Considered one of the world’s most beautiful ocean roads, the Hai Van Pass doesn’t leave much less to the eye than complete natural beauty and jaw-dropping amazement. This coastal road that covers the stretch of land between Da Nang City and Vietnam's ancient city of Hue is one of the country’s most iconic ventures. While it can also be admired by bus, biking the Hai Van pass gives you more freedom to stop and take in all the spectacular ocean views.
Our adventure began at the Funtastic Hostel in Da Nang, a great hostel in the centre of town that accommodates all your backpacker needs. We hired a motorbike for 200,000 (about $12 for the day), packed out daypacks, got some incredible (and incredibly cheap) Banh Mi from the local bakery and were on our way.
I was, of course, the passenger given my complete inability (and fear) to ride a motorbike. Luckily I had my partner with me who is a confident, experienced rider. I wouldn’t recommend the Hai Van Pass to an inexperienced rider; I wouldn’t recommend anywhere in Vietnam to inexperienced riders. Finding a confident partner is a much safer, and preferred option. If you’re travelling solo there is always the option to hire the popular ‘Easy Riders’ - Vietnamese locals who offer all-inclusive day tours on their motorbikes, an activity becoming increasingly popular to tourists in Vietnam.
The journey started as we drove along Da Nang’s long stretches of coastal beaches heading north towards the Truong Son mountain range. The first part of the drive is rather flat along the main coastal road for about 30 minutes until you start to climb the hills. About 30 minutes of incline will bring you to some remarkable viewpoints of the whole of Da Nang city and it’s coastline. A few more windy roads will bring you to more views of ocean backdrop with lush green hills and white sand beaches. We tried to look for a path to get down to the beaches but they were sadly unattainable from where we were. We settled for the view and continued to decline the mountain.
The road is rather quiet and filled with only motorbikes and the occasional bus and truck. This is because they recently opened the Hai Van Tunnel, which cuts straight through the mountain and reduces the travel time by about 40 minutes. Unfortunately, motorbikes are banned from the Hai Van Tunnel so if you are doing the round trip in one day like we did the short cut option is unavailable.
After the descent off the mountain the road returns to its level state. It will take about another hour to reach Hue through a few small towns and into the heart of Hue’s city centre. There are a few places to stop off on the way to grab a drink or a bite. We stopped by a small beach under a really large tree to enjoy the Banh Mi we bought in Da Nang and stretch our legs from the long ride.
Hue is a great city with lots to do and see. It is home to the ancient imperial city, the late emperors tombs and the tallest pagoda in Vietnam. Restaurants sell amazing local cuisines and there are lots of cafes and shops to just sit and relax.
We only spent 1 day here, or 5 hours really because 1. We woke up late, and 2. Our bike had some trouble so we had to go to the mechanic in Hue. I’d definitely recommend leaving early if you are only spending one day here. It takes roughly 2 and half hours each way so leaving early will give you enough time to see everything and not have to be in a rush. Alternatively you can stay a night or 2 in Hue, leave your larger bags at the hostel and take in everything that Hue has to offer!
Have you biked the Hai Van Pass? Or any other amazing ocean roads? Leave your comments below.