Jul 27 2011
A 90-minute hydrofoil ferry ride or three-hour motorbike drive from downtown Saigon, Vung Tau is a decent place to relax and unwind for a local city dweller; the average tourist on the other hand may find the city disappointing, as the beach is not nearly as nice as those you’ll find in other areas of the country. But Vung Tau does have something unique to boast of: a 32-metre tall statue of Jesus that you can climb. The statue is definitely worth a stop if you find yourself in Vung Tau but there are some things you’ll want to prepare for before you make your visit.
The statue is easy to find: from the ferry terminal take a right on Vung Tau’s main road, Ha Long. When the road reaches the tip of the peninsula, and changes its name to Thuy Van, you will find the Christ of Vung Tau and its large entrance area. The statue is located on the top of a large hill and the hike to its base will take at least 30 minutes. Wear comfortable shoes and be prepared to sweat, as this is a difficult hike even for avid hikers. The stairs on the way up can be quite awkward as well; some are too tall while others are too short. Luckily, there are several places to stop along the way to rehydrate yourself, catch your breath or admire the view.
When you finally reach the feet of the statue and are ready to go inside, you may be in for a surprise. The statue is treated like a church and because of this there is a dress code: your shoes must be removed and no tank tops are allowed. Yes, after your long, sweaty climb you can be turned away because your shoulders aren’t covered. If you haven’t come prepared, you can purchase a 20,000 VND T-shirt from the gift store that is on top of the hill to get in.
Once inside you’ll have more work to do: climbing the 100-plus stairs leading to the top. These narrow at the top, especially in the final exit onto the statue’s shoulders, and get quite narrow and short for a larger Westerner. Also, as the statue gets more and more crowded, traffic to the lookout areas begins to bottleneck and you may have to wait for a few minutes before you see the view. To avoid this, show up early in the day, preferably before 9:00 so you can beat the crowd and not have to rush yourself, plus it won’t be as hot.
Your reward: a fantastic view of the city. Plus, well, not everyone can say they’ve climbed a 32-metre tall Jesus.
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