Clarkson described it as “a deserted ribbon of perfection, one of the best coast roads in the world”. So when we saw that we could hire a motorbike (oh ok, we opted for a twist and go scooter) and drive along this awesome Pass ourselves we jumped at the chance. Along the journey from Hoi An to Hue we’d also go past Marble Mountain which is a worthy stop in itself.
We collected our steel horse after a hearty breakfast and made our way out of Hoi An. Following the coast the roads were pretty clear which let me test out the speed of our sweet ride. I quickly found that upon reaching 60km/h, Louise would shout “slow down”. However, I also found out that at 70km/h the rev of the engine and the noise of the air rushing past my ears would block out Louise’s screams. 😀 Unfortunately, the noise didn’t stop the finger jabs to my side so I quickly learnt to stick to a top speed of 60km/h.
Our first stop along the road was Marble Mountain. Marble Mountain is actually five marble and limestone mountains (each one named after one of the five elements: Kim (metal), Thuy (water), Moc (wood), Hoa (fire) and Tho (earth)) with a cluster of temples and viewpoints at the top. The temples are nice – but the view is stunning. There are caves too on each mountain which are fun to crawl through and explore.
After the Marble Mountain you arrive at Danang. A bustling city which is fun and hectic to drive through. And once you pass this you start to approach the Hai Van Pass…woohoo.
The ascent of Hoi Van starts innocent enough and is easy to handle. But you are torn – do you go fast and enjoy the ride or do you go slow and enjoy the view? The views are amazing so we opted for stopping at the viewpoints and then ripping it as much as Louise would allow between stops. At the top, 496 meters above sea level, you get a wonderful view of parts of the pass and the ocean. The ride is great fun; hairpin bends, coastal roads, goats in the road and the odd truck to overtake. Super.
Once we had conquered the pass you have to decide either to do the long route or short route to Hue. As time was on our side we aimed for the long route. Unfortunately though, a storm of biblical proportions arrived and didn’t look like it would disappear any time soon. We therefore stuck to the short route and rushed out way to the shelter of our hotel.
Despite the weather at the end it was an enjoyable ride and we’d definitely recommend doing the Hoi Van Pass on scooter/bike. Great views, fun winding roads and if you are lucky a few goats to try and dodge. Nice.
The Top Gear Challenge: It definitely beats getting the bus. We did it from Hoi An to Hue but you can also do it from Hue to Hoi An (or from/to Danang if you want to stop there). Most Hotels/Hostel will let you book directly with them but if not head to your closed Moto rental shop. Your bags get taken for you so you don’t have to worry about carrying a big bag. It cost us 350,000VND for one and an extra 50,000 for an extra bag i.e. two people one bike. They allow you to cancel an hour before your requested departure time so if you wake up and it’s raining you can postpone (we did this). A full tank of petrol (60,000VND should get you there with some to spare). If you aren’t confident with driving yourself you can get an Easy Rider to do the riding for you whilst you sit on the back, but it costs a bit more. The Hoi Van Pass is over pretty quickly and if I did it again I’d be tempted to do the whole pass and then drive back up to the top again.