Travelling between Hue and Da Nang/Hoi An
The Hai Van pass between Hue and Da Nang is one of the most beautiful passes in Vietnam. It's very famous for spectacular view of mountains, bays and islands. Along with Hue, Hoi An and Lang Co beach in the central Vietnam, the Hai Van pass is one of the not-to-be-missed places if you visit the region.
Some years ago, the Hai Van pass was the only road connecting north and south Vietnam, until a day a strong land collapse happened on the pass, it was caused by a typhoon into the central Vietnam. The whole transport system in the region was suspended for a day or two, as a result, a temporary bridge was installed on the pass. At that time it was really difficult for heavy trucks to travel on this route. Seeing how important an alternative route was, the Government decided to build the Ho Chi Minh highway (using State budget) and the Hai Van pass tunnel (using Japanese ODA loan). Ater a few years of construction, the Hai Van pass tunnel was open for traffic and it saved a lot of time for travelling between Hue and Da Nang. Built 1,172m above sea level, the 12km tunnel is one of the 30 largest and most modern tunnels in the world. Now it takes only 10 minutes to travel from north to south of the Hai Van pass, using this tunnel.
There are 3 ways to travel between Hue and Da Nang (Hoi An is about 30km from Da Nang)
By tourist bus or by local bus
This is the cheapest and fastest means of transport. Previously, the bus stopped at Lang Co for a short break, then Cham museum in Da Nang, and maybe Marble Mountain. But now these buses go through the Hai Van pass tunnel as I stated above, so you will miss the chance to enjoy a great view of the Hai Van pass as you cannot get into the top of the pass.
In an article I read sometime ago, a tourist route along the central coat was being built. It was approx 60km long, 4 lanes, starting from the south of the Hai Van pass tunnel, running along coastal line Lien Chieu - Thuan Phuoc, turning toward Son Tra archipelago, going along Non Nuoc - Dien Ngoc beach to Cua Dai beach and Hoi An town.
The train also cannot go to the top of the pass, but you will still enjoy amazing scenery. When entering the pass area, the train travels at low speed up the gradients, with an assisting locomotive at the rear, and goes through some dark tunnels (short tunnels). I am not sure whether it's possible to open glass windows on the train or not, sometimes they are steadily installed, so you may need to find somewhere you can open the window for taking photos.
The train runs between Hue and Da Nang. There is no train station in Hoi An. From Da Nang you can hire a taxi (30km, US$10 one way) or take a local bus to Hoi An.
Hiring a car
This may be the most expensive way if you compare with bus and train, but much more flexible as you can stop anywhere on the road for photos. You will enjoy a full view of the pass when climbing up and down and reaching the top of the pass. The cost for hiring a car is approx US$50+ one way (Hue - Hoi An). You can go by taxi from Hue, or hire a car through some agent or your hotel. Remember to tell your driver that you will not go through the newly built Hai Van tunnel (hầm Hải Vân), but the Hai Van pass (ðèo Hải Vân). In Da Nang, you should visit Cham museum and enjoy a bowl of noodle at My Quang restaurant (No. 2, Hai Phong street, near Da Nang station) before moving to Hoi An.
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