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Notes From the Hiking Trail to Catch the Morning Sun in Quy Nhon

Do you prefer a view of the beach or mountains?

This clichéd question found on dating apps and ice-breaker questionnaires is fraudulent in its attempts to present the two choices as mutually exclusive. Certain locales, like Binh Dinh’s capital city Quy Nhon, contain both, after all.

Xuan Van on the southern cusp of the city is a lushly covered mountain that tumbles directly into the sea. In addition to providing an impressive backdrop to the city’s developing skyline, it contains a pleasant hiking trail that culminates in stunning views of the town and its recognizable horseshoe coastline.

From delicious seafood and other local specialties to the incredible Tay Son Museum and important Cham architecture to pristine stretches of vacant beaches, Quy Nhon has many activities to keep visitors entertained. Anyone that loves fresh air and a bit of exercise should put a hike up Xuan Van on their itinerary as well. 

Not long after I moved to Quy Nhon in 2015, I was introduced to a local hiking group. While the city was still dark and errant dog barks were the only thing to break the 5am silence, we would travel to one of several trails in the city. The hike on Xuan Van was always my favorite because of its convenient location, strenuous but not overwhelming difficulty and inspiring summit.

To reach the trail, one should head to Hàn Mặc Tử’s grave on Genh Rang. The road winds past his grave and a cafe overlooking the sea and then enters the forest. You can reach it by motorbike or on foot but pay attention to the right-hand side as it nears Quy Hoa. The town where Hàn Mặc Tử died and was originally buried is also home to southern Vietnam’s largest leper hospital.

The hiking trail that veers off the main road elevates quickly. It’s mostly stairs and you’d be wise to pace yourself and not take the journey in the middle of the day when the sweltering heat is at its most unrelenting. Dawn or dusk are the best times and make sure to bring along some water. 

When you reach the top after a 40-minute-or-so climb, you can thank whatever wise and generous soul thought to install hammocks at the top. There is also a large statue of the Virgin Mother whose size and weight will stun you when you realize that someone had to haul it all the way up there. The comfortable top makes for a perfect spot to snap some photos of the city. It also makes for a great place to picnic if you thought ahead to pack some cold beers, quail eggs and dried squid. 

Hiking trails are few and far between in Vietnam, especially so close to a city. Xuan Van’s path is an ideal way to spend a few hours on your next visit to Quy Nhon. If you time it right, you can hit the top for a breathtaking sunrise and be down in time for some beef bánh khọt with peanut sauce for breakfast. 

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