Hue to Hoi An by Motorbike

There are lots of cheap hop-on-hop-off and minibus options for getting between Hue and Hoi An but Leigh wanted to do the trip by motorbike, a la Top Gear.

  1. Leigh doesn’t have a motorbike license
  2. Under Vietnamese law, only Vietnamese licenses are acceptable even if you do have a motorbike license in your own country
  3. It wasn’t the most reliable weather for a 4-5 hour bike trip on windy, unfamiliar roads
  4. Leigh doesn’t have a motorbike license
  5. I don’t enjoy being a passenger on motorbikes
  6. I’m not sure I could ride and balance my 15kg backpack on the back
  7. Leigh doesn’t have a motorbike license

In an effort not to be a suffocating overly-anxious girlfriend I told Leigh that if he organized everything then I’d do it. I said this thinking about the arguments we have when I say it’s his turn to book accommodation (apparently my ability to type quickly means I have to do all of the “online things” in this relationship) and was pretty confident it just wouldn’t happen and we’d end up on the bus.


I forgot that when he really wants to, Leigh has the ability to get things done by talking to people (how old-fashioned is that?). Before I could take it back he organised for us to sit on the back of two motorbikes driven by locals and so the next morning, thunderclouds looming, I was getting dressed in a smurf suit (blue plastic over-clothes) while my backpack was strapped to the back of a stranger’s bike. Dreading every second. Not wanting to offend the drivers. Not wanting to admit to Leigh that I was a little bit scared. Wishing I had the cash to fork out another $45 for a third bike and drive myself while someone else took my bag, license be damned.

Choking back the fear of becoming a bloody red smear down the middle of the road I got on the back of the bike and immediately wondered, given the conservative nature of the country, where the appropriate place was to put my hands. By the time I settled awkwardly on just holding the straps securing my backpack in place behind me, we were halfway out of the city and I decided that maybe it wouldn’t be the worst day after all. At least I wasn’t one of the 12 piglets crammed into wire cages on the back of one motorbike that I guessed was on the way to market.

Winding up into the hills... holding on for dear life around the corners!

Winding up into the hills… holding on for dear life around the corners!

We stopped a few times along the way: at a fish farm, halfway up the start of the hill climb, at the peak of the mountains, halfway down the other side and one unexpected stop on the beaches south of Da Nang because the bike Leigh was riding with Mr Cuba blew the clutch.

Stretching our legs

Stretching our legs

Not far from Da Nang we stopped for an hour at the Marble Mountains, which involved snaking our way through a mess of very large statue sculpting stores and then taking a glass elevator to the top of one of the peaks. Lots of temples and Buddha carvings. Then we were back on the bikes for the final 30-odd kilometres to Hoi An. The obligatory stop at Mr Cuba’s favourite tailor shop (where he would receive a healthy commission on any orders) we were deposited at the door of our next guesthouse. Turns out… it wasn’t so bad. I might even admit to it have being really fun, if I could be sure Leigh wouldn’t read it!

Bonus: I still have the business card of one of the riders so if you want to contact them on your own trip, drop me a line 😉

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