QL24: The Beautiful Central Highlands

Views from atop QL24 - Central Highlands, Vietnam

Views from atop QL24 – Central Highlands, Vietnam

Today was all about the ride and the scenery…the most breathtaking I’ve seen in Vietnam thus far.

I traveled from Kon Tum towards Hoi An on the road known as QL24. A road I highly recommend to anyone traveling between Hoi An and the Central Highlands.

Atop the Central Highlands, Vietnam

Atop the Central Highlands, Vietnam

In my time through the Central Highlands, I have not experienced the amazing views everyone has told me about. Yes, it’s been beautiful and, granted, I’ve taken a path that’s not prescribed or oft taken, but I’ve yet to find a spot that requires me to just sit. Get off the bike in the middle of nowhere and sit on the ground. Take it in.

Then today happened. And that’s exactly what I did. Several times. I just sat.

On this tour through Vietnam, I choose my routes from day to day for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s based on advice of other travelers. Sometimes it’s based on seeing certain sites. Sometimes it’s to avoid certain things (like the AH1). Sometimes, it’s simply because I see a map that looks like this:

QL24: between Kon Plong and Ba To, Vietnam

QL24: between Kon Plong and Ba To, Vietnam (1400 meter elevation change)

Too good looking on paper to not experience.

The road from Kon Tum towards the coast (QL24) is a very mountainous passage. I climbed and crested three different peaks. And each time the views got more and more spectacular.

The road has so many different aspects to it. There are grand vistas to be sure, but there are so wide open spaces and sections where the pine forest has built a canopy over the road.

A Bahnar Communal Home - Central Highlands, Vietnam

A Bahnar Communal Home – Central Highlands, Vietnam

There are few villages along this nearly 300 kilometer stretch. This is not a normal shipping route so there were virtually no trucks. Sure, those few I saw almost killed me, but that’s still a far sight better than driving any other road in Vietnam. Also, there were no busses there today. The road is generally in good shape, especially in the parts that count. All of this combines for an intoxicating cocktail of delicious motorbiking.

The only real challenges on the road today were the animals. Cows, buffalo, pigs, chickens, dogs, and some gigantic creature called a gaur.

No Really....Stop for a Moment and Look at that Road!!!

No Really….Stop for a Moment and Look at that Road!!!

The Hai Van Pass between Da Nang and Hue is highly reputed as one of the best drives in the world. I am looking forward to it very much and will drive that road in the coming weeks, but I find it hard to believe it will stand up to the views and quality driving conditions I experienced today. From the top of the last ridgeline near Kon Plong, there are uninterrupted views all the way to the valley floor.

It’s a 1400 meter elevation change from top to bottom. And the road is nothing but s-curves and hairpin turns. And here, the road surface is perfect. Absolutely perfect. And banked. And traffic-free. It’s two-wheel heaven.

I will not belabor the views, so enjoy the slideshow below of images captured today.

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Hint: The hills are brutal on fuel economy and, as mentioned, there are few villages. So, gas up early and often.

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