Getting bored in a constant hustle and bustle of Da Nang isn't anything new. Luckily, there are many creative ways to get out of the city's routine and experience something new. Driving a Prao loop with a motorbike is a perfect getaway from a busy city (especially in a tourist season). The whole loop is about 200 km long and can be easily done in one day.
I did a whole loop twice, both times in one day (wished that I've had a bit more time to spend a night on the road). Prao loop is an extremely amazing and fun loop to drive since it features breathtaking passes, windy roads, beautiful mountains, wild rivers, green jungle, tiny villages and loads of rice fields.
Sounds like an ideal getaway from a noisy city? Perfect! Get your bike ready and prepare yourself for adventure.
Here's everything you need to know about the iconic Prao loop.
Where is Prao Loop and How to Start?
The whole loop is located in the heart of mountainous Quang Nam province bordering, on parts, with Da Nang city. If you're living in Da Nang, Hue or Hoi An (even Tam Ky), this might be a great way to immerse yourself in the extremely pleasant driving experience.
I don't want to leave anything to your imagination, so here's the map:
As I'm currently living in Da Nang city, I hit the road from Da Nang. The first stop was a tiny town called Prao. After Prao, I've followed the windy and mountainous road to Thanh My. From there I've just followed the road through countless villages all the way to Da Nang.
There are a few possible routes to complete the Prao loop:
- Hoi An - Thanh My - Prao - Da Nang - Hoi An
- Da Nang - Prao - Thanh Mi - Hoi An - Da Nang
- Hue - Prao - Thanh My - Hoi An - Da Nang - Hue
Basically, it's totally up to you which route will you take. You can even widen the loop and do it all the way from Hue to Tam Ky (heard it's very nice, especially south of Thanh My).
The whole loop will take you a whole day (including rests and stops for stunning views). Start early in the morning as you'll want to reach Prao (or first stop) before noon. It's extremely hot in the mountains and the sun is so strong.
1st Section: Da Nang -> Prao
If you're heading from Da Nang, the best (and fastest) option is to reach Cam Le district. Just stay on Nguyen Huu Tho street until you reach the bridge.
Turn right and follow AH17 road all the way to a huge intersection with CT road. Please note that CT marked roads are new highways only for cars. After you pass the huge intersection you're going to turn the first right to Quang Xuong road that becomes QL14G later.
You can't miss Prao once you're on that road since there is only one main road leading to Prao. Just stay and keep going. The biggest struggle is getting out of the city as the road through Cam Le district is usually packed with container trucks. Once you get out of the main road, it becomes easier and more scenic to drive.
On the way to the mountains, there are a few tourist attractions and water parks so the first section of the road can be a bit busy from time to time. It's very funny to see the conditions of the road drastically changes for worse once you pass the water park.
After a waterpark, you slowly continue to ascend and drive through beautiful passes. The road conditions aren't the best and there are many potholes, so be extremely careful.
On the way to Prao, there are countless tiny villages, tea plantations, and beautiful mountains on the horizon. It will take you around 2 hours to reach Prao and you might be frustrated from time to time because of road conditions, but don't worry as the real pleasure is following soon. Once you reach Prao, there is nothing much going on. It's a small and quiet town in the middle of the Highlands.
There are two main roads leading from the town. One to Laos border (north) and one to Thanh My (south). The main market is always noisy as usual, people have wedding parties over there. Just on the main road, there is a cozy cafe where you can refill your energy with a strong Vietnamese coffee. There are countless street restaurants serving delicious rice and noodles.
Also, if you decide to stay in Prao for a night and explore the surrounding area there are a few guesthouses (Nha Nghi) on the main road. The average price for a room is 200,000 VND/night. Tay Giang is just 56 km away from Prao and it's a great place to visit and admire stunning views.
Unfortunately, I didn't have time to visit this stunning place since it means staying in Prao for a night.
2nd Section: Prao -> Thanh My
You've probably experienced some frustration on the road to Prao, right? Well, as I've mentioned before, the real chunk of the loop is just coming. Prao to Thanh My is by far the most stunning part of the loop.
The distance between these two towns is 56 km of pure pleasure. This is definitely in the top 5 roads in my opinion in the whole of Vietnam (I've been driving for more than 30,000 km around the country).
At the very beginning, the road starts to ascend a bit leading you to the top of the surrounding mountain. After a short ascent, you'll start to descend through a windy road surrounded by a beautiful valley and mountainous chain.
The river is passing through the valley and it helps in making the electricity. There is really nothing much to say about the road and its conditions. I haven't experienced any potholes, the road is very wide, windy, and empty.
It's a great ride and you can get yourself a bit loose if you know what you're doing. Thanh My, similar to Prao, lays on two main roads. One road leads to Da Nang (coast) while the other road leads to Kon Tum (Highlands).
On the main road, you can find a few guesthouses (200,000 VND/night) as well as local restaurants offering delicious food and drinks. My favorite spot is by far Nuoc Mia place with hammocks. There are a few places on the road where you can order a cold drink while resting in a hammock. It's just perfect to lay down a bit after a long, and uncomfortable drive (who drives Honda Wave knows!).
I don't want to write too much about the road and its surroundings as I believe pictures tell everything:
3rd Section: Thanh My -> Da Nang
The last section isn't so iconic as a previous one but has its charm. The first 20 km are very beautiful as you'll stumble upon stunning mountains and passes, but after the first section, the road becomes narrow and busy. Pretty soon you'll reach tiny villages on the road with many restaurants and shops. The things that I like the most about this section are corn and rice fields.
It looks extremely beautiful when the sun sets over it. Be extra careful while driving on the road since there are only two tracks and the road is packed with trucks and cars who don't care much about anything that's smaller than them on the road. Pretty soon you'll reach the big intersection with CT road from the beginning of the Prao loop.
It's the sign you're slowly getting back to the city.
Prao Loop is a Perfect Getaway From Da Nang City!
If you have your own motorbike and you love to drive, then hitting the Prao loop is definitely a thing you have to do once. The whole loop will take a whole day, or even two, but the experience is totally worth the time. Pack enough water, prepare your motorbike, get some riding buddies and let's hit the road. If you have any questions about the loop, please don't hesitate to ask.
Also, we did an interesting write-up on Son Tra Peninsula day trip that might be interesting if you're living in or around Da Nang city. For people who travel to Da Nang on a tight time, don't forget to read our 72 hours in Da Nang itinerary.
Cheers and safe driving. :)