Danang to Nha Trang – The BEST Route

Danang to Nha Trang – The BEST Route
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I call this route the “Lonely Ranger” and it won’t be found on any other blog articles on the internet.

Nha Trang to Hoi An/Danang is one of the most misunderstood sections of Vietnam. Most people think the coast is the right option, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Due to people getting this wrong, it is known as a boring section of the country to drive, but again, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

In fact, this is arguably the best section of the country to drive, but only I have properly documented it. Leaving others to keep copying and pasting the same out-of-date blog articles about coastal riding that were written well over ten years ago.

In an ideal world, you should get off the coast as quickly as possible and onto my “lonely ranger route. ” However, the coast is a highway, so it is a fast and quick way to get from A to B.

The other nice thing about the coast is that it has accommodation for all budgets, from the very cheap to the very expensive. Inland these days have respectable hotels and restaurants as well. However, there isn’t really anything in the premium price range.

Danang to Nha Trang has some nice roads
There are some nice roads, don’t skip them

Coastal highlights

The Hai Dang pass between Nha Trang and Quy Nhon.

The Bamboo Bridge in Phu Yen

The Bamboo Bridge in Phu Yen

The QL 19C going parallel to the main highway

Inland highlights

Following my route “the Lonely Ranger” contains the DT669. It is one of the greatest riding roads in the country, passing through An Khe, Mang Den, and nearly all the way up to Danang/Hoi An. Mang Den is also one of the most underrated towns in Vietnam. It’s a strange place where the hotels are large and developed, but there isn’t really anything to do. This is unique in Vietnam, as tourist sites are usually overdeveloped, and we complain of concrete buildings and silly picture/selfie-taking gimmicky structures for Instagram tourists. 

Mang Den, on the other hand, has nice waterfalls but nothing to do. You can sit under a tree and read a book. Something that is so rare in this modern day that when we find such a place, we don’t know how to react. This was my feeling anyway.

Enjoying a waterfall

The roads have a mixture of open straights and meandering corners. It also blends Vietnamese rural life, with empty long sections of road. You can people watch through village life for a while, then suddenly find yourself all alone on a deep jungle road.

A typical itinerary

Day one would be Nha Trang to Quy Nhon through the The Hai Dang pass, on the way into Quy Nhon you can also do the Bamboo bridge.

Day two is Quy Nhon to Mang Den. If you leave Quy Nhon early enough you might just have enough time to get to a waterfall at 4pm.

Day three is Quy Nhon all the way up to Hoi An, which contains some of the best driving in the country.

disappear off the map
One of the few chances left to completely disappear off the map


I have marked on the map various waterfalls, weird bridges, and nice swim spots. However, if you only have time to do one waterfall in the area, it should be Pa Sy waterfall. It was tastefully done and a place that I really wish I could have spent more time in. It’s a commercial setup, though.

Try for that “under a tree reading a book” feel Thác Lô 3 – Măng Đen.

Great views to be had


Ho Chi Minh to Danang combines rural Vietnam, which is off the tourist circuit, with good, consistent weather and phenomenal mountain roads with waterfalls dotted along it. It is not surprising that I love this section of the country.


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16 Replies to “Danang to Nha Trang – The BEST Route”

  1. I did the Lonely Ranger Road the day before yesterday and had very good time. I slept in Mang Den and then went up to DT669 and AH132 crossroad, beautiful new road perfectly paved. Then turned left heading north to Son Tay. Still perfect and amazing road. Then in Son Tay I contunue in north direction despite on google map the road seemed to disappear. It was a enjoyable road instead to the DT616. I didn’t feel to be out of the world because there were some farmers and/or worker along the way. Few villages and hard to find food or beverage on that part of the leg. Then from the DT616 I turned left again towards north even though the road was not reported at all on google maps. But I trusted on Jon, of course. It was another astonishing road perfectly paved. No villages no food no beverage. And no traffic at all. At the end I can say I met only 4 little trucks and less than 10 cars in all day! The only problem was i coudn’t find an hotel to sleep and was in dome way forced to make to Hoi An, a tourist highlight I didn’t like. It would have been better to stay in the inland. Thank you Jon for all the pieces of information!

  2. Hey Jon,

    Thanks for all the amazing information you put together on this site.

    Do you have any update or recommendations for this Lonely Ranger route in 2022? Is it any more developed?

    What are the downsides of following a Buon Ma Thuot > Pleiku approach to Hoi An?


    1. From what I know the route is still excellent.
      Buon Ma Thuot — > Pleiku is ok, but in the end, it is a major highway.