A Beginner’s guide to Vietnam’s Hai Van Pass
Okay, here we are again, our Thailand 90 day visas are expiring and it’s time to do our third “visa run” to renew our visas. Once again we were at the crossroads of where to go next. The first time we had to do a visa run it was to Malaysia, which you can read all about that trip here and our second visa run was to Singapore. This time we decided that we wanted to check out Vietnam and I had actually just watched my favorite snapchat account “Travel Facts” and Joy Elizabeth was this weeks’ host and she quickly reminded me that Vietnam was indeed a destination on my list.
Teryn and I searched online, found some cheap plane tickets and away we went!
I’ll leave what we did and where we went in Vietnam for another post, but for
The pass is named one of the most beautiful ocean roads in the world!
Teryn, of course, hesitated a little bit as she still doesn’t want anything to do with motorbikes, but after some convincing, we agreed that we would go rent a motorbike and give this Hai Van Pass a shot. The Hai Van Pass or otherwise known as The Pass of Ocean Mist is an 18 mile (30km) stretch of road that is up in the mountains of central Vietnam goes from Hue to Hoi An, although the real mountain road part doesn’t really start until you get to Da Nang. If you decide to just do the pass it’s more like a 5mile ( 9km) ride, but with all of the hairpin curves, you’ll want to take your time to stop to see the sights.
After a bit of working the google machine and looking at other blogs, we came to find
Rent a motorbike with Motorvina and have your bags transferred to your hotel or homestay for free! This place is located just a few blocks away from the Charming Hotel.
The road is known for being dangerous due to the weather being very foggy from the mist that comes off from the South China Sea creating very poor visibility. We were very fortunate as it stayed pretty dry for us with only slightly foggy areas. The pass connected the two war-torn cities of Hue and Da Nang during the “Vietnam war” ( or the “American war” as known to the Vietnamese ) during the war the pass was nicknamed “the street without joy”. In 2005 the Vietnamese built a tunnel as an alternate route to travel through the mountains, cutting transport time in half and is currently the longest tunnel in Southeast Asia. Only motorbikes and the occasional fuel and agriculture trucks are allowed on the pass, thus making the pass a nice scenic mountainous drive.
Google maps will tell you 3 hours, but like I’ve said in past blogs, you can’t trust google maps outside of the U.S.
You can easily tell that this pass was a natural border between North and South Vietnam and at the top of the pass you’ll find a few remaining fortifications that were originally built by the French during the early wars and then used again by the Americans.
The best way to do this drive is to start in Hue between 8am to 9am and then end up in Hoi An in the late afternoon/evening. Just like everywhere in Southeast Asia, it’s very easy to get lost, so please calculate proper timing into your travel plans. We used a combination of the map brochure from motorvina and google maps and we also used common sense of following other backpackers, since it there was an extremely highly chance they were also heading towards the pass.
One part that I will say that we did get briefly turned around was when we came to where the tunnel started. ( Note- We traveled in the direction from Hue to Hoi An.) If you get to the tunnel, then you missed your turn. You’ll notice the road to look a lot newer and that is your indication that you should have stayed to the right on the older road. That was the only part of the trip that threw us for a loop.
If you have never driven a motorbike before, I do not suggest trying to learn in Vietnam as the traffic can be very chaotic when compared to western standards of driving.
The map below shows the route Hoi An – Danang – Hai Van Pass – Thuan An Peninsular – Hue
Once you get out Hue and into the rural parts of Vietnam, you will begin to see the true beauty of this land. We didn’t stop too much at the other attractions, but we thoroughly enjoyed this day trip through one of the most beautiful oceanside mountain roads and highly recommend that you plan your next trip to Vietnam, We would love to hear all about your adventure.
Have you ever taken a motorbike ride through a mountain top road? Let know in the comments below.
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Global Giraffe is a travel blog that is focused on keeping it real. This isn't a fluffy rainbow magical travel blog, here you'll find real life situations, tips, and advice for the everyday person that wants to know more about places they've never been to. After leaving Denver, Colorado, we decided to try to take on the world, one odd job at a time. For more updates follow Global Giraffe on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.