Hue To Hoi An By Motorbike: With Full Riding Guide
It’s no secret that Vietnam is best explored by motorbike. And if you have time for just one day trip while you’re here, then the Hai Van Pass is the one. Since the opening of the Hai Van Pass tunnel in the early 2000s, the once congested, winding road, is now a paradise for bikers. And also you can visit Hue to Hoi by Motorbike. You’ll find curving roads that reveal beautiful new views of the mountains and coastline at every turn. With Hoi An and Da Nang at one end of the pass and Hue at the other, crossing over makes for the perfect day trip. In this guide, Hidden provides everything you need to know about travelling from Hue to Hoi An by motorbike — rental, routes, and more!
Why Travel Hue To Hoi An By Motorbike?
The ride across the Hai Van Pass from Hue to Hoi An is one of the most accessible self-drive routes in all of Vietnam, and one of the most rewarding. At every turn of the 25-kilometre long pass is a picturesque view, with the Son Tra Peninsula and Da Nang city emerging from the distance at the edge of the sea. The pass itself no longer handles the high level of traffic it once did (due to the opening of the tunnel in 2005), which makes it a paradise for thrill-seeking riders.
Fortunately for travellers, there are many motorbike companies that have locations in both Hue and Hoi An. This makes it both simple and affordable to hire a motorbike for a one-way journey. Before you do though, there are some important things to consider. Hidden rented one to share our experience of the drive, plus give you some of our best insider tips if you decide to follow suit.
If you’d prefer not to drive yourself then check out our article on Guided Motorbike Tours. If you already have a bike, then just read on, and we’ll discuss driving the Hai Van Pass and the stops along the way that you shouldn’t miss.
Can I Legally Ride a Motorbike in Vietnam?
The answer to this question is both very simple and confusingly complex. To ride legally in Vietnam, you’ll need a Vietnamese driver’s license or a motorcycle license from your home country with an International Driver’s Permit (IDP), which is recognised by the Vietnamese authorities. Agreements and laws will differ depending on which country you come from so check on your own government websites for relevant information. We advise that you speak to your travel insurance directly to ensure that they will provide sufficient cover.
Renting A One-Way Motorbike For The Hai Van Pass:
With offices in both Hue and Hoi An, MotorVina, Style Motorbikes, and Flamingo Travel all offer one-way rentals. Other companies that only have an office in one city or the other may still offer one-way rentals, but at a higher cost.
We compared what was offered between each company and decided to try Style Motorbikes due to their lower costs and lineup of new, fully automatic motorbikes. We reserved the 2018 automatic Suzuki Impulse 125cc, the motorbike recommended on their website for traversing the pass with two people.
Hidden Hint: Email rental agencies before you visit them and ensure the model listed on their site will be available. Ask if they provide full-face helmets and other protection.
After arriving into Hue by train and checking into our hotel, we stopped by Style Motorbikes to pick up our bike. We wanted to have it for an extra day, before heading to the pass and on to Hoi An, so that we could explore the incredible citadel in Hue and the king’s tombs. Having this extra day was beneficial for testing out the reliability of the bike and getting used to driving it in less tricky conditions.
Hidden Hint: Arrive at your rental location early in the day to ensure you get your chosen bike model or full-face helmet and then show your email confirmation as a back-up.
Coolest Budget Friendly Rental Bike For You:
Style’s team of three staff greeted us warmly. One spoke fluent English and also happened to be the guy who we had emailed before we left. The 2018 Suzuki we requested looked brand new and ready to ride. The Style team quoted us 506,000 VND (22 USD) for the first day’s rental.
This rate included luggage delivery and motorbike drop-off at Style’s Hoi An location. We paid 276,000 VND (12 USD) for each additional day—the same rate you would pay for renting and returning a bike in the same city. As per our email, we were offered two full-face helmets at no extra cost. Keep hold of your email confirmation, though, as the only other option is to buy them.
Style offered to mount a luggage rack onto our bike if we preferred. We opted to take advantage of their luggage delivery service though and they brought our larger bag to Hoi An, where we could pick it up that evening at their office by 5 pm. We brought a smaller bag with our valuables along with us on our ride.
Hidden Hint: Take the time to read through your rental agreement, it includes valuable information and is only half a page long.
Hidden recommends getting an engine guarantee included in any contract—a key clause in Style’s agreement and one of our reasons for choosing them. It stated that Style would reimburse us for any engine repair costs, so long as we messaged them on their 24/7 helpline via WhatsApp before having any repairs done. This heads-up gives them a chance to negotiate with the mechanic directly and ensures repairs are properly handled.
You Can Easily Get Your Bike Without Feeling Any Worries
Like all rental companies, a deposit is required. Style requires either leaving your passport with them or a cash or credit card deposit (refundable 2% surcharge) for the motorbike. If you’re comfortable leaving your passport, feel free to do so (but remember to take a photocopy as you’ll need this to stay at any hotel in Vietnam). We opted to leave a cash deposit of 6,900,000 VND (300 USD) and advise doing the same.
After getting the paperwork and fees out of the way, we did a standard maintenance check on the bike using our handy checklist in Hidden’s Motorbike Rental Overview.
Style gave us an itinerary with stops and sights to see around Hue, as well as on our drive to Hoi An over the Hai Van Pass. They set a multi-destination trip on Google Maps on our phone. With our route ready, we secured our phone to the mount on the bike and headed off for the day.
Greatest Road For Best Biking
From Hue, there are two different routes you can take to get to the Hai Van Pass—either inland or coastal. If you start your day later and want to get to the pass sooner, then this route should take three to four hours with few stops. If you are in no rush and want to see more small towns and coastal hills before you get to the pass, then take the coastal route. There’s less traffic on this route, making it much more enjoyable by motorbike.
We were told this route would take about five to six hours. For us, it ended up taking seven hours to get to Hoi An, as we stopped often to admire the views, ate lunch at a restaurant on the pass, and made some small detours. If you’ve got the time, take it, and do the same things we did.
The Ride From Hue To Hoi An By Motorbike:
A light rain was falling as we set off from Hue, making us grateful we’d picked up full-coverage ponchos the day before. Weaving our way through rush hour traffic, we soon made our way out of the city and found ourselves in the countryside. From farmers tending to lush rice fields to children biking to school, the relaxing, scenic atmosphere set the perfect tone for the start of our trip.
We passed dozens of stunning temples in the first 40 kilometres. The stunning ceramic work and brilliant colours of these structures captivated us as much as the royal tombs of Hue. Of course, we had to stop for a few photos! Before long we were on the coastal route road, but it was hard to tell as Thuan An Beach was still out of view.
But by the time we reached Cau Tu Hien Bridge, a massive bay spread out before us. Fog descended from the mountains nearby, down toward the fishermen trawling for their midday catches on the water below. We stopped when we reached the nearby bridge at Dong Do to pose for a few selfies—and we checked if there was no traffic first!
Then took off across the coastal mountains, giving us our first taste of what was to come on the Hai Van Pass. We came to Lang Co Bay, a fishing village that boasts several seafood restaurants, where you can watch fishermen catching the ‘specials of the day’ as you dine. We didn’t stop and eat, but we did spend some time driving the small streets of Lang Co, watching fishermen throw out their nets and women cleaning piles of clams that had just come in. The perfect slice of seaside life.
Leaving Lang Co Bay, we hit some rain and traffic and a split in the road. One led to the Hai Van Tunnel, and the other to the Hai Van Pass. The cars all took the right exit to the tunnel and we cruised up the empty road leading to the Pass. Motorbikes cannot drive through the tunnel, though if required, then the only option to do this is to load them on to a truck and have them driven through.
Great Place For Parking
As we ascended the pass, we wondered if we’d have trouble making the climb, especially with fuel trucks and tour buses sharing the road with us. We were pleasantly surprised as we encountered very little traffic and even a few fellow motorbike riders. Once we hit higher elevation, we literally wanted to stop at every turn, to just gaze over the rails and soak up the views of the stunning, lush mountains meeting the sea.
We waited until we were safely at the outlook, where we saw a few fellow riders and a small memorial, along with a little waterfall coming down the rocks and under the elevated road behind us. It was an incredible panorama of the coast and mountains, as well as a great chance to get some photos (thanks to other riders who were willing to snap some of us when asked).
Our blissful ride turned into a bit of a tourist hub at the top of the pass, where an old French bunker stands. Here, tour buses deposit their vacationing passengers, to dine at roadside restaurants and have shots of rice wine. Kids climbed up the last peak to the bunker while their parents stumbled behind them.
We climbed up the bunker, which was nothing special, except for the view it afforded at the top. There, we could see it—the Hai Van Pass in all its glory. The mountains rolling down to the Son Tra Peninsula and the never-ending sea. Time seemed to slow and we took the chance to just bask in the experience.
The chilly weather and our hunger pangs eventually got the better of us. So we hopped on our bikes and headed down the pass towards Da Nang. Just past the bunker tourist hub, we saw Cafe Hon Da Cu Rua, a welcoming family-run cafe with a sign advertising hot meals, coffee, and photo opportunities. A smiling older woman and two adorable puppies out front sealed the deal and we pulled into the parking lot. After filling our bellies and taking more snapshots, this time with the hazy skyline of Da Nang city in the background, we headed off again.
Approaching Da Nang, the route flattened out, and we started to see more traffic and other signs of city life. Ans we detoured along the coast towards our final stop, Lady Buddha, passing dozens of colourful fishing boats docked alongside the seaside pathway en-route. (We decided to skip Marble Mountains as we were short on time. We recommend visiting if you have a spare hour and a half; otherwise, you can comfortably visit here on a Day Trip out of Hoi An).
Dusk began to descend as we left Da Nang, and we found ourselves in traffic once again. Forty-five minutes later, and a full seven hours after we’d left Hue, we pulled into Stylish bike on Hoi An office. The team there greeted us, and we presented them with our rental agreement from the Hue office. They did a quick check on the bike before returning our cash deposit and then handed us our luggage, safe and sound.
This was the best ride on the Vietnam coast, without a doubt. There were surreal views literally around every turn. We loved seeing the Vietnamese people going about their daily lives here and had friendly conversations at all our stops.
It does pay to do your research ahead of time though, as choosing a good rental company will make all the difference to your experience. Ours was stress-free and we thoroughly enjoyed the additional tips and detours from Style Motorbikes. They made the journey getting to the pass, almost as great as the pass itself.
We would not have changed a thing with our one-way rental. The rental process with Style was seamless and the recommended bike handled the winding roads with ease. If you have one opportunity to take a motorbike on the coast of Vietnam, then make this your trip—it’s simply unforgettable.