The Hai Van Pass – Vietnam
Shaking at first, but excited to go on my first scooter ride, I was listening to our tour guide explaining us how the scooters worked. We had a couple of minutes to practice before taking part in the hectic Vietnamese traffic. We practiced in front of our hostel which was on a side road of one of the biggest roads of Hue. We had all the room to practice, but hearing the enormous amount of horns honking from the bigger roads, made us a bit scared – in just a few minutes we were in between that madness.
It was my turn to hop on the scooter and try it out. I’d never driven a scooter before, but with a boyfriend who has his motor license and a couple of dirt bikes I was pretty used to sitting on a thing like that. While thinking about falling down from my scooter I thought about how often my boyfriend falls of his dirt bike and that made me realize one thing: your body can handle a lot of things before actually hurting. For some reason this weird thought made me feel more confident: ‘If he survives those things, I can survive this scooter too.’.
I hit the gas and drove a couple of times up and down the street of our hostel – surprisingly enough it went pretty good and I felt confident enough to hit the roads. I felt excited enough to hit the roads, actually. However, as we all had to share a scooter I told the guy I shared mine with he could drive the first part. The most hectic part: through the city in between thousands of other Vietnamese men on scooters. Just so I could get used to the traffic. Driving is one thing; paying attention to the other drivers who are constantly trying to pass you is a completely different story.
Off we went: we drove through Hue after which we continued off road en route to the Hai Van Pass – one of the most beautiful routes through Vietnam that can thank her fame because of a Top Gear episode. It was going to be a long day: it would take us three hours until arriving at the Elephant Springs where we would get lunch and some time to cool off, after which we would continue driving to reach the Hai Van Pass. We would scooter through Da Nang afterwards and arrive at Hoi An around 6 O’clock in the evening – my final destination in Vietnam.
We had the most fun and we learned one thing quickly: the traffic that seemed like chaos actually is a pretty organized chaos. ‘Just follow the rest and you’ll be fine’ was our motto for the day. With eight scooters we drove behind each other over the roads. Waving at each other and laughing at each other because of our awful scooter skills. I was still at the back of our scooter, soaking up all the views and making as many photographs as I possibly could. After a while I decided I wouldn’t drive anymore. This was the perfect way for me to make photos and enjoy the views. Next to that: we had the fastest scooter and the boy who I shared my scooter with absolutely loved that. You know how guys can get. He absolutely loved driving that thing.
The views were incredible. We drove through small villages where children would wave to us, we saw the most beautiful nature, drove over big roads and finally over the beautiful Hai Van Pass – basically one big mountain road from which you had a beautiful view over the mountains, ocean and Da Nang – a more modern city of Vietnam. They certainly didn’t lie: Hai Van Pass is beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. The feeling I got from scooter driving (even though I didn’t drive myself) was amazing. You feel free, you feel like you are experiencing Vietnam the way you should experience it. Even though it wasn’t the most comfortable thing imaginable;-) Cruising the Hai Van Pass was absolutely one of the coolest things I’ve done while in Vietnam. And I know that I wouldn’t have seen this part of Vietnam if it wasn’t for our scooter ride. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything. Did I already say that the Hai Van Pass was beautiful?
You can rent scooters everywhere in Vietnam (not very surprising) but I would recommend everyone to save that experience for the the Hai Van Pass. Definitely one of the most iconic scooter routes of Vietnam. And if I didn’t convince you already.. then please look at the photos included in this blogpost. Because next to the fact that you are on a scooter that goes around 80 kilometers an hour you are also enjoying this view during the day. You won’t regret it.
Our scooter ride over the Hai Van Pass was a part of the Buffalo Run tour from Vietnam Backpacker Hostels. A tour I would definitely recommend doing. Such a wonderful experience!