Cycling Day 71 – Lang Co to Da Nang
Yesterday we arrived at Lang Co, the smallish beach town at the foot of the iconic Hai Van Pass. We’d decided that it was probably best to tackle the big climb with fresh legs the next morning. This was to be the first serious climb of the Vietnam leg of our trip.
We gave the bikes a bit of TLC, having acquired all sorts of multi-coloured filth and a few small niggles over the last couple of weeks. After 5000km or so they’re still working great and we’ve spent very little time fixing things. We purposefully selected heavy duty touring bikes and they’ve stood up to the test so far – though i may be jinxing them now by saying this publicly.
Armed with tweaked brakes and clean chains we grabbed a quick Pho Bo and headed off to the foot of the pass.
The Hai Van Pass is a 21km mountain pass that winds up to an elevation of 496m. Thankfully a tunnel was opened in 2005 which now takes the brunt of the heavy traffic, making this one of the most scenic places to ride in Vietnam. The pass was made famous for many by the extremely popular Top Gear Vietnam Special. Jeremy Clarkson described it as a ‘deserted ribbon of perfection — one of the best coast roads in the world’. Many of the hotels and tour companies in this area offer Top Gear motorbike specials to recreate the journey.
Obviously on a bike loaded up with gear crossing the pass is a little more daunting. But as we set off up the pass we both felt pretty good and soon got into a rhythm up the climb. As it turns out its actually not that bad with an incline varying between 4 and 8 % – the road quality is good too. We took quite a few pictures on the way as the views were too good to miss. At one of these photo stops Sam bumped into another cycle tourist called James who’d cycled all the way from Scotland! We rode together to the top where we all caught our breath and tried our best to avoid the vendors trying to sell drinks and tourist tat. They were pretty persistent so I opted for a quick drink which a nice lady subsequently paid for saying ‘you earned it’. We did a quick video blog and then headed down the mountain all the way back down to sea level.
Once we’d got to the bottom we had an easy 20k ride into Da Nang which we polished off in no time. We were slightly delayed when Sam had a slight altercation with a moped. Once that was resolved we took a bit of time trying to find the excellent Orange Hotel and then arranged to meet James for a drink later.
TImelapse video: Ride the Hai Van Pass yourself in just a few minutes 🙂