Would you be surprised if I told you there are at least three volcanoes located close to Ho Chi Minh City? Not to worry, though — these volcanoes in the Dinh Quan District of Dong Nai have not erupted for about 400,000 years.
A mountainous area situated along Highway 20, the road to Nam Cat Tien and Dalat, Dinh Quan is 80km northeast of Bien Hoa and 110km from Ho Chi Minh City. You will know you have arrived at Dinh Quan when you see Da Ba Chong (three giant rocks stacked on top of each other) that lie next to the highway. However, tourists are not allowed in this area as there is a military camp nearby.
A Confusing Area
A volcano at Km118 of Highway 20 was all I could find on Google, and I confidently departed with that small piece of information. Thanks to shop signs, I knew I’d made it to Km118. I looked around but there was no mountain to be seen.
“You have to go on a bit further and then turn right down that small clay path,” said a passer-by.
Following his advice, I found myself surrounded by pepper and coffee plantations. But there was still no sign of the volcano. However, volcanic rocks started to appear along the path, giving me hope that I was going in the right direction.
I asked eight local people and six of them gave me different directions. The other two just responded: “Don’t know!” Two hours driving around turned me off and urged me to give up, but I decided to check Google Maps one last time. Giving it a closer look, I saw three dark green areas on the screen — one was next to my location, two others were further away. That was when I realised Dinh Quan has more than one volcano.
Discovering the locations of the three volcanoes explained why the locals gave me different directions. Following Google Maps, I drove to the volcano at Km119 that lies right next to the path and was the easiest to find.
“There is nothing up there, just coffee trees. You can climb up through that narrow uphill path,” said Manh, sitting at his farm hut next to the volcano. Leaving the bike at the hut, I walked to the path. The volcano was covered with a rug of different shades of green that came into my view as I arrived at the slope. Despite the modest height of the hill, it was steep enough to make me short of breath.
“If you want to check out the two other volcanoes, you have to leave your bike at the highway then walk through coffee plantations to reach the foot of them,” continued Manh.
Suddenly the sky turned grey and it started pouring with rain. So I left Dinh Quan without checking out the other two volcanoes.
The volcanoes in Dinh Quan might not be enough to lure you out of Ho Chi Minh City, but if you’re on a road trip to the jungle of Nam Cat Tien or Dalat, don’t miss them.
Take either Highway 1A or Highway 51 towards Dau Giay. At the big intersection turn left onto Highway 20 until you see Da Ba Chong. Follow the road about 5km until you reach Km118. Then, well, good luck!