Stretching over the ridges of the Truong Son Range that juts into Eastern Sea the Hai Van Pass winds around cliffs and huge banks of jungle and rock face. The primary link between Da Nang and Hue, the pass rises to 496 m (1,627ft.) at its peak and boasts picturesque views of the tree line sloping to the untouched coast below.
The onset of the pass crosses a railway track and begins a steep swing up the mountainside. The roadway sweeps up in deep curves that border sharp cliffs where over the low stone guardrails often the only sights are the tips of treetops and the unbroken blue bank of sky. As riders climb higher the bends become sharper and more frequent as the peak approaches—enough to start some flutters in the stomach. At the peak a small rest station welcomes visitors with local food and coffee on offer.
The peak is occupied by Cham ruins riddled with bullet holes and flanked by a deteriorated Viet Cong outpost from the American War. Cement turrets stand guard over the ridges and villages visible in all directions, now thronged in tourists posing for photographs and locals selling coffee, jewelry and trinkets.
The pass then begins its sharp descent toward Lang Co and the road to Hue. Riders can mostly coast downhill as the wind whooshes past and the shoreline rushes up to meet them. This trip should only be attempted by riders with some experience and faith in the reliability of their bikes (especially the brakes for the descent). The slope of the mountain levels out and as the last corner is turned a spectacular blue bay comes into view, bordered by trees and peppered with local fishing boats.
Returning to sea-level visitors can continue on to Lang Co, a crystal blue fishing lagoon backgrounded by mountainsides coated in light haze. Local restaurants balance over the water on stilts, where the serene views and fresh fish provide an opportunity to rest while the fishermen glide over the still water in the distance.