters couldn’t help but be awed by the green mountains rolling down in pleats and folds toward the East Sea. On this strip of tarmac that he, characteristically, proclaimed, ‘one of the best ocean roads in the world’, Clarkson began to enjoy motorbiking. Indeed, the Top Gear Vietnam Special must have inspired others to follow in their tyre-tracks, because nowadays the hawkers at the top of the pass will ask, “Are you here because of Top Gear?!”

VIDEO: Top Gear Vietnam: skip to 3:15 for the Hai Van Pass scene, or click here to watch the full episode:

Like other borders and frontiers the Hai Van Pass has seen its fair share of blood and battles. At the top of the pass, by the brick gate built by Emperor Minh Mang in the 19th century, are gun towers that were used by French, South Vietnamese and American lookouts respectively, during the long wars from 1946-75. More recent reminders of tragedy on the pass are the small shrines lining the road to mark the sites of fatal accidents. (Note: most of these date from before the tunnel was built, when the pass was far more dangerous than it is today). As with many famous battle fields and scenic roads in Vietnam, tragedy contrasts sharply with the natural beauty of the surrounds.

Gun tower - Hai Van Pass
Tragedy contrasts with natural beauty – an old gun tower at the top of the Hai Van Pass

As for me, I’ve always thought of the Hai Van Pass as a point of transition – both a boundary and a gate. When driving from south to north the pass is the point at which I feel I’ve entered unfamiliar territory. The clouds usually close-in and fierce rain pinches the skin on my face. With this comes a sense of adventure. Being from the south in both my native and adopted countries (London in Britain, Saigon in Vietnam) I’ve long associated travelling north with going into higher, wilder landscape and colder climes. Likewise, when I travel from north to south the Hai Van Pass is the point at which I feel I’ve arrived ‘home’ again, safe in the land of the ‘Coconut Palm Cham’ and the warmth of the tropical climate I’ve become accustomed to.

Located on the 16th parallel, just one south of the infamous 17th parallel that once divided the nation politically, the Hai Van Pass is a permanent natural boundary that will always divide the nation climatically, between tropical and sub-tropical. The ‘Ocean Mist’ clings to the pass, but the 30km stretch of road is beautiful in any weather, and each time I drive it, in either direction, there’s always the sense of having crossed a barrier.

Hai Van Pass - ocean mist
Crossing the barrier – the climatic divide between tropical and sub-tropical

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DIRECTIONS

General Information  |  From Hoi An/Danang  |  From Hue

[Note: Things change quickly in developing Vietnam. The following information is accurate at the time of writing, but some details are bound to be out-of-date by the time you read them. Please let me know of any changes, so I can update my posts.]

General Information:

Rent a motorbike from Hoi An or Danang to the south of the Hai Van Pass or from Hue to the north. Motorbikes can be rented through most hotels and guesthouses for between 150-200,000VNĐ ($7-10) a day. You don’t necessarily need a driving license and you don’t necessarily need to leave your passport with the hotel or rental company – everything is negotiable – and certainly don’t leave your passport if you are planning on an overnight trip; all hotels and guesthouses in Vietnam require your passport in order to stay.

The journey between the Hoi An/Danang and Hue via the Hai Van Pass is 100-160km depending on which route you choose to take. Driving time is approximately 3-5 hours, but allow at least another 3 hours for soaking up the scenery, stopping for seafood along the coast, coffee at the top of the pass, and for any unforeseen circumstances, such as bad weather and flat tyres.

Once at the top of the pass, for those who want an even more impressive view, take the narrow concrete path leading up behind the Old Gate. This goes straight up to the communications tower at the top of the mountain. Be warned it’s very steep – you’ll need a powerful bike!

The the map below shows the route Hoi An – Danang – Hai Van Pass – Thuan An Peninsular – Hue (160km), the route to the southwest of the lagoon is a slightly shorter route:


View ‘Hai Van Pass’ in a LARGER MAP

The best way to do this ride is to get an early start and take the Hai Van Pass all the way between the two cities, spending a couple of nights in either Hue, Danang or Hoi An before the return journey. Another option is to put your bike on the train for the return trip back over the Hai Van Pass. Alternatively, some bike rental outlets offer a pick-up service so you don’t have to go back on yourself – they’ll even send your luggage on for you. For example, if you are travelling from Hoi An to Hue by motorbike, the rental service in Hoi An will hire you the bike and arrange to meet you at a time and place in Hue, where they will pick up the bike and take it back to Hoi An, you are then free to continue by what ever means you choose.

The Hai Van Pass can also be a round day-trip from Danang if you are only going to the top of the pass and back. But if you are coming from Hue it’s probably a bit too far to comfortably go to the top of the pass and back all in one day.

Note: the section of Highway 1 between Phu Loc and the Hai Van Pass goes through a lovely landscape of lagoons, mountains and valleys. However, the two smaller passes on this section of road, while beautiful, are also dangerous, due to the build-up of slow-moving heavy goods vehicles on the steep slopes and mad coach drivers in a race to the grave. Drive slowly and take care.

[Back to DIRECTIONS contents]

 

From Hoi An/Danang:

Coming from Hoi An, take the ocean road along the whole length of China Beach, (starting at Cua Dai Beach, Hoi An). At the end of the beach road take the new suspension bridge on your left over the Han River in Danang. Once over the bridge, keep on the large road following the shore until it meets Highway 1. Bear right and start the ascent up the Hai Van Pass.

The map below shows the route Hoi An to the Hai Van Pass (via Danang) 65km:


View ‘Hoi An to Hai Van Pass’ in a LARGER MAP

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From Hue:

Coming from Hue there are two routes out of the city. The shorter route involves negotiating a bit of traffic to find your way out of Hue City and onto Highway 1. Once on the highway this will take you all the way to the bottom of the Hai Van Pass at Lang Co. Highway 1 is notoriously busy, dirty and dangerous. But in general this is only true around the major cities – outside of large urban areas it can be relatively quiet and even scenic.

The lower line on the map below shows the (shorter) route from Hue to the Hai Van Pass (via Highway 1) 80km:


View ‘Hue to the Hai Van Pass (via Highway 1)’ in a LARGER MAP

The other option out of Hue is longer but much quieter. Head northeast out of town along the south bank of the Perfume River (the opposite side to the Imperial Palace) towards the Thuan An Peninsular. After crossing the bridge, turn right and continue along this long road (which runs the length of Thuan An Penisular) until Vinh Hien/Hien Van. At Hien Van there is a bridge across the mouth of Dam Cau Hai Lagoon. Once over the bridge, bear right along the road following the lagoon shore, until it meets Highway 1 near Phu Loc.

Turn left onto Highway 1 until you reach Lang Co. Bear right before the big toll-gates at the end of town. The road goes over a bridge, bears left and starts the ascent up the Hai Van Pass.

The upper line on the map below shows the (longer) route from Hue to the Hai Van Pass (via the Thuan An Peninsular) 100km:


View ‘Hue to the Hai Van Pass (via Thuan An Peninsular)’ in a LARGER MAP

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TRAVEL INFORMATION:

[Note: Things change quickly in developing Vietnam. The following information is accurate at the time of writing, but some details are bound to be out-of-date by the time you read them. Please let me know of any changes, so I can update my posts.]

As this post is about the road trip over the Hai Van Pass – rather than the destinations either side of it – the following travel information is only a very brief introduction to some of the sights, food and accommodation in the area surrounding the pass. For more detailed information I recommend the Rusty Compass, Lonely Planet and Travelfish websites. Anything that interests you in the following paragraphs will be covered in the above online guides.

For Paul Theroux, the Hai Van Pass was a moment of beauty between two ugly cities. Today it couldn’t be more different. The Hai Van Pass is a rural arm – a belt of green and blue mountains and water – that extends between two of the best cities in Vietnam. Hoi An/Danang and Hue have everything to offer the traveller: ancient ruins from the kingdom of Champa, tombs and citadels from Vietnam’s last royal dynasty, beaches to the cities’ east, mountainous national parks to their west, and some of the best regional cuisine in the country.

Mi Quang, Hoi An
Mì Quảng – a delicious regional speciality

Accommodation is plentiful, and good value extends across all budgets. The infrastructure is there for those who want tailor-made tours, but independent travel is hugely rewarding in this area, thanks to friendly people, beautiful roads and delicious food.

In Hue, make your way around the royal tombs on a bicycle, and take in the city on foot in the mornings and early evenings, when it’s cool along the Perfume River.

Tomb of Emperor Minh Mang, Hue
Cycle around the royal tombs in Hue

Danang is a city built between mountains, river and beach; hire a motorbike to close the distances and experience the whole city.

Danang
Up and coming: Danang is one of my favourite cities in Vietnam

Hoi An is a town for walking. Stroll around and stop for coffee and a pastry in the porch of one of its ancient trading houses.

Hoi An
Old trading houses, Hoi An

The Hai Van Pass is the link between these destinations. There’s no accommodation on the pass itself, but, at the top, there’s an ugly spread of makeshift cafes and vendors hassling drivers who stop to take in the views. Ignore the others and go straight to ‘My Man’s Café’. ‘My man’ speaks English and, unlike the other cafes, he won’t pester you the moment you arrive at the top. ‘My Man’s Café’ is the last on the left if you’re looking at the cafes from the Old Gate on the opposite side of the road. There are a few tables looking down over the Bay of Danang.

Lang Co is at the bottom of the Hai Van Pass on the north side (Hue side). It’s a great place to sample some of the seafood that this area is famous for. Keep a look out for big, busy restaurants, either along the oceanfront or the lagoon shore. Also around Lang Co, look for smaller roads heading east from Highway 1 to find good swimming spots along the coast. There’s a string of beachfront hotels around Lang Co that are good to break the journey for a night or two.

If you’re coming from Danang but don’t want to go as far as Hue, a great option for a couple of nights is Vedana Lagoon Resort. It’s just off Highway 1 after Phu Loc town. The resort has smart rooms jutting out into Dam Cau Hai Lagoon – the largest lagoon in Southeast Asia. Rooms are upwards of $100 a night with breakfast, but better deals are sometimes available on Agoda. Vedana is a welcome retreat after a long day in the saddle.

Vedana Lagoon Resort
Vedana Lagoon Resort – a great place to break the journey

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MAP:


View ‘The Hai Van Pass’ in a LARGER MAP

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46 Responses to The Hai Van Pass: Motorbike Guide

  1. Sarah says:

    Hi Tom,

    thank you for this great post. We are thinking of driving the Hai Van Pass but are not sure between which cities, due to time constraints we’ll probably have to choose. Which part is the most worthwile: Da Nang to Hue or Da Nang to Hoi An? I think the Pass itself is located between Da Nang and Hué only, is that correct?

    Thank you in advance for your advice!

    • Hi Sarah,

      Yes, that’s right: the Hai Van Pass itself is just north of Danang, on the way to Hue. So that is the section you should ride if you have limited time.

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

  2. David says:

    Hey Tom

    Great post man.
    Can you please help me recommending a motorcycle company which could rent us an automatic bike in Hue Airport to head down straight to Hoi An. We intent to take a bike as soon as we leave the airport on the 23rd may morning and head to hoi an to arrive the same day. It would be great if as you say they could also deliver our bags to our Hoi An hotel.
    Do you have any idea how much it would cost?

    Thanks in advance for your help

    • Hi David,

      Try contacting Rent a Bike Vietnam and Tigit Motorbikes, they should be able to help. There are links to both of them in the right sidebar and bottom of all my pages. You can mention Vietnam Coracle if you like, they know me.

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

  3. Fatima says:

    Hi Tom
    Really enjoying your blog – it’s very useful in planning my first trip to Vietnam.
    I’d like to do a day trip from Hoi An and go along the Hai Van Pass. Is this possible by car? I intend to hire a car and driver. Am mindful that cars go through the tunnel – are they not allowed on the pass itself? Would be very grateful for your input!

    Thanks,
    Fatima

  4. Valentin says:

    Hi Tom!

    It was a pleasure to read your blog. A friend of mine and I are going to stay in Hoi An from 20.11-24.11. We want to spend two whole days on motorbiking. It would be so great if you could recommend us something that could be combined with the pass.

    One more thing. We are both experienced bikers and want to rent a bike >150cc. Again, could you recommend something, either in Danang or Hoi An?

    Best regards and thank you, Valentin

    • Hi Valentin,

      For rental, try Rent a Bike Vietnam and Tigit Motorbikes, they both have offices in Danang and they are both good. You will find a link to both of them in the right sidebar and bottom of this page. You can mention Vietnam Coracle if you like, they know me.

      You could easily spend 2 days riding the Hai Van Pass from Hoi An to Hue and back again, or stop overnight by the beach near Lang Co or go up to Bach Ma National Park. Or you could extend your route to include the Golden Loop.

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

  5. Tuan says:

    Hi Mr Tom, i read your website many time. Its very signification for me and everybody. Can i have the pictures in this post (‘CHINESE WINDS’ BRING BAD WEATHER NORTH OF THE PASS), i ride from Hue to Da Nang many time. The view so amazing. I like riding motorbike, too. Thank in advance !!!

  6. Tan Hoang Vo says:

    the most guide that I’ve read.
    Did you ride from hue to Hoi An via 14B via A Luoi – Prao – My Son – Hoi An, Tom?

  7. maxime peters says:

    Heyy Tom,

    I am in Dalat right now and I was wondering what route you would recommend to go to Hoi An?
    I don’t want to take too many days and I am wondering what would be the best places to stay. I feel like Nha Trang is to close but I don’t know how to divide the road..

    Thank you in advance :)

    • Hi Maxime,

      The road to Nha Trang is very beautiful so it usually takes a few hours to get there. If you want to push on further from Nha Trang, you could continue up to Hon Gom Sandbar, Dai Lanh Beach or Vung Ro Bay (please read any comments at the bottom of these guides, because they may contain useful updates). After that, Quy Nhon and the beaches to the south and north of it is great. Quy Nhon City is a good place to spend the night or you can stay at Life’s a Beach or Haven which are both just south of the city.

      You can ride from Quy Nhon to Hoi An in a day if you like on Highway 1. Or you can take it slower by taking the much more scenic coastal back-roads instead. Have a look at the relevant section of my Beach Bum route map to see the roads I’m referring to.

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

  8. Elizabeth says:

    I’m in Hoi An now, want to go via Hai Van pass to Hue but can’t drive a motorcycle dammit, OK with riding pillion. Suffer from major bikerider envy! O the freedom! Top Gear video made it worse. Any suggestions on good way to get to Hue, solo traveller, 66 y.o. woman? By the way your advice on Saigon food was very helpful…and in Hoi An saw coracles in action today first time. Coracle, Oracle, you’ve been my fave guide in Vietnam these past couple weeks. Thanks!

    • Hi Elizabeth,

      You could try contacting Hoi An Motorbike Adventures – they might have someone who you can ride pillion with over to Hue. Also, try to find the Easy Riders in Hoi An and just pay one of them to ride you over the pass to Hue.

      I hope you work it out,

      Tom

  9. Kellie says:

    Ahh, now I see you said this:
    “The journey between the Hoi An/Danang and Hue via the Hai Van Pass is 100-160km depending on which route you choose to take. Driving time is approximately 3-5 hours, but allow at least another 3 hours for soaking up the scenery, stopping for seafood along the coast, coffee at the top of the pass, and for any unforeseen circumstances, such as bad weather and flat tyres.”

    So maybe from Danang to Hue it will be around 130km and around 4 hours? And I see you don’t have a post on Hue! Maybe it’s not that exciting?

    • Hi Kellie,

      Yes, the scenic route between Danang and Hue would probably take you around 4 hours. But, really, it depends entirely on you: how good the weather is, how many stops you make for food and photos etc.

      And yes, Hue is definitely worth at least a night. Great local food, lots of history, a good riverfront location, and friendly people.

      Enjoy!

      Tom

  10. Kellie says:

    Hey Tom!

    I asked you for advice about Mu Cang Chai and you’re always so spot on, so I thought I’d check your blog for tips about this drive- and again you have a lot of great info!

    Maybe I need to read through the post more slowly again since all the names of places are becoming a blur for me, lol– but you could tell me if you think that it’s a good day plan to leave early from Danang and go to Hue and check out Hue for a bit and then drive back to Danang, the same day…? Roughly how many hours drive each way you think it takes?

    And then do you think it’s worth it to drive to Hoi An too, when we go there another day, or if we do the big drive to Hue is that enough and should we just taxi to Hoi An?

    Love your advice, Thank you!!

    • Hi Kellie,

      I would definitely spend a night in Hue after riding there from Danang. You could do it there and back in a day if you really wanted to – but it would be a lot of driving and you would have to take the shorter route which is all on Highway 1, which would be a shame.

      If you do take the shorter route (all on Highway 1) then it would take about 3 hours in one direction). Personally, I would take the longer route (along the Thuan An Peninsular) and just spend a night in Hue before heading back to Danang.

      And, yes, the short ride from Danang to Hoi An is nice, easy and worth staying on the bikes for.

      Please bear in mind that this guide to the Hai Van Pass is due an update – so if you have anything to add after your journey please do let me know.

      Also, if you’re in that area and keen on motorbiking for a few days, check out my Golden Loop guide too.

      I hope this helps,

      Tom

      • Kellie says:

        Tom~ thanks so much, really! We are planning our trip there right now~~ but I’ll also update here after we do it :)

        Now, our idea is to leave from our spot here in Danang early tomorrow morning to drive the long way to Hue (what was your guess for how many hours the longer route along the Thuan An Peninsular takes, sorry?! I know you said 3 hours for the Highway 1 route, but of course we want the view route!). And then we are thinking to check out Hue for a bit during the day (is this actually an interesting place to see and stay for a night in your book btw?), and then we will either drive back to Danang the following morning- or, if we are feeling like 1 drive was enough, we may put our motorbikes on the train and take the train back to Danang! I saw that you suggested the train as an option, so I called and found out that only the 6:40am train will allow passengers to tow bikes along, and you need to be there 45 mins early to fill out the paper to get your bike on. Maybe that info will help someone else :) Will let you know how it goes!

        Cheers~~ Kellie

        • Kellie says:

          Hey~ Just wanted to say that the drive was great! Loved the Hai Van Pass part of the drive :) so glad I got the idea to do that from you! It was cool to drive past Lang Co as well. I kind of wish that we would have had more time in the day to stop and swim in the spots you mentioned, and take our drive more slowly– but we had to get to Hue, eat and get ready to get right back out to see some of the cultural spots there- and we hardly had time for that since places closed at 5:30! Guess we should have got an earlier start! We even had to take the Highway 1 route and it still took us at least 3-ish hours with a couple stops for photos/water. Even though we live and drive in HCMC, we’re not really used to longer drives sitting on the motorbike- so this trip was a good amount for us for 1 day. The Highway wasn’t too filled with cars as I was worried it would be either. But driving back to Danang in the same day would have been a little ridiculous haha. We were really happy with our decision to put the bikes on the train in the morning and ride back comfortably on the sleeper beds from Hue to Danang.
          Thanks again for your advice~~ Talk to you on the next trip ;)

  11. Gene says:

    @[email protected]
    great website. ive been reading for a year now.
    i did a 10-day northern loop last year. loved the karst formations, especially ma pi leng.

    i really want to do a coastal trip.
    -which area do you recommend for about 7 days please? less traffic, great views of the sea and hills/mountains, + some beaches.
    could it be hai van Pass?
    thanks!

  12. Marcela says:

    Awesome. Very useful post. I’m planning to ride it in a week or so and I couldn’t find much “data point” information about it. Thanks for the time to described it with details. Respect.

    All the best!

  13. David says:

    Great post, beautiful pictures!
    I did it last month, and now I want to recommend it to my friends but am too lazy to write about it and here I found your post!
    I appreciate you taking time detailing the motorbike route in Google maps, thank you!

    One more thing: If you time it right, on the way back to Da Nang, passing Hai Van Pass during sunset, is an amazing experience.
    I also found that from one of those cafes where you can park your bike, you can descend and hike to the beach beneath Hai Van Pass. Once getting there you are alone, in a different, (almost) isolated world…

    • Thanks, David.
      Hiking to the beach sounds great. I’d like to try that next time I’m riding over the Hai Van Pass :-)
      Tom

      • Jason says:

        The hike down to the beach is grueling but incredibly rewarding. About an hour straight down (and then back up) the mountain. Just before the shops at the top of the pass (if coming from Hue) there is a road that branches off. Follow that down until you see a building on your right, and just past that is a dirt path on your left that takes you down to the beach. Bring a snorkel, there’s lots of coral, anenome, and tropical fish just offshore.

  14. Sharon says:

    Great post! We’re driving from hoi an to hue but have no time for a night in the places you recommend which is a shame. Other than at the gate, are there any other places that you’d reccomend as good places to stop and take in the views?

    • Hi Sharon,

      The are plenty of great viewing points on the Hai Van Pass – you’ll know them when you see them :-) Fortunately, traffic is light on the pass so stopping by the side of the road to take in the views is not a problem. A particularly good viewing point is just before you drop down to the bridge on the north side of the pass. This is the spot where the Top Gear presenters stopped and stood in awe (as you’ll see in the video clip in this guide).

      I hope you enjoy the ride – everyone does :-)

      Tom

  15. Jessica says:

    This blog is fantastic!! My boyfriend and I plan to ride the Hai Van Pass but are trying to figure out the best way to plan as we fly into Danang but want to ultimately end up in Hoi An. Is it difficult renting motorbikes for one-way trips (Danang to Hue)? Thank you!

    • Hi Jessica,

      I think you should be able to do that, yes. Although I don’t know a specific rental company in that area, try contacting Flamingo Travel as they might be able to assist you or a least point you in the direction of another rental agency.

      Failing that, the distance between Danang and Hue is not too far, and it’s a great ride, so you might want to ride in both directions anyway – it’s a fabulous trip, especially taking the Thuan An back-road so that you don’t have to be on Highway 1 too much.

      Have a great trip,

      Tom

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  20. john obrien says:

    as always great photos and detailed narrative.thank you.

  21. Chau Le says:

    Thanks to you, I love my country, my home town more and more. I am such a fool not to realize how wonderful my country is. Thanks again.

  22. Hi there, You’ve done a great job. I’ll definitely digg it and for my part suggest to my friends. I’m sure they will be benefited from this site.

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