There are a few legends about how Ham Rong Mountain (also known as Dragon Mountain) got its name. One of them relates how a loving dragon couple were separated by a great flood while playing; the male dragon escaped but the female was so exhausted that she fell into the water. She raised her head towards her partner which became the Ham Rong mountain (below) and her body the Hoang Lien Son range.
Another legend is that when Sapa was sinking in the ocean, two dragons were called home by their father. Big brother dragon heard the call and flew back to heaven, but the little dragon was playing in The Water Palace and didn’t hear the father, and so was destined to stay here forever.
The steep but short walk to Ham Rong Mountain starts behind Sapa Church, where an entrance fee is payable. A paved path ascends past a checkpoint and a souvenir shop. (I visit first with our fantastic local guide Nguyencong Quyen, and then come back the following day with the kids!)
The first attraction on Ham Rong Mountain is an orchid garden: there are over 6,000 orchids as well as many wild and unique flowers grown alongside the paths.
There are some water and rock features, and a restaurant a little further up. As well as children’s playground. I’m not sure if it’s tacky or interesting, but it means there is plenty to see and do, and makes it a bit more fun with kids.
The most interesting part of the Ham Rong Mountain walk is the path up to Heaven Gate (Cổng trời) and Cloud Garden (Sân Mây).
The trail winds up through and under rock boulders, many of which are covered with vines and lichen.
At the top is a great view over the Ham Rong Mountain gardens, and Sapa village below. Cloud Garden (1,650m above sea level is about 150m above the town).
There’s a panoramic view from the platform over the Sapa village and valley, Muong Hoa, Ta Phin and the Ham Rong Mountain peak (approx 1,890m asl). Behind Sapa and obscured by clouds is Fansipan or Phan Xi Păng (3,143m asl), the highest mountain in Indo-China.
A different trail descends back to the main area, through more interesting rock formations, forming a look.
The same path goes back down Ham Rong Mountain to Sapa village, through the European Garden, back over the pond and past the dragon statue…
Accommodation near Ham Rong Mountain
The start of the Ham Rong Mountain trail starts in the town of Sapa (or Sa Pa), which has lots of inexpensive accommodation. We stayed at the Victoria Sapa Resort & Spa, which was organised as part of our Vietnam itinerary.
- Vietnam Online – Ham Rong Mountain