The iconic motorbike trail that weaves from one end of Vietnam all the way to the other is full of stunning mountain passes and pristine coastal views, but there is one road that has claimed its place as the most iconic road in Vietnam: The Hai Van Pass. Driving along the Hai Van Pass has become something of a right-of-passage for travellers to Vietnam, featuring highly on Vietnam bucketlists. I’ve driven this iconic route several times now and each time the Hai Van Pass has lived up to the hype. This guide shares everything you need to know for motorbiking the Hai Van Pass yourself.
What is the Hai Van Pass?
The Hai Van Pass is a winding road that slithers its way through a steep mountain pass, connecting the two diverse cities of Da Nang and Hue in central Vietnam. This beautiful Vietnamese road hugs the mountains on one side and brushes the ocean on the other, each twist and turn revealing a postcard-perfect view.
Things to see on the Hai Van Pass
Along the route, there are lots of beautiful viewpoints as well as an ancient watchtower and war bunkers at the top of the pass, secluded beaches you can hike to on the Da Nang side and lagoons and waterfalls on the Hue side. All these sites transform motorbiking the Hai Van Pass into more than just a beautiful drive, but a full day adventure.
Hike to the secret beach
One of the highlights of my last trip along the Hai Van Pass was hiking down to a secret beach on the Da Nang side of the pass. It’s a great stop for breaking up the trip and relaxing on a deserted beach. There is no infrastructure here so be sure to bring your towels and water with you.
Visit the rock Cafe
I also recommend stopping at the rock cafe on the Da Nang side for one of the best views back over the bay to Da Nang city. Alternatively, there are also cafes at the top of the Pass and you can choose a cafe with a view of either the Da Nang side or the Hue side of the pass.
Rock Cafe 📍 Cafe Hòn Đá Cụ Rùa, Hoà Hiệp Bắc, Liên Chiểu
Explore the Hai Van Gate
At the top of the Hai Van Pass is an ancient watchtower. The gate marks the transition between Da Nang province and Thua Thien Hue province and was historically used to control the passage between the two areas. There are also military bunkers that date back to the French colonial period and that were re-used during the Vietnam-America war.
A great place to stop on the Hue side of the Hai Van Pass is Elephant Spring, a waterfall with natural swimming pools to cool down in. There are a few places to buy drinks and snacks here, as well as changing rooms for swimming.
Elephant Spring 📍 Lộc Tiến, Phú Lộc, Thua Thien Hue
Once you pass the Hue side of the Hai Van Pass there are a series of beautiful freshwater lagoons that I recommend driving alongside. Here you’ll see stilt houses, houseboats and shellfish farms (identified by wooden posts that stick out the surface of the water).
How to motorbike the Hai Van Pass
There are two ways to experience the Hai Van Pass:
1️⃣ Self-drive the Hai Van Pass (rent a motorbike and drive yourself from Da Nang to Hue)
2️⃣ Take an Easy Rider tour (ride on the back of an experienced driver’s motorbike)
Regardless of which way you opt to see the Hai Van Pass, I highly recommend treating it as your mode of transport between Da Nang and Hue. If you aren’t already motorbiking across Vietnam, then you’ll want to organise a one-way motorbike rental.
If you don’t want to drive the whole way, you can drive to the peak of the Hai Van Pass as a day trip from Da Nang, taking in some of the beautiful and historic sites along the way.
✍ This guide details a great day trip itinerary around Da Nang, including the Hai Van Pass and other sites in and around the city.
One-way motorbike rental
Many companies offer motorbike rentals for one-way trips along the Hai Van Pass. Most companies arrange to drop off/pick up the motorbike at your hotel, as well as offer bag transport so you don’t need to take your luggage with you on the road. If you can drive a semi-automatic then I recommend this, however, it is possible to drive the Hai Van Pass on an automatic scooter. These are reputable companies offering one-way motorbike rental for the Hai Van Pass:
💰 450-600k ($20-25)
A route for motorbiking the Hai Van Pass
Two roads connect Hue and Da Nang; the Hai Van Pass which winds through the mountains, and a tunnel that cuts through the mountain. The tunnel is where cars are buses are normally directed. Make sure that you are taking the correct route between Hoi An and Hue – you want to take the one that wraps around the mountain, as shown.
The drive itself only takes ~ 3 hours but with stops along the way, it can take a full day. So, I would set aside a full day for motorbiking the Hai Van Pass.
The Hai Van Pass is a well-maintained road and relatively easy to drive, but I don’t recommend driving yourself if you’re brand new to driving as the route winds along the side of the mountain and includes lots of hairpin bends that could challenge new drivers. Instead, I would suggest inexperienced drivers join an easy rider tour.
The Hai Van Pass can be driven in both directions, from Da Nang to Hue or visa-versa. You will need to book accommodation for one night in each city to motorbike the Hai Van Pass. For information on planning a trip to Da Nang, including other things to do, where to stay, and what to eat, check out my Da Nang travel guide.
💰 450k+ for a one-way motorbiking rental + ~150k for petrol
⏰ full day
✍ For more information on motorbiking in Vietnam, check out my Complete Guide to Motorbiking in Vietnam.