The top of Hai Van Pass, which is the frontier between Thua Thien-Hue province and Da Nang city, still boasts the historic brick Hai Van Gate, built under the Tran dynasty in 1470, when King Tran Nhan Tong proclaimed that Hai Van was ‘the most marvelous wonder’.
The pass, popular for motorbike drivers since the Hai Van Tunnel became operational in 2005, is quiet and safe for off-road bikers and tourists. But the bends on the road still challenge drivers with a 15 percent uphill slope.
Nguyen Dong, a member of the Honda 67 (T-bone SS50 motorbike) Club in Da Nang, started his off-road tour to the Hai Van Pass on a hot day, as he said it would provide the best photos.
His 10-member group, comprising different kinds of motorbikes, began the tour in the morning.
“It’s really a challenge for young drivers. Scooterists find it a bit difficult as they have to slow down at bends for just a moment, and then suddenly press the accelerator to complete the curve.
“The pass road has been widened and upgraded over the past decades for safe and easy off-road driving,” he said.
Traffic mirrors, set at all bends in the road, warn drivers about traffic coming from the opposite direction, helping them to control their uphill speed.
“New drivers can find it thrilling when they face the first curve, just after the railway crossroad. It’s quite narrow and the driver has to slow down and shift to the first gear,” he said, adding that most motorbikes have a four-gear box.
He said experienced drivers preferred sporty bikes than scooters or other motorbike brands because the drivers could increase their speed by changing gears and using the clutch easily.
The group made some stops on the way to take photos of falls or beaches at the base of the mountains.
Nguyen Trong Hoa prefers using his vintage style scooter, Vespa.
“It’s not as strong as the other new bikes, but I prefer to ride it to go to Hai Van Pass just because I like the vintage style,” Hoa said.
Le Hai Son, a mechanic, said: “We often check our bikes for safe travel. I also warn team members after driving a good distance along the snaking 24km road about safety.”