For anyone that plans on traveling to Vietnam, there is one must do activity and that is renting a motorbike and cruising through the Hai Van Pass. Arguably one of the most beautiful drives you will ever do, you will not be disappointed by the scenery or the multiple stops along the way at Marble Mountains, Ba Na Hills to visit the Golden Bridge (Hands of God), and the Lady Buddha. You can do one-way rentals booked through your hostel where a van will pick up your backpack belongings and drop it off at your hostel or hotel in Hue. For in between a price of $7-10 USD you can rent a bike. Drive time is approximately 4 hours but account for an additional 2-3 hours for the amount of times you will stop and enjoy to scenery. Below is a map to show what the drive looks like:
Along the way you will run into several stops with Da Nang being one of the most popular coastal towns in Vietnam. Here, we suggest that visit the following attractions in this order (if coming from Hoi An): Marble Mountain, the Cham Museum, Lady Buddha, and Ba Na Hills. All of this is listed above to give you an idea of what your trip will look like.
Make sure that you grab some food in town before heading out as the trip ahead is more scenic then city. There aren't a lot of places to eat along the way other than when you're at the very top of the mountain range that your cross over. This ride will take you through narrow road ways along the coastline and through the mountains so be sure to be prepared for any traffic or animal crossing stops.
Is the motorbike drive dangerous?: This is a common question travelers ask and our answer is that most of the time, no. Reason being is drivers in Vietnam are conditioned to give space and right of way to motorbike drivers since a majority of locals use this as their primary form of transportation. Furthermore, you can expect to be leaving with a small group or riders from you hostel or hotel so you wont be alone. Ultimately, you can ride with someone if you still are uneasy driving yourself.
Arriving in Hue and Staying the Night
You can expect to be pulling in right as the sun is setting (depending if you made too many stops to take pictures!) so make sure to fill up your bike and know where your accommodations are located before hand to save some trouble. If you plan on staying an additional day in Hue, some activities we suggest is to visit the Imperial City, see the Tomb of Tu Duc, or taking a walk at Thuan An Beach. While you can spend money on getting official tours and learning more about each of these historic places, we recommend exploring yourself if you want to save some extra cash.
While Hue has some of the best beaches and ancient monuments that Vietnam offers, we suggest only staying the night in Hue and catching a bus the next morning out to Phong Nha. Reason for this is that if you plan on traveling back to South East Asia or want to extend your trip, there will be plenty of other temples and beaches to see so you wont be missing out on much. The Phong Nha caves are a very unique system of caves which people all over the world travel to see. Spending 2 nights there is really necessary to appreciate its beauty.
Food in Hue
Similar to Hoi An, Hue has plenty of options for you to indulge on. Madam Thu is the perfect place to try new Vietnamese food, along with Nook Cafe and Bar. If you're looking to spend a little more, we suggest checking out Spice Viet for Asian and Vietnamese style food, as well as Secret Lounge for what is considered the best kept secret in town with a very enjoyable and intimate atmosphere. For more options, click the link here!
Accommodations in Hue
Since we suggest staying a night, or if you decide to do two, there are plenty of places available in the city center near good food, shops, and bars to grab a drink. For backpackers, we suggest looking into Ngoc Hung Hostel since it is located in the center of Hue and offers a great price ($4 per night) and easy bike drop off. Rooms have AC, complimentary WiFi and breakfast, and the staff was very friendly when coordinating our bus trip to the Phong Nha Cave. Below are more options for hotels and hostels so be sure to pick one and book through Booking.com.
Before booking anywhere in Hue, make sure that your hostel or hotel allows for the one-way drop off bike service. Most of them do, but it's always good to double check before booking another room! Furthermore, your can book your bus ticket to Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park from your front desk. This bus ride is a little over 4 hours long and either leaves in the early morning around 8 or mid afternoon around 2.
Thank you for reading our post and we hope you enjoyed it. Continue reading on to see what adventures you can take while visiting one of the largest cave systems in the world in Phong Nha!