Yen Tu is a famous landmark in Quang Ninh, where is attached to the Vietnam Buddhist religion, when Tran Nhan Tong Buddha (he is also a king of Vietnam) renounced the throne for going on Yen Tu Mountain to practice Buddhism. He founded the Truc Lam Yen Tu Zen Sect. Today, when people talk about Yen Tu, they think immediately about Yen Tu Festival takes place from January, 10th until the end of March in lunar calendar. However, tourism activities in Yen Tu took place throughout the year; the cable car also shortens distance of moving and saving the time for travelers. This gives you more time to enjoy beautiful scenery of clouds and mountains in Yen Tu. Especially, on nice days, from the summit you can see Halong Bay.
When you should go to Yen Tu mountain
Yen Tu Festival annually starts from January, 10th to March in lunar calendar, attracting thousands of people from around the country coming here for worship and visiting. If you go in the festival season, especially the first day of festival, it will be very crowded. If your purpose is worship and joining into the festival, you should go in February. If you go for sightseeing purposes, you can go any time of the year.
How to go to Yen Tu
Every day, there are buses go to Ha Long from My Dinh bus station, all kind of these buses will pass over Yen Tu. It is very easy for you to go to Yen Tu with a lot of bus company as: Kumho, Viet Thanh, Duc Phuc, Ka Long and many other buses. The bus to Halong, Mong Cai leave continuously, there is one bus every 30 minutes. Fares is about 90 000 VND / person.
Direction, you start from Hanoi to Bac Ninh, then you turn into Highway 18 going to Cam Pha, Chi Linh, Dong Trieu, Uong Bi, you will see Trinh Yen Tu temple, from here you turn away to Yen Tu. If you go by bus, you should remind the bus’ driver stop at Trinh Yen Tu temple area in order to go continuously to Yen Tu.
From Hai Phong to Yen Tu, you will go through Nui Deo town, then you get in 10th street, and turn left into Highway 18, you keep going about 2 km and see the way to Yen Tu.
From Trinh temple, you can take a motorbike to Yen Tu (costs about 35 000 VND / person, or take a taxi.
In addition to the bus routes run daily to Halong, you can go straight to Yen Tu with the bus of Hanoi Transportation Company. This bus run daily on festival season, outside of festival time, they only run on a Sunday, you can contact them directly to ask about departure time. Fares for reference is 180 000 VND / roundtrip.
What to see in Yen Tu
On the way to explore Yen Tu, the first attraction to be encountered is Giai Oan Spring (Justifying Spring) with a majestic green stone bridge connecting two sides. This bridge is 10 meters long, which was built firmly in an antique architecture. Legends said that when King Tran Nhan Tong decided to resign from his throne to become a monk, his wives and concubines tried to persuade him changing his mind by suicide into the spring. Mourning for them, the monk king built a temple nearby and named the spring “Giai Oan”.
Climbing for around 30-45 minutes, you’ll be able to reach a lush green courtyard, highlighted by vivid color from different species of flowers of the a pagoda. The pagoda is surrounded by six enormous towers, amongst which the biggest one is to worship King Tran Nhan Tong.
Hoa Yen Pagoda is the biggest pagoda among the pagoda complex of Yen Tu Mountain, which is located on the height of 543 meters. Here, there is stood still a long row of Glyptostrobus trees, which are said to be planted during the time King Tran Nhan Tong at Yen Tu.
Climbing further to the height of 700m is Van Tieu Pagoda lying inside layers of white clouds, and Đong Pagoda on an impressive height of 1,068m, which is made totally from copper. Both pagodas are dated back thousand years ago, and are very sacred to visit.
Standing on the highest peak of Yen Tu, one might to able to watch a panorama of the extensive North-eastern Vietnam, Bach Dang River, and especially the natural wonder Halong Bay.
Yen Tu Festival
Yen Tu Festival commences annually on the 10th day of the first lunar month and lasts for three months. Tens of thousands of pilgrims begin their journey to the uppermost shrine after a solemn ritual held at the base of Yen Tu Mountain.
During the festival, the people near and far flock to Yen Tu which was regarded as the Buddhist land to show their belief and aspiration or to get rid of all sorrows and sadness. Other go to Yen Tu to do sightseeing and to enjoy the pure atmosphere of a mountain region. Foreign visitors come to Yen Tu to witness a famous beauty spot, a mysterious tourist attraction. Many cultural and historical values are carefully preserved in Yen Tu, where is also home to a rare ecosystem in Vietnam.
In the wide ensemble of vestiges in Yen Tu, there are 11 pagodas and hundreds of shrines and towers. One form of entertainment is to climb the peak to where the Dong Pagoda was built (1,068m above the sea). On the way, you will see pagodas, a tower, a stream and a forest. At the top, after having burned joss-sticks, you seem to be lost in nature somewhere between the sky and the earth. When clear, you can perceive almost all of the northeast area from here.
Tips for travelers
You should wear soft shoes for hiking.
Clothing: depending on the season. In the winter, you should bring jacket.
If you go in high season, you should buy a return ticket of cable car. So, you will not have to wait to buy the back ticket.
You should do sightseeing on the way down to the bottom of mountain.
Do not buy something along the way.
Beware pickpockets in crowded places.
Put garbage in the trash.