In today’s travel world where most people rush around trying to get from place to place, I love any opportunity to take the slow path. After all – the fun is in the journey for me – not necessarily the place. So when our Intrepid Vietnam Travel Itinerary called for overland transportation from Hue to Da Nang (and ultimately Hoi An) – I was pretty excited when our guide, Ngoc, told us that we had two options – a high road and a low road – and we would be taking the high road crossing Hải Vân Pass.
This notoriously dangerous pass in Vietnam is 13 miles long and winds through the Annamite Range that juts into the South China Sea along National Road 1A. The 1,600 foot elevation isn’t the danger, the weather is actually what makes the pass dangerous. The Vietnamese name Đèo Hải Vân means “ocean cloud pass” as the area traditionally gets a lot of ocean mist and fog making the visibility on the pass poor. However a ‘lower route’ was created in 2005, the Hải Vân Tunnel—the longest tunnel in Southeast Asia—offers an alternative road across the pass, reducing travel times by at least an hour.
Tunnel With No View VS. Twisting, Curving Mountain Road
Is there really even a question on what I’d rather do? We took off in a big van heading for the pass – Evie downed some Dramamine and I got my cameras ready. As we drove out of Hue I was surprised at the gorgeous, simple villages along the water which made me promise myself that next time I came to Hue I would rent a motorbike and drive out this way myself to explore. We made some stops for photography and pitstops since it was a long 4 hour drive to Hoi An overall.
What’s a road trip without games? I enjoyed watching Evie interact with our family travel companions the Australian kids, Daryelle and William. Even though there was quite an age difference it was fun to watch the two cultures collide and intertwine as they played “Would You Rather” and discussed music and movies. And in true cultural challenge fashion, we all tried to see how long any of us could converse without saying the word “like” and of course the Americans, Evie and me, lost terribly. I pretty sure Ngoc and our van driver thought we were nutty.
Once we started climbing up the pass past the beaches, we could see the railroad below us and the traffic seemed to thin out a bit. Most commercial traffic takes the quicker tunnel route, which left all of these wonderful views to us! Our driver stopped at strategic points for us to get out and take pictures and luckily the ocean mist stayed at bay and our visibility was pretty good. We then had lovely views to drop down into Da Nang where the fishing boats and villages returned again.
Sure, taking the high road took longer – but the journey was worth it.
Was there a time when you took the long road?
Disclosure: While in Vietnam I was a guest of Intrepid Travel. However all of the opinions and thoughts expressed here are my own. I never accept such a deal if I am required, in any way, to write positively about any company, organization or experience. I will only take such a trip if I am free to write honestly and openly based on the actual experiences that I have.
- The Niece Project
- Seeing Rome Through New Eyes
- For an Immersive Local Experience Try a Rome Food Tour
- Getting the Most Out of a Vatican Museum Visit
- Rome Travel Tips: Skip Lines, Get Around, Eat Like a Local
- Put These Three Stops on your Amalfi Coast, Italy Itinerary
- How to Eat Pizza Like an Italian
- The Next Niece – Destination Unknown
- Evie’s Decision
- Modern Family
- Are we There Yet?
- Assuming Responsibility
- Finding our Stride in Hanoi
- What to Expect in Halong Bay
- Local Experiences Along the Tourist Trail in Hue
- Taking the High Road Hai Van Pass
- Hunting for Photos in Hoi An
- Saigon Unseen
- The Incredible Edible Egg Embryo Hot Vit Lon
- Saigon Street Food
- How to be a Good First Time Traveler
- The Niece Project Version 3.0
- Week In-Stagram Review Niece Project 3.0
- Bumpy Beginnings Niece Project 3.0
- How to travel with other people’s kids
- New Perspectives in the Sacred Valley
- Into Thin Air with a Teenager
- Inca Trail Alternate Route
- Machu Picchu a Decade Later
- It’s a Jungle Out There
- A Teenager’s View of Peru
- Building Homes in Las Laderas Peru
- Project Peru
- Feeding the Masses in Puente Piedra
- Niece Project 4.0 The Decision
- Week In-stagram Review Belize
- Welcome to the Belize Jungle
- How To Be First In the ATM Cave Belize
- Taking Flight in Belize
- 3 Ways to Explore Belize Caves
- Under the Sea in Belize
- Exploring Firsts in Placencia Belize
- Niece Project 5.0 Travel Decisions
- New Zealand In-stagram Review
- Getting There Niece Project 5.0
- What the Niece Project Taught me About Traveling With Teenagers
- Why I Love to Take Teenagers on Small Group Tours
- Taking the Leap into Fear
- Flying Tips on How to deal with Long Flights
- The Last Niece Project Goes To…
- An Aunt, a Niece, and India
- How to Spend a Day Like a Local in Jaipur
- My 6 Favorite Experiences in Rajasthan India
- Experiencing India As a Teenager
- Too Scared to Travel To India? I Have a Solution…
- The End of the Niece Project