A Day trip to Hike Black Virgin Mountain
A lone peak surrounded by an endless sea of Vietnamese countryside, Black Virgin Mountain stands out as a major landmark in Tay Ninh province. Black Virgin Mountain, called Bà Đen in Vietnamese, is one of the best hikes near Ho Chi Minh City, with a scenic drive through the countryside, a cable car ride and a series of pagodas. This guide shares how to find and hike Black Virgin Mountain as a day trip from Ho Chi Minh City.
What is Black Virgin Mountain?
Found 100km north of Ho Chi Minh City, in Tay Ninh province, Black Virgin Mountain claims it’s the title of the highest peak in southern Vietnam. Now a dormant volcano, the summit of the mountain was used as an American base during the Vietnam war and the surrounding province was exposed to lots of conflict. These days the war bases have been replaced by pagodas and the region offers calm and tranquillity.
How to get to Black Virgin Mountain
The easiest way to get to Black Virgin Mountain is to drive yourself by motorbike or hire a driver with a car to take you for the day. The roads are pretty safe (by Vietnam standards) and easy to navigate so it’s manageable for newbie drivers, however, note that you do need to drive through one of the most industrialised areas to leave Saigon, and will encounter lots of trucks. Drive with caution. For more information on motorbiking in Vietnam check out my complete guide.
Where to rent a motorbike in Saigon
If you are not living in Saigon, or don’t have a motorbike then you will need to rent one for this day trip out of the city. Here are some places to rent a motorbike:
A route for getting to Black Virgin Mountain
We took the long route on the way there which takes you away from the main highway, so you get to see more of the countryside. On the way back we took the main highway to return home before dark. We left the city around 7am and returned around 6pm.
⏰ 2.5 – 3hr each way, total ~6hr driving
The route to Black Virgin Mountain passes Cu Chi, which is famous as one of the entry points to some of the Viet Cong tunnels. I wouldn’t recommend combining the two on a day trip as it won’t give you enough time to complete the hike.
Hiking Black Virgin Mountain
When you arrive you will need to purchase a ticket to get into the complex at the base of the mountain (only 8k per person). From the entrance to the complex you have two choices: hike the full mountain or take a cable car ~⅓ rd of the way and join the hike there. I recommend taking the cable car because even with the cable car taking us part of the way up, we were unable to reach the summit before descending the mountain in an attempt to avoid driving in the dark.
💰 8k per person
💰 150k per person for a return ticket
As you exit the cable car you’ll spot some pagodas, behind which is a set of stairs that marks the start of the hike up Black Virgin Mountain. To be honest the term “hike” is slightly misleading. There are no paths or trekking so to speak, and much of the hike requires climbing big boulders. The rocky nature of the climb may make it difficult for some but if you are up for the challenge then it is really fun.
Stock up on big 1-litre water bottles before the hike. The weather in southern Vietnam is, of course, hot and you will need lots of water to complete the hike. While there is one vendor selling water halfway up the mountain, I would not bet on it so it’s better to be prepared.
The trail is not very clearly marked aside from sections of very dated and damaged metal railings and the occasional boulder with arrows graffitied on them, however, you are unlikely to get lost as the jungle around is so dense.
The Viewpoint at Black Virgin Mountain
About 3/4 of the way through the hike you will reach an epic viewpoint. There is a rock that hangs over the edge of the mountain, offering panoramic views over the countryside of Tay Ninh, with not a city in sight.
⏰ ~2 hours from the cableway to this viewpoint, stopping occasionally for 10 min rests.
From the viewpoint, we were told it was only another 40mins to the summit by another hiker. We forewent the summit to ensure we got most of the way back to Saigon before dark. The route back down the mountain is the same as the way you hike up and took us about half the time of the climb. Again, a lot of rock climbing though which can be quite timely if you aren’t confident.
Disappointingly, the route up Black Virgin Mountain is littered with rubbish. Water bottles, broken shoes, plastic bags – you name it, it’s been dumped here. We saw no trash bins until we returned to the base, so carry whatever litter you may have back down the mountain with you.
Tips for hiking Black Virgin Mountain
1️⃣ Stretch before and after the hike.
2️⃣ Wear supportive footwear.
3️⃣ Bring mosquito repellant.
4️⃣ Wear suncream for both driving and hiking.
5️⃣ Avoid rainy days. Hiking Black Virgin Mountain would be dangerous in the rain due to the smooth rocks.
6️⃣ Bring a change of clothes for the drive back as you will get sweaty.
7️⃣ Bring snacks and banh mi’s with you to eat during the hike.
🛵 150k if renting + two full tanks of gas max. 120k
💰 150k + 8k per person for entrances
⏰ A full day from 7am – 6pm
One option for spending a weekend out of Saigon would be to drive there on one day, stay overnight, hike in the morning and then return in the afternoon. You could add a visit to the Cu Chi tunnels on the way there and a visit to the Cao Dai temple. If you plan to do this and need accommodation, consider booking via my affiliate links to help support the blog.
A great day trip. What about soft shoes or sturdy boots?
It would be good to see your VND costs in pounds or with a currency chart.
Something supportive is definitely needed. We did it in trainers! Good idea, I’ll add the conversion now!
I’m so terrified of cable cars and ALWAYS appreciate people being honest about the necessity for them sometimes, so I can prepare myself mentally and not turn up and FREAK out!
Oh no! The cable car here really doesn’t take very long and we felt very stable in it. I hope you can visit – if you really don’t want to do that cable car then maybe you could make it an overnight trip to give you the extra time for hiking from the base?
Thanks for sharing, I love day trips to nature wherever I go! ✌️
Us too! It gives you a much better all rounded experience I think! 🙂
God this looks amazing, and thanks for such a detailed post! Really useful that you’ve added an expenses table. Never visited Vietnam myself but I am very keen to go, I’ll have to add this to the to-do list!
Amazing! Please do get back in touch with us when you get to visit Vietnam!
Wow, what gorgeous views! Oh and I absolutely love canle cars! I am definitely adding this to my bucket list when I visit! Thanks for sharing!
I know anything with cable cars gets me excited haha! Thanks for checking it out!
I’m currently planning a backpacking trip through Southeast Asia, maybe I’ll do this hike. Great guide!
Ahh lucky you Amber! Where are you planning to go in SE Asia!?
This looks like an amazing hike! Reminds me of Fushimi Inari in Kyoto! But much more lush with gorgeous greenery. I hope I can make it here someday!
Wow, quite an adventure you got there. Despite the many boulders i think you were rewarded with an awesome Panoramic view, it seems! That’s a great shot!
I really do hate it when i stumble on a pile of trash during a hike or anywhere. I much prefer carrying my trash until i can dispose of it! With all the information readily available, why can’t people understand how bad it is to litter! Smh 🙁
I know! Littering is the bane of my life.. there is just no need for it! Especially in somewhere so pretty! Often times I forget that Vietnam is still a developing country, and many small town locals aren’t aware of the big impacts that littering has. I’m hopeful that it will be a different situation over the next 10 years!
I’ve never heard of the black virgin mountains, but this sounds right up my alley, especially the bouldering part haha! I really want to visit Vietnam again, so I’ll definitely keep this in mind! Thanks for all the super useful tips and warnings! 🙂
I hadn’t either until we searched and searched for somewhere to explore near Ho Chi Minh City! Where did you visit on your last trip? Thanks for reading!
I’m just wondering if there’s a public transport system we can use to go to Black Virgin Mountain from Ho Chi Minh city? I don’t drive any type of vehicle and if we rent a private car to take us there from HCM, how much would it be and how it can be arranged? I would really appreciate your response. Thank you
Hello, I don’t think there is public service to take you right to the mountain – it’s in the middle of nowhere. But you could potentially travel to a nearby town and then rent a scooter or ask locals about small local buses that might take you there. If you’re visiting Saigon, then I recommend asking your accommodation to arrange a driver for the day, and if not possible try asking in some of the Expat FB pages (like Female Expats and Expats and Locals) to see if someone can share a driver contact. I am unsure of costs for something like this though. Thanks!
With thanks! Valuable information!