Saturday, November 8, 2014

Hai Van Pass and Lang Co Beach- Two Attractions in Between Da Nang to Hue

We spent 5 days in central Vietnam, visiting Hue, Danang, My Son and Hoi An. Reached Danang International Airport around 1:30 pm local time, we started our trip from the airport to Hue around 1:45 pm.

The trip from Danang International Airport to our hotel in Hue was expected to be 3 hours,  but the journey took us 4 hours 30 minutes. The reasons- we chose to use Hai Van Pass (instead of the underground tunnel), stopped at Lang Co Beach, and of course partly because of the terrible road condition from Lang Co to Hue.

Taking Hai Van Pass means putting extra 30 km to our trip, adding 60 minutes on the road, and paying more for the transportation (extra USD 7 - 10). What is so special about Hai Van Pass? The scenery. For us, we have seen many breathtaking views along the road snaking through the highlands, such as Mount Kinabalu, Cameron Highlands, and the highlands in Bali. But Hai Van Pass promises more with lushing green hills on one side while the blue sea with clear sky on the other side. When both combined, it becomes one of the most spectacular nature view in Vietnam.

Many have commented that Hai Van Pass is a must visit place in central Vietnam. We can't be more agree with them. Yes, we have to spend more time and money, and perhaps a little bit of travel sickness because of the winding road, but the view itself worth all the efforts. 

On the highest point of the pass stands the relic of "Hai-Yun" guard tower (海云关). "Hai-Yun" means sea and cloud in Mandarin. The guard tower was built in 1826 by Minh Mang, Emperor of Hue. Standing 470 m above sea level, the emperor was so proud of the tower that it was given the name of "the strongest stronghold under the sky" (天下第一雄关). During the Vietnam war in 1960s, bunkers were built along the strategic points along the pass to safeguard the South from the North. The access to Hai-Yun Tower and bunkers was free during our visit. 

We took around 1 hour 15 minutes to reach the highest point of the Hai Van Pass. We roamed around the area, looking at the badly damaged towers and long abandoned concrete bunkers. Then we took a rest while enjoying the great view around the area. We departed to Lang Co Beach after staying for 1 hour.

There were several shops beside the road selling food, drinks, and souvenirs. We found that the prices offered were high. A can of soft drink was sold with USD 1 while a small cup of coffee was USD 1 as well. Anyway, we took two soft drinks and a small cup of coffee there.

Hai Van Pass is the old road that connects Danang and Hue. Hill range is getting clearer when we travel closer to the pass.

The condition of the road was good thorough the pass. Although it was quite windy, but the slow driving speed saved the journey and gave us enough time to enjoy the scenery around the area.

We can see Danang City at several points.

This photo showed how the road was built along the hills. Lang Co Beach can be seen far behind.

The white beach and the blue water of Lang Co from the highest point of Hai Van Pass.

Photo taken beside a concrete bunker with Ling Shing's mom.

The bunker is small. We are not quite sure how the American soldier (assume to be twice the size of us) hide inside it, guarding the area whole day long.

Tourists amassed near the damaged Hai-Yun tower and bunkers (grey structures on the left). This photo was taken from the shops where we sat around a small table and enjoyed drinking our soft drinks and coffee.

Hai-Yun Tower stands on the high ground of the pass (upper left), with stunning view through the doorway of the guard tower (upper right). Concrete bunkers can be seen scatter around the area (lower left). Shops on the other side of the road selling food, beverages, and souvenirs, with a big signage of "Thua Thien Hue" or "The Province of Hue" standing in between the border of Hue and Danang.

 Picturesque view on our way down from Hai Van down to Lang Co Beach.

We have definitely missed Lang Co Beach if the place was not being highlighted by Ms. Anna from Holiday Diamond Hotel. We stepped our feet on the beach 45 minutes after we left the rest point at Hai Van Pass. The beauty of the beach was indisputable. Although there were a few big resorts at the main street along the beach, but the whole area was surprisingly quiet- not many hotels, less vehicles, few local restaurants, and hardly see any tourist around. We stopped at the beach, enjoyed the strong eastern wind and quiet surrounding for a while. Then, we took 1 hour and 20 minutes to travel from Lang Co to Hue.

Lang Co beach with white sand, blue sea, and strong waves.

Maybe it was not the peak season. The beach side was really quiet with only a few visitors in sight.

The main street at Lang Co with less traffic(upper left). We didn't see any visitor in the resort that we stopped by (upper right). A calm and beautiful lagoon can be seen along the main road from Lang Co to Hue (lower row).

Lang Co Beach is not as attractive as Hai Van Pass. Stopping for a coffee break while enjoying the scenery is only possible if we visit one of the cafes of the resorts. We can't deny its natural beauty, but a touch-and-go stop should be more than enough. If you plan to visit these two attractions, you can allocate more time for Hai Van Pass.

We continued our central Vietnam trip by visiting some of the UNESCO Heritage sites in Hue. You can Follow us now to know more updates.

More of our experience in Hue, Danang, Hoi An, and My Son:

Our experiences in other parts of Vietnam are available too:


  1. Hello, Choo here. Really appreciate your photos, now I see the reason to go to Hai Van PAss. I am the type that doesn't like road trip very much.

    1. Wish you have a happy trip ahead. Let us know if you need more information.

  2. Hi! Thanks for the informative blog! Planning to visit Hue, Hoi An and Danang soon. Wanted to check how did you find the driver for the trip from Danang to Hue through the Hai Van Pass? Did you just get a metered cab at the airport? Thanks!
    - Sherlyn

    1. Dear Sherlyn,

      Good day! We rented a car with driver through our hotel at Hue- Holiday Diamond Hotel. The fare was more or less similar to the metered cab. During our visit, the taxi fare from Danang to Hue was around USD 55 (cheaper if we pay with VND), with extra charge of USD 5 - 6 to use Hai Van Pass (we need to mention it at the counter, or else they will bring us via shortest underground route).

    2. We can get metered cab easily at the airport. If you are going to stay in Hue, maybe you can ask the hotel operator there for a better offer on the transportation.

  3. Hi I'm planning to go to danang for 6days 5 nights. N planning to stay 2 nites in hoi an n danang/bana hills n 1 nite hue. Any input please. Do u hv contact for daily reliable drivers?

    1. Hello ykristen, good day!

      If you wish to stay in Hoi An for two days, I would suggest you visit ancient city of My Son as well.

      We would suggest that you spend at least two nights in Hue. Hue is a very nice city where we can visit several emperors' tombs, the royal palace, and the night market with cheap items.

      We made Danang a "resting point" when we were travelling from Hue to My Son and Danang. Not much things to see at Danang, except the special Dragon Bridge, Da Nang Museum of Cham Sculpture, and a few more attractions.

      We have never been to Bana Hills before, so we can't comment about the place. You can read the comments at tripadvisor for more precise picture of Bana Hills.

      Regarding the drivers, rented car with driver is cheaper to travel between cities. We would recommend you use the drivers offered by the hotels. Our experience was- the drivers provided by the hotels were cheaper. The drivers did offer a few shopping locations to stop by, but we could always say no to them. And, reliability wise, at least we could contact our hotel , in case anything "unexpected" happened.

      Hope you found our reply useful.

    2. Thnks so much for replying. As I'll be travelling with 2 tweens I'm worried Hue may bore them. Thnks so much for years detailed itinerary it really does help a lot. Another question regarding hoi an. Do we hv to pay a daily entrance fee to get into the ancient city or only one off.

    3. Thnks for yr prompt reply. Wondering whether the fee for hoi an ancient city is payable everytime we visit or thru out our stay.

    4. Dear yKristen, Good day!

      The entrance fee for Hoi An Heritage site, we just need to pay once thru out our stay (in your case, whole two days). It is important to keep the ticket with you, just in case of ticket-check.

      You can visit up to 6 special site of interests (museum, show house, performance stages) per ticket purchased. Which means, if you have visited 6 sites in day 1, you can visit no more on day 2.
      Hope it helps :)