From My Khe Beach or Han River promenades, tourists can see a part of the Son Tra Mountain. Although being near the city center, natural forests on its slopes have been preserved well, and it’s no surprise that it’s called “the Green Lung of Da Nang”. One of the most endangered mammals all over the planet inhabiting there, making it so special to conservationists. Visiting Vietnam’s tallest Goddess of mercy, cruising along breathtaking coast roads, riding across the untouched nature, seeing the city from summits or down the shore, staying in high-end accommodation, are what tourists like to do. Adventuring vibes fill the trips there.
Every day, citizens run and go jogging around Son Tra Mountain for exercise. In their point of view, it’s a priceless gem. However, because of huge tourism potentials, lots of construction is planned to take place around the peninsula. Nature lovers quickly then disagree and debut a social media movement with hashtag #savesontra. To find the most sustainable solutions, one of vice Prime Ministers traveled around it by foot and its loved untouched environments. Thanks to great efforts from the government, tourism construction projects were cancelled or studied carefully. The decision made people so happy.
This travel guide provides all you need to know about Son Tra Mountain, a top attraction in Da Nang. In the busiest year, it welcomes more than 3 million tourists who come from different countries. We recommend reading related and themed articles, including the Lady Buddha (the best sight), Linh Ung Pagoda (the most famous sight), Da Nang hiking and Da Nang snorkeling.
An Overview of Son Tra Mountain (the Monkey Mountain)
What is Son Tra Mountain?
Rising up to an elevation of over 700 meters, Son Tra Mountain’s peaks can be seen from anywhere from Da Nang downtown. Because of being surrounded by sea in the north, east and west, it’s called Son Tra Peninsula. Its coast is 32 km long, featuring stone shoreline and white-sandy beaches, some of which are backed by resorts. By the southern water edge, the best attraction Lady Buddha stands and faces towards the city. This glorious monument draws most tourists to the peninsula and has a great spiritual significance for locals. One of the world’s leading luxury resorts is located beside the prettiest bay, making it popular for jet setters. Around higher locations than rich forests where the red-shanked douc live, there are sweeping outlooks and military facility remains from the Vietnam War.
Chinese merchants call Da Nang “the Clam harbour” because they see the shape of the Son Tra mountain like a clam. The mountain helps them to navigate easily to access the trading port.
Son Tra Nature Reserve
Son Tra nature reserve includes intact ecosystems from shallow waters near the coast up to an elevation of 700 meters. Within its area of 4,500 hectares, old forests are home to over 1,000 flora species and 120 fauna species. 21 of which are in Vietnam and international Red books, some new to science. This biodiversity hotspot is widely known for the largest population of red-shanked douc, one of the rarest primates in the world. The last survey indicated that there are 1,300 individuals healthy-living. It’s titled as “the queen of primates” because of its five colored hairs. In a recent Asia-Pacific region conference, the langur is the symbol.
Read also: Hai Van Pass between Da Nang and Hue
Names of Son Tra Mountain
Son Tra Mountain
“Son Tra Mountain” is the earliest-used name of the mountain in northeast Da Nang. Locals explain that because there were many camellia flowers in the place formerly, people called it “the Camellia Mountain” from then until now. In 1997, it becomes the official name for an urban district under its foot, the Son Tra District. Because of lisp, many Northern-accent speakers say “Son Cha” instead, but that’s the name of an island near Da Nang bay’s entrance.
The Monkey Mountain
During the Vietnam war, Son Tra mountain was tagged “the Monkey Mountain” by Americans. Veterans said that they saw many monkeys in the area when they first came. Today, visitors can see the primates on the coast road leading to Lady Buddha, Linh Ung Pagoda or in the InterContinental Resort. On the other hand, the mountain is also famous for the largest population of red-shanked douc in the world, 1,300 individuals.
Son Tra Peninsula
Son Tra was an island with three peaks on the sea before the 15th century. But later, thanks to delta formation of the Han River and coastal sedimentation, it connects with the mainland with a sandy isthmus. The north, east and west sides of the mountain are still edged by water. Geographers call the island (mountain) as “Son Tra Peninsula” for that reason. At this time, the name became popular to domestic tourists. Some famous attractions are tagged with it to make tourists know easier the location, such as Linh Ung Pagoda Son Tra Peninsula.
Read also: Cham Islands in Hoi An
History of Son Tra Mountain
Fishers believe that gods live in Son Tra Mountain. On its coastal slope, there are around 20 small and large temples built where they come to pray before setting sail. The largest one is Linh Ung Pagoda, rebuilt in 2010 from a Buddha shrine by Bai But Beach in the Southern coast. According to a local story, it’s established a few centuries ago after fishermans saw a Buddha statue washing ashore.
A folk verse of the fishermans says that if seeing the clouds covering the top of Son Tra Mountain, it will be stormy soon. So, for them, the mountain is like a “weather forecast station”.
First French Attack on Vietnam
Son Tra Mountain plays an important role in national defense, from the feudal times up to date. In 19th and 20th century, emperors of the Nguyen dynasty built a series of fortresses ranging from the West coast to its peak. Together with defensive buildings in Hai Van Pass on the other side of the bay, Da Nang port was well protected. For the kings, its importance is larger than anywhere else, because it’s really near the capital city Hue. Foreigners were banned from visiting the mountain. No surprise, in 1858, French and Spanish troops came into the bay to start their ambition in colonizing Vietnam. However, they must leave in this first campaign against tenacious fighting of local people and soldiers under great leadership of Nguyen Tri Phuong general. Gia Dinh (today Ho Chi Minh City) was their next target city. Near the current port facility now, visitors can see remains of a colonist’s cemetery.
Read also: The Imperial City of Hue
Weather in Son Tra Peninsula
The dry season is from January to the end of July in the Son Tra Peninsula. Average temperature is from 28 to 29oC, and the highest ones are between 34 and 36oC during June and July. Visitors love sunny days in this season that are ideal to tour around, visit sights and photograph. Down the coast, white sandy beaches by warm waters just await sunbathers and swimmers coming to enjoy. Don’t forget swimsuits!. In higher elevations, the peaks are not shrouded by mist, allowing visitors to see “full panoramic views” from there. Routes are clear, making riders easier to navigate and keep safe. Should bring sun cream, sunglasses and lots of water (especially if hiking).
The rest of the year, from August to December, is the wet season for geographers. Because it features the lowest degrees, locals call this time “winter season”. Average temperature is from 21 to 22 oC, and during the coldest day, it may be 15oC (in January). Rains are common, making the atmosphere cooler and so, it’s really nice to go out and explore. Keep in mind to bring a raincoat or umbrella and waterproof shoes. From October to December, typhoons occur and cause heavy rains, wavy seas and gusty winds. Most attractions and outdoor activities are closed, to ensure visitor’s security. So, always remember to check the weather forecast in advance.
Son Tra Mountain’s trails are popular to hikers and hike competitions. See the best time in our article for Da Nang hiking here.
Read also: Bach Ma National Park Travel Guide
Sights in Son Tra Mountain
Linh Ung Pagoda & Lady Buddha
Sitting atop a hill by the Southern coast, Linh Ung Pagoda and the Lady Buddha in its lovely ground are two best cultural sights. Both were constructed at the same time, from 2004 to 2010. Locals and Vietnamese visitors come here to pray daily, because the Lady Buddha (Goddess of the Mercy) is thought to be able to hear the fears of people on the earth. Boasting a height of 67-meter height, this grand sculpture is the tallest of its kind in the country. Located not far away, Linh Ung Pagoda is the third Buddhist temple of the same name in Da Nang. It owns a monumental shrine surrounded by bonsai gardens, shaded big fig trees and arhat statues. Picturesque outlooks to the city’s seafront and curious monkeys.
Read also to know details: Linh Ung Pagoda, the Lady Buddha.
Y Pha Nho Cemetery (The Bones Hill)
This cemetery comprises tombs of French and Spanish soldiers who died by gun and malaria from 1958 to 1960. During the time, the first battle between European and Vietnamese armies ever in history occurred. The second troop won. The colonists chose Da Nang because of its ideal bay to land, strategic military stronghold in the south of Hue capital city. Next to the tombs with and without name and date, a small church was built. Visitors just need to find the way to Tien Sa port (via Yet Kieu Rd) and it’s to the right.
800-years-old Banyan Tree
At the end of the South-east coast road, this long-lived tree is 20 meters in height. It has 27 roots and the largest (main) one has a 10-meters-long diameter. In 2014, the Vietnam Association for Conservation of Nature inscribed it as a heritage tree.
Ban Co Peak
At an elevation of 630 meters, this peak is easily accessible by walking from the Monkey Pass. Its name means “the chessboard” and yes, there is one there. According to local legend, two fairy men daily descend from heaven down the place, to play Chinese chess together. All sculptures are made by artisans in Non Nuoc marble village, around the foot of theMarble Mountains.
Son Tra Tinh Vien (The Bamboo Museum)
This is the only “bamboo museum” in the region and visitors can see more than 100 kinds of bamboo around it. Thanks to being located away from residential areas, it’s so serene here. Greenish lotus ponds, bamboo houses, streams and flowers definitely make it an oasis for meditation.
Read also: What to Do in Da Nang for 3 Days?
Activities in Son Tra Mountain (Peninsula)
Hiking Son Tra Mountain
Trails in Son Tra Mountain satisfy hikers by its scenic sceneries, unspoiled environments it goes across and close to the city. There are two main routes to enjoy the hike: the lower and the upper. The first is longer, allowing you to tour along the awe-inspiring coastline of the peninsula. But the second leads to the peaks where the most panoramic views with lots of photo opportunities are provided. To fully discover any of which, the length is 30 km on average to walk. Pristine forests, wild nature, freedom, no crowds, and more are other reasons to wear boots and escape from hustle. If lucky enough, the hiker may see red-shanked douc, one of 25 most endangered primates worldwide. Keep reading our separate article for Da Nang hiking, to know everything you need to know about hiking trails around the city.
Paragliding from Top of Son Tra Mountain
Jumping out from one of the highest places in Son Tra Mountain is a favourite to outdoor adventure lovers. While in the air, a mind-numbing adrenaline rush with an amazing view is what to expect. All the paragliders keep surprised until landing on the beach down the basket boat coast. Now, only the Da Nang Paragliding Club is allowed to run the experiences. Travelers have to be accompanied by a master.
Touring Scenic Roads by Motorcycle
The best way to explore and enjoy beautiful view-packed routes in Son Tra Mountain is with a bike. Motorcycles are more popular, but since the latest city’s decision, automatic bikes are banned to access. So, remembering to not hire it, to save time and money. It takes a couple of hours if visitors would like to see everything and complete the rides. Hoang Sa Rd (the South-East Road) is the best choice to cruise along for those who don’t have much time. In the beginning of this marvelous waterside, Linh Ung Pagoda and the Lady Buddha next to are must-see sights.
Sunrise and Sunset
Both sunrise and sunset seen from Son Tra Peninsula are beautiful, fantastic and fresh. In the early morning, the coast road Hoang Sa is busy with watchers and exercisers. It’s cool, a sense of tranquility and full of clean air. At the end of afternoon, the Lady Buddha is one of the most ideal spots to view the brilliant sunset when the sun disappears below the city’s horizon. Visitors can stay back for a while, to see the statue light up and enjoy the serenity that was missed in the daytime.
Son Tra Peninsula’s Beaches
Coastline of Son Tra Peninsula is 30 km long, including many sandy and stone beaches. Near the port, crescent Tien Sa Beach is most visited. Not only local people, the guests of the resort lining it also swim daily. In the north of it, there are several small and hidden beaches. All provide a private, tranquil atmosphere, unpolluted water and a mind-blowing view of the Hai Van Pass. In the foot of two summits, Bai Bac (or the North Beach) is owned by the InterContinental Resort. It’s one of the finest sandy stretches of sand across the city. Sure, a top-notch choice of accommodation definitely is easy to find there. Down the southern side, snorkers often come to Bai Rang (the Coral beach), to discover the underwater life off the coast. There are some boutique resorts with their own beach and water edged seafood restaurant.
Read also: Son Tra Peninsula’s Beaches – A Complete Guide
Under the waters near the coast of Son Tra Peninsula, the world is diverse and colorful. It harbors 179 species of coral, 162 fish species, and lots of other marine life. The largest, most abundant and most colorful area is the South Coast where the Lady Buddha stands aside. Visitors often come to Bai Rang to take a canoe ride and wear masks to snorkel. Then, enjoying seafood parties in the breezy seaside restaurant. We recommend reading our article about snorkeling in Da Nang, to know more information. Our comparison with the Cham Island, another ideal dive spot in the area, is also made. It helps to choose which is the best for each visitor.
Read also: The Best Things to Do in Da Nang
How to Get to Son Tra Mountain
From Da Nang City
Son Tra Mountain is just 10 km from Da Nang city core, so all vehicles are convenient to get to it. Tourist crowds often hire a private car rental or join an organized tour to visit this massive range, especially the Lady Buddha. If would like to reach there by yourself, a taxi ride costs around 140,000 VND (from the downtown). Da Nang hop on hop off bus drops off passengers in the Buddhist site too. It’s the nice choice to tour around and stop to see the city’s highlights. Local operators also arrange a jeep ride in the mountain, allowing visitors to have a special experience. Again, browsing another guide to Da Nang jeep tour to find the best fit to start the fantastic cruise through a well-kept nature.
For explorers who plan a self-guided trip, personal bikes are the finest options. Renting both a motorcycle and bicycle is without difficulty in town. Read our separate guide to riding in the peninsula here to know details about map, route, sightseeing places and regulations. If would like to ride a motorcycle, don’t take an automatic one, because it’s banned to access the area.
From Hoi An to Son Tra Mountain
Son Tra Mountain is 30 km north of Hoi An old town via the coast road Lac Long Quan Rd. Because of no public transports to it, private vehicles become the best ways to get to (and tour around). Due to the long distance, a taxi ride may cost roughly 400,000 VND from Hoi An to the Lady Buddha. Private car prices are cheaper, from 200,000 to 300,000 VND, and really cheap if shared with other persons. Sure, it’s more expensive if moving further and up to higher elevations. Solo travelers often ride a motorcycle or bicycle by themselves. On the same trip, famous places like Marble Mountains, My Khe beach, Hai Van Pass are popular stops, thanks to convenience. Tours by bus and car are sold in most local operators, and if like to discover with a bike or jeep, you need to contact a specialized organizer.
Read also: Hoi An Private Car and Driver
From Hue to Son Tra Mountain
Son Tra Mountain (peninsula) is a sightseeing place on the transfers from Hue to Da Nang or Hoi An. Of course, travelers have already explore the Hai Van Pass previously. It’s the best coastal road in South-east Asia. Routes on “the camellia mountain” are winding through lush tropical forests, along impressive coastlines and packed by scenic views. Because of the long drive, visitors should depart early, to have much time to ride, visit and photograph without rush. Motorcycles, private cars and jeeps are three most-selected vehicles to travel on. Guided tours are available to book all year round, in local specialized companies. A full day is recommended by experts, once again, due to 100-km distance.
Read also: Da Nang Private Car and Driver
Eat and Drink in Son Tra Peninsula
Places to eat and drink in the Son Tra Peninsula are all near the Lady Buddha, because it’s a tourist hub. Along the coast road, visitors can see coffee shops, to pay a cup of coffee or cold beverage with light blue waters in the front. To have lunch or dinner, it’s necessary to go downhill. Over there, it’s possible to find a professional restaurant with a diverse Western or Vietnamese menu. Local eateries mainly focus on seafood dishes, several of which are in the top list all over the city. When the sun goes down, sunset lovers can go to a craft beer bar, to unwind and see the beautiful beauty of nature. See recommendations in seperate guide to the Lady Buddha.
Riding the Son Tra Mountain by Yourself
Son Tra Mountain or Peninsula has not just the Lady Buddha. It also owns stunning, winding and scenic routes around it that do not appear in much organized tours at the moment. Self-riding a bike is the best way to explore all, with a ton of discoveries and freedom. A bicycle cruise here is the dream to many cyclists, beside the iconic Hai Van Pass. If having a couple of hours, a top gear experience on the wheels of a motorcycle is definitely never wrong. For details, see our complete guide theming in riding in Son Tra peninsula.
Son Tra Peninsula Accommodation
The guests of accommodations in the Son Tra Peninsula love its extremely peaceful atmosphere in both day and night times. Generally, each one owns a private sandy beach, necessary facilities in gardeny ground and fully-equipped rooms. Leaning against the mountain, all rooms face the blue ocean and the city’s seafront. The most concentration of beachside venues is in the South Coast. The furthest one, called the InterContinental, is a world’s leading luxury resort, hidden away in tropical forests. Not only beaches, if staying overnight in the peninsula, it’s possible to expect mesmerizing sunrise and sunset, picturesque hiking trails and the chance to see monkeys.
Read also: Where to Stay in Da Nang?
Son Tra Mountain Tour (Son Tra Peninsula Tour)
Lady Buddha & Linh Ung Pagoda Tour
Linh Ung Pagoda and the huge Lady Buddha in its ground, are the best-known attractions in the whole mountain. A half day is perfect to get to, visit around, fully enjoy and photograph, no matter visitors staying in Da Nang or Hoi An. Located not too far away, the Marble Mountains can be a part of the trip. It’s a complex of marvelous marble hills rising suddenly from the surrounding plain. Centuries-old Buddhist temples and majestic grottoes are added around this astonishing place. See details in Marble Mountains and Monkey Mountain Tour.
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