There are a ton of things to do when travelling in Da Nang city – one of the stunning coastal cities in central Viet Nam. And driving Hai Van Pass is the best experience in the vacation for those people who want to explore such place by motorbike.
The Hai Van Pass and Its History
The Hai Van Pass is a 165km windy, scenic route on the East Coast of Vietnam, connecting Da Nang city to Hue.
In the past, the Hai Van Pass was used as the main road between the two, but in 2005 they built a new highway. This scenic route is now a long, mountain road with barely any traffic. It is the perfect attraction for motorbike lovers.
This pass was used as a strategic military post in the past, during times of war and you can still visit the ruins to date. There are many bullet holes still present in the walls of these old buildings, and it is a popular destination among tourists. It is free to park up and enter, just avoid parking where all the locals stand selling their produce.
TIP! The Locals have started a new trend that says you can park at their shop, if you buy something from it – genius! Drive a little further past the shops and park up on the roadside. Unless of course you’re thirsty, then you’ve got yourself a good deal with the locals! Priority parking right outside, and that can of coke that you wanted anyway
The Hai Van Pass was also known as a political and geographical boundary between the ancient kingdoms, many who fought for ownership of the pass. Now, it is used by over-sized trucks and two-wheeled vehicles, that aren’t allowed to use the new highway, to get between the big cities.
>> Read more about 5 things to do in Hue
Driving the Hai Van Pass
There are a number of ways to do this. If you are in Da Nang (or Hue) and are travelling up (or down) the country, then the Hai Van Pass can be a great way to get from one to the other.
You are able to do two things that make this experience way more pleasant:
- You can actually pay someone to take your luggage for you. This usually means putting it on a bus full of people already heading to your final destination, meaning it isn’t expensive either. Or, the company where you hire your scooter may offer this service to you as part of a package.
- Hire a scooter/motorbike at one end and leave it at the other
Another Way to Drive the Hai Van Pass
If you aren’t a confident driver, and are not travelling with anyone who is, don’t let this put you off. The Hai Van Pass is seriously stunning and is a ‘must-do’ while you are in Vietnam. There are tour companies who drive tourists in a jeep along the scenic route, picking you up at one end and dropping you off at the other. This means you don’t have to miss out, and can still witness the beauty of this historical place.
TIP! Wait until you are in Viet Nam to book a tour. Booking online will be more expensive, as most locals are open to negotiations! Don’t worry about not getting onto a tour, there are 100’s of companies offering these services.
Spend a Day on the Road
Driving from Da Nang, along the Hai Van Pass for approximately an hour. You can stop in a fishing village to have lunch and then drove back to Da Nang.
Spending a total of 2 hours driving along this incredible spot and immersing the nature beauty of this destination. Along the way, you can look at beaches from above and sometimes you will catch your eye with some couple getting married taking photos in this place.
Again, if you are not a confident driver, there are tour companies or Da Nang car rental that offer half-day trips from Da Nang, picking you up from your hotel and dropping you back again. You do not have to drive from one end to the other to witness this amazing road. Driving on only half of it it satisfying enough. Plus, most of the attractions are towards Da Nang anyway!
How to Get to the Hai Van Pass
The two closest cities to the Hai Van Pass are Hue, and Da Nang.
Starting in Da Nang
From Da Nang, it takes approximately one hour to reach the start of the scenic drive.
Head towards During Nguyen Tat Thanh road, which runs along the beach front. Follow this road all the way until it ends. It brings you to what looks like a dead end, but continue around the corner on your left and you’ll reach a new junction. On the left hand side of the road is a petrol station. If you need to re-fuel then I suggest you do so here. This is one of two petrol stations before starting the Hai Van Pass.
Take a right at the junction onto QL1A road (Nguyen Lurong Bang) and drive across the river Song Cu De. Continue straight up Nguyen Van Cu. From here it is a direct road to the start of the Hai Van!
The roads are fairy simple to drive, with only one busy highway on the way.
TIP! Scooters are only allowed in the right-hand and middle lanes. Do not use the outside left lane to take-over as you will be heavily fined! (and shouted at by a lot of angry locals!)
Why You Should Drive the Hai Van Pass
The Hai Van Pass is a scenic route winding through the mountainside on the East Coast of Vietnam. The direct translation means ‘Ocean Cloud Pass’ and during the wet season you can see why. Thick fog covers the pass entirely.
Driving along the pass you feel such excitement and adrenaline. The windy roads can be at times dangerous, but mostly exhilarating. You are free to drive, without much traffic to stop you in your way. You begin to climb into the mountains, and you can feel the air becoming colder – more moist. The road is the perfect representation of a gigantic formula 1 track. It is so fun to drive and an all-round great experience.
Along the way, there are stunning beaches, incredible mountain tops, waterfalls and small fishing villages. There is something about driving through this place that is so wonderful.
I would highly recommend you drive along this incredible stretch of road. Whether you hire a scooter, a motorbike or take a jeep tour, make sure you do it.