Crossing the Hai Van Pass in Vietnam with an Easy Rider

Crossing the Hai Van Pass in Vietnam with an Easy Rider

When I asked at the hotel for the best way to get from Hue to Hoi An over the Cloud Pass (or Hai Van Pass), the helpful receptionist advised me to take a motorcycle with driver. Okay, then stop with the motorcycle. If I hadn’t met two English girls in Hanoi before, who had made the same trip in the opposite direction and were totally enthusiastic – I would have probably decided against it.

On a motorcycle? With 18 kilos of luggage (yeah yeah, I travel like a total girl)? The way they ride here? Never. But I couldn’t get the enthusiasm of the two girls out of my head – and I calmed down with the thought that they had survived the trip unharmed after all.

Ocean Cloud Pass, Vietnam

Ocean Cloud Pass, Vietnam

The temptation was there. The route from Hue to Hoi An is very picturesque, because it leads right over the Cloud Pass, a mountain range that runs like a corridor through the country and separates the north from the south of Vietnam both geographically and meteorologically. Alternatively, the route can be covered by train, bus or private car. I already knew the train, car alone was too expensive and the bus drives through the tunnel under the mountains without a panoramic view.

My driver Duc.

My concerns about security turned out to be rather unfounded. My driver Duc carefully lashed my luggage on the luggage rack, wrapped in strong plastic to protect it from dust – and drove prudently in Central Europe. Well, the helmet I brought with me had only a chin buckle, and nobody knows protective clothing in Vietnam – that’s a different way of travelling as a motorcyclist at home. Anyway, at 36 degrees you are happy about every bit less on your body. As Duc told me afterwards, we Germans are probably the shyest when it comes to riding with him or generally with the motorcycle – safety and all. Therefore I would like to recommend you here especially: If you’re ever faced with a choice in Vietnam… Just go ahead!

From Hue to Hoi An by motorbike

I believed I paid for transportation only. But I have to admit that I hadn’t asked Duc again before where we were actually driving along and how the day would turn out – the communication in English was even worse than with the receptionist, with whom I only understood the most important key data, so that I just let it go. I would already arrive in Hoi An.

The tracks are part of the train that runs from Hanoi down to Ho Chi Minh City – fantastic views included.

In fact, the one-way trip to Hoi An turned out to be a total surprise package. Duc stopped with me at the most beautiful places along the way, took photos and made jokes, and I tried to compile information about the country and its people from his English scraps of words.

Hai Van Pass


Remains from the Vietnam War: Old American bunkers.

Old bunkers from Vietnam war

In former times whole families used to live(!) on a fishing boat – up to 8 or 9 persons!
Da Nang beach

Fazit des Tages: Einfach mal die Dinge auf sich zukommen lassen tut so gut! Hätte ich die vermeintlich “sichere” Variante einer Busfahrt gewählt – ich hätte so viele schöne Dinge verpasst. Der Tag war einmalig schön und jeden Cent wert!

Where to book a bike tour from Hue to Hoi An or vice versa


Route Hue to Hoi An

incl. driver and motorcycle
approx. 45 USD (as of April 2015)
Duration: approx. 6-7 hours
(with numerous stops e.g. in the mountains, Da Nang, Marble Mountains)
Departure best by 9.30h at the latest
Driver takes you from Ho(s)tel to Ho(s)tel
Optional: Visit to the imperial graves in Hue (for a small extra charge)
bookable in hotels, travel agencies, everywhere


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