Hai Van Pass (Part 1)

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Hai Van Pass is one of the most scenic hillside roads in Vietnam. When braving the steep winding roads of a paved mountain pass, you will have a chance to discover peace, quiet and history along the way…

Impressive landscape in Hai Van Pass

On the north – south nation highway, Hai Van Pass is an impressive landscape. It is like a giant dragon, lying on Highway 1 on the border between Thua Thien-Hue Province and Danang City.

>> Cycling – Trekking on the beach of Ha Long Bay

This is the highest pass in Vietnam (500m above sea level). This rugged pass is the final section of the Truong Son Range stretching to the sea. Hai Van means “Sea Clouds”, since the peak of the mountain is in the clouds while its foot is close to the sea.  In the past, Hai Van Pass was known as the Thuan Hoa and Quang Nam frontier.

In the early 14th century (11306), Che Man, a king from Cham Pa, offered two mountainous administrative units of O and Ri as engagement gifts to Princess Huyen Tran, daughter of King Tran Nhan Tong. On his way to see off the Princess in the Quang area in a Summer sunny noon, the King and his entourage were on horse back for almost half a day but could not reach the top of the pass.

Facing upwards, the King saw a rampart of mountains in dim clouds, and at the foot of the pass, an immense ocean, of waves. Though sorry for his daughter’s difficult journey, the king was comforted by the closer ties between the two nations.

Go Through Hai Van Pass

Whenever one goes through Hai Van Pass, two feelings are experienced: amazement at passing through the clouds and fear when seeing the dangerous bends of the road. After climbing through several hair-pin curves for close to an hour, you reach the crest of the Hai Van Pass.

Here, if the weather affords it (which it often doesn’t), there are views to both the North and the South. The pass forms an obvious boundary between North and South Vietnam, and if proof were needed, you need look no further than the fortifications built by the French and then later used by the South Vietnamese and the Americans.

You will of course want to stop here if you make this trip, but be warned that you will have to fight off a large band of souvenir and snack sellers who are among the most aggressive I encountered during the whole trip.

With sudden curves and blind corners, Hai Van Pass is likened to an arrogant but beautiful girl challenging drivers’ skills. Hai Van is considered to be the largest frontier post in Vietnam. The name “De Nhat Hung Quan”, meaning the most colossal frontier post, is engraved on an incense burner in Thai Temple.

Hai Van Pass will satisfy your desire to conquer high peaks and  remind you of the glorious past of the Viet people. Moreover, from the pass, on nice days, visitors can enjoy the whole vista of Danang, the Tien Sa seaport, Son Tra Peninsula, Cu Lao Cham Island and long sandy beaches.

The 21km that stretch over the Hai Van mountain pass may sound like a challenging journey, but after having done, it is certainly that you will find it is one worth taking.