10 Scenic Mountain Passes in Vietnam
Whether you drive, motorbike, cycle or hike, the following Vietnam’s scenic mountain passes are best experienced in person, where you can breathe the fresh air and admire the incredible views of mountains, oceans, valleys. They may look pretty dangerous but worth to travel once lifetime. Words are not enough to describe how stunning they are.
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O Quy Ho – Tram Ton Pass
Located around 17km from Sapa town, O Quy Ho (or Tram Ton) is the longest pass in Vietnam. It is about 50km stretching on Highway 4D, across Hoang Lien Son mountain range and connecting 2 provinces of Lao Cai and Lai Chau. The pass winds through the sky-high cliff and deep chasms at an altitude of nearly 2000m, making it more dangerous. But thanks to its height, length and danger, O Quy Ho Pass attract a lot of adventure seekers who come here on motorbikes. Overcome the fear and climb to the peak of O Quy Ho Pass, also called Haven’s Gate, visitors will have a chance to see floating clouds and admire the spectacular panoramic views of Fansipan mount – the highest peak of Indochina mountains and the picturesque valleys of Lai Chau.
Ma Pi Leng Pass
The name “Ma Pi Leng” in H’mong language means “the bridge of a horse’s nose” that describes its shape. Sit within Dong Van Karst Plateau Geopark in Ha Giang Province, it is seen as one of the most hazardous mountain passes in Vietnam. The pass is about 20km long and over 1,200m above sea level, connecting 2 towns of Dong Van and Meo Vac. Ma Pi Leng Pass, like a thread, crosses the middle of the hills, creating a majestic setting for the rocky plateau. Riding a motorbike to the peak of Ma Pi Leng Pass offers you stunning landscapes of limestone mountains, green forest, blue sky and romantic Nho Que River – turquoise green all year round. It is reason why Ma Pi Leng is a notorious place for many adventurers and enthusiastic photographers also.
Pha Din Pass
Pha Din is 32km long with the highest point of 1,648m above sea level, linking Son La and Dien Bien Phu Provinces. Pha Din Pass was virtually the only main supply route of weapons, ammunition, goods and foods for the campaign of Dien Bien Phu battle. It was under numerous fierce air raid by the French army in an attempt of cutting this line. Under the enemy’s shelling, Vietnamese soldiers, workers and volunteers, with a strong determination and great courage, still held out breaking stones and removing bombs to clear the paths, successfully ensuring transportation and timely supplying for the victory of the campaign.
“On Pha Din, she loads, he bears
On Lung Lo, he sings, she cheers
Fall the bombs, no bone is left
No waver, no regret of their lives…”
Nowadays, there is a newly built pass which is lower and less steep than the old one to help people travel easier. But for any adventurous travelers, conquering the original pass is an unmissable lifetime experience to take advantage of the majestic beauty of nature.
Khau Pha Pass
Khau Pha Pass in Yen Bai Province is about 30km long and 1,200m high. There are several dozen paragraphs folding sleeve. Especially, the pass is more dangerous on foggy days because of no barrier or any warning signs. Its elevation and surrounding scenery add up to the perfect spot for air-riding adventure seekers, and now this is one of the top paragliding destinations in Vietnam. Passing through the pass, you have chance to visit other famous here such as Mu Cang Chai, Tu Le, La Pan Tan, Che Cu Nha… The best time to admire the breathtaking view of the place is from September to October when the rice turns to yellow and ready to harvest, which makes an lovely setting.
Khau Pha, along with Ma Pi Leng, O Quy Ho and Pha Din are considered as four greatest passes in Northern Vietnam.
Ma Phuc Pass
Ma Phuc Pass is just 3.5km in length and about 620m above sea level but it is still on the bucket list of many adventurers who love natural magnificent landscapes and conquer mountain passes. Ma Phuc is about 22km from Cao Bang Tow, leads to Ban Gioc Waterfall and Ta Lung border gate to China. The pass takes its name from the shape of two limestone peaks standing like two horses bending on their knees. The rolling mountain scenery, attractive ruggedness, twisting roads make Ma Phuc Pass an unmissable place of Northern Vietnam.
Thung Khe Pass
You will go through Thung Khe Pass on the journey to Mai Chau from Hanoi. This pass may not be as steep as other passes but has its own magnificent beauty. Thung Khe Pass’s highest point sits at roughly 1000m above sea level where you can see dramatic views of peaceful valley at the foot of the pass, rice paddies and rolling mountains. On the way, you can stop at some small stalls with thatched roofs to try some local foods such as boiled corn, boiled sugarcane, bamboo stuffed rice…
Hai Van Pass
Hai Van is a very famous pass in Central Vietnam. It is about 21km long with an altitude of 500m, connecting Thua Thien Hue Province and Danang City. The pass snakes its way up through the steep hills, surrounded by verdant forest. The view along the road across the pass is amazing with overlooking stunning coastline, sparking Lang Co beach and Danang City which you cannot see when traveling through Hai Van tunnel. So the best way to admire this beauty of landscape is to make a journey from Hue to Hoi An/ Danang or vice versa by motorbike via Hai Van Pass. Thanks to the tunnel through mountain, there is little traffic on the pass, making it safer.
Ca Pass is one of the most difficult mountain passes in Central Vietnam with the length of about 12km. Passing through, you will enjoy the picturesque scenery of the vast sea in one side and the imposing mountain in the other. If weather permits, the views from the top, nearly 333m above sea level, are stupendous. There is also a mountain road tunnel to reduce the travel time through Ca Pass between Phu Yen and Khanh Hoa Provinces. This helps traffic on the original pass become less heavy as well as safer.
Omega is another stunning pass in Central Vietnam. It is also called Omega Pass, Lung Linh Pass, Khanh Le Pass or Bidoup Pass. The pass is about 1,700m high and 33km long, connecting two famous destinations: the coastal city of Nha Trang and the flower city of Dalat. Omega Pass is especially famous for its cloudy roads stick with the sharp slopes yet spectacular landscapes. Driving motorbike or cycling on this pass is amazing.
Prenn is a scenic mountain pass, located on Highway 20 at the southern gateway of Dalat City, Lam Dong Province. The 11km-long pass winds through high mountains and pine forests, leaving dangerous bends. Driving on Prenn pass will give you an interesting experience. The stunning surrounding scenery, the cool breeze and the pure air, all make Press Pass more attractive. On the way, you also can stop to explore the two famous waterfalls in Dalat: Datanla and Prenn. Due to the foggy and wet weather in Dalat, it is recommended to drive carefully at a slow pace.
Above is a roundup of some of the most scenic mountain passes from North to South Vietnam. Have a safe trip and see you on the other side!