In Central Vietnam, many travellers will commute the popular route between the cities of Hue and Hoi An. Our options were to either take a 4-hour bus ride, or go the long but scenic route on a motorbike tour. We went with the latter, turning our drive from Hue to Hoi An into an all-day tour, breaking up the journey with sightseeing and photo opportunities at local attractions along the way.
It seems like the company Easy Rider has a monopoly on this route — every tourism agency sells the Hue to Hoi An (or Hoi An to Hue) motorbiking route, and every traveller we’ve talked to knows about this company and its 5-star TripAdvisor rating. One of the highlights for me, for going on motorbike rather than on a bus, is the chance to ride through Hai Van pass, a 21km stretch of curving highway that separates Hue from Da Nang (the closest major city to Hoi An). Bus riders, on the other hand, go into a tunnel through the mountain and miss the scenery.
Our drive began at 8am in the morning with a pick-up from our guesthouse in Hue. Steve and I each had our own driver, we would sit on the back of his motorbike for the duration of the drive. Our big backpacks (mine is 12kg, Steve’s is 20kg) were put into big plastic bags and easily strapped onto the backs of the motorbikes and off we went.
As Steve and I hadn’t eaten breakfast yet, our first stop was at a highway cafe where we filled up on a bowl of noodles. Off the highway, our drive continued through scenic farmland where we got off the bikes to take photos of a countryside fishing village. The rest of our tour had stops every 30 to 60 minutes, stopping at various viewpoints and attractions including a swimming break at the Elephant Springs, a beachfront seafood lunch, and Marble Mountain.
Elephant Springs is a tourist hotspot, named after the elephant structure carved out of rock. Below, tiers of wading / swimming pools, wooden bridges, and small waterfalls makes it an interesting landscape for hot and sweaty tourists to dip into. After an hour, we continued to our lunch stop at a beachfront seafood restaurant.
And finally, the highlight of the route: Hai Van Pass.
Hai Van Pass is known to be a curvy and dangerous mountain road. On the back of my guide’s motorbike, I didn’t feel the least bit afraid! Instead, I was enjoying the beautiful views of the city and sea-view below.
As we got closer to Da Nang city, I started getting really sleepy. Even though I’m just a motorbike passenger with no other responsibility other than to hang on to the driver in front of me, it’s a long day spent under the sun. I actually started nodding off when we were stuck in Da Nang traffic, a dangerous no-no for someone riding on the back of a motorbike. Everytime my helmet hit my driver in front of me, I would wake up again — I’m pretty sure he kept hi-fiving me to keep me awake.
Finally, we reached our last attraction of the day: Marble Mountain. In hindsight, I could have done without this final attraction. At Marble Mountain, we had two choices: to go to a temple-like cave within the mountain, or to take a paid elevator to the top and see the view. We did the cave option, because we had already seen some beautiful views from the Hai Van Pass, and we thought visiting the cave would be a slightly cooler experience (temperature-wise). In hindsight, I could have done without visiting Marble Mountain and gone straight to Hoi An, but since we were right there, it seemed silly to miss it.
After a long and tiring day, we arrived to our guesthouse in Hoi An at around 4pm, safe and sound!
We paid $45USD per person for our Easy Rider motorbike tour, which delivered us from door to door from Hue to Hoi An. Food and attraction admission costs were not included in the price of the tour.