Hai Van Pass

The Hai Van Pass places high on the list of the most scenic spots in Vietnam and should be on every traveler’s bucket list. This amazingly beautiful spot is located just north of Da Nang along Highway 1 (QL1), the pass overlooks the city of Da Nang to the south and the breathtaking Lang Co Lagoon to the north.

Looking north from the Hai Van pass towards the Lang Co lagoon

Over the years the pass has become a very popular tourist destination, both for people traveling between Hue and Da Nang and also as a destination for day or half day trips from Da Nang and Hoi An. The small business on the top offers refreshments, surprisingly clean toilets and souvenirs.

Hai Van Pass bunker and some of the small shops

Apart from the stunning view in both directions, there are also a number of old bunkers with battle scars on top of the pass. For some reason, some of the old bunkers have also become popular for couples taking wedding photos.

Bunker at Hai Van pass

Most of the bunkers are French but there are also some older Vietnamese installations on the pass as well. The bunkers were used by U.S. forces to cover the road during the war as this was a very important piece of real estate due to the numerous convoys going between Da Nang and Hue. VC forces would sneak up along the mountain ridges to attack the installations on the pass and they would also set up ambushes along the road leading up to the pass

The dangers were not isolated to the Hai Van Pass though, as the road continued north towards Hue, it went through the Lang Co Lagoon and the Lang Co pass which with its winding road and steep climbs meant trucks would lose speed and present easy targets for the enemy. To meet this threat, the Americans would establish a number of smaller bases along the road in order to provide cover and quick response should a convoy be attacked.

FB Los Banos overlooking the Lang Co lagoon

We have visited two of these bases, FB Los Banos which we have covered here on the website and then FB Roy that covered the area north of Lang Co as well as the Bach Ma mountains. We were not able to get up on FB Roy as it was closed off but the small hill is still there along the road.

Souvenir and coffee shops on Hai Van pass

Foodies will also be pleased to hear that some of the country’s best seafood is served not far from the pass, along the little stretch of road through the Lang Co Lagoon. There is a number of small family owned seafood restaurants serving fresh from the sea clams, fish and shellfish. In the team we mostly plan our trips between Da Nang and Hue around lunch so we can stay here to enjoy the fruits of the sea.

A word of caution, on top of the pass there are some people that might try to scam tourists for money exchange etc. Just beware and enjoy the view. The regular coffee shops on the pass might be a bit pricier than on a back street in town, but that comes with the location.

 

How to get there

Anyone traveling between Da Nang and Hue should stop here for a visit. Just make sure to not take the tunnel through the mountain, but make the climb up and over the mountain to reach the pass. Being close to Da Nang, this is a nice half day trip from either Da Nang or Hoi An.

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