VIETNAM TRAVEL

 

Central Vietnam

Demilitarised Zone - Dong Ha - Lao Bao - Quang Tri - Hue - Around Hue - Suoi Voi Bach Ma National Park - Lang Co Beach - Hai Van Pass Tunnel
Ba Na Hill Station - Suoi Mo - Danang - Around Danang - Hoi An - Around Hoi An My Son - Tra Kieu - Tam Ky

HAI VAN PASS & TUNNEL

The Hai Van (Sea Cloud) Pass crosses over a spur of the Truong Son Mountain Range that juts into the sea. About 30km north of Danang, the road climbs to an elevation of 496m, passing south of the Ai Van Son peak (1172m). It's an incredibly mountainous stretch of highway with spectacular views. The railway track, with its many tunnels, goes around the peninsula, following the beautiful and deserted shoreline to avoid the hills. In the 15th century this pass formed the-boundary between Vietnam and the Kingdom of Champa. Until the American War it was heavily forested. At the summit is a bullet-scarred French fort, later used as a bunker by the South Vietnamese and US armies, with incredible views over Lang Co. If you cross in winter, the pass serves as something of a visible dividing line between the climates of the north and south. Acting as a virtual wall, it protects Danang from the fierce 'Chinese winds' that sweep in from the northeast. From about November to March the exposed Lang Co side of the pass can be uncomfortably wet and chilly, while just to the south it's warm and dry. When the winter weather is lousy in Hue, it is usually good in Danang. At the top of the pass you'll have to fight off a rather large crowd of very persistent vendors. You would be wise not to change money with anyone here, as you're more than likely to get short-changed. In 2005 the 6280m-long Hai Van Tunnel opened, using Austrian technology, bypassing the Pass and shaving an hour off the journey between Danang and Hue. Motorcycles and bikes are not permitted in the tunnel, but most cars and buses now take this route. The diversion of this traffic from the Pass road has made it a much safer and more enjoyable route, although you may still find yourself playing chicken with a .suicidal truck driver.