A few days ago we rode from the ancient capital city of Hue to the unesco world heritage town Hoi An by moped – the journey made famous by the Top Gear Vietnam special.
The twisting roads take you through the Hai Van Mountain pass (‘ocean cloud pass’ in Vietnamese) for 21km, which has become a challenge for many travellers to achieve.
I was quite nervous in the morning because lots of people had been shocked when we told them we hadn’t ridden much before (eg I don’t even drive in England), they were surprised that we weren’t hiring a guide, and they repeatedly told us how difficult it was on the roads.
Our hostel went through the route with us, and they took our big bags to their sister hostel in Hoi An on a bus. We rode as a group of 10 which we originally thought would be difficult but it turned out to be the best way.
Navigating our way out of the busy city streets in Hue was a bit scary at first, but we quickly got used to the way the traffic flows (basically there are no rules and you just beep at anyone and everyone). Once out of Hue we drive along the coastline, stopping every so often for photos and breaks.
The roads changed a lot: some extremely easy and smooth, some dirt tracks, and others with a lot of roadworks and potholes. You had to concentrate a lot, but there was time to look at all the beautiful scenery & communities. We passed over huge empty bridges where we could drive super fast, saw water buffalo, and lots of waving kids on bicycles.
We stopped for lunch at an empty beach with not a person in sight. The waves were huge and the sand squeaked beneath our feet.
Just before we started the pass, Jess’s bike got a flat tyre, but we were close to someone who could fix it. With 10 of us, we split the cost so it was about 60p each. This was the only bad luck we had all day!
At the start of the mountain pass the views over the coast were amazing, and the further we drove through the curvy roads the better they became. We were lucky to be driving on a clear day with blue skies, the day after some of our friends did the same route in torrential rain.
From the highest point of the pass we could see views to the north and south, over Danang’s long sandy beaches.
The hair pin bends took us down towards Danang, and from here we followed the long coastal roads through to Hoi An. We arrived in darkness on empty roads hitting about 80km/h which was scary but so much fun (however I can’t even imagine going that speed now…).
The whole trip took us around 9 hours, but this is longer than usual due to is having a big group and stopping a lot, especially for around an hour and a half at lunchtime.
Driving on the roads here is so different to driving at home, so even for someone who doesn’t drive a car it really isn’t difficult, but I couldn’t have done it without practising in Thailand because it was a much bigger moped.
The whole day was SO much fun & if you’re ever in Vietnam I would definitely recommend the trip.