The Hai Van Pass: Motorbike Guide

Last updated May 2019 | Words and photos by Vietnam Coracle


A contender for the most famous road in Vietnam, the Hai Van Pass is a short but scenic route winding around a mountainside above the East Sea, on the central coast. Đèo Hải Vân – Ocean Cloud Pass – is famous for a number of reasons: as a geographic and political boundary between ancient kingdoms; as a climatic divide between the tropical south and the subtropical north; and as a strategic military post during times of war, both ancient and modern. But, most recently, the Hai Van Pass is famous, quite simply, as a great road trip linking the popular central Vietnamese destinations of Hoi An, Danang, and Hue. For Vietnamese and foreign road-trippers alike, the Hai Van Pass is a favourite ride, its fame bolstered by the popularity of the Top Gear Vietnam Special (2008), in which the presenters waxed lyrical about the pass, inspiring a generation of travellers to take to the road on two wheels and hit the Hai Van Pass. Although it’s certainly not the greatest road in Vietnam, the Hai Van Pass is still a lot of fun to ride, with excellent views, light traffic, and easy access from several cities.

The Hai Van Pass by motorbike, VietnamOne of the most famous roads in Vietnam, the Hai Van Pass makes a great & relatively easy road trip

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  • Total Distance: 165km (or 135km)
  • Duration: 1-3 days
  • Route: the scenic coastal route between Hoi An, Danang & Hue [MAP]
  • Road Conditions: good, smooth, wide highways, paved back-roads, light traffic
  • Scenery: high coastal passes, excellent sea views, empty beaches, fishing villages, farmland, cities


The Hai Van Pass, VietnamThe Hai Van Pass weaves around a mountainous headland as it meets the sea in Central Vietnam

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The Hai Van Pass can be ridden as a day-trip from any of the three main cities on either side of it: Hoi An, Danang, and Hue. Alternatively, the Hai Van Pass is a great way to ride all the way between these three cities via an extended coastal route, which avoids busy Highway 1 for the vast majority of the way, and uses quiet, scenic coast roads instead (see the blue line on my map). Although this route is slightly longer than taking Highway 1 (see the brown line on my map), it’s far more scenic, more rewarding, and quieter (not to mention safer). Renting motorbikes in any of the three cities should be fairly easy, and some rental companies even offer one-way pick-up and drop-off services, allowing you to ride in one direction without having to return to your starting point to give the bike back. The total distance for the scenic coastal route between Hoi An, Danang, and Hue is 165km. This can be completed in one day, or you can break it up into 2-3 days, by staying somewhere in the middle (see Accommodation). There are several options for side routes along the way (see the red lines on my map), including exploring the scenic roads around the Son Tra Peninsular, getting lost on the paved lanes and muddy tracks leading down to the coast from the top of the Hai Van Pass, and short detours to Elephant Springs and Bach Ma National Park. The best time of year is April to September; at other times, the pass can be covered in cloud and very wet. After riding the Hai Van Pass you can loop back via the mountains on the Ho Chi Minh Road, as described in the Golden Loop, or you can continue along coastal back-roads to Dong Hoi and Phong Nha, following the Tomb Rider route.

Riding the Hai Van Pass by motorbike, VietnamRiding between Hoi An, Danang & Hue via the Hai Van Pass is a great road trip with spectacular views

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The Hai Van Pass: Hoi An-Danang-Hue| 165km (or 135km)

View  in a LARGER MAP

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Đèo Hải Vân – Ocean Cloud Pass – is a mountainous stretch of road in Central Vietnam. On days when vapour from the East Sea rises into the forests and clings to the mountaintops, the pass lives up to its poetic name. But, despite its romantic title, the Hai Van Pass has always been something of a frontier: a boundary of kingdoms and climate; often fought over, sometimes tragic but never losing its ability to inspire awe.

The Hai Van Pass, VietnamThe Hai Van Pass has a long been a physical barrier; now it is best known for its fabulous views

During the ‘American War’, the Hai Van Pass was known as the ‘Street Without Joy’. Back then, the pass connected the two war-scarred cities of Hue and Danang via the dangerous and hotly contested Highway 1. Thanks to a tunnel under the mountains, completed in 2005, the Hai Van Pass today is the ‘Street Without Traffic’. The majority of transport now takes the tunnel, which leaves the Hai Van Pass – one of the most scenic coastal roads in Vietnam – to two-wheeled vehicles and the occasional oil truck (both of which are not allowed through the tunnel). The spectacular Hai Van Pass is perfect for a relatively easy, safe and short motorbike trip between the popular tourist spots of Hoi An/Danang to the south and Hue to the north.

The Hai Van Pass, VietnamA tunnel under the mountain takes most the of the heavy traffic, leaving the Hai Van Pass virtually empty

The Hai Van Pass is a natural wall: a mountainous finger of land jutting into the East Sea. This is an east-west spur of the Truong Son (Annamite) Range that runs north to south along the western spine of Vietnam. For centuries this natural barrier represented the limit of one kingdom and the beginning of another. The Hindu Kingdom of Champa resided south of the Hai Van Pass, while the Confucian-Buddhist Kingdom of Dai Viet was to the north. The two kingdoms fought constantly to control land either side of the pass. The Cham pushed as far north as the Dai Viet capital of Thang Long (Hanoi) in 1371.* Partly due to the favourable climate and fertility of the land south of the Hai Van Pass, the Cham in this area were known as the ‘Coconut Palm Group’. The Hai Van Pass sheltered the Cham from strong, cold winds and storms that blew from the north. Known as ‘Chinese Winds’, these still ravage territory north of the pass each year during the ‘typhoon months’, which are usually around September and October.
*Historical information in this article is based solely on my reading of various sources and conversations with local people. I make no claims as an historian.

The Hai Van Pass, VietnamThe mountains of the Hai Van Pass formed the border between kingdoms; they’re still a climatic divide

The good climatic conditions south of the Hai Van Pass helped to build the Cham civilization, which lasted for more than a thousand years, from the 3rd century onwards. It was the lure of the land of the ‘Coconut Palm Cham’ that led to its eventual conquest. Dai Viet, to the north of the Hai Van Pass, was growing steadily thanks to liberation from Chinese rule in AD938 followed by two strong imperial dynasties, the Ly (1009-1225) and the Tran (1225-1400). Agricultural productivity and population were on the rise, but unpredictable weather and devastating flooding in the Red River Delta was a constant threat to stability. With China looming large over their northern borders, Dai Viet looked to the south for more land and a better climate for their growing population. After centuries of fighting, it was the Le Dynasty who finally defeated the Cham, in 1471, annexing the sunny territory south of the Hai Van Pass for Dai Viet. The ruins of the Cham temples at My Son, near Hoi An, can still be seen today.

Ruins from the Kingdom of Champa at My Son, near Hoi AnThe Hai Van Pass was the border between Dai Viet & Champa, whose ruins can be seen near Hoi An

The appeal of the land of the ‘Coconut Palm Cham’ is still obvious today. If travelling from north to south, heading out of Hue on a wet, grey February morning and driving up the Hai Van Pass in thick, moisture-laden cloud, when you arrive at the top and look down on the sun-filled Bay of Danang to the south, it’s easy to imagine how attractive these lands must have been to the Dai Viet from the north. Curling your way up the switchbacks and hairpin bends, the motorbike engine struggling to deal with the gradient, and then rolling down the other side, wondering if the brake pads will wear away before you reach the bottom, it’s also apparent how the pass could have separated two civilizations for so long.

The Bay of Danang, from the Hai Van Pass, VietnamLooking over tropical beaches and the Bay of Danang from the southern slopes of the Hai Van Pass

Whatever the weather, the Hai Van Pass is always a scenic route. As with other great views, the pass has often inspired wonder, sometimes in the most unlikely of contexts and least likely of people. When Paul Theroux was passing through Vietnam during his Great Railway Bazaar, in 1973, the Paris Peace Accords had only recently been signed by the United States, South and North Vietnam. Direct American military participation in Vietnam was officially over, but the war still had two more long years before the fall of Saigon. As most of the Trans-Indochinois Railway (now the Reunification Express) that linked Hanoi with Saigon had been blown up, Theroux was only able to travel on short sections of the line that were deemed safe. Fortunately for him one of these safe sections was between Hue and Danang.

Danang City, seen from the Hai Van Pass, VietnamDanang, seen from the Hai Van Pass: a ‘poisoned city’ when Theroux came in ’73; now it’s a boomtown

At that time, Hue was a ruin. Having been pounded for years, not least during the Tet Offensive in 1968, the city was all mud and rubble. Danang, formerly a massive American military base, was, according to Theroux, ‘a poisoned city’. But the landscape between these two wounded cities, including the Hai Van Pass which the railway snakes around just below the road, was still majestic. Perhaps because of the juxtaposition between the ugly urban destruction in Hue and the rural peace and beauty around the Hai Van Pass, Theroux, having travelled across Europe, the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent by train, was amazed by what he saw from his compartment on the Trans-Indochinois:

Of all the places the railway had taken me since London, this was the loveliest.

Beyond the leaping jade plates of the sea was an overhang of cliffs and the sight of a valley so large it contained sun, smoke, rain and cloud – all at once.

I had been unprepared for this beauty; it surprised and humbled me.

Who has mentioned the simple fact that the heights of Vietnam are places of unimaginable grandeur?

Lang Co Beach, seen from the Hai Van Pass, VietnamFor Paul Theroux, the train ride over the Hai Van Pass was the most scenic of his ‘Great Railway Bazaar’

35 years later, Jeremy Clarkson, former presenter of the popular BBC car show, Top Gear, had a similar reaction to the landscape around the Hai Van Pass. Famously sarcastic and not one to be easily moved – except by a good car – Clarkson and his co-presenters couldn’t help but be awed by the green mountains rolling down in pleats and folds toward the East Sea. On this strip of tarmac, that he proclaimed ‘one of the best ocean roads in the world’, Clarkson began to enjoy motorbiking. Indeed, the Top Gear Vietnam Special must surely have inspired thousands of travellers to follow in their tyre-tracks, because nowadays hawkers at the top of the pass will often ask, “Are you here because of Top Gear?!”

VIDEO: Top Gear Vietnam Special (skip to 3:15 for the Hai Van Pass scene):

Like other borders and frontiers, the Hai Van Pass has seen its fair share of blood and battles. At the top of the pass, by the brick gate built by Emperor Minh Mang in the 19th century, are gun towers that were used by French, South Vietnamese and American lookouts respectively, during the long wars from 1946-75. More recent reminders of tragedy on the pass are the small shrines lining the road that mark the sites of fatal accidents. (Note: most of these date from before the tunnel was built, when the pass was far more dangerous than it is today). As with many famous battle fields and scenic roads in Vietnam, tragedy contrasts sharply with the natural beauty of the surrounds.

An old gun tower at the top of the Hai Van Pass, VietnamAn old gun tower stands at the top of the Hai Van Pass, a reminder of its historical strategic importance

As for me, I’ve always thought of the Hai Van Pass as a point of transition: both a boundary and a gate. When riding from south to north, the pass is the point at which I feel I’ve entered more unfamiliar territory. The clouds usually close-in and fierce rain pinches the skin on my face. With this comes a sense of adventure. Being from the south in both my native and adopted countries (London in Britain, Saigon in Vietnam), I’ve long associated travelling north with going into higher, wilder landscape and colder climes. Likewise, when I travel from north to south, the Hai Van Pass is the point at which I feel I’ve arrived ‘home’ again, safe in the land of the ‘Coconut Palm Cham’ and the warmth of the tropical climate I’ve become accustomed to.

The Hai Van Pass, VietnamOftentimes, weather is warm & sunny on the south side of the Hai Van Pass, but cool & wet on the north

Located on the 16th parallel, just one south of the infamous 17th parallel that once divided the nation politically, the Hai Van Pass is a permanent natural boundary that will always divide the nation climatically, between tropical and sub-tropical. The ‘Ocean Cloud’ clings to the pass, but this 30km stretch of road is beautiful in any weather, and each time I ride it, in either direction, there’s always the sense of having crossed a barrier.

The Hai Van Pass is a climatic divide between tropical and sub-tropical, VietnamThe great divide: the Hai Van Pass crawls over this mountain as it meets the sea: a great physical barrier

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I’ve written these directions going south to north, starting in Hoi An, going via Danang, and ending in Hue. You can, of course, ride this route in the opposite direction.

Leave Hoi An’s old town in the morning – the earlier the better if you want to make it all the way to Hue in one day. Take the coast road to Danang, stretching all the way from Cua Dai Beach, past An Bang Beach, and the Marble Mountains, to Danang’s My Khe Beach, once known as China Beach. If you want to explore the Son Tra Peninsular side route, continue along the coast and onto the winding roads crisscrossing the headland (see the red line on my map). If not, turn west onto the famous Dragon Bridge over the Han River and into Danang city. Cruise along the river bank before turning onto Nguyen Tat Thanh Street which skirts the ocean along Nam O Beach. At the end of the beach road, turn onto the broad lanes of Highway 1 for a brief stretch before the road starts to climb into foliage: this is the start of the Hai Van Pass.

Cầu Rồng (Dragon Bridge), Danang City, VietnamAfter the coast road from Hoi An, take the Dragon Bridge into Danang, and continue to the Hai Van Pass

Curling around the mountainside, the pass opens up spectacular views across Danang Bay. At the top of the pass, a collection of overpriced food and drink shacks vie for your custom. The ancient gate and old gun towers are located across the road, offering good viewing points and short, pleasant walks. On either side of the top of the pass, the small paved lanes and dirt tracks leading down the slopes towards the sea, are possible side routes (see the red lines on my map), especially if you have a bike that can cope with muddy conditions. However, be aware that you may be stopped from continuing down these side routes due to military presence in the area.

The Hai Van Pass, VietnamLooking down over the Hai Van Pass as it curls down the other side towards Lang Co Beach

Snaking down the other side of the pass, the views get even better: looking over the winding tarmac as it drops towards the long, empty beach of Lang Co. Just after one of the last hairpin bends of the pass, a much-photographed scene opens up over Lang Co bay and fishing village, with a long bridge over the water (the exit of the Hai Van Tunnel) and the lush, misty mountains behind. This might as well be known as the ‘Top Gear Viewing Point‘, as it was here that the final scene on the Hai Van Pass from the Vietnam Special episode was filmed, with the three co-presenters all gazing at the sunset, enraptured by the beauty of Vietnam’s landscape.

The 'Top Gear Viewing Point' on the Hai Van Pass, VietnamLooking over Lang Co bay from the ‘Top Gear Viewing Point’ near the bottom of the Hai Van Pass

In Lang Co, where you can stop at one of the many seafood restaurants (nhà hàng hải sẳn in Vietnamese), it’s necessary to join Highway 1 briefly, before turning off on the Chan May coast road. (If you want to continue to Hue on the shorter route using Highway 1 follow the brown line on my map. Or if you want to explore the side routes to Elephant Spring and Bach Ma National Park, see the red lines on my map).

The Chan May back-road, Hue Province, VietnamTurn off Highway 1 at Lang Co for the pleasant & quiet Chan May road, past beaches, trees & fields

The Chan May road stays close to the coast, where there are several high-end resorts and backpacker campgrounds (see Accommodation). Veering off the Chan May route, a good paved roads leads over a bridge and along a back-route before connecting with Highway 1 again at the Phuoc Tuong Pass. On the other side of this pass (now empty thanks to a new tunnel), weave your way across Highway 1 to join road QL49B, heading north along the shores of the Cau Hai Lagoon. (Alternatively, stay on Highway 1 all the way to Hue: see the brown line on my map).

A field on buffalo on the road between Lang Co and Chan May, VietnamPastoral scenery on the road between Chan May & Thuan An, a much better alternative to Highway 1

QL49B crosses a bridge at the mouth of the lagoon and turns west along a long peninsular to Thuan An. This road has been mostly upgraded, but some patches are still in the process of reconstruction. The route is notable for the thousands of elaborately carved family tombs, which are scattered across the sandy banks between the road and the sea. At Thuan An village, turn south over a bridge and follow the Pho Loi River into Hue. (For ideas about how to continue this road trip from Hue, see Related Guides.)

Decorative tombs & temples on Road QL49B, near Hue, VietnamElaborate tombs & temples line Road QL49B as it crosses the Thuan An Peninsular before reaching Hue

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Although there’s no accommodation on the Hai Van Pass itself, there are a handful of good and interesting places to stay along the coastal route, as well as an enormous array of hotels and resorts for all budgets at either end of the route: in Hoi An, Danang, and Hue. 

*Please support Vietnam Coracle: You can support the work I do by booking your hotels via the Agoda links & search boxes on my site, like the ones on this page. If you make a booking, I receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you). Any money I make goes straight back into this site. Thank you.

Hoi An:

Hoi An has possibly the best-value and range of hotels in all Vietnam. The sheer volume of hotels, and the continuing popularity of Hoi An as a travel destination, drives prices down and quality up. For budget accommodation check out the cheap but clean and classy rooms at Kiman Hotel, and Hoi An Backpackers Hostel. Two excellent-value mid-range places to stay are Lasenta Boutique and Hoi An Waterway. For luxury it’s hard to beat the Anantara or Victoria Beach Resort. Besides these recommendations there are hundreds more to choose from, which you can browse here.

Lasenta Boutique Hotel is one of many excellent-value accommodations in & around Hoi An



Funtastic Beach Hostel is a great budget option by the sea, just 5 minutes from Danang city. Stay Hotel offers good mid-range value, with neat rooms, good views and a pool. The Novotel Danang is very swish and modern with incredible views over the city and sea. Or to really splash out, head to the Intercontinental Sun Peninsular Resort on the Son Tra headland, which is another world of luxury.

Danang city skyline, VietnamDanang’s recent boom has led to many new accommodations, like Funtastic Beach, Stay Hotel & the Novotel



Hue Backpacker Hostel is as cheap as they come, and offers all the familiar characteristics of a budget, dorm-based hostel. Villa Hue is fabulous mid-range accommodation with lots of style and charm. The Pilgrimage, just outside the city, is also excellent. The most famous high-end option is the colonial-era La Residence, occupying a prime location by the riverside.

Villa Hue Hotel, Hue, VietnamVilla Hue is a wonderful hotel in the former imperial capital, offering great value & lots of atmosphere


On the Route:

In many of the small towns along the route, you’ll find nhà nghỉ (local guesthouses), which offer cheap rooms for a night on the road, particularly around Lang Co and Chan May Beach. Budget travellers can spend a night under canvas at Canh Duong Beach Camping or Tan Canh Guesthouse, for example, both on Chan May Bay. But there are also some luxury accommodations along the coastal route which you can stop at for a night or two to break the journey. After Lang Co there are several ultra luxurious resorts spread along the coast, including the Bayan Tree and Angsana. Further down the road, near Phu Loc village, Verdana Lagoon Resort is very good for a night of affordable luxury in a very atmospheric position.

Camping, Chan May Beach, Lang Co, VietnamThere are several places to stay on the road between Hoi An, Danang & Hue, including beach camping

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79 Responses to The Hai Van Pass: Motorbike Guide

  1. Len Marcyanis says:

    When I served in Vietnam in 1967, I was sent to a small outpost in the Hai Van pass. We would take a shower up at a waterfalls coming down the mountain. I suppose that you have seen that waterfalls area in your travels? Could you comment on that specific area? Thanks, Len a Marine from 2/7 Echo Co. 81 mortars.

    • Tom says:

      Hi Len,

      Thanks for your message and sharing that memory.

      I don’t know the exact waterfall you’re referring too, but I can imagine the scene. Indeed, while on roads trips in Vietnam I often stop to ‘shower’ under waterfalls too.



  2. Sharon says:

    Hello Tom….

    We love your information on Vietnam. Thank you so much for sharing all of your knowledge. Currently we are in Hoi An and planning a motorbike trip to SaPa with many stops along the way. Trying to find the “travel map of Vietnam” is near to impossible for us, after searching all over and calling the bookstore in DaNang, who do not have it. Any other suggestions as to where we can find it. Also what would you suggest is the best detailed online road map to use?

    Sharon & Chris

    • Hi Sharon & Chris,

      Yes, it can be very difficult to find the Travel Map. But these days most printed maps are fairly useless. For the online maps for Vietnam, Google is still best, but some people like using because it’s available offline. However, it’s Google that has most of the roads. Google Maps is what I use to make my maps, like the one of the Hai Van Pass on this page, for example.

      Just make sure you get a local SIM card (preferably Viettel, because they get best coverage, even in the mountains) and you shouldn’t have too much trouble navigating your way around.

      I hope you have a great trip,


  3. Tomas Richter Urban says:

    Hi, just wanted to say quick Thank You! My Hai Van Pass motorbike trip was a great experience even thanks to the article you posted. I followed your map including few detours and was amazed by couple of things I would not discovered otherwise. So thank you and all the best! Tomas

  4. Curtis says:

    We are planning on doing this tomorrow, do I need a motorbike license? I’m pretty confident on a bike and have rented a few in Asia already but I heard the police are hot in Vietnam.

  5. Dale says:

    Hi Tom

    Im planing on driving the Hai van pass in the next few days, Ive already gone over Son Tra peninsula aka monkey mountain and found the Yamaha Novou 125 straining up some of the steep 15/18 % gradient roads. Is the Hai van as steep or more gradual than son tra? And are there any places to fill up the tank on the route ?

    Just want to know if I should get a bigger bike..
    Many thanks

    • Hi Dale,

      You should be fine on a Yamaha 125 up and down the Hai Van Pass – as long as the bike’s not in terrible condition, of course.

      There are no gas stations on the pass itself, but there are plenty of gas stations at fairly regular intervals on the roads either side of the pass. It’s not such a long ride, so if you make sure you brim your tank before you set off, you should be able to make it all the way between Danang and Hue on one tank.

      I hope this helps,


  6. Carlos Ferreira Junior says:

    Hello Tom, great article and infos.

    One question, I’m going to Vietnam in January 18 until february 4. I never ride a motorbike but want to try to do Hue Hoi An. Do you thing I can do it? And the weather will help to do this trip in 1 day maybe 2?

    Thank you.

    • Hi Carlos,

      The weather can be quite wet and cloudy at that time of year in that region, especially around Hue. But you can ride between Danang/Hoi An and Hue in one day, and then back from Hue to Danang/Hoi An the next day. However, you should start in the morning to give yourself enough time.

      If you’ve never ridden a motorbike then you need to be very careful riding on Vietnam’s roads. You can contact Style Motorbikes, or Rent a Bike, or Tigit, or Dragon Bikes in Danang to rent a motorbike and they can give you some lessons before you go on your road trip. I think Style Motorbikes also offer one-way rentals, so you wouldn’t have to ride back again.

      I hope this helps,


  7. Callum says:

    Hello, this route looks great! I have done the pass a couple of times but have always been directed through the laborious long highway roads, so I’m please I discovered this new route 🙂 However, when I open the ‘larger map’ I can see the route in google maps, but I can’t find an options to navigate with directions. My plan was to plug my headphones in and let google do the talking. If I am doing something wrong can you let me know how to access this feature.

    I’d rather not have my phone out constantly making sure that I am following the right path. I have some friends coming in less than a week and if you can let me know I’d greatly appreciate it!

    On a side note, an

    • Hi Callum,

      You can’t get Google navigation for this route – but it’s not difficult to follow this route on the map.

      If you need to have your GPS location on the route, you can export the map to KML and then upload that file to your app, then you will have the route on your phone with you current GPS location marked on it, so it’s easy to follow.

      In general in Vietnam, Google navigation only works for the routes that Google takes you down, which are most often not the most scenic routes to ride.

      I hope this helps,


      • Eryx says:

        Hi, i tried to download it into kml form.. And upload to maps. me but i still cant see any of the guided route shows in maps.Me
        Any suggestions?

        • Hi Eryx,

          Once you upload the KML file to you should be able to see the route and icons on the map (not guided directions). If that does’t work, try googling something like: ‘how to export a google map to kml & upload it to (your device name)’


  8. BG says:

    Hey Tom,

    I’ve been looking for information for awhile now on renting/riding a bike from Hoi An to Hue, and am so happy to have found this article. It’s terrific information – thanks! I hope I didn’t overlook this, but wanted to ask what kind of scooter or bike is typically rented for this kind of ride? (Like 50cc, 125, etc.?) Is a basic automatic scooter enough to get up and down the Pass, or will I need something a little more powerful? I have a few months before my trip and I’d like to take some practice rides around home as much as I can to get used to driving a bike, but was curious about what kind I’ll likely be renting there.

    Thanks again – I’m bookmarking your site now for future reference!

    • Hi BG,

      Yes, a standard automatic or semi-auto (usually around 125cc) is fine for this route. You can rent them from most places in Hoi An, Danang and Hue.

      I hope you enjoy the ride,


  9. Redelvis says:

    Rode from Hoi An to a little ways beyond Lang Co. perfect weather and the scenery was excellent! I’d consider the ride around the Son Tra Peninsula as a must do part of the route. Also, the side trip from the top of the pass was a little intense for a while on a scooter. I have a lot of riding experience so I had no problems, but your average rider would probably not enjoy it. It was awesome though!

    Thank you so much for maintaining this blog. It is a gem!

  10. Philip says:

    Hi there,

    Lovely post and a very informative one at that. I’m planning a trip to Hoi An & Da Nang and the Hai Van Pass is definitely one that I don’t want to miss. However, although we know how to ride a motorcycle, we do not have any sort of motorcycle license. How strict are the laws in VN and will we likely get in trouble for renting a motorcycle just to travel around the Hai Van Pass from and back to Da Nang? Or would your advice be to stick to a driver and have someone drive us around (although the experience will be a whole lot different from riding a bike)?

    Thanks in advance.

    • Hi Philip,

      In general, you should be fine riding the Hai Van Pass without a local license: Although technically foreign riders are supposed to have a local license, in reality most don’t. However, check what the current situation is regarding licenses by contacting any of the reputable motorbike rental companies that I mention on this page – they should be able to help.

      I hope this helps,


  11. San says:

    This route is fantastic, we followed it word for word from Hoi an up to hue and it worked perfectly.

    Thanks so much for your effort in creating this.

    For felllow riders, one option is to skip the last part where you go the long way round the lake as it’s mucj longer and quite samey. You can go straight up the highway to Hue in under an hour instead of two. (If you’re tired or pressed for time)

  12. Jess says:

    Hi Tom,

    We are currently in Hoi An and have one full day left. Do you think it is possible to do Hoi An to the end of the Hai Van pass and back in a day comfortably with stops? Any help would be great!


    • Jess says:

      Hi Tom, sorry, after reading all the posts I missed the one below which had my answer! haha! thanks!

    • Hi Jess,

      Yes, you can ride from Hoi An to Lang Co (the end of the Hai Van Pass) and back in one day, but try to leave early to give yourself plenty of time to do it: the total distance is about 140km. Also, be careful on the roads tomorrow: because of Tet lots of people will be driving the Hai Van Pass and the celebratory mood sometimes leads to lots of careless driving.

      I hope you enjoy it,


  13. Anja Robinson says:

    Great article! Thanks for the info! I’m planning on taking a motorbike along the route you suggested but I only have one day and I have to start and finish in Hoi An. Is it still worth it to go up to the pass and then return to the city? Thanks in advance for your help!

    • Hi Anja,

      Yes, you can ride from Hoi An up to the top of the pass (or all the way to the other side of the pass at Lang Co) and then turn around and come back to Hoi An in one day. It’s worth it if the weather is good.

      I hope this helps,


  14. Ricardo Rodriguez says:

    I am planning to ride from Hue To Da Nang, the thing is that at 8PM i need to be in Da Nang Airport.

    My question is if from Hue i can rent a motorbike and someone leave my backpack in the airport and also if i can leave the motorbike in the airport.

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