Nestled deep in the Huong Son Mountains, the Perfume Pagoda (Chua Huong, in Vietnamese) is just 70 kilometers southwest of Hanoi and is easily accessed as a day-trip. It is actually a group of several temples and pagodas, accessed by boat along the beautifully scenic Day River. The Perfume Pagoda is a famous pilgrimage site, where Vietnamese come to pray and practice their Buddhist beliefs.
The oldest pagodas in the complex were built during the reign of Le Chinh Hoa (1680-1705) by a monk who passed by the site as he was searching for spiritual enlightenment. Other temples came later. Today, visitors can visit Den Trinh (Presentation Shrine), Thien Tru (Heaven Kitchen) Pagoda, the Giai Oan Temple, and the largest temple and center of the Perfume Pagoda complex, Huong Tich Cave. It is said that the Bodhisattva Quan Am stayed at Huong Tich Pagoda in order to save human souls.
The Perfume Pagoda is one of the highlights of the Hanoi area and one of the most important religious sites in Buddhist Vietnam. Every spring, after Tet (the Vietnamese New Year), thousands of Vietnamese pilgrims come here to get blessings from the stalactites and stagmites, many of which are named and have special purposes. Childless women come here to pray for fertility and pregnant women say prayers to a stalactite that resembles a breast in hopes of being blessed with good health.
The only access to the Perfume Pagoda complex is by boat. Once you arrive in the main temple complex, you can walk up the steep mountain path to the pagodas and cave, or you may elect to ride a cable car to the top.
Pick up at hotel and depart for the Perfume Pagoda. We’ll have a short stretch break when we are about halfway there. You can relax or shop for Vietnamese handicraft products, if you wish.
Arrive at the dock and take a relaxing 40-minute boat ride along the river. Keep your camera handy – you’ll want to take pictures of the beautiful mountains and rice paddies along the way.
Arrive at the main temple area. You can hike up to Huong Tich Cave, located on the summit. The cave is a sacred place – take some time to explore this mystical grotto. You can walk down the stone pathway back to the entrance. Alternately, you may prefer to take the cable car up to the summit or up and down the mountain. Enjoy the breath-taking views of the mountainous landscapes.
Time for a good Vietnamese lunch in a nearby local restaurant.
Stop at the Thien Tru Pagoda for a prayer and view the ancient and beautiful Buddhist architecture.
Back on the boat to the Duc Dock, then return to Hanoi.
Drop off at your hotel in Hanoi.
A hat or umbrella.
Modest clothing for temple.
Transportation to and from your hotel by air-conditioned bus and experienced driver.
Professional English-speaking guide.
Service charges and government taxes.
WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED
Drinks, travel insurance, tax.
Cable car (optional): One way: 100,000 VND per person or two ways: 140,000 VND per person.
Tips and personal expenditures.