|Nui Tao Phung & Nui Lon from
Nui Tao Phung Nui Lon
|Estimated net time||3-4 hours|
Be aware that the locals are very reluctant to let you walk up and down Nui Lon, claiming that it's dangerous (one would assume it's because of animals).
|Drinking water||No access to running water.|
|GSM coverage||Coverage throughout the route (June 2012).|
|Parking||Room for many cars at car park by trail head.|
|Start height||20 metres|
|Vertical metres||200 metres for the roundtrip (assuming you utilize the cable car, if not add 190 metres).|
|Trip distance||10.7 km|
The best way to get from Saigon to Vung Tau is by means of a hydrofoil. There are several companies operating this service, which runs from 6am into the afternoon. One-way fare per 2012 is VND 200k (~EUR 7). From the Vung Tau hydrofoil port walk right (south-east) approximately 2.7 km to the stone steps leading up to Nui Tao Phung. Follow these steps to the summit, where you will find a 32 metres high Jesus statue (one can go almost to the top of this statue by ascending via the inside steps).
From Nui Tao Phung head back down the stone steps and turn right when you get to the main road. Follow this road, along the shore, approximately 4.6 km. There is a road that runs up to the summit of Nui Lon on the west side of the mountain, but it's unknown whether you're allowed to walk this road or not. Assuming you're not allowed you need to get into a cable car (VND 200k for return ticket per 2012; ~EUR 7), which will take you almost up to the summit plateau. From here there are many small roads leading to the summit, and it doesn't matter much which one you choose. Locating the true summit might not be very easy, but finding a point you're happy with as being the summit is a short walk from the cable car.
Descent by means of the cable car (unless you have found a road and you're allowed to use it), and walk the 2.0 km back to the hydrofoil port.
18. June 2012
I had arrive Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) on Saturday night for Tuesday meetings at our Vung Tau factory (had to travel early because of flight tickets availability). Together with three colleagues I spent Sunday in Saigon, which was also the plan for Monday, but I decided to avoid the dead early Tuesday morning ferry to Vung Tau by heading south on Monday morning. This would allow me a more interesting walk than along the busy streets of Saigon, in addition to a more civilized Tuesday morning. Hence I got the 7am hydrofoil from Saigon, and reached Vung Tau a few minutes before 08:30.
Just as I was about to leave the boat I exchanged a few words with a fellow passenger, the only other Westerner on board the vessel, and soon we agreed to go hiking together. This hiking-mate-to-be was a German woman about my own age, who was in Vietnam for a week's holiday, but had lived more then ten years in Sri Lanka and gave me some useful insight into south-east Asian culture, politics and the likes. She introduced herself as Petra.
Before I could do any hiking I had to get rid of my suitcase at the nice Imperial Hotel, and to my surprise I also managed to check in to my room already before 9am. Excellent service. Then it was off to the Nui Tao Phung trail head, at the foot of the stone steps, which set us back 41k of the local currency (something like EUR 1.50, which didn't seem like something worth disputing). The well made stone steps were quite busy, and I can imagine that it's very busy during week-ends. But even if this was a quite day there was a considerable queue to get up to the top of the 32 metres high Jesus statue, and after having ascended the first few tens of steps (of the 133 steps) inside the statue, and realised the queue didn't move very fast, we decided to head back out and instead enjoy the views from ground level.
After having walked around Nui Tao Phung summit area for a few minutes we headed back down, and then aimed for Nui Lon further north, following the road along the beach. My initial plan was that I would walk up to the summit while Petra would get the cable car, but we weren't able to spot any roads or paths so at the end we both ascended in a lazy way. This summit also had a large religious sculpture, in the form of a Buddha statue, but I was a bit surprised to see it surrounded by an activity park with things like go-cart and mini-train spread across the relatively large summit plateau.
As we were about to complete our summit round a tropical rain shower swept across the area, and for ten minutes we were happy to have found shelter under a metal roof. This was a crazy experience for someone not used to this kind of metrological phenomena, and I have to admit I partly enjoyed it. After the worst of rain had stopped we proceeded back down to the upper cable car station, in order to ask for where we should go if we wanted to walk back down. To us it wasn't a question of if we could walk down, since there were several cars up around the summit, but the servants by the cable car wouldn't tell us were to go, and argued that walking down was dangerous. I was a bit puzzled by this, but it was hard to find arguments for my case, so after a quick search around the area for a road we gave in and jumped into a cable car.
Back down at the sea level it was just enough time for lunch before meeting my
colleagues at the hydrofoil terminal, and then it was taxi back to the hotel. It
had been a fine day, and considerably more enjoyable than staying in busy
Saigon. The down side was that I would have to work through the afternoon and
night, but at least a dinner invitation gave me a break and the chance to get
some nice Vietnamese food.