What to do in Da Nang’s Monkey Mountain (Son Tra Peninsula)?

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Last Updated on 3 years by Tam Le Van

Da Nang is the city of poetic Han river with impressive bridges, sea rich in seafood and magnificent mountains at its different directions. In particular, best known mountain sites are the Monkey Mountain to the East, Hai Van Pass to the North, Ba Na Hills to the West and the Marble Mountains to the South. They’re all must-see attractions that nobody should not miss out when travel to Da Nang.

The Monkey Mountain basically is a beautiful forested peninsular where pagoda of Vietnam’s tallest Lady Buddha statue stands, top luxury resort of the world sited, the rarest primate spiece living, charming hills, spectacular coast and much more. In this article, Hoi An Life provides the information of different aspects about this famed destination to help you answer the question “What to do in Da Nang’s Monkey Mountain (Son Tra Peninsula)?”

What is the Monkey Mountain?

Thirty kilometers away from Hoi An, 700 meters high Monkey Mountain is the name American called the peninsular of great size to the East of Da Nang center. For locals, it’s known as Son Tra peninsula meaning ‘the mountain of pretty camellias’. Alongside cliffy shoreline, there are a couple of sandy beaches in this natural treasure. While somewhere are really hidden, free for swimmers, Bai Bac or Tien Sa ones under the management of resorts. Morever, the mountain also serves as the home of thousands fauna and flora species, making it become a valueable reserve. Everyday, Da Nang inhabitants come here to do excercise, run and go jogging.

Fact: Due to see many monkeys (might not endangered langurs) around the peninsular, American named it as ‘Monkey Mountain’ in Vietnam war.

How to get the Monkey Mountain from Hoi An

Own vehicles

From Hoi An, all vehicles are convenient to get Lady Buddha Pagoda-the most visited site in Da Nang’s Monkey Mountain. If want to see historic places and beautiful spots in the rest of the mountain, you need to consider carefully before start.

About taking a private car or taxi, it takes you around one hour minutes. Self-driving motorcycle is another popular choice of tourists from Hoi An to Da Nang’s Monkey Mountain, more or less 45 minutes. To get full information about Vietnam requirements to renter, places to hire, costs and Hoi An best motorbike rental shops compared, browse our article through http://hoianlife.net/the-best-hoi-ans-motorbike-rental-shops/.

Note: There is no mechanics around the Monkey Mountain so ensure that you check carefully everything about your motorcycle once come into it.

Parking lots

Car and bus parking lots are many near the Tower to the East of Lady Buddha Pagoda. In case of motorcycle, you have two choices: the parking close by the main entrance and another one next to Buddhism prints shop. As a famous religious building, you will not pay for parking fares but local people often put money into donation box as a way of contribute back to the pagoda. Monks give you tag of your motorcycle number once go inside. Keep in carefully to avoid uncessary troubles.

Note: Lady Buddha Pagoda positions on the hilltop so the road reaching to it is slopy. Drive with care when getting up.

Organised tours to the Monkey Mountain

Most local tour operations are able to arrange guided trips from Hoi An to the Monkey Mountain. Lady Buddha Pagoda is the most picked site to be on their offering plan and other sightseeing places are often available on request. Generally, the pricing is varied basing on different iteneraries, way of transport, inclusions&exclusions and more. If like something special, think of traveling on a jeep (American military car used in Vietnam war). Check out information about Monkey Mountain Explorer run by Hoi An Jeep Adventures (one of the best Hoi An jeep tours to Da Nang) for reference.

The best times to visit Da Nang’s Monkey Mountain

Best times during the year

Like anywhere in the Central Vietnam, Da Nang has two distinctive seasons: the dry (from April to August) and the wet (between September and March next year). The best times to visit the Monkey Mountain are lovely days during the period from February to May when you are likely to avoid the hottest months as well as the most stormy-rainy one. Hoi An Life has an article about Da Nang weather and best times to travel, browse it http://hoianlife.net/the-best-times-to-visit-da-nang/ for more details.

Morning or afternoon start?

Early morning or late afternoon is the good time to visit around the Monkey Mountain. Keep in mind that it takes 45 minutes at least from Hoi An to get it therefore you should departure earlier. Moreover, the peninsular is a fantastic place to watch both sunrise and sunset. Check online right time of these special moments of the day before to make sure you come not too late.

After sundown, going up and down the mountain have no hard challenges, if you are an explorer. Road lights are equipped all along main traffic routes making your driving safer.

Things to know before traveling to the Monkey Mountain

Automatic motorcycles are not allowed to access

Following some traffic accidents to automatic motorcycle drivers, Da Nang authority made a decision on banning its access into the Monkey Mountain to keep safety for all visitors. If not good at driving other kinds of bike, think of private driver, organised tours or traveling with friends.

In addition to, main routes heading the mountaintop also have the change. Motorcycles have to go up by West road namely Yet Kieu and down with East road-Hoang Sa. Security stations are arranged on each road to make sure people complying with this regulation. However, if only reach the attractions along East coast (Lady Buddha pagoda, view points, beaches, rock areas, InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort, Thousand years-old banyan tree) and then return, your motorcycle is legally allowed.

Monkey Mountain is a precious natunal reserve: Watch your doing!

Son Tra Peninsula Natural Reserve is established in 1977 to protect its high biodiversity from jungle-soaked mountains to the sea with coral reefs. It lies in the list of few Vietnam’s protected areas including both terrestrial and marine ecosytems.

Among all wild species, red-shanked langur (five-colours langur) is the most typical creature, the star of the Monkey Mountain. It’s liken to ‘queen of primates’ because of many-colored ‘outfit’ and rarity. After being illegaly poached in a long time, its current number of indiviuals increases and in around 400 according to latest research. In 2017, the langur is representative image for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) hosted in Da Nang. USD president Mr.Donald Trump and Russia president Mr.Putin also gave a speech in this event.

Fact: For Da Nang citizens, the Monkey Mountain is the best place to do exercise like running, going jogging or biking. Therefore, you may see plenty of exercisers around the mountain in late afternoon. Beside that, it also is well-liked destination for national and internatonal marathon competitions.

InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsular Resort: World’s leading luxury resort

The most prominent luxurious resort in both Da Nang and Vietnam, InterContenential Danang Sun Peninsular Resort locates on the Monkey Mountain shore, next to white powdery beach Bai Bac and myth-filled hills. Established in 2012 with glorious architecture reimaged from Vietnamese history and mythology designed by famed architect Bill Bensley. This work of art was hornoured as ‘The best resorts in Asia’ by Conde Nast Traveler Reader’ choice award 2019 or ‘Top 100 hotels in the world’ by Travel+Leisure World’s Best Awards 2019.

Son Tra peninsula is one of the best spots for watching sunrise and sunset in Da Nang

As same as Cham islands offshore Hoi An, viewpoints along Son Tra peninsula’s coast and above mountaintops provide us shimmering sunrise and brilliant sunset with a cityscape. Both times are great to experence but if being a sunrise lover, you need to wake up early in Hoi An to be on time of crack of dawn. We outlines a collection of awesome sunrise-watching spots in Hoi An through http://hoianlife.net/the-best-spots-for-watching-sunset-in-hoi-an/ if you think too far to pay the visit.

It seems that sunset is selected by Hoi An stayers more than because of the convenience for designing travel itenerary. In other words, people often reach highlights in the Monkey Mountain during the day and then find out a chilly place for witnessing its ‘last spectacular performance’.

Things to do in the Monkey Mountain (Son Tra peninsula)

Attractions

Linh Ung Pagoda: The most visited site on the Monkey Mountain

Linh Ung pagoda history

Foundation of large-scale Linh Ung Pagoda in the Monkey Mountain today is a small temple built 19th century. According to local oral story, fishermans found accidently a Buddha statue drifting in from the sea near its current location. Miraculously, the weather usually has been moderate, without much strong tropical storms since they constructed a temple venerating to him. Over time, it becomes the sacred place where people pray for smooth journey on the ocean and catching plentiful fishes before set sail. Like many historic sites, this was degraded and replaced by a building more long-existed.

New Linh Ung Pagoda’s construction starts from 2004 and ends six years later. Following its completeness, Da Nang city has three pagodas with a same name Linh Ung (two others in Ba Na Hills to the West and the Marble Mountains to the South). Local residents believe that these altogether create the ‘spiritual triangle’ to protect city center from hostile natural disasters.

Fact: The oldest Linh Ung pagoda is in Mount Thuy of the Marble Mountains. Second one locates at Ba Na Hills mountain resort. All of them is well-known and a must-see attraction in Da Nang.

What to see in Linh Ung pagoda
Main Buddha Hall

Boast of its grand and state-of-art architecture, Buddha halls of Linh Ung pagoda stands as the largest religious building all over Da Nang. Three Buddhas representing the past, the present-day and the future are worshiped with a great honor from both Buddhism followers and monks/nuns. Moreover, interior mural paintings also tell us Great Buddha’s important life stages.

In front of the main halls, there are two rows of white marble Arhat scuptures made by skilled artisans from Non Nuoc village coupled with creative bonsais and apricots (bloom in Vietnamese New year festival). Each of sculpture has different meanings in Buddhism as well as in local spiritual life. Nearby three-arch gate and its front couple of stone dragons are also interesting for recording memorable photos.

Note: At main door of Linh Ung pagoda’s Buddha hall, long costumes are pre-prepared by monks for visitors.

Lady Buddha statue

By its sixty-seven meter height, Lady Buddha statue within eminent Linh Ung pagoda is the tallest one around the country. It’s formed by talented hands of Non Nuoc village artisans and faces to Da Nang in order to protect the city from harsh natural disasters. Miraculously, this belief becomes true that no strong storms or others occuring up to the present. For fishermans, Lady Buddha also is a patron deity for their long journeys on sea (like Chinese Thien Hau goddess worshiped in Hoi An Fukian assembly hall). More than that, she always holds on her hands magic water pot what enables to help people during difficult situations.

About the architecture, there are seven temples arranged on each floor inside it for religious practice of monks and daily praying of locals. Only ground one opens for everybody and long costumes are available there for who needs. This layout gets called as ‘Phat trung huu phat’ meaning ‘Buddha in Buddha’.

Note: Monkeys are many and excited around Lady Buddha statue area therefore keep your eyes on your personal items like phone or camera. Moreover, you are advised that should not give foods for them as well.

Sleeping Buddha and Xa Loi tower

Close by car&bus parking, Tuong Phat nam (Sleeping Buddha) and Xa Loi tower often are first places to visit. Photographer service is usually available here to serve for who travels without camera or just like to take some pictures as beautiful memories about their trip to the Monkey Mountain. Pricing of this is fixed according to city regulation, so no worried about over-priced offers. Moreover, a panoramic view overlooking the sea, Da Nang beaches, the Marble Mountains and Lady Buddha statue is just some walks from others.

Monkey Mountain’s viewpoints

Along coast roads, you are able to get a bunch of captivating viewpoints with immense blue sea, rocky cliffs, cool ocean breezes, tons of fresh air and refreshing vibes. While spots along Hoang Sa road offer lengthy Da Nang-Hoi An beach, the Marble Mountains and Cham islands in your sight, its sisters on West side give another striking scenery towards Hai Van pass mountain range and the bay.

Up to the mountains, the most outstanding site is Ban Co peak (the highest point). Meaning that sweeping views covering whole city, its best beaches and tall buildings are shown before your eyes. Name of the summit means ‘chess table’ and relates to a local story about two fairy mans usually come here for playing Chinese chess together. When arrive, you will this scene reenacted by marble sculptures.

Beaches along the Monkey Mountain coast

Bai Bac beach (North beach)

The name shows us its location, to the North of the peninsula. Everybody could come to this fine sandy beach prior to five-star InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsular Resort built. At the moment, the beach serves for resort guests only. Browse the InterContinental’s webpage through https://www.danang.intercontinental.com/Homepage for further details.

Tien Sa beach (‘Fairy descent’ beach)

Situate at West tip of the Son Tra peninsula, Tien Sa beach associates to a legend about fairy ladies from the heaven descending on Earth to appreciate its beauty. Currently, this best beach in Da Nang’s Monkey Mountain is within Tien Sa Retreat. If like to spend time here with sun, sand and sea, check official webpage of the resort to know more information.

Bai Da (Obama stone beach)

Without any relations to Obama US president, this rock area has its local name as ‘Bai Da‘ (or Stone beach). It’s next to the main road making it easier to access than any others. There are couples of sea-facing huts with a thatched roof that nice to sit back, chill out, enjoy Da Nang city view as well as taste appetizing seafood dishes. Ask for prices carefully prior to make up your mind about everything if do not want to pay for over-priced things.

Bai Rang beach (Reef beach)

Not a private beach for resort like Bai Bac and Tien Sa beaches, everybody can get this beach for swimming and other water activities without bookings. There are several seafood restaurants serving tasty Vietnamese-styled dishes. Additionally, snorkeling is available around its shore during summertime as well.

Bai Cat Vang beach (Golden sand beach)

Private-like Bai Cat Vang beach offers peaceful stretch of sand bordered by granite rocks, pretty view and gentle waves. Within the weekdays, not a lot people come to this hidden gem but it gets busier on the weekend by campers and beach lovers coming from city center.

French cemetary: Traces of first French attacks on Vietnam

The cemetery has over thirthy tombs of French solders who were in the attacks on Da Nang from 1858 until 1860 and one small church. They passed away by various reasons such as casualty in battles, malarias. Today, is one of last remnants belonging to this milestone event around the city and quite well-kept by Vietnamese people staying nearby. To get it, you just need to find ways to Tien Sa harbour. Busy traffic with much containers there is a thing you should keep in mind.

If like to expand your horizons about the site as well as documentations relating to it, you are recommended seeing Da Nang museum inside Dien Hai fortress-a special national monument.

Dong Dinh museum: The largest private collection in Da Nang

Just before Lady Buddha Pagoda, this museum of the largest private collection is called as same as the name of local areca plam (Dong Dinh) to showcase the pride to its locational setting. Four main exhibitions in total at here, including historic relics, works of contemporary art (created by two painters now but add more in near future), ‘fishing village memory’ and the ethnography (focus on hill tribes living in Vietnam’s central highlands). They’re all preserved inside traditional simulation architectural houses.

Activities

Paragliding from top of the Monkey Mountain

Operated by Danang Paragliding Club, this outdoor adventuous experience is considered as the best thing to do in the Monkey Mountain. It commonly starts from the mountaintop, go with a proffessional guide and you will land on My Khe beach area. The finest times to do belong to sunny days during the dry season. Get in touch with the club via its Facebook page if need further information and make a reservation. Lastest price is 1.600.000 VND (69 USD) per person.

Camping

You may think of extremely cool breeze and panoramic views with millions of lights from Da Nang city as well as fishing boats on the sea when camp on top of the Monkey Mountain. As a protected area, you have to get agreement from its regulatory agencies. In addition to, cooking is prohibited to prevent fire from pristine forests. However, by the view and wonder atmosphere, very worth it to experience this best thing to do in Da Nang’s Son Tra peninsula.

Snorkeling

During Da Nang’s best times, you have the chance to explore multi-colorful underwater life around the Monkey Mountain coast. To experience, come to Bai Rang (East side) and ask beachside restaurants there for the service. Its cost ranges from 350.000 to 600.000 VND (15.2-26 USD). You are advised preparing cash (Vietnam dong prefered) to pay for everything because credit cards are not always avaible.

In comparison to Cham islands (an UNESCO Biophere Reserve), snorkeling in the Son Tra peninsula brings less wow vistas but more comfortable feelings due to a small number of visitors. Therefore, if you are seeking non-touristy tropical heaven, this is an ideal destination.

Trekking

In Da Nang’s Monkey Mountain, there are two selections of route for trekkers: traffic roads or jungle paths. While trek along traffic roads, you can do it by yourself, a guide plays very important role in case of trekking on hidden walking paths and not really every Hoi An’s tour operator able to arrange organised trips in the type.

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Tam Le Van

Tam is a tour leader and passionate traveler who has beautiful memories over 50 provinces of Vietnam. During the time Corona virus spreads out globally, he decides to become a blogger to share his experiences.
Contacts for work: Levantam0906@gmail.com or (+84) 968009827

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