The Top Gear Experience – Huế to Hoi An

An all day bike ride from Huế to Hoi An is the ultimate Vietnamese experience. Hiring a scooter and driving yourself, or getting on the back of a big Harley Davidson, either way you experience the manic roads of Vietnam, and the fantastic views on the Hai Van Pass. I tagged along with a couple of people I met in Huế, and enjoyed a very memorable day.

It was long and tiring, but filled with great fun and stunning scenery. Biking on the roads in cities is an art in itself, you have to just go for it – especially crossing large junctions or roundabouts – and don’t stop for anyone. It’s slightly irritating on the roads as everyone just beeps, usually to invite you to get out of the way – which is sometimes difficult when the only place to go is the ditch!

There are quite a few tourist sites to stop at enroute, however we did miss most of these as they’re not exactly easy for non-Vietnamese people to find. Road signs are practically non-existant, and when you do come across one, it’s not particularly descriptive. Nevertheless, the ride was glorious, albeit slightly cold and damp (it did rain on a few occasions), and numbered with a couple of minor accidents. On both occasions when I did fall off my bike, it was stationary and I was simply trying to go but skidded on gravel – I landed smack on my right cheek bone, but thankfully suffered no fatal injuries.

We did manage to find a local beach which was filled with some interestingly shaped boats, the backdrop of the mountains and the pass in the distance adds to the somewhat ethereal image that I have captured below.

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Biking over the Hai Van pass is spectacular. It doesn’t last hugely long though, depending on how speedy you take it, and in comparison is only a tiny section of the day. The long winding roads are heavenly to ride on, the views are breathtaking at every turn, and it was certainly one of the highlights of my trip so far.

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My final photo from the day was a quick one taken of an old woman that Julia kindly gave a lift to. Her teeth are dyed from a fruit that provides a deep red colour – this is a culturally accepted thing to do amongst the older generation of Vietnamese people.

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I arrived in Hoi An later than expected (as Julia’s motorbike broke down 5km outside of town), and covered in dust – my face looked a picture when I arrived at our posh hotel. After being reunited with Maddy (she was beginning to get worried as it was already dark) enjoying a lovely meal and hot bath, I settled down for the night in our ‘superior twin suite’ and dreamt about the day’s adventures.

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