Distance: 2-10 kms
Difficulty: moderate to difficult (there are several choices of hiking trails in the area)
This is the most accessible hiking trail in Quy Nhon. Situated in Gheng Rang Park at the southern end of the main beach, it’s a short walk from the hotels on An Duong Vuong St. The park also offers a decent restaurant/cafe (Queen’s Restaurant / Nhà hàng Hoàng Hậu) as well as a memorial to the revered Vietnamese poet Hàn Mặc Tử. There is also a cluster of souvenir stands near the memorial.
There’s a road through the park that skirts the base of the mountain on the seaward side. This finishes at a gate at the south end of the hill, about 2.4 kilometres from the restaurant. This road provides the best access to the various trails over and around Xuan Van Hill. There are quite a few trails to choose from here – there’s a network of old (and new) logging trails as well as many cow trails.
- Queen’s Restaurant / Nhà hàng Hoàng Hậu
This is a good start/finish point for hiking on the hill. You can park your bicycle/motorbike here securely, and all the taxis know where it is. I’ve got mixed feelings about this restaurant, though. It has one of the best views of any restaurant in Quy Nhon, but there are a few negatives: the service is terrible, quality of food can be inconsistent, and prices are somewhat higher than most other restaurants in Quy Nhon. They do a good breakfast phở, however, and it’s a good place to finish your hike – drinks, cold beer, ice cream, coffee and so on.
- Short cut to main trail
This used to be my favourite trail for accessing the hill, but the bulldozers recently came in and attacked it making the trail much less interesting. The bulldozers were followed by the loggers who chopped down most of the shade trees. Fortunately, it’s only about 400 metres that’s affected and the local vegetation recovers fairly quickly. In another year or two it will revert to the nice little trail I used to know and love. Except for the shade, of course. The trail joins the main trail about 200 metres from the road.
- Start of main trail
I’ve recently changed my preferred hiking trail. This new one is a bit further from the main park area. You can see from the map that there is an early fork. The left trail very quickly becomes very steep with plenty of loose rocks and little cover from the sun. It’s a nice challenge, but if you’re after a more laid-back hiking experience I’d suggest taking the right trail.
- The Steps
There is a set of steps leading to the top of the hill. These are moderately easy, but the slope is around 25% (800 m long and 200 m high). These were built by the local Catholic community and lead to the statues at the top of the hill. As you ascend/descend you get a great view of the Quy Hoa valley to the south. There are markers along the trail to show your progress. The are labelled with Roman numerals from I to XIV, apparently to correspond to verses of the Bible, or books, or commandments, or something. You can get to the steps by walking along the road from Hoang Hau Restaurant in the park (a 2.2 km scenic stroll) or from the southern gate. Be aware that admission is sometimes charged at this gate.
- Statue: The Virgin Mary
There’s a six metre tall statue of the Virgin Mary at the top of the steps. This is a popular pilgrimage of sorts with the local Catholic population, particularly on Saturdays and Sundays. During the week, however, you are likely to be the only person up here. From this point you get a great view of Quy Hoa valley as well as the coast to the south. There are also benches and a couple of shade trees here. Note the presence of a lightning rod – I wouldn’t want to come here during an electrical storm.
- Statue: Jesus on the Cross
A hundred metres further up the trail is a statue of the Crucifixion. This stands at the summit of the hill. This is one of the best views of Quy Nhon City in the area. Looking to the north past the city you can also see Quy Nhon Bay, the Thi Nai Bridge and the northern coast. There are several trails going down the north side of the hill from this point. Bring a picnic lunch.
The loop goes down to the road on the west side of the hill, a lovely little downhill stretch. Once you get to the road, turn left and follow the road uphill for a hundred metres or so. There’s a narrow trail that leads back up the hill. Be aware that this is the steepest section of trail by far. If it’s wet, traction is very poor. I find my trekking poles indispensable for this section.
[Update: two days after writing the above I went back for another reccie. Two fences have been built blocking off the road at the bottom. These have been reinforced with organic barbed wire – thorn bushes. You can climb over them but care must be taken.]
[Update 2: I’ve now found another trail that bypasses the fences. I’ll post an edited map soon.]
- Main Trail
This is the easiest and most scenic trail from the road to the summit. Note, however, that parts of it are quite narrow. Several sections are covered with loose rocks and footing can be tricky. Sandals are not recommended.
As you can see from the image, there are lots of choices. The shortest way to the top is to start from the bottom of the steps (4-5-6), about two kilometres. Sandals are fine, but it’s quite steep. The most enjoyable way, in my opinion is by following the main trail to the summit, then descending down the steps back back along the road (1-2-8-6-5-4) – this is just over five kilometres. If you really want a challenge, follow the trail I recorded* to make the map. This involves three ascents to the top, nearly 600 metres of upward hiking and a total distance of just over ten kilometres. It’s worth it, though.
*Right-click the link select “Save link as…” or similar. Most GPS units and navigation apps allow you to read GPX files.