After 500,000d in bike repairs and a day of walking through the city of Hue’s historic sights we decided we’d again revert to our rubber tramp ways. Pulling out beneath the Imperial Enclosure gates we departed from Hue at about 9am, preparing for a full day on the road and to come upon the legendary Hai Van Pass. This infamous 21km stretch of road receives its praise from its beautiful scenic views, costal road, and rugged landscape. It has been featured most famously for its appearance in a Top Gear Challenge.
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When you leave from Hue you have the choice of hopping directly onto the A1 Highway, OR taking a series of small side streets, coastal roads, and even uninhabited perfectly paved country roads. Basically, you want to do whatever you can to avoid the A1. The route we took (See Map) follows a nice coastal road, before jumping onto the A1 for maybe 20 minutes, taking another beautiful drive around a small lake, and jumping on the famous Hai Van Pass. From the Hai Van Pass it’s a straight shot on the A1 until you reach Danang and eventually cross the famous arched bridge to Hoi An.
The Hai Van Pass
This amazing 21km stretch of highway doesn’t make it into the top 10 driving roads in the world by chance. This serene coastal road offers panoramic views of the East Vietnam Sea while ascending and descending a massive stretch of mountain as you ride alongside Vietnam’s railway and taste the salty sea breeze (see Header picture). The completion of the A1 tunnel through this mountain has allowed the majority of traffic to be diverged, thus, there are virtually no other vehicles on this road besides other motorbikes and the odd touring van. Although we’d seen some rain earlier, the clouds opened up for the 45-minute drive and we all basked in the heat from the sun. Of course, even after pumping $25 into my bike the day before, as we were descending the pass my exhaust came loose and I enjoyed the scenery coupled by the sounds of loud engine backfiring! It was a little frustrating but nothing could take away from this picturesque drive.
After you cross the pass the next stretch of A1 simply must be taken and isn’t remarkable in any sense; just trucks, construction, and heavy traffic. We drove into Hoi An after dark so we were completely unaware of the beautiful drive down the coast during the day, however, at night this cozy city comes alive with a bustling night life situated in a World Heritage Site, beautiful antique buildings, and calming wave action.
Hoi An is intimate, lively, charming, and beautiful. There’s lots to see and do and it’s worth spending a few days of your journey here. We spent our time taking a beautiful drive to Son Tra Peninsula, having a custom suit tailor-made, and enjoying the delicious cuisine Hoi An has to offer.
7 Things to Do in Hoi An:
If you’re travelling on a month long visa you’ll likely reach Hoi An during the second week of your bike tour. Spending about 3 days here gives you ample time to take in the city and still leave you plenty of cushion to ensure you make it to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh) in time to sell your bike and take off for your next adventure!