As you know, we have been to Hoi An twice previously but on those occasions I was not really confident in my motor bike riding abilities. For some reason (it could be after the marathon ride to Tam Coc) , I felt confident enough on this visit to take on the ride over the Hai Van pass. We hired new Honda Air Blades from Hoi An Bike rental (fantastic service) as we did not want to chance the pass on under par bikes. We booked accommodation in Lang Co Beach, at the bottom of the pass (on the Hue side).
Of course, when we set off the heavens had opened, which made it a slightly more daunting ride for me. We duly donned our ponchos and off we went. We were relying on phone GPS to get us to the bottom of the pass though Da Nang – so this was a little more difficult with the heavy rain, but it did give us an excuse to stop for a sneaky Starbucks in Da Nang. I have to admit that I got a slight thrill when we got to the part of the main road where it split for the heavy vehicles not take the tunnel and we had to keep right to go over the pass.
The tunnel though the mountain was opened to keep the heavy traffic of the precarious pass – as much for their safety as for other road users. Evidently the sign indicating the weight limit of vehicles is purely for decoration as we did see a number of heavy vehicles – and a scary number of them petrol tankers – on the pass. Having watched the Top Gear team go up the pass, and having been around the pass on the train, we were almost prepared for the magnificent views, I say almost because it was even more spectacularly beautiful – even in the rain.
We meandered slowly up the hill, stopping often to admire the scenery (and to avoid being too close behind petrol tankers racing in the rain). We had taken cheese, biscuits and cooldrinks as well and had a little picnic with a few wandering cows.
The road wound up and up and the hairpin bends where scary to say the least, especially when we realised that a lot of the heavy vehicle switch to the wrong side of the road because it was an easier route for them. We actually witnessed the tail ends of some of the heavy vehicles “slipping” across lanes on the hairpins. Just before the peak an articulated vehicle had jack knifed coming toward us – effectively blocking the road for any vehicles besides motorbikes.
Once we reached the top I was astounded at the number of buses (and rest stops for food and drink) and therefore the sheer number of people that were there so we gave that a miss knowing tht we would be coming back over the next day. We stopped a little further down to take in the view of Lang Co from the top and it was well worth it.
The trip down to Lang Co seemed a lot shorter that the trip up but no less daunting.
Of course we managed to find a pub/restaurant on the beach.
We had booked our accommodation on line as usual and were pleasantly surprised with a villa as close to he beach as was possible in the resort so were spoiled with a stunning sunrise before we headed back out.
We opted to leave a little earlier than the previous day as we assumed that the timing may have had something to do with the number of trucks on the road, this proved correct as there was way less traffic on the pass on the way back, and we were able to stop at the summit as there were a lot fewer buses at this time of the morning.
Unfortunately, in our haste to view our GoPro footage of the first days’ we managed to delete it so we tried to make the same stops on the way down which was tricky at times as it meant changing to the other side of the road quote a lot which on any road in Vietnam is scary – so even more so on the pass!
The structures on the top of the pass
We passed some very brave cyclists doing training ride up the “hill”, in fact our neighbours from our hotel had cycled up ahead of us from Lang Co.
The ride back through Da Nang was quite interesting to say the least, but fortunately, because of the lack of rain, we were able to put the phone in the holder and follow the GPS which certainly made it an easy ride.
I would definitely recommend this ride – it was truly spectacular and a lot of fun.
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A short video we made of the trip.