Spectacular vistas, manageable climbs, minimal traffic, and cool temperatures. Hai Van Pass is now among our favorite bike rides and hill climbs.
This post is an up-to-date guide that will help future cyclists enjoy this particular ride because many of the blogs we found on-line seemed incomplete or out-of-date.
The Hai Van Pass is located between DeNang in the South and Hue’ in the north on Highway 1A and near the coast.The climb to the top is about 9 kilometers and 470 meters gain in elevation at an average grade of 8%. There are plenty of turnouts to take pictures, rest, and enjoy the view. In other words, the climb up this pass is slow but manageable.
Because there is now a tunnel under the mountain there is very little of the normal, noisy Hwy 1A traffic. You’ll only see a few motorcycles, tour vans and buses and an occasional oil tanker truck so the road is very peaceful and pleasant. One thing to keep in mind is that the motorcycles turn off their engines going downhill so you can’t hear them, so be careful when crossing the road to snap another pictures.
Here’s are we tackled the kilometers and climb.
The day before we climbed the pass, we rode from Hue’ in the north along Highway 49B near the coast for about 90 kilometers. Then we spent the night in Lang Co Beach. There are plenty of hotels and guest houses in the small town just before the pass which made a great place to rest up for the climb.
The pass begins at just 3 kilometers south of the town of Lang Co Beach – not a lot of time to warm up your legs – but the scenery looking back towards Lang Co Beach gives you an excuse to stop and take some photos before the long ascent really begins.
We enjoyed a leisurely climb to the top with many stops for photos. We also enjoyed some snacks every 150 meters or so thanks to the advice of a fellow cyclist.
At the summit there are many women selling Vietnamese coffee and “handmade” tourist trinkets. These friendly women are avoidable “high-pressure” trinket sellers, but we looked at shopping from them as paying the “view tax” and supporting the local economy so we joined in the fun and negotiations. I’m now the proud owner of a genuine fake-I’m-sure-although-she tried-to-burn-a-strand-of-hair-on-the- green-stone-to-prove-that-it’s-real” jade bracelet.
The ride down Hai Van Hill is fantastic. I love speeding down mountains with twisting turns with great views. However, to keep Eric happy, I restrained myself more than usual to stop a few times, enjoy the scenery and let Eric snap a few photos.
We continued our ride into DeNang for a total day’s rides of 42 kilometers. We had plenty of energy left to continue on to Hoi An, the more popular tourist destination, but we’ve enjoyed the bustling, relatively modern city of DeNang for Christmas.
The day’s journey was a gift of beauty and fun riding. Merry Christmas!