Located about 45km west of Da Nang, Ba Na Mountain was used during the French colonial period as a summer retreat. In the old days, the French colonials used to be born up the winding, 16km road to the top on palanquins. Nowadays, the road is well paved, but still very steep. At the top are the remains of some French villas
there isn’t much left of them, but the ones accessible on foot do give an interesting picture of life on the mountain. There’s even an old French wine cellar that can be visited at the Ba Na By Night Resort. Dug into the mountain to keep the wine at the perfect temperature, it’s the one structure that has perfectly withstood the passage of time — shows the French had their priorities in order.
There’s an irregularly running cable car that provides panoramic views starting about a kilometre from the summit, but you can also get up by continuing on the paved road. At the top is a weather station, as well as Le Nim Resort, and the 1478 Restaurant, named after the mountain’s height above sea level in metres. The actual summit is a short walk from the restaurant and an easy climb. The mountain is cloaked in mist for most of the year, so pick the clearest day you can manage in order to enjoy the views.
March through August is the best time to visit — November and December are so rainy they’re all but out of the question. Even under the cover of clouds, the top of the mountain is a beautiful place — forests of ferns and creepers dripping in the mist — but to be honest, the mountain is really only worth visiting on a sunny day when you can take advantage of the views. When visibility is better, it’s still a far distance for a daytrip, with little in the way of actual sights to reward the tiring bike trip. Staying overnight could make the voyage less exhausting — but given the two mediocre accommodation options, that isn’t particularly tempting.
If you do go, the best way is by motorbike. Don’t try it with two people on one 100cc bike — take separate bikes or find something more powerful — otherwise, you may find yourself giving up and rolling back down half way up. Oh, and make sure the bike has a good set of brakes — you’ll need them on the way down. Also, no matter what the weather, bring a jumper and some rain gear, just in case.
To get here, take highway 1A north, then take a left on Au Co Road about 3kms past the railroad crossing going north. It’s hard to find, but luckily many locals know the route and will understand if you ask for Ba Na. To enter, there is a fee of 10,000 VND per person, as well as a surcharge for your vehicle.