Overview of Hai Van Pass
Hai Van Pass is the road crossing which traverses the Bach Ma Mountain, a mountain spur that juts out from the Truong Son Range. Hai Van means “the ocean and cloud”. It’s named by Le Thanh Tong king in 1470. Top of the Hai Van Pass is around 495 meters above the sea level, correspondingly 1,627 feet. The pass is the border between Da Nang and Hue and also the partition between Northern and Southern climate zones. While on the north side, the temperature is low in the winter, it’s much warmer in the south.
Besides road crossing, passengers may opt to use train or drive through the tunnels. For many other active travelers, the best choice is with a motorbike which is of much more adventurous experience. A ride may be a half-day experience from Da Nang or Hoi An, or a full-day transfer to Hue from those cities.
Things to See in Hai Van Pass
Bach Ma Mountain
Bach Ma Mountain is a mountain range located in central Vietnam, in the Annamite Range. It is approximately 1,450 meters high and is considered to be one of the tallest peaks in the region. The mountain is covered with dense forests and is home to a wide variety of plant and animal species, including many that are endemic to the area. The forests on the mountain are considered to be some of the most diverse in Southeast Asia. Bach Ma National Park is located at the base of the mountain, the park covers an area of 22,031 ha, and it is the home of many rare and endangered species such as the Asiatic black bear, clouded leopard, and the Saola. The mountain is a popular destination for hikers and nature enthusiasts, with a number of trails that lead to the summit and offer scenic views of the surrounding area.
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Hai Van Quan
Hai Van Quan, also known as Hai Van Gate, is a historical site located in Vietnam. The gate was built during the Nguyen dynasty in 1826, under the order of King Minh Mang, as a means of defending the Hue citadel from the south. It was strategically located on the border of Thua Thien-Hue province and Da Nang city, and was designed to control the movement of people and goods between the two regions.
During the French colonial period, the pass became an important military base, and the French army built fortifications and bunkers in the area to defend against possible invasions from the south. During the American War (Vietnam War), the pass was also a key strategic location and was heavily bombed by the US military.
After the war, the pass was designated as a national site and was restored to its original form. Today, visitors can explore the two gates, the Da Nang gate, and the Hue gate, which are the last remaining remnants of the fortress, and see the bunkers built by the French and American army. Visitors can also learn about the history of the pass by reading the Chinese inscriptions on the stone tablets above the arch of the gates. The pass is a popular destination for tourists and offers stunning views of the surrounding area.
Lang Co Beach
Lang Co Beach is a beautiful stretch of sand with a scenic shoreline that stretches over 5 kilometers. As a part of Lang Co Bay, it offers options for high-end resorts and local seafood eateries. The turquoise and shallow Lang Co Lagoon is a must-see for visitors exploring the Hai Van Pass, known for its outstanding beauty, stilt houses, and reflections of the surrounding mountains. The locals in the area make a living by raising oysters for sauces, which are supplied to restaurants and hotels. Visitors can also find seafood restaurants and coffee shops along the edge of the lagoon on Nguyen Van Rd.
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Biking Over Hai Van Pass
Renting a motorbike in Central Vietnam’s cities is easy and affordable, with prices ranging from 100,000 to 200,000 VND per day. Visitors can easily rent a motorbike with assistance from hotel staff. If staying in Da Nang or Hoi An, it is easy to take a day trip to the Hai Van Pass, but if in Hue, the ride is longer (about 80 km one way) so many travelers take advantage of their transfer from Hue to Da Nang or Hoi An to visit the pass. Some local operators also offer luggage transportation as part of the rental.
The best route to take when traveling from Hoi An or Da Nang to the Hai Van Pass is the coast road, and the best road to take is Nguyen Tat Thanh Rd (bayfront) over other roads. From Hoi An, take Lac Long Quan Rd until My Khe beach and then choose a boulevard to cross the favorite bridge. To the right, Bach Dang Rd leads to the bayfront. Starting from Hue? There are two routes being the QL1A and the coast QL49B. The former is wider and modern but the second route is less busy.
What To Bring
Visitors should bring sun cream, sunglasses, water, cash, phone, camera and backup charger. In the wet season, more layers are necessary to keep warm throughout the ride and of course, a raincoat is never forgotten. If you have a GoPro, that’s great to record the fun journey.
First, when renting a motorbike is to save the contact number of the rental shop. It is also recommended to have a fully charged phone in case of emergencies. Reputable rental shops are able to provide quick assistance as their mechanics are always on standby. If renting from a hotel, assistance may take longer. The most important advice is to thoroughly inspect the bike before taking it to the pass. On the rocks or barriers along the pass, phone numbers of local mechanics are painted, in case you can’t contact the rental shop for help. It is also important to ask for the price of the assistance before accepting it.
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Hai Van Pass in Top Gear
The Hai Van Pass was featured in the “Top Gear: Vietnam Special” episode of the BBC’s motoring program Top Gear in 2008. This was the final episode of the popular series. The episode starts with hosts Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond meeting in a marble shop and then riding their own motorcycles along the bayfront of Da Nang. Jeremy describes the Hai Van Pass as “a deserted ribbon of perfection” and “one of the best coast roads in the world.” The episode shows the trio enjoying their ride and making stops in Da Nang and Hue to take in the beautiful landscape. The men use words such as “fabulous,” “fantastic,” and “incredible” to express their appreciation of the beauty of the pass. To watch the episode, search for the title of this section on YouTube.