Things to Do / Attractions

Son Tra: the ultimate guide to exploring Monkey Mountain

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Son Tra Peninsula

Updated July 2022

With so many important attractions in close proximity, it’s no wonder Hoi An gets millions of visitors every year. After exploring the vibrant Old Town in Hoi An, tourists often head north to take in the breathtaking views that Monkey Mountain has to offer.

The mountain, locally known as Son Tra, stands at 696 metres (2,283-feet) in Da Nang. It overlooks the Bay of Da Nang and the East Sea and is considered to be one of the main attractions in the area.

During the Vietnam War, it was used as a US military base for radar and communications. The American soldiers gave it the modern name of Monkey Mountain because of the many troops of red-faced monkeys that can be spotted in the area. Today, this is how it is known worldwide. Here is a complete guide to visit Monkey Mountain and what makes it so fascinating for both locals and tourists.

Monkey Mountain Hoi An (Son Tra)  

Where is Monkey Mountain?

Monkey Mountain, one of the main landmarks in Central Vietnam, is located 10 kms from Da Nang’s city center and about 42 kms away from Hoi An. If you want to continue your journey up north, Hue, another favorite stop for tourists, is 110 kms away from Son Tra.

Monkey Mountain main attractions

Hiking around the peninsula is a marvelous experience, especially if you take your time to take in the surroundings. However, there are also some key places you should not miss when visiting Monkey Mountain:

Linh Ung Pagoda

Linh Ung Pagoda was built during the 18th century and is also home to a 67-metre tall white statue of the Goddess of Mercy. While Linh Ung Pagoda is the largest pagoda in Central Vietnam, the statue is the tallest Buddhist statue in the whole country. The entrance is free of charge but keep in mind that it can get crowded with pilgrimages, especially during special occasions.

Ban Co (Chessboard)

Ban Co peak is the highest mountain on Son Tra peninsula and from there you can enjoy breathtaking panoramic views over Da Nang, Hai Van Pass, Lien Chieu Bay, Ba Na Hills, the Cham islands and the sea far away. On top of that, you can also play chess with a god, if you are feeling lucky.

Army Radar Station – Indochina Miraculous Eyes

The army radar station is a military area and it is still used to protect territorial sovereignty, so travelers are not allowed to visit. However, you can stop and take some pictures, if you want.

Lastly, you can also admire an 800-year-old banyan tree standing 25 meters tall. In Vietnam, the locals think of this tree as a bringer of good fortune. It has dozens of roots spanning down to the ground and it is also considered to be a key heritage of the city.

Hoi An to Monkey Mountain

How far is Monkey Mountain from Hoi An?

Monkey Mountain is 42 kms north of Hoi An or an hour’s drive by car or motorbike. It is a great day trip if you want to escape the vibrant city of Hoi An for a few hours.

How to get from Hoi An to Monkey Mountain

If you’re looking for local transport, you can catch Bus #1 from Hoi An to Da Nang and then a motorbike, via the Grab mobile app. Otherwise, you can rent a car or motorbike (if licensed) or book a private tour.

Private tours

Almost every travel company in Hoi An and Da Nang offer day trips to Monkey Mountain. The tours usually include a drive to the summit with a stop at the Marble Mountains en route, home to limestone caves filled with shrines to Lord Buddha, the archeological complex of My Son Sanctuary and Dragon Bridge, which breathes fire on Friday and Saturday nights. Tours start at 500.000 VND (21 USD).

Private car or motorbike

There is no doubt that the winding and inclining roads surrounding Monkey Mountain are a popular spot for motorcycling but in order to reach the top, you need a powerful vehicle. standard bikes may not be powerful enough to carry pillion passengers. So keep this in mind before renting a car or motorbike in Hoi An.

Once you’re on the mountain, hiking enthusiasts can enjoy the verdant jungle trails and also spot rare species such as rhesus macaques, long-tailed macaques, pygmy slow loris, and red-shanked douc langurs.

Wildlife on Monkey Mountain

Apart from the attractions mentioned above, Monkey Mountain is also famous for its wildlife diversity. Above all, if you’re lucky eonough to spot a Red-shanked Douc Langur that’ll be an amazing highlight of any tour. However, Monkey Mountain is also a famous destination for bird watchers, since it hosts over 118 birds species, including Green-eared Barbet, Racket-tailed Treepie, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Crimson Sunbird and Blue Rock Thrush, just to name a few. On top of this, you will be able to see many species of reptiles and insects.

As for the plants, the most important endangered species population of Parashorea stellata is still protected in the reserve and it is primary for Red-shanked Douc Langurs diet. Other plant species of interest include Moraceae, Dipterocarpaceae, Myrtaceae, Fagaceae.

What to wear for Monkey Mountain

When exploring Monkey Mountain it is important that you wear sturdy shoes and breathable clothes, especially if you want to do some hiking. On top of that, make sure you wear a hat and sunscreen. Lastly, be very generous when applying insect repellent.

Practical Information (Opening Hours, Cost)

Monkey Mountain is open to the public all year round and there are no admission fees. However, if you can, try to go mid-week so you can avoid the crowds that tend to flock at weekends. Also, if you want to enjoy the best views of Son Tra Peninsula, go at sunset. This way, you will also avoid hiking at midday, when the humidity and heat are at their peak. Finally, if you can manage it, go on a clear day, the peaks can be shrouded in cloud when there’s rain about and the views will be substantially limited.

Other Great Day Trips

Other great day trips in the Hoi An – Da Nang area include My Son, Ba Na Hills and the Marble Mountains.

Written By
Sharon Guest

Primarily a playwright, Sharon has written for magazines and newspapers in many parts of the world. The author of two books, she is also a co-founder of Hoi An Now.

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