Where We Be
|One of many scenic views on the way from Hue to Hoi An. A private car lets you enjoy the
ocean and mountain scenery instead of passing through a tunnel and missing most of it.
|The drive along the central coast of Vietnam
is a pretty one even on a misty day
|Lovely flowers added color along the way
|Lang Co Beach near Hue offers golden sand, crashing
surf -- and almost no people, at least in April
|Across from Lang Co Beach, we saw fishing boats
moored in a quiet bay with a hazy mountain backdrop
|A series of hairpin turns eventually brought us to Hai Van Pass. The pass forms a distinct boundary between north and
south Vietnam. The French built fortifications here, which were later used by South Vietnamese and American soldiers.
|Nearby is Marble Mountain. At its base is a huge store
selling -- you guessed it -- marbles and marble statues
|At the entrance to Marble Mountain we paid 75 cents (15,000 dong) each and started to climb.
We needed the full hour allotted to cover all the sights sprinkled over this small mountain park.
|There are plenty of pagodas and statues to see -- and steps to climb
|From the top of Marble Mountain you get
panoramic views of Danang and China Beach
|Bird's-eye view of Danang with its rock outcroppings and pagodas
We paid $53 for a private car to take us from
Hue to Hoi An, which let us stop at beaches and
enjoy the ocean and mountain scenery instead
of passing through a tunnel that would have cut
out most of the views. In fact, the drive to the
top of Hai Van Pass, full of hairpin curves and
fine overlooks, is one of Top Gear’s “Top 10
Ocean Drives.” The whole journey with stops
takes 5 or 6 hours and is worth it in our opinion.
Along the way we stopped in Danang. After
visiting China Beach, where American soldiers
went for R&R during the war, we visited Marble
Mountain. This popular tourist spot is chock-full
of pagodas, gardens, statues, and caves to
explore. Our favorite cave was Huyen Kong; a
fine mist hung in the air, through which a shaft
of light shone down on a well-placed Buddha
statue. If you make the climb all the way to the
top of Marble Mountain, you're rewarded with
panoramic views of Danang and China Beach.
|A long descent from Hai Van Pass brought us to Denang. Our first stop was My Khe Beach,
aka China Beach, where American soldiers went for R&R during the Vietnam War.
|As we began the climb to Hai Van Pass, we
could see Lang Co Beach spread out below us
|Linh Nham Cave with its oval entrance
offers a cool respite from the heat
|Huyen Khong Cave with its misty light shining
down upon a Buddha statue was our favorite
|We both thoroughly enjoyed the natural wind tunnel
effect at this well-placed bench on a hot afternoon