Hue to Da Nang

The Drive from Hue to Da Nang and Hoi An

Friday, Nov 28th
We had to get up early again, and following a quick breakfast and check-out from the hotel, we were picked up for the drive South to Da Nang and Hoi An. The drive from Hue to Da Nang is about 110 km along the Hai Van pass road. There is a slightly faster route through a recently built tunnel, but we took the much more scenic pass road. It took some time to get out of Hue traffic, but we soon turned off onto a smaller road which took us through rice fields being plowed by water buffalo and towards the coast. We briefly stopped at a beach side resort along Lang Co beach, just to look at the very wide and perfectly white sand beach.

Lang Co Beach lies on a peninsula between the ocean and a large lagoon behind it. A little further up along the road we had a fantastic view over the whole peninsula.

From there we kept driving along the coast up towards the Hai Van pass. The road snakes along the coast for a bit and then into the mountains. It reaches an altitude of 1,200 meters on top of the pass, where we took in the great views along the coast. On the way down we started to see the high buildings of Da Nang on the other side of a huge bay.

      View from Hai Van Pass towards Lang Co Beach        Top of Hai Van Pass
      View of Danang  Bay       Dragon Bridge in Da Nang

Da Nang is the third largest city in Vietnam with a population of about 1 million. It was a major US army base during the Vietnam War. We didn't really spend any time in Da Nang, except for a brief stop at the small but very interesting Cham Museum, which displays some beautiful stone sculptures from Champa, the Cham Kingdom, which ruled the area of Central and South Vietnam from the 7th to the early 19th century. The Cham people, who are believed to have migrated to South Vietnam from Java, were originally Hindu, but many later converted to Islam. The Cham Kingdom was finally conquered by the second Vietnamese emperor Minh Mang (whose tomb we visited yesterday) in 1832, and the Cham people are now an ethnic minority in the country.

On the way out of Da Nang we stopped at the famous Marble Mountains. These are a cluster of five strange looking steep hills sticking out of the totally flat surrounding landscape. (Turns out they actually used to be islands in the ocean just off the shore, but the ocean around them eventually disappeared from the silt brought in by the river.) This area is famous for its marble and stone cutting. The marble used to come from the five marble mountains, but this was banned recently to preserve the mountains. But the marble cutting industry seemed to have survived and they now cart the marble in from quarries further away. There is an elevator built into the mountain side, which took us up to the Buddhist temple on top. We had great views over the ocean from up here. There are a series of caves and tunnels we you can visit up here, almost all of which contain small buddhist shrines or Buddha sculptures.

We arrived in Hoi An just before 2:00 pm, and checked into the beautiful Anantara hotel there. After a small late lunch overlooking the wide delta of the Thu Bon River in front of the hotel, we were picked up again by our guide Phoac for an afternoon walk through the old town of Hoi An.


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