Highlights near Hải Vân
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Hai Van Caravan

Our driver suggested we take in the famously spectacular views of steep cliffs, waterfalls, and the ocean far below by climbing the Hai Van Pass road through the mountains between Hue and Da Nang on our way to Hoi An. About two-thirds of the way up, we ran up on the tail(s) of this caravan, which, except for the goats, had come to a dead stop. We walked ahead of the goats and around the tanker and the flatbed truck to find the cause of the congestion. Yes, we did a U-turn, backtracked, and high-tailed it down the mountain, and took the newish tunnel at sea level.

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I had wanted to take the high road and see the Hai Van Pass but the mountain was overcast when I was there three weeks ago, so my driver took the low road through the tunnel. After driving a ways, my hunch was confirmed: the Japanese assisted with the building of the long tunnel. I lived in Japan for 10 years, and the design looked familiar. Did you make it to Hanoi and, if so, see the mosaic mural -- aka Ceramic Road?

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Derk Richardson
AFAR Editor

We did make it to Hanoi: started our trip there. We saw the mural from a car, but not up close on foot. We loved Hanoi and Hue so much.

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Me, too! I also spent time in Hoi An and the Ninh Binh area (including an overnight stay at Cuc Phuong Nat'l Park and a boat trip at Van Long Nature Reserve). One of the highlights was hiking around Sapa -- it was so much fun thanks not only to the wonderful guide I had, but also because all the locals are so friendly (see my recent Highlights -- I shot over 3000 photos). I had never seen such warm, inviting, full-face smiles before -- especially the Hmong women. One Red Dao woman joined us in a village and hiked with us all afternoon. If you haven't gone to Sapa, I highly recommend adding it to your bucket list!


Hải Vân, Hải Hậu District, Nam Định Province

Hải Vân
Hai Hau District, Nam Dinh, Vietnam
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