Hai Van Pass – One of Vietnam’s Most Amazing Mountain Roads 🇻🇳
Hai Van Pass has long been a challenge for those travelling between the cities of Da Nang and Hue.
Hai Van Pass comes with some of the most incredible views of the ocean. From the steep, winding roads of the Hai Van Pass, one can see postcard-like views of the confluence of blue water of the ocean and mountains covered with a green carpet of trees.
You can expect this soothing scenery and a bit of history on a trip through the Hai Van Pass.
Historically, the Hai Van Pass served as the border between two kingdoms that once existed in now modern-day Vietnam (Champa and Dai Viet). The Hai Van Pass is part of the Annamite mountain range, which divides the country of Vietnam all the way to the South China Sea. It served as the only road connecting the South and the North of the country.
Due to the inaccessibility of the pass, it served as a point of defense. The ruins of Hai Van Gate still remind us of this.
The mountain range not only serves as a physical barrier between the North and the South, it also divides the countries climate. This becomes especially apparent in winter, from around November to March. On the North, the temperature becomes cooler and the weather is rainy. On the South, it is dry and warm. Because of this, the weather in seemingly adjacent cities of Hue and Da Nang can be completely different at the exact same time.
Like many places in Southeast Asia, the name of the pass is somewhat poetic. Đèo Hải Vân in Vietnamese means “Sea Cloud”. This is because the base of the mountain range dips into water and because of high humidity, fog often spreads across the hills resulting in thick clouds spread over the top.
Trouble in Paradise
The views are amazing, there is no doubt about that. But Hai Van Pass has always been known for its dangerous roads. The winding, often overcrowded path can present travellers with some unpleasant surprises. If you’re an inexperienced driver you have to be very careful, especially in bad weather conditions. In fact, this was the reason for constructing the Hai Van tunnel after which the rate of road accident on the Hai Van Pass decreased.
You can travel directly through the tunnel, which goes under the mountain. There is also another alternative – take the train. The railway stretches along the coast and around the very picturesque mountain range. On one side you will be able to enjoy spectacular views of the ocean. On the other, expect to see some emerald-green slopes, which, in places, have white streams of water cut through them. The train takes quite a long while to get through the pass, which makes it possible to enjoy the views thoroughly.
Nonetheless, accidents happen. You shouldn’t even be considering travelling without travel insurance. Before you leave, get it sorted. You will find the best quote here.
How to get to Hai Van Pass
The Hai Van Pass is part of the National Route 1A, which runs along the South side of the mountain. The distance from Da Nang Airport to Hai Van Pass is around 17 miles – you can get there by bus, taxi or train. From the train station the distance is less, more like 14 miles. You can also always rent a motorbike and do the drive yourself. If you’re staying in Da Nang and want to get back on the same day, it is best to leave the city in the early hours of the morning. The train goes between Da Nang and Hue several times per day, same with buses.
There are a number of local travel companies that organise trips to the Hai Van Pass. You can arrange these at a local tourist office or your hotel.