One of the best ways to see Vietnam is by motorbike and I’ve always been a fan of riding on my own two wheels. We’ve ridden a little bit in Bali and Pai on this trip but, it was always me driving and Katie on the back. Katie was keen to get her own wheels and Hoi An offered the perfect place with a pretty simple ride to the My Son ruins and, if she was feeling good after that, we’d tackle the Hai Van Pass made famous by the Top Gear Vietnam special.
My Son Ruins
We rented a couple of 125CC bikes from our hotel (VND 150k pp) and hit up the Dingo Deli for a hearty breakfast. This place was recommended by our friends from Hanoi and it was incredible. Beans on toast with bacon for me and eggs benedict with spinach on a hash brown for Katie. What a way to start the day!
After that we hit the road tracking the river west before crossing over a bridge. We passed through tiny villages, rice fields and got lost a few times before finding the main turning to the ruins. The trip is about 55km each way and it’s pretty well sign posted for the final 25km.
It’s a really picturesque ride and Katie was loving being her own pilot for the first time.
We arrived at the ruins and paid our fees (VND 100k pp). The original temples were built in about the 8th century, but were used as a Viet Cong military base during the Vietnam war, so were subsequently bombed by the US. Not a great deal remain, but it’s still a pretty cool site.
We had a slightly hairy ride back, getting a little bit lost and having to pull a U-turn on the highway but really enjoyed the day out. Katie had caught the bug and was itching to get back on a bike and go on another adventure.
Hai Van Pass
After another awesome breakfast at the Dingo Deli we hit the road to take on the 70km trip to Lang Co beach via the Hai Van Pass. Check out the YouTube video of the Top Gear chaps taking it on. It truly is a beautiful ride and we had incredible weather. The icing on the cake is that there is now a bypass tunnel, so every vehicle (except bikes and petrol tankers which are banned) takes the tunnel, meaning there’s very little traffic.
We started driving north up the coastal road towards Da Nang, before navigating the city centre and crossing over to the ocean where the mountain can be seen in the distance.
From here on out it’s 40kmph hairpin turns, incredible vistas and amazing photo opportunities.
The top of the pass is meant to separate the north from the south and marks a change in climate. It was definitely colder and winder on the northern side. The peak was also used as a look out for invading forces during the Vietnam war and there are still a few pillar boxes that remain.
We rested up at an extremely mediocre and dated resort in Lang Co beach for lunch before heading back. It was nice to relax, but the winds really whip the sand up, probably explaining why there was only one other person on the beach.
The view on the way back is just as impressive, but we got a nasty shock when we arrived into Da Nang at rush hour. Every lane has about five bikes in and it’s pretty intimidating driving where there seem to be no rules of the road. Every intersection seemed to be a mass game of chicken. We survived, Katie handled the traffic admirably for only her second biking trip and we got back to Hoi An extremely happy with out day out. It got us thinking about taking bikes on Route One or the Great Ocean Road and we definitely have more motorbike trips in our future.