With spectacular views, challenging winding roads and numerous tourists attractions along the way, it’s easy to see why this ride is so popular.
The most famous section of the road, the Hoi Van Pass, only stretches 21km, but it’s well worth doing the full ride to Hue (or Hoi An if heading south), as there’s plenty to see en-route.
This road was made famous by the British motorcar programme, Top Gear, where they drive the entire coast of Vietnam. As they reach the Hoi Van Pass, they tell the viewer about the dangers of the road. Neither Becci or I are experienced bikers, but we’re always up for a challenge! We jumped on our underpowered 125cc bike and were off on the 160km journey to Hue.
Our first stop was in Da Nang at Marble Mountain, offering spectacular views and various caves to explore.
We were escorted from the main road by a pushy shop owner, who let us park for free in return for visiting her shop. An unorthodox method that actually worked, as we ended up buying an overpriced stone elephant.
The walk to the top of the mountain was very hot and steep. The path took us through caves and up numerous steps. Our efforts were rewarded with views of the vast flat land of Da Nang and Hoi An, which stretched for miles into the horizon.
Hoi Van Pass
The Pass is a 21km stretch of road, which climbs steeply up the side of a mountain. Numerous sharp corners and u-bends lie ahead, making for an exhilarating ride which demands all your attention. This is harder than expected, as your constantly distracted by the jaw-dropping views.
Thanks to a tunnel under the mountain the road is relatively quiet, except for a few trucks and tourists. The road is not for the faint hearted, though, as it was full of sharp turns where all that was stopping you from falling was a small barrier.
When we reached the top of the mountain, we were rewarded with spectacular views of the beautiful Vietnamese coastline. For miles, all we could see was luscious green vegetation and emerald blue water.
The road then drops down to flatter land below and the Hoi Van Pass is over before you know it.
After a hot day of motorbiking in scorching heat, Elephant Springs felt like heaven. Numerous natural pools filled with cold mountain water awaited us. There’s even natural rock water slides, which plunge into the pools.
It’s also great fun exploring upstream, as little wooden bridges link the different shops and pools together. Just be careful of your footing, as the bridges groan and creaks beneath you.
Driving into Hue
The last stretch of the drive, from Elephant Springs to Hue, is around 53km on a straight road.
After the Hoi Van Pass, we thought the day’s hard driving was over, but the journey into Hue was insane. I’ve never seen such a high density of motorbikes and we were forced to ride several abreast.
Driving in such heavy traffic on unknown roads was an interesting challenge. Becci started off the ride, but after crashing my leg into another bike and almost dropping the bike, we decided to swap. I also had a few close calls, but thankfully we managed to make it unscathed.
Overall the bike ride was a great experience. We’ve had more picturesque bike rides since (in places such as Sapa and northern Thailand), but it’s easily better than a bus ride. What’s better, we got to see some amazing places along the way!