Huong Pagoda is a famous landmark in the North of Vietnam. This is a complex area of pagodas scattered from the foothills to the Peak of Huong Tich Mountain. People often go to Huong Pagoda on Huong Pagoda festival from January until March in lunar calendar. But you can travel to Huong Pagoda all year round. And if you go for sightseeing, you should avoid the festive season.
How to go to Huong Pagoda & Huong Tich cave
From Hanoi there are two ways to go to Huong Pagoda. The first way, you can start from Nguyen Trai Street, follow the direction to Ha Dong, at the fork of Ba La you turn left to Van Dinh direction. You go to Te Tieu and ask local people the way to Huong Pagoda. The second way, you go in the direction of Highway 1 A (Phap Van Cau Giay), this road for cars, motorcycles cannot go this way. With motorcycles, you go on The old Highway 1A in Thanh Tri direction. Going to Huong Pagoda, you can totally spend one day, in Huong Pagoda festival season, because the people from far places, they often stay one night and joining the festival in the next day. Upon arrival, you will have to sit on the boat in about 1 hour to Huong Pagoda and another 1 hour coming back; along Yen stream are many undulating mountains with strange shapes. When you get on the land, you walk to Thien Tru Pagoda, and then you climb up to the high mountain to Huong Tich cave. If you feel tired, you should choose going by cable car. You can go up by cable car and go down on foot. If you are good health, you should walk up and sightseeing along roadsides quite beautiful.
When should you go to Huong Pagoda
In my opinion, you should avoid going in Huong Pagoda festival season, because it is very crowded and hustle, services is very expensive, the price is two or three times of normal day. The good time for traveling is all months except from January to March in lunar calendar. If you go for worship, of course you must go in the festival time.
Attractions in Huong Pagoda complex
If you have only one day, you should visit Thien Tru Pagoda and Huong Tich cave. They are two highlights of Huong Pagoda. You can choose to walk or take the cable car to the top of Huong Tich cave. Huong Tich is a cave located inside the heart of the mountain. People showed a lot of statues, designed and decorated like in pagoda.
The very first starting point of the pilgrimage is Pier Duc. Normally, it takes more than 2 hours to go from Hanoi to Pier Duc. During the annual festival months, Pier Duc is packed with thousands of row boats used for shuttling visitors. For many visitors, this one-hour boat ride on the Yen Stream from Pier Duc is actually the highlight of the trip, and inspiration sources of quite a few famous poets.
Yen stream flows between two mountains for 3 kilometers. Nevertheless, sitting on the boat, leisurely enjoying the surrounding landscape, you may feel that the stream is endless. Despite a facilitated road from Pier Duc to Huong mountain, most people choose to use row boats on Yen Stream, which is by far a much more romantic and scenic route to Huong Pagoda. While traveling along Yen Stream, tourists pass by stunning landscape of blazing green rice paddles studded with jagged limestone mounts to the base of Huong Mountain. If you are on a boat there, you can easily see on your left the Phoenix Mountain, and Doi Cheo Mountain, which looks like a python. Also on the left are Bung and Voi, the two mountains associated with interesting legends.
Thien Tru Pagoda
The first stop before climbing up to Huong Mount must always be a visit to Den Trinh, which means “registration shrine”. The next point of interest would be a visit to Thien Tru Pagoda, which was built in the 18th century under King Le Thanh Tong dynasty. “Thien Tru” means a heaven kitchen, derived from the imagination of the locals in this region, of which the rock formations in this area look like chefs busily working in the kitchen. Thien Tru Pagoda is famous for Thuy Tien tower, a granite monolith. On the right is Tien Son cave, popular for five granite statues and various formations on the walls of the cave. Coming here, pilgrims have chances to admire the pagoda’s beauty and wonderful local landscapes.
Huong Tich cave
After more than one hour along the stream and visiting the initial ancient pagodas from the riverbank, now pilgrims would climb up hundreds of stone steps, and then down 120 stone steps to Huong Tich cave. The path to Huong Tich winds its way through magnificently luxuriant landscapes. Getting into the cave, you will find a purely cool atmosphere in a dim light before figuring out naturally architectural works such as Dun Gao rock, gold and silver trees, Girl and Boy Mountains (in the shapes of a girl and a boy), and so forth. Yet, what is noteworthy is the statue of Avalokitesvara carved out of emerald stone on a rocky lotus, constructed in 1793, under the Tay Son dynasty, and a 1.24m bronze bell, moulded in the 3rd Thinh Duc Year (1655).
Fares in Huong Pagoda
I often guide foreign tourists to Huong Pagoda, regular price is 40 000 VND / person for ferry ticket and 50 000 VND / person for entrance ticket. If you go in a big group, you can rent a boat for about 15 – 20 people. Price of cable car is 140,000 VND for 2-way and 90,000 VND for one-way.
Food service in Huong Pagoda complex
Eating at Huong Pagoda in the festival season will be very expensive. Along the way to Huong Tich cave there are plenty of restaurants and souvenir shops. There are a full services of eating and sleep for Buddhists along the way up to the mountain. In the low season, I often eat at Mai Lam restaurant; this restaurant has the best food quality in Huong Pagoda.