Vietnam has been a whirlwind of excitement and adventure. We have only been here for eleven days, and already we are both in love with this place. We are based in Da Nang, but will be packing a bag and going to Hoi An for a weekend at the end of this month to see the lantern festival, and to visit the ruins of My Son. We are hopeful that we will be able to visit Halong Bay and Ho Chi Minh city as well, but if we don’t, we both feel like we will be coming back to Vietnam anyway.
Yesterday afternoon after a storm rolled over and there was sprinkling rain still scattered over the city, we took the scooter and decided to explore more of Monkey Mountain — a place that we saw briefly the day we rented the scooter out, but wanted to see so much more of. As we rode out to the mountain and past Lady Buddha, the skies started to clear a little bit.
The higher and higher that we went up Monkey Mountain, the more we found ourselves to be surrounded by clouds. Literally — we were riding through the clouds. I am obsessed with Jurassic Park, and we were driving down a road that looked exactly like the set for the film franchise’s first feature. And then just when I did not think it could possibly get better, we saw monkeys on the road up ahead.
We slowed down and managed to get a glimpse of them when we got off the scooter near the trees. I have never seen monkeys in the wild before, so I was beyond excited — the species we saw were the long-tailed macaques — I think — though they could have been rhesus macaques monkeys (we did not get a close enough look, but the tail did look quite long). We saw what I still insist is a mongoose too.
Monkey Mountain is breathtaking. The name ‘Monkey Mountain’ was given to the area when the American army used it as an observation base during the Vietnam war — the structures built during that time have now been taken over by the Vietnamese military. The Vietnamese given name for the now-national park is Son Tra Mountain, and the mountain has incredible hiking trails that wind around it — something that we will be doing soon, hopefully.
I am told that the view from the top of the mountain is spectacular, and I fully intend to see it for myself before we leave for Thailand in mid-April — it apparently has a view of Hai Van Pass that is incredible as well — something else that we want to do before we leave! The road up the mountain signals the beginning of the pass, but we have yet to do it. There are also many other (rare) species that can be spotted in the national park, including other species of monkeys and loris’.
A 30–40 minute drive from Da Nang city, Monkey Mountain is entirely worth the drive, even just for the drive itself! The road winds and soars above the ocean with views so beautiful of the ocean and the green cliffs that you know that you will not be able to do them justice in pictures and videos (yet you take them anyway).
While we have not been here very long just yet, Monkey Mountain is definitively going to be in my Top 5 for this South East Asia trip…and I highly recommend that you get here, too.
Note: This post first appeared in March 2017.