Referred locally as Đèo Hải Vân, the Hai Van Pass is one of the most majestic passes in Vietnam which connect Northern and Southern Vietnam. Offering an impressive sight of great mountains, blue skies, and green forests, The Hai Van Pass bends around Truong Son mountain range between Hue and Da Nang and locates at an elevation of 496 meters above the sea level. There are many reasons make this landscape more attractive for the travelers especially backpacker: the history, the climate, the graphic, and the stunning scenic view. It’s said to be one of the most beautiful stretches of pavement in the country. The twisting road along the pass is very incredible and offers a challenge for drivers. It’s a deserted ribbon of perfection—one of the best coast roads in the world. This is a destination not to be missed when you travel to Vietnam and below article will give you full guide to explore Hai Van Pass.
I. How to travel to the Hai Van Pass
1. The familiar routes to discover The Hai Van Pass
The Hai Van Pass is a great way to drive all the way between these three cities: Hoi An, Hue, Da Nang via an extended coastal route, which avoids busy National Highway 1 Road for the vast majority of the way, and uses quiet, scenic coast roads instead. The total distance for the scenic coastal route between Hoi An, Da Nang, and Hue is 165 kilometers. The journey between the Hoi An/Da Nang and Hue via the Hai Van Pass is 25 kilometers-165 kilometers depending on which route you choose to take. Ridding time is approximately 3-5 hours, and more for soaking up the scenery, stopping for buying and eating seafood along the coast, drinking coffee at the top of the pass or facing for any unforeseen circumstances, such as bad weather and flat tires.
Riding from Hoi An or Da Nang to the south of the Hai Van Pass – The comfortable way
Even you start from Hoi An, you still go via Da Nang through Hai Van Pass to Hue. The Pass is more than 25 kilometers north-east of Da Nang city center. There are two routes leading from the center of Danang city to Hai Van Pass:
- The coastal line
From the center of Da Nang, you follow the street Ong Ich Khiem. At the end of Ong Ich Khiem Street, turn left onto Nguyen Tat Thanh Street. At the end of Nguyen Tat Thanh Street, you turn left on National Highway 1A. Running over 2 kilometers, you will meet crossroads between National Highway 1A and Nguyen Van Cu. If left turn continues along National Highway 1A will lead to The Hai Van Tunnel, you should turn right on Nguyen Van Cu Street. Going straight to the end of the road, you will see the Hai Van Pass. This is the longer route but preferred because you can enjoy beautiful scenic of Da Nang Bay stretching from Son Tra Peninsula to the foot of Hai Van Pass.
- The street line
From the center of Danang city, you follow Dien Bien Phu street running toward the direction of Hue Crossing. Going straight to Ton Duc Thang Street on the National Highway 1A until you see the junction intersection with Nguyen Van Cu street. Turning on Nguyen Van Cu Street and going straight to the end of the road, you will see the Hai Van Pass. This route is shorter than the coastal route and easier to move because there are not too many turns. You should choose the street line for traveling faster if you are late, have less time, need not enjoy the scenery.
Riding from Hue to the North of The Hai Van Pass – The challenging way
The nearer the pass is to Da Nang, the easier you move. But if you stay at Hue, you could go to Hai Van Pass. The Pass is more than 70 kilometers from Hue city center. The shorter way to The Hai Van Pass from Hue is starting from Hue city center, following the National Highway 1 to Lang Co Town. However, like reaching The Hai Van Pass from Da Nang, you should choose the coast road to enjoy the stunning landscape as Pho Loi River, Thuan An Peninsular, fishing villages, Elephant Spring, Bach Ma National Park, and Lang Co Bay.
- The coastline direction
From the center of Hue city, you follow the Pho Loi river, turn north over a bridge into Thuan An village. The route is notable for the thousands of elaborately carved family tombs, which are scattered across the sandy banks between the road and the sea. At Thuan An Beach, you turn east along a long peninsula, cross a Tu Hien Bridge and turn right. That is QL49B. Continue following QL49B until you see a tunnel on the other side of The Phuoc Tuong Pass. Keep going and turning left to Phuoc Tuong Pass. When you go to the end of the pass, you will stop at T-junction where having a back-route connected with Highway 1A and a well-paved roads leads over The Lu Bu bridge to Chan May road( (Alternatively, stay on Highway 1 all the way to Hai Van Pass). The Chan May road stays close to the coast, where there are several high-end resorts and backpacker campgrounds. Following the Chan May road, you will go through past beaches, trees & fields and Lang Co Bay.
The views get even so excited right after you start riding to the pass. Looking over the winding tarmac as it drops towards the long, empty beach of Lang Co. Just after one of the last hairpin bends of the pass, a much-photographed scene opens up over Lang Co bay and fishing village, with a long bridge over the water (the exit of the Hai Van Tunnel) and the lush, misty mountains behind. This might as well be known as the ‘Top Gear Viewing Point‘, as it was here that the final scene on the Hai Van Pass from the Vietnam Special episode was filmed, with the three co-presenters all gazing at the sunset, enraptured by the beauty of Vietnam’s landscape.
2. What is the transportation to enjoy the landscapes on the Hai Van Pass
Traveling by the local train – Smooth Journey with the stunning view
The train journey from Hue to Da Nang/Hoi An along Hai Van Pass. If your main purpose to see Hai Van Pass, you can take the local train with wooden hard seats, opened windows and get off at Lang Co which is the first stop after Hai Van Pass. Traveling by train is not only cheap but also comfortable. Moreover, the scenery on the way is also stunning, as the train will go over Hai Van Pass, while most vehicles will go through the Hai Van Tunnel. You can buy tickets in advance from the Vietnam Railways bookings site dsvn.vn or you can also book online using the travel agency baolau.vn or on 12go.asia which have the efficient websites, details seat and sleeper berth availability, and accepts international cards.
However, traveling by train is time-consuming, complicated, quite disorganized, especially for people who travel in the big group. Suddenly you want to take pictures of the beautiful landscape but the train cannot be stopped haft way. You will not understand the feeling of blowing wind through your hair or challenging the bends on the road with 15 percentage uphill slope.
Traveling by private car/taxi – The most comfortable way to enjoy the view of The Hai Van Pass
If you are the person who does not want to take the challenging on the road but still want enjoy the stunning view, getting a private car/taxi with the local driver would be a comfortable and safe way for your experience. Finding this mean of transportation in any tourism provinces like Hue, Hoi An, Da Nang is not difficult. You can check on Klook, Viator or ask the accommodation where you stay.
Traveling by private car/taxi have all the advantages that other means of transportation do not have. You can sit comfortably, get the carefree and painless in a private car and enjoy the stunning sight of Hai Van Pass. In addition, you can stop at many amazing sights on the way if you request in advance.
Like the train or the others boxed vehicle, you can not feel the natural phenomenon that affects you. You can not know how the smell of pass is, how the slope is on rainy, how the sky is on sunny and how your hair is on windy. Do not keep your soul behind the window of the car because you only really feel the beauty of landscapes when you really touch the air around that.
Traveling by Motorbike through The Hai Van Pass – An unforgettable experience
The Hai Van Pass – the most scenic hillside in Vietnam is the unique place for you to discover. Travels can experience all the emotional level. Besides it, Hai Van Pass is a desire to conquer by many drivers. As you drive, ride, cycle even run the Pass, it is hard to imagine this beautiful road ever being known as the ‘Street Without Joy’.
Haven’t you ever seen Top Gear? Whether you are a confident rider, or it’s your first time on a motorbike, you should definitely take the opportunity to ride the Hai Van Pass.
If you’re not a confident rider, you needn’t worry. The road is not too traffic, and far wider than some of the main roads in Vietnam. Moreover, The Hai Van Pass is well known for its dangerous roads, and accident warning boards carefully appear regularly along the side. Or even you are not comfortable with riding your own bike, some companies do offer tours where you get to chill on the back while someone else does the riding.
Because the road is quite short, the danger is the only disadvantage of going through the pass by motorbike. The zigzagging paths appear now and then around mountain slopes or The u-turn sections widened are the big challenging for the backpacker.
You might be interested: Breakfast at the Peak of Hai Van Pass
II. Accommodation when travelling the Hai Van Pass
Although there’s no accommodation on the Hai Van Pass itself, there are a handful of good and interesting places to stay along the coastal route, as well as an enormous array of hotels and resorts for all budgets at either end of the route: in Hoi An, Da Nang, and Hue. You can make a reservation via the Agoda, Booking.com with price depending on your budget and style. At all accommodations, they can support all the information you need: Map, Means of transport, tours… with fluently English speaking guide.
In many of the small towns along the route, you’ll find local guest houses, which offer cheap rooms for a night on the road, particularly around Lang Co and Chan May Beach. If you are in a wilderness, you can bring a sleeping bag or tent to a camp somewhere near the Lang Co Bay or Chan May Bay. Imagine waking up with full vision of sunrise and a cup of hot coffee. What a wonderful experience.
III. Must know tips for travelling to Hai Van Pass
- With the total of length 21 kilometers, you completely run and cycle on The Hai Van Pass if you want to take challenging. This idea very suitable for sport enthusiastic and adventurous person
- For the biker: Don’t be afraid of riding in Vietnam’s bike traffic. Please follow the rules:
When crossing large intersections, it will feel like everyone is coming your way. Don’t panic.
The trick is to point and shoot. Pick your line and stay true to it
Don’t go swerving around everywhere… it will make it far worse
- Wear sunscreen. Cover your arms, elbows and the tops of your legs carefully.
- Even if you don’t do all the stops mentioned, take little breaks often. Take a minute to refocus, drink some water and check the map.
- Download your route on Google Maps before leaving your hotel. Because of the signal of the Internet is completely lost a few time when you go through the pass, the mountain section
- Check the weather, but don’t base your trip around it. The day we were planning to do our ride it poured rain the whole night before. The weather forecast also showed intermittent showers, but we ended up with perfect bluebird weather.
- Buy a raincoat… just in case the weather forecast is right.
The Hai Van Pass will satisfy your desire to high peaks and tell you of the glorious history of Vietnam. Moreover, from the pass, on nice days, visitors can enjoy the whole vista of Da Nang, the Tien Sa seaport, Son Tra Peninsula, Cu Lao Cham Island, and long sandy beaches.
The 21 kilometers of road that stretch over the Hai Van mountain pass may sound like a challenging adventurous journey, but after having finished, it is certain that you will find it is one worth taking.