Hai Van Pass, cloud pass or in Vietnamese Deo Hai Van, is seen by many as one of the most beautiful coastal roads in the world. It owes its fame from the popular episode of Top Gear, where Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May race through Vietnam on simple motorcycles. Since then, a trip over this famous mountain pass has become immensely popular with tourists traveling by motorbike from Hue to Hoi An or Da Nang.
Hai Van Pass is the road over the mountains that connects the coastal town of Lang Co with the modern city of Da Nang. The view along the 21-kilometer road across the pass is amazing and those who occasionally drive off the main road are rewarded with miles of deserted beach. Since the opening of the tunnel through the mountain, you hardly have a problem with other traffic that makes the journey over the pass, which makes it all a lot safer.
In this article you will learn the following about the Hai Van Pass:
- What options are there and is it safe?
- Hai Van Pass by motorbike
- Motor route
- Where to stop
- Rent a motorbike
- Easy Rider
- With the train along the Hai Van Pass
- Hai Van Pass tour
What options are there and is it safe?
What are the options for passing the pass?
You have a number of options. You can rent a scooter or motorbike and drive over the mountain pass yourself. You can also do this with a tour including a guide or on the back of the bike with an Easy Rider. In addition, you can also cross the mountain pass with an open jeep or via a spectacular train journey along it.
Where do you start and where do you end?
If you come from the south, you start in Hoi An. If you come from the north, you start in Hue. If you want to shorten the route, you can also start or end in Da Nang.
Is it safe to drive the motorcycle over the mountain pass?
The roads are asphalted and in good condition. Due to a new tunnel there is little traffic on the pass itself, but driving in Vietnam is never without risks. Read more information and tips about driving a motorcycle or scooter in Vietnam here.
Hai Van Pass by motorbike
The most popular route among travelers going from Hue to Hoi An or vice versa is over the Hai Van Pass. You can rent a scooter at your departure point (Hue or Hoi An) and return it to your destination. Your luggage is brought to your destination by the rental company.
The route is approximately 170 kilometers long and is easy to do in a day. At normal speed with no stops, it takes around 4-5 hours, so if you were to leave between 09:00 and 10:00 in the morning, you can easily reach your destination with a number of breaks before it gets dark. If you want to shorten the route, you can also start or end in Da Nang.
In terms of route it is best to drive along the coast from Hue. Follow main road 49 in the direction of Thuan An, eventually driving along a large lake to the highway 1A. We advise you not to take the motorway from the beginning. The other road is nicer and you avoid the big traffic.
- Check the weather before you do this. You don’t want to ride in the pouring rain.
- It can be slightly colder at the top of the pass, so it is good to take something against the wind.
- The pass is very safe, but always drive with focus and care; minor errors can have major consequences.
- Although the route is very simple, it can be useful to use a navigation app such as Google Maps or Maps.me (for offline).
Look below for our detailed motorbike route.
Where to stop en route
For the Hai van Pass you can stop at the Elephant Stream to take a refreshing dip in the water. Read the blog article about the Elephant Stream (Suoi Voi) for the exact route description and what you can see and do there. If you are driving from Hoi An, this is a refreshing final stop before continuing to Hue.
Afterwards there is a nice stop on Lang Co beach. This beach is very large and beautiful. If you have the time, you can also spend a day in this city relaxing on the beautiful beach. A night at the Lang Co beach resort and eating in one of the many seafood restaurants will complete your visit to this sleepy city.
Then the road up the mountain pass starts. The pass itself is actually only a small part of your journey, so make sure you take the time for your stops. When you see a nice place to stop and enjoy the beautiful view and take a picture, take it. But on the pass itself we advise you to stop at least 3 places. The first place, coming from Hue, is soon after you cross the bridge from Lang Co and cross the track. From this place you have a great view over the beach of Lang Co and the mountains in the distance.
The second place is at the lookout point at the highest point of the pass (496 meters). Just like other strategic places in Vietnam, bunkers have also been built on the Hai Van Pass. At the top of the pass, near the brick gate that was built by Emperor Minh Mang in the 19th century, are gun towers used by the French, South Vietnamese and American troops during the wars.
Then you have a nice descent to Da Nang. A nice stop is at a large rock on the left side of the road; hard to miss. From this rock you can take great pictures of the city of Da Nang, the deserted beaches below and the Son Tra peninsula in the distance.
Then you enter Da Nang. When you have time you can choose to visit a beach in Da Nang. If you want to know more, read the Da Nang travel information to know what you can do in this city, see, eat and accommodation.
Then continue your way to Hoi An along the coast and along the Marble Mountains. You enter Hoi An via An Bang beach.
Rent a motorbike
If you stay in Da Nang, you can choose to rent a scooter or motorbike for a day. You then drive over Hai Van Pass and then return to Da Nang. If you stay in Hoi An or Hue you can do this, but it will take more time. If you want to do the full route, you must choose a one-way rental scooter. For example, you rent the scooter in Hoi An and you deliver the scooter in Hue. The rental company takes your luggage with you.
Below are some tips for reliable scooter rental companies.
- Hue Motorbike Rental (Reviews)
- MotorVina Motorbike Rentals (Reviews)
- Style Motorbikes (Reviews)
- The Motorbike Station (Reviews)
- Tigit Motorbikes (Reviews)
If you prefer not to drive alone, you can book a tour with an Easy Rider. You can find them everywhere in Hue, Da Nang and Hoi An. They often have a book in which they show you the experiences of their previous customers. The advantage of Easy Riders is that they can often show you beautiful places that you will not see if you do the route on your own. You also have more time to enjoy the view because you don’t have to pay attention to the road. With an Easy Rider tour you often visit other sights along the route, such as the Marble Mountains.
With the train along the Hai Van Pass
As an alternative to the motorcycle or scooter, you can also consider taking the train from Hue to Da Nang, or vice versa. The route runs almost completely along the coast and you have a beautiful view of the Hai Van Pass and the ocean. The train ride takes only 2.5 hours. Read more about booking train tickets in Vietnam here.
Tour on the Hai Van Pass
Various tours are also offered on the Hai Van Pass. For example, you can choose to ride the Hai Van Pass with your motorcycle, but including an experienced guide and a small group of other drivers. The bus tours are not recommended, but what is really cool are the open jeep tours.