22 January 2022
First published January 2022 | Words and photos by Vietnam Coracle
A fun and rewarding hike to the top of one of the jungle-clad escarpments lining Phu Quoc’s eastern flank, trekking up Núi Đá Bạc mountain offers stupendous views and is yet another way to explore the island’s beautiful interior. This hike is a wonderful way to spend a morning or afternoon: providing some physical exertion, excellent photo opportunities, lots of nature, and a side of Phu Quoc Island that few people experience. The Núi Đá Bạc mountain trek is further proof that the Phu Quoc Island Experience is much more than just a beach destination.
GUIDE: NUI ĐA BAC TREK, PHU QUOC
A Mountain Hike with Panoramic Views
This fabulous hike takes between 2-3 hours round-trip depending on your pace and how long you spend gawping at the views from the two boulder-capped peaks. The trek can be undertaken independently, without a guide (I’ve done my best to describe the route in detail below). However, the trailhead can be difficult to find and so too can the two spectacular view points at the top. Therefore, you might consider hiring a guide: contact Trà (WhatsApp, Zalo: 038 200 9398 | Email: email@example.com) or enquire at nearby Cây Sao Beach Resort. The best months are the dry season (November to May). From June to October, frequent rains make the trail slippery and treacherous. The hike should be possible for anyone with a reasonable level of fitness. Bring water, sunscreen, insect repellent, a picnic for the top, and wear decent shoes. After the trek, cool off in the ocean and reward yourself with a cocktail and food at Kiki Coconut on the sand beneath the palms. Combine the two and you have all the ingredients for a great day out. (For more activities like this on Phu Quoc Island, see Related Posts.)
Núi Đá Bạc Mountain Trek | Phu Quoc Island
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Trekking to Núi Đá Bạc Peak
Difficulty: moderate | Time: 2-3 hours | Entry: free | Guide: optional
The trail begins on the east coast road, about half way between Cây Sao Beach Resort and Vaniza Resort. On the inland side of the road, look for a long concrete and stone wall, about two metres high, wrapping around the property of a small, blue farmhouse. I’ve marked it on my map here, and there’s a photo below. If you have a motorbike or bicycle, you can leave it beneath the tree next to the blue farmhouse (the family will charge you 10,000vnd per bike).
The trailhead itself begins at the southern-most limit of the farm’s walled enclosure, where a fence blocks the way to a concrete lane leading uphill. Climb the fence and head up the concrete lane, running parallel to the fence. Follow the lane straight up for about a hundred metres until it starts to turn toward the right. At this point, leave the concrete lane and walk directly ahead into the jungle. There’s a clear frontier where the plantations and farmland end and the jungle begins. Using the straight concrete lane that you’ve just walked up as your line of entry (perhaps just a little to the right), walk directly into the trees and you should see a small, narrow, but unmistakable path leading beneath the trees and into the brush. (Note that the trekking route marked on my map is only approximate.)
Find this concrete & stone wall around a blue farmhouse at the beginning of the Núi Đá Bạc trek
The path is very occasionally marked with red paint on rocks and tree trunks, but it’s not much help. However, it definitely is possible to follow the trail all the way to the top without getting lost and without a guide, but you do need to pay attention so as not to ramble off course. Parts of the climb are pretty steep (at a couple of points there are ropes tied to trees to help hikers pull themselves up) and at times the undergrowth is dense and difficult to move through. But, the trek isn’t especially long and the level of fitness required is moderate. Watch your step, because the pathway is rocky, uneven and knotted with roots and vines. It’s humid under the thick canopy of trees, but also very shady. Most of the trees are narrow-trunked and spindly, with twisting vines tying the forest together like a spiderweb. As you start to get near the top, large boulders flank the pathway and the trees become more gnarled.
Eventually, the slope levels off, and the path veers to the left, entering a clearing with two giant boulders that look like the petrified stone-trolls from Lord of the Rings. This is a good rest stop but, unless you climb the boulders (which is pretty risky), the views aren’t expansive. Instead, continue past the ‘stone-trolls’ for another couple of minutes. On the left, obscured by foliage, there’s a rocky outcrop protruding from the undergrowth on which you can stand and take in the extraordinary panorama. With the jungle canopy beneath you, the views stretch down to the east coast resorts on Cây Sao beach and all the way to the southern tip of the island. Out at sea, the Cambodian mainland is clearly visible and so too is Đảo Hải Tặc (Pirate Islands). As you’ll see from the images below, you obviously need to be extremely careful when standing on the rocky outcrop. (Without a guide, it may take a few minutes of searching before you find this view point.)
To reach the second boulder view point, head back towards the ‘stone-trolls’ and continue a bit further beyond and behind them. (Again, it can be difficult to find without a guide.) Climb up the back of one large boulder and traverse a very precarious wooden log bridge over a 5-metre-deep chasm to another boulder, this one exposed to the sky, affording yet more spectacular 180-degree views. From here, the vistas due north over the dense, green, unbroken jungle and long spine of mountains are really impressive, reminding you that inland Phu Quoc Island is still largely in its natural state. This view point is much larger and more spacious that the other, making it the perfect place for a ‘peak picnic’ before heading back down the mountain again.
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