Recently, we hiked Ba Ra Mountain (White Virgin Mountain or Núi Bà Rá in Vietnamese). Located in Phuoc Long of Binh Phuoc Province, it’s the third-highest peak in South Vietnam and highest in the province. The summit reaches 736 meters (2,415 feet) and is known as the twin of Ba Den Mountain (Black Virgin Mountain) in Tay Ninh at 986 meters (3,235 feet). (The second highest peak is Chua Chan Mountain in Dong Nai at 837 meters high (2,746 feet).)
Ba Ra Mountain is quite an elusive and undiscovered mountain since there are so many uncertainties with it. Currently, it’s not open to the public so it’s not a place that you can drive to and conquer right now. The road leading to the summit is currently in construction. According to Google Reviews, the cable car to reach the summit or close to the summit stopped running in 2020. (When we drove by the cable car entrance, the parking lot looked unmaintained.)
How did we access the mountain? We’ve joined a local hiking group and our friend and group leader, Andy, contacted the management team in advance to grant us access to the trail. Otherwise, do not attempt this hike as the main starting point is closed and gated.
Since there isn’t much information on the Ba Ra Mountain hiking trail itself, we wanted to share with you our experience with hiking it. Hopefully, Nui Ba Ra reopens soon so visitors can check it out when visiting Binh Phuoc as a weekend destination from Ho Chi Minh City or neighboring areas.
In the meantime, continue reading our post on what to expect with this Ba Ra Mountain hike in Binh Phuoc so you can be prepared when the trail reopens!
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Ba Ra Mountain Hiking Overview
Currently, Ba Ra Mountain is not open to the public so there needs to be prior arrangements done to access the mountain. You’ll need someone who knows how to speak Vietnamese to handle the arrangements with the Ba Ra management team.
The main hiking route is a set of stone stairs going up to the temple area. It’s not technical but it’s very steep. Therefore, it’s doable for beginners with rest stops included. Plus, it’s only 1 kilometer (.6 miles) to reach the top.
To extend the hike, we started from the bottom of the hill, walked up the hill to the stairs, and then made our way back down via the main road.
- Challenging level: Easy-Moderate
- Round Trip Distance: 2- 7.2+ kilometers (1.2-4.5+ miles)
- Summit height: 736 meters (2,415 feet)
- Time to complete: 2 hours
- Helpful tips: The stone stairway isn’t maintained so the plants are growing wildly. Please be careful with any leaves on the ground.
How to Get to Ba Ra Mountain from Ho Chi Minh City
Hiring a private driver is the ideal way to get to Binh Phuoc. Binh Phuoc is about 130 kilometers (81 miles) away from Ho Chi Minh City so it’s recommended to have an early departure from Ho Chi Minh City if you’re visiting as a day trip. Our hiking group departed HCMC between 3:30am-4:00am and rode a 40-person bus.
From Ho Chi Minh City’s Ben Thanh Market to Ba Ra Mountain, it’s 156 kilometers (97 miles) and will take 4 hours one-way depending on traffic. Click here to see directions on a map.
Once you arrive in Binh Phuoc, you’ll need to get to the mountain. There are three ways to reach the summit:
1) Start at the bottom of the hill where there is a traffic circle at Đ. Nguyễn Tất Thành. Hike up along the road until reaching the gated parking area to the stairs and then take the stairs to the summit.
2) Drive a motorbike up the Ba Ra Mountain road and park at the gated area where the stairs are located. Take the stairs to the summit.
3) Walk or drive up the Ba Ra Mountain road to reach the summit directly.
**Note: If you get dropped off at the traffic circle at the bottom of the hill, your mode of transportation will need to pick you back up there or somewhere nearby.
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When To Do the Ba Ra Mountain Hike
Summiting this mountain can be done at any time of the day. It’s always recommended to go early in the morning as the humidity and heat increases as the day continues.
We wouldn’t suggest going during the rainy season (May-October) as the gate may be closed and the stairways will be slippery.
What to Wear for the Nui Ba Ra Hike
- Technical t-shirt – Any moisture-wicking shirt will work for this hike
- Comfortable hiking pants or shorts – Any hiking pants or shorts will work with this hiking trail.
- Running shoes or walking shoes– Hiking boots are not necessary for the trail. All you need is a good set of running or walking shoes to go up the path.
What to Bring for the Nui Ba Ra Hike
- Identification and a copy of ID – Our hiking lead told us that we had to bring our ID and a photocopy of our ID to show at the entrance. However, no one checked this on arrival.
- Backpack – Hold your hiking gear with a dependable backpack. We love these backpacks – men / women Osprey.
- Water – Since the hike isn’t too long, all you need is 1-2 water bottles. To reduce plastic waste, we recommend that you use this reusable water bottle.
- Hat – While the trail is covered, you’ll need a hat when reaching the summit/temple area. We recommend this hat.
- Sunscreen – Protect your skin from the sun, especially since the summit doesn’t have any trees. Check out this sunscreen.
- Sunglasses – Protect your eyes. Here are our favorite sunglasses.
- Health or travel insurance documentation – It’s always helpful to have some sort of travel or health insurance documentation on you. You may get injured on your hike and may need medical assistance. Buy travel insurance here.
Admission Cost to Ba Ra Mountain
There isn’t a cost to access the Ba Ra (White Virgin Mountain) hiking trail.
What to Expect on the Ba Ra Mountain Hike
As we mentioned early, there are three ways to conquer the mountain. We decided to start the hike at the bottom of Ba Ra Mountain and at the traffic circle to get more distance.
The road is wide and paved so it’s not technical. Once in a while, a few vehicles and motorbikes come up and down the mountain, but otherwise, it’s not heavily traveled.
Binh Phuoc is known for growing cashews so you’ll see tons of cashew trees along the road. Check out the yellow and red cashew apples with the cashew growing at the bottom of the fruit.
While it may be tempting to try the cashew, DO NOT EAT THE RAW CASHEWS FROM THE TREE. There is a natural toxin around the cashew shell called urushiol which can cause rashes, blisters, and itching. The cashew nut needs to be processed before eating. The fruit is edible though.
Anyway, back to the hike. The road is steep so take your time going up.
You’ll reach a gated area which is the starting location for the hike and is also a parking lot. Two guards sat outside and waited for our arrival.
One of the guards guided us to the staircase through the forest area. He said that the route up was about 1 kilometer (.6 miles).
While it sounds easy enough, taking the stairs is STEEP. It’s a good leg workout for the day. Don’t feel like you need to rush going up the stairs and take as many breaks as needed.
Compared to other hikes that we’ve done in Vietnam, Ba Ra Mountain is the least maintained. There were lots of overgrown plants on the sides of the stairs. Also, the route had collapsed bamboo and tree branches. Just be careful when walking through these areas.
Once you reach the main road, you continue straight on the staircases to go up to the temple area. It’s only another 5-10 minutes until reaching the top! You’re almost there!
Hooray! You’ve reached the temple area which is the highest summit of Ba Ra Mountain at 736 meters (2,415 feet).
The temple wasn’t open when we arrived, yet it has a lovely view of the Binh Phuoc area. You’ll notice that it’s mostly agricultural and forest areas with a few spots of housing. The area is truly one that hasn’t developed yet.
There aren’t any other highlights of the area beside the temple, so you’ll make your way back down via the main road. It’s about 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) down the paved road.
While you may think that the road is boring, there are some photo opportunities along the way. We found a random spot with a beautiful landscape view of Binh Phuoc. Also, there are some cool trees and plants on the way down the mountain.
When we passed the gated area, we noticed that the gate was locked. It would have been terrible if our hiking group took the stairs down and then had to go back up to take the road down.
We finally made it back down the mountain!
If you need a rest stop for drinks or meals, check out this place, Cung Đình – Sơn Long Coffee (Click here to see on map.) It’s a cute place that has lots of wooden furniture, statues, and bonsai trees everywhere. We went here for breakfast and as a meet-up spot after the hike.
While hiking Ba Ra Mountain is not too long and challenging, it’s not a place that we would recommend that you visit right now. While we appreciated visiting a new mountain and seeing an undiscovered area of South Vietnam, there isn’t any tourist infrastructure on accessing the trail. We hope there are plans to reopen the trail in the future and will continue monitoring for any updates.
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