Do you know the “four big mountain passes” in the Northern Vietnam? They are considered as the four most dangerous passes in Vietnam. Unwinding with one side of steep cliffs and the other side of extremely deep abyss which endanger the everyone passing on them at any time, such passes have long become the obsession for drivers.
Khau Pha Pass – Yen Bai
In Thai language, Khau Pha means High Sky. This is the most dangerous and longest pass on the National Highway No. 32 with 30 km in length. It is located in the border area of Van Chan and Mu Cang Chai district of Yen Bai province in the Northwest of Vietnam.
The past Khau Pha pass was rough with rocks, only it section through Tu Le was paved with asphalt. In the past 5 years, the pass has been upgraded. However, there are many sudden turnings along the pass challenging the drivers.
In foggy days, the pass is very dangerous since there are no side barriers or any warning sign. Especially, the pass has frequent landslide due to its location in basalt land. This is maybe the reason why many backpackers or adventurous tourist always want to conquer the pass.
Ma Pi Leng Pass (Ha Giang)
Ma Pi Leng is literally meant “Nose Bridge of the Horse”. It expresses that this is a craggy pass that horses are afraid of goring though. The pass is in the complex of geological park of Dong Van (Ha Giang), which is recognized as a global geological park.
Ma Pi Leng Pass is not long but it is the most dangerous pass in the northern border mountain area. It is considered as the “King” of the Vietnam’s pass or Great Wall of Vietnam or the Pyramid of the Meo. At the top of Ma Pi Leng mount is the “happiness” road, there has a stone stele recording the marks in the construction process.
Scenery in Ma Pi Leng pass is unique with majestic and wild beauty. Looking to the north and northeast, thousands of gray mountains concatenate to the horizon. Net to the road is abyss, below is the Nho Que River with cool water.
It is its danger and beauty that challenge many youngsters to conquer once in their life.
O Quy Ho Pass (Lao Cai – Lai Chau)
O Quy Ho pass is one of both the highest, longest and especially the most dangerous and majestic passing roads in the Northwest Mountains of Vietnam. Located on the Highway 4D, the O Quy Ho Pass connects two Northern provinces of Lao Cai and Lai Chau, and especially its top as the boundary of these. Thanks to the length of approximately 50 km with two thirds of that belongs to the territory of Lao Chau’s Tam Duong district and one third that is in the side of Lao Cai’s Sapa district, the famous pass is worth being called “King of passes in the Northwest Vietnam”.
The tourists come here not only because they want to conquer the dangerous pass but to admire its beauty. One of the most interesting features in O Quy Ho Pass is that the big different in weather among its two regions. Specifically, in winter, if it is warm at the side of Tam Duong, it is foggy and cloudy at the side of Sapa. In contrast, in summer, is the side of Sapa has cool weather, it is sunny and dry at the side of Tam Duong. Especially, O Quy Ho Pass is also the place the appearing the tropical snowy rain and ice. Moreover, O Quy Ho Pass peak is covered by the beautiful cloud and mist all year round that makes it is also called “Cloud pass”.
Pha Din Pass (Son La – Dien Bien)
About 32 km in length, the Pha Din pass is in the boundary between Son La and Dien Bien provinces. Pha Din, in the local language, means “Heaven and Earth.” Accompanied by local legend, Pha Din Pass is the place where the sky meets the earth, so it is considered as the frontier between “Heaven and Earth.”
Above 1,000m high, the pass is full of twists and turns, one side is an upright cliff and the other is a deep gulf. So, climbing and descending the slopes with their many bends and deep gorges, amid such magnificent scenery is one of the challenges that many tourists wish to conquer.