Top Gear famously drove the Hai Van Pass back in 2008, the pass is the highest in Vietnam (500 meters above sea level) and extends from Hoi an to Hue. If you’re travelling to Vietnam, this should be at the top of your to do list.
There are several ways that you can do the pass. You can drive the Hai van pass yourself by motorbike, do an easyrider, which means you sit on the back of the motorbike, or take a coach along the pass.
I chose to drive myself. There’s an overwhelming sense of freedom when you take a bike for the day, exploring when, what and where you want. It makes the day even more special.
It cost the equivalent of £9 to rent the bike for the day. We started in Hoi An and rented the bikes from our hotel, which was called Sunflower Hotel. Your actual luggage is taken by mini bus to Hue, so you don’t have to worry about carrying the weight.
The company show you the map of your journey before setting off, and show you where to stop off including the Marble mountains and the elephant springs.
We set off at 11amand stopped at the first petrol station, it cost 70,000 dong to fill the motorbike for the full journey, which is around £2.50. Then, the journey really began.
The drive to the marble mountains probably took around an hour, where we paid 5,000 dong to park the vehicles. On the way there, I had a mini bus pull out on me, people walking into the road, surrounded by crazy traffic. I sometimes look back and wonder how I made it to Hue without even a scratch.
But, if you’re careful there’s no issue. Vietnamese are crazy drivers, but I think it makes them better drivers, as they’ll see you’re a tourist and just go around you. Let’s be honest, have you ever seen a Vietnamese person have a crash?
The marble mountains were beautiful. We climbed to the top of 3 viewpoints, in 90% humidity and all I can say is we were wet by the end of it…
The views were amazing looking out at De Nang below, it so surreal to see all the mountains that just randomly form across Vietnams landscape.
We continued our journey and stop at the beach along the way. Here we watched locals fishing. They had the fishing wire attached to their bodies by a harness and were pulling the fish in with their own body weight.
Getting back on our bikes, we drove for a while, and finally made it out of the crazy city. Reaching the pass, I discovered that there was many bends in the road. Being my second time on a motorbike, I decided to take it slower than the others, but none the less, it was still a thrilling journey.
Hai Van actually means ‘sea clouds’. This is because the peak of the mountain is in the clouds, whilst the lowest part is in the sea. The pass was stunning, even on a cloudy day. We decided to be a traditional tourist and take some pictures at the pass for the memory book.
We stopped for lunch at some street food markets, where it cost 50,000 dong for rice with egg and vegetables, which is just under £2. After an hours rest, we set off again to conquer the rest of the pass.
We reached the elephant springs quite late, around 5pm. But this wasn’t a problem. Being slightly delayed, meant we had the springs all to our selves. It was one of the most peaceful places I’ve ever been to. However, if you visit the springs, COVER yourself in insect replant. The insects were so big, and I could literally feel them bite my skin. It was not nice.
When we set back off it was getting dark. With our headlights on, we re-joined the Vietnam highway. We drove the rest of the way in the pitch black, with big lorries and night buses at the side of, beeping to warn us of their existence.
We reached Hue around 7:30pm, and used Maps.Me to find the motorbike drop off point. Accidently taking a wrong turn, led us to getting chased by some dogs through a tiny road, a memory I will never stop laughing about.
When we reached the motorbike shop, we gave the people the keys, got our bags and walked ten minutes to our hostel, Why Not.
Doing the Hai Van pass was so incredible, and I would tell everyone to drive it themselves, even if you haven’t drove a bike before. Take one for a spin the day before, because it’s so amazing on your own.
If you go with an easyrider or another tour, you’re restricted to their timings and programmes. You had so much freedom solo.