A beautiful drive
Published/Last edited or updated: 14th January, 2021
Imagine a quiet paved road that snakes through the Annamite Mountains. The road is flanked by deep layers of mysterious mist-shrouded jungle, and just when you think the tangle of greenery will swallow you whole, the world unexpectedly opens up to jaw-dropping grand sweeping views of sky and earth and glittering terraced rice fields below.
Imagine riding through the fog, reaching the apex of the mountain pass before descending into the pastoral plains and verdant fields of Quang Ngai province, the road flirting with the curves of a merry river. This is QL24.
QL24 connects Kon Tum to the coast in 170 spectacularly scenic kilometres, much of it well paved. From where QL24 meets Highway 1, it is an additional 30 kilometres north on Highway 1 to Quang Ngai city. Here you can stay the night. From Quang Ngai, you are an easy 115 kilometres from Hoi An.
Those travelling between the Central Highlands and Hoi An on motorbike usually take QL14, drawn by the allure of the old Ho Chi Minh Trail—but it is now the Ho Chi Minh Highway. The road has been developed into a major highway and is wide, paved and used by transport trucks and buses. This is the staple route of most Easy Rider-type tours. From Kon Tum, they would usually pass through Dak To, Ngoc Hoi, Dak Glei, stay a night in Kham Duc (Phuoc Son) before skirting east on 14E to Hoi An.
In contrast, very few tourists travel via QL24. If you are on your own two wheels and interested in the most scenic ride, then opt for QL24 to get to the coast.
When we were on QL24 in November 2015, about 80 percent of it was surprisingly good paved road. The other 20 percent: parts of the first 60 kilometres from Kon Tum were in the process of being widened and resurfaced, so good news, it will only improve with time. Of course, there was the occasional pothole to watch out for along the way, and sharp turns.
The biggest draw to the route becomes its biggest challenge: there are only a few pockets of civilisation and very long stretches of nothing in between. If you encounter any motorbike problems, you will have trouble finding help. Being self-sufficient in dealing with minor bike issues is a bonus.
Cindy Fan is a Canadian writer/photographer and author of So Many Miles, a website that chronicles the love of adventure, food and culture. After falling in love with sticky rice and Mekong sunsets, in 2011 she uprooted her life in Toronto to live la vida Laos. She’s travelled to over 40 countries and harbours a deep affection for Africa and Southeast Asia. In between jaunts around the world, she calls Laos and Vietnam home where you’ll find her traipsing through rice paddies, standing beside broken-down buses and in villages laughing with the locals.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.