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Hải Vân Pass – One of the most scenic mountain passes in Vietnam

Hải Vân Pass is one of the more beautiful strips of road that you will experience in Vietnam. The scenic mountain pass is popular with motorcycle riders for its panoramic views and ruins at the summit. 

Hải Vân Pass map

The Hải Vân Pass is a 20 kilometre strip of road that links Huế, a city in Central Vietnam to the more Southern city of Da Nang. Ride further south and you will hit Hội An. It truly is a magical drive with plenty of places to stop and admire the view.

Hải Vân Pass views

We both found it imperative to incorporate the Hải Vân Pass into our journey North to South of Vietnam in 30 days. It is very popular amongst tourists to make the journey through the mountain pass from Huế to Hội An. Our experiences were very different as you can read below.

Mandy’s experience

After spending a morning at the Abandoned Water park in Huế, I drove back via the City through the sandy lanes and suffered with a punctured tire. A great way to start the journey South. One thing you will find throughout Vietnam is a number of mechanic garages available to fix up your bike for a very good price. With the amount of tourists that pass through the country on motorbike these mechanics seem to be inundated with repairs. An hour passed and the scooter was good to go.
To be honest we left it too late to start the journey to Hội An in the hope that the rain would pass. It absolutely p****d it down. We had to stop so many times on our journey for safety reasons which impacted our arrival time immensely. There were no panoramic views for me that day, only clouds and the brake lights of the motorcycle in front of me. It felt extremely eerie and I was on edge for the majority of the drive, especially as we had lost the light of day. To put in to perspective how bad the rain was at this time, here is a photo of me after arriving in Hội An facing a monsoon for the next coming days. 

Rain in Hoi An

It’s important to remember that rain season can really mean rain like you’ve never seen it before.

Tom’s experience

I chose to travel on the back of a motorbike as a day tour stopping at a local fishing village, waterfalls and a beautiful beach. It was a gorgeous day and the sunburn certainly proved that. There were literally no worries in the world on this day.

Travelling can get stressful at times. Making sure you get on the right bus at the right time. Getting off at the right stop. Everything seems to sound and look the same. A perfect example of this is when I booked a train ticket for Mandy and I from Kuala Lumpur to Penang in Malaysia thinking 09:00 was the morning. Safe to say we arrived 13 hours early as the train ticket did not say 21:00 or 09:00pm. Mandy swears it said 09:00pm… Am I just being a man? A prime example of booking transport in Asia and getting it very wrong! Enough about Malaysia, back to the Hải Vân Pass.

The tour started by waving goodbye to our bags, as they would meet us in Hội An at our end destination. I felt incredibly safe with these experienced, knowledgable motorcyclists. We first stopped at Elephant Springs just outside of Huế for a dip in the water and a fun time in the rapids. 

Rapids at Hải Vân Pass

After drying off in the heat of the sun we embarked on our next leg of the journey, an hour down the highway and after through a local fishing village. We really were driving off the track, weaving to avoid potholes. At the end of the track we reached our next stop, lunch, and one of the most beautiful beaches I think I have ever seen. I am a self confessed fussy eater! No chicken nuggets available this time, but fortunately the fish was beautiful and cooked to perfection!

The next leg of the journey was the Hải Vân Pass. I haven’t had the pleasure of driving through the clouds on a motorcycle before and I loved it. It was  crazy how cold it became so quickly, which was a quick relief from the scorching weather we had driven through. At the top of the mountain you will find some ruins and tons of shops to refuel. During our venture at the top we were engulfed by clouds so no views from the top for us.

Hải Vân Pass clouds

Our drive continued for another hour or so down the other side of the mountain, making photo stops and enjoying the surrounding views. We eventually reached Da Nang to enjoy another beach. One of the main attractions in Da Nang in recent times is the Golden Bridge, a 150m long pedestrian bridge that gives the illusion that it is held by two stone hands. This was not here when we visited in February 2018. I can definitely sense that Da Nang is going to be a city that we hear more about as travellers in the upcoming years.

We eventually arrived in to Hội An city centre after an action packed day on the back of the motorbike. It was great fun and the whole experience was well worth the money. It cost at the time approximately 35 GBP (not including lunch) which acted as a day tour to get us to our next destination anyway. A really great way to spend the day! You can book these tours just as we did at your hostels reception for a very good price. 

If you enjoyed reading about the Hải Vân Pass, check out what else there is to do in Vietnam here.

Travelling Translated

Travelling Translated

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