Motorbiking Vietnam: Part II
Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park to Hoi An
Duration: 3 riding days
Distance: 362 km (225 miles)
I left the Ho Chi Minh Trail for this leg, traveling to the coast for Hue, Da Nang, and Hoi An.
Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park to Hue – 230 km (143 miles)
On my way to Hue, I stopped at the Vinh Moc Tunnels. Vinh Moc is an underground town, built during the Vietnam War, housing 60 families anywhere from 10-30 meters below ground. The complex included wells, kitchens, and rooms for healthcare. Today, for 40,000 Dong (under $2), you can explore the tunnels. Be warned: Go with other people and bring a flashlight. It’s an eery experience, especially alone, of war history and pitch black, narrow tunnels.
More of a stopover city, Hue can be seen in just a couple of days.
– The Citadel, Imperial City, and Purple Forbidden City is another UNESCO World Heritage Site and a cool place to explore, with old ruins from 19th Century Chinese dynastic rule. Like most places in Vietnam, it was destroyed from the American War, but is currently being restored using traditional techniques. It’s 150,000 Dong (about $6) to enter, but if you like history, it’s worth a visit.
There is also the Mien Thu Pagoda, another icon of Hue. It’s a Buddhist temple with beautiful views of the Perfume River.
There are other cool places to explore, like an abandoned water park and an old tiger/elephant arena. My lips are sealed on their locations, but with a little online research and off-roading, you can get there on your own.
Hue to Da Nang – 102 km (63 miles)
Hai Van Pass
One of the highlights of the ride from Hue to Da Nang is the Hai Van Pass, not to be missed, especially on motorbike. This mountain pass offers stunning views of the ocean, mountains, and nearby cities. It’s steep, winding switchbacks make for a fun trip by bike, giving you a perspective you can’t get from behind a bus window.
If anything, there are many places you can rent a motorbike just to do the Hai Van Pass, either in Hue or Hoi An. And you can even hire locals to drive for you.
A beautiful beach town, Da Nang promises a few days of relaxation and sun. Many people travel from Hue straight to Hoi An, but Da Nang offers enough to stopover for a little time. Be aware that Da Nang is on the rise, so there are construction sites and soon-to-be hotels and resorts everywhere.
– Son Tra Peninsula
Ride over to the Son Tra Peninsula where a giant Lady Buddha stands, overlooking all of Da Nang and the sea. If you’re brave enough, continue on and drive around the peninsula. The roads get a bit smaller, windier, and rockier, but make for a fun adventure with amazing coastline views.
– Cross the bridges
Ride your motorbike over each of the bridges. They are all very different, one being a golden dragon that lights up at night. On Saturday and Sunday nights at 9 pm, the dragon breathes fire and spits water.
– Marble Mountains
Maybe 10 km south of town lies the Marble Mountains: 5 huge mountains that jut out of the ground in the middle of an otherwise flat, coastal area. Take a day trip there to explore caves, temples, and pagodas. You can even rock climb or absail there, though it felt a little bit of a forced placement for tourists.
No explanation necessary.
Where to Stay
Funtastic Beach Hostel – Located a block from the beach, this hostel is probably the best you’ll find. It’s $7/night for a clean dorm, including breakfast on the rooftop. There is a separate bar, the AlcoHole, just underneath the hostel.
Da Nang to Hoi An – 30 km (19 miles)
From Da Nang, it is just a short ride along the coast to Hoi An. Stay tuned for my time in Hoi An…