When travelling Vietnam, Da Nang is usually a place where people just pass through. And there is a reason. There isn’t all that much to see in that city. Sure you have the Cham museum, a few pagodas, and of course the postcard view of the city; the Dragon Bridge, but nothing really life-altering.
But if you drive about 12 kilometers north of Da Nang, you’ll find the Monkey Mountain or Son Tra Mountain. While often skipped by tourists, it’s definitely worth the half an hour drive.
Through our hostel – Funtastic Danang Hostel – we booked ourselves a taxi to take us to the Son Tra peninsula, and more specifically the Linh Ung Pagoda. Our driver proposed to wait for us in the parking lot so he could also take us back to the city center afer our visit, but we didn’t want to feel rushed so we told him not to wait for us. It was easy enough to catch a ride back to the city as the parking lot was filled with cabs.
The Linh Ung pagoda was built in the eighteenth century on a twelve hectares large site. Surrounding the pagoda are eighteen white statues representing the eighteen Arhats. One can freely visit the entire site as there is no entrance fee.
But while the pagoda is really stunning, there is just one part of the site that catches the eye a bit more. One can’t really look past a 67 metre-tall statue of Lady Buddha. The beautiful white marble statue is also the highest Goddess of Mercy statue in South-East Asia, so more than reasons enough to visit this place.
There were quite a lot of people wandering around the site when we were visiting, as it’s a place that can get really busy with asian pilgrimages. Which made us – and especially me being as white as I am – stand out a lot. It was one of the first occasions where we were multiple times asked for a picture just because we were light of hair and skin. It felt quite odd but was funny at the same time. A small moment of fame.
But aside from the few more stares we got, we safely wandered the place and were in awe of the beauty that surrounded us.
Son Tra Mountain is of course more than just this pagoda and its surroundings. You can do beautiful trekkings through the nature and actually spot some macaques or slow loris. It takes about four hours to get to the summit of the mountain by foot so if you want to go all the way up, you’ll need to take out some time.
Considering it was quite cloudy around the summit and it was already late in the afternoon, we decided against trekking.
If you still want to go to the top and aren’t really fit enough for the trek, you can also go by car or by motorbike. This area is very popular for motorbiking, so if you aren’t afraid – which you shouldn’t be – this is a perfect site to visit by motorbike.
So whether you have a lot of time or just a couple of hours to spare, the Monkey Mountain should definitely be on your to-do list when travelling through Vietnam.