Hai Van Pass, also known as “Sea Cloud” Pass crosses the mountain range that juts into the South China Sea. This is the pass vehicles generally used to travel from Danang to Hue and vice versa. The pass goes through the highs and lows of the Truong Son Mountain Range and gives travellers a spectacular view of the shoreline.
As the name says, during winters or raining days, the pass get misty and it makes you feel as though you are travelling on clouds. Also, most vehicles make a rest stop at the top of the pass. Do note that you have to fight off a large crowd of very persistent souvenir vendors.
Relax at Lang Co Beach
One your way to Hue from Danang, if you travel by Hai Van Pass, you may pass by the Lang Co Beach. The Lang Co is an attractive, island-like stretch of palm-shaded sand with turquoise lagoon on one side and many kilometres of beachfront facing the South China Sea on the other.
Lang Co Beach
It’s a great spot where lots of visitors make a rest stop and spend the night. Do note that the beach is best enjoyed between April and July. We were there in January and gosh, it was raining and the waves were huge!
If you wish to enjoy a beach tour, make sure you are at Lang Co at the right season!
The Cham Museum
1 Bach Dang, Danang
The Cham Museum was established in 1936 (originally the Ecole Française d’Extreme Orient) to house the relics of the powerful Hindu culture that once ruled vast tracts of central Vietnam. The museum has the largest collection of Cham sculpture in the world, in works ranging from the 4th to 14th centuries, presented in a rough outdoor setting that suits the evocative, sensual sculptures well. The more than 300 pieces of sandstone artwork and temple decorations were largely influenced by Hindu and, later, Mahayana Buddhism. Among the cast of characters, you’ll see symbols of Uroja, or “goddess mother,” usually breasts or nipples; the linga, the phallic structure representing the god Shiva; the holy bird Garuda; the dancing girl Kinnari; the snake god Naga; and Ganesha, child of the god Shiva, with the head of an elephant. The sculptures are arranged by period, which are, in turn, named after the geographic regions where the sculptures were found. Note the masterpiece Tra Kieu altar of the late 7th century, with carved scenes telling the story of the Asian epic Ramayana. The story is of the wedding of Princess Sita. Side one tells of Prince Rama, who broke a holy vow to obtain Sita’s hand. Side two tells of ambassadors sent to King Dasaratha, Prince Rama’s father, to bring him the glad tidings. Side three is the actual ceremony, and side four depicts the celebrations after the ceremony. There is a permanent photo exhibition of the many Cham relics in situ at various locations throughout Vietnam.
Chama Sculpture Art Museum
Directions: at the T-junction of Trung Nu Vuong st., bach Dang & 29 March st.
The building is used to be a Far Eastern Studies in Vietnam. It’s all about the Old Champa Kingdom. The museum exhibits 300 original sandstone sculptures and some baked products collected from temples and towers that lie scattered from Quang Binh to Binh Thuan in central Vietnam. Champa Museum shouldn’t be missed. It could be done as a stopover from Hue to Hoi An.
Cao Dai temple
Cao Dai is a religious sect centered in the deep south. I’m surprised to see one this far north. If you can’t make it to the main Cao Dai temple in Tay Ninh, this is an alternative. The twin-tower motif is common in Cao Dai architecture.
The Marble Mountains
Location: 11km (7 miles) south of Danang and 9.5km (6 miles) north of Hoi An along Hwy.1
The “mountains” are actually a series of five marble and limestone formations, which the locals liken to the shape of a dragon at rest. For the Vietnamese, it is a place of significance; which means you are often climbing with loud tour groups who are trying to elbow past you. The hills are interlaced with caves, some of which are important Buddhist sanctuaries. The caves at the Marble Mountains, like so many in the country, served as sanctuaries for the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War. Each peak is named for an element: Hoa Son, or fire; Mo Son, or wood; Kim Son, or gold; and Tho Son, or earth. The highest mountain, Tho Son, is climbable via a series of metal ladders beginning inside the cave and extending to the surface at the top. Ling Ong Pagoda, a shrine within a cave, is a highlight. The quarries in Non Nuoc village, at the bottom of the mountains, are as interesting as the caves are. Fantastic animals and fanciful statues of folk tales and Buddhist figures are carved from the rock. Try to get a good look before you are set upon by flocks of hawkers. What’s more, even if you’re interested in the items they hawk — incredibly cheap mortise and pestle sets, some very nice chess sets, turtles and small animals – any amount of marble adds considerable weight to luggage. When someone asks, “Is your bag full of rocks,” you don’t want the answer to be “Yes.” You can easily see the mountains as part of your trip en route either to or from Hoi An; most cafe tour buses stop here.