The temples that make up the Perfume Pagoda (Chua Huong), just outside of Hanoi (Vietnam). Information, map, price of the tours, travel from Hanoi to the Perfume Pagoda.

The Perfume Pagoda

One of the most popular excursions on the outskirts of Hanoi is The Perfume Pagoda (Chua Huong). The Perfume Pagoda, contrary to what its name may indicate, is a set of pagodas and Buddhist temples located 70 kilometres south-west of Hanoi, on top of the mountain of the Perfume (Ha Tay Province). In addition to being one of the most famous spiritual places of Vietnam, the Perfume Pagoda is a natural with views and incredible landscapes.

Tour of the Perfume Pagoda

To get to the Perfume Pagoda, we have to take a bus from Hanoi, which usually takes 2 hours to reach the Jetty Ben Duc. Once on the Jetty we will have to mount them on a metal red boats pushed by oars, with capacity for 6 people, which will lead us through the Yen saw River until reaching the foot of the mountain of the Perfume (Huong Son).

The Perfume Pagoda is located in the interior of a cave to the top of the mountain of the Perfume, to be able to access it well can climb a long and steep staircases road (4 km, usually takes 1 hour) take the cableway that will leave us at the top of the mountain (option we recommend) where will begin our visit the pagodastemples and caves that make up the tour by the Perfume Pagoda.

The Embarcadero Ben Duc

Although you can go directly overland from Hanoi up the same mountain of Perfume, no doubt recommend stop at the Jetty Ben Duc and take a rowing boat. Price round the 2€ per person but worth it, since it is one of the most beautiful and peaceful areas of all visit parts.

In Ben Duc wharf have wooden boats and boats painted metallic red. Each barge has a number that we have to aim if we use the same boat to return from the Perfume Pagoda. In the boats usually fit 6 people and the river walk Yen Vi 45 minutes.

Embarcadero Ben Duc of Perfume Pagoda
Embarcadero Ben Duc of Perfume Pagoda

As a curiosity, we know that in 1998 he tried to replace these boats rowing by motor boats in order to transport tourists and visitors faster. Fortunately this initiative did not prosper and today we can enjoy a peaceful and quiet ride.

The Rio Yen Vi

To reach the mountain of Perfume will have to navigate the 4 kilometers of the River Yen Vi (or River Yen), a gentle river surrounded by Karst formations in the style of Tam Coc punctuated by a landscape of green grass, rice fields and crops of medicinal herbs. Usually be delayed one hour to travel the river, to which must be added the same time to return.

Yen Vi Rio to go to the Perfume Pagoda
Rio Yen Vi

The Mountain Cableway Perfume

After landing the Yen saw River, we have an 4 km climb to the top of the mountain of the Perfume, this ancient road is of Earth and stones that added to the tropical climate of Vietnam will make dent in our legs. As an alternative, by a price 2€ / way can you ride the cable car that climbs in less than 5 minutes to the top of Perfume mountain, more than option recommended since not everyone is able to climb the steps of 4 kilometers from the River to the Perfume Pagoda temples complex.

For those have minimal physical condition, we recommend you go up to the Perfume Pagoda by cable car and walk down the road, which offer spectacular views of the area.

Cable Car Perfume Pagoda
Cable Car Perfume Pagoda

Pagodas, temples and caves of the Perfume Pagoda

The first temples that make up the Perfume Pagoda dating from the 17TH century, built by a Buddhist monk who was in search of spiritual enlightenment. During the following years, due to the beauty of the place, we were adding new buildings and pagodas, of says that in this place there were more than a thousand temples, but after the indochina war against the French, many of them were destroyed.

Although they needed several days to visit this vast place, highlights from the Perfume Pagoda are Den Trinh shrine, Thien Tru pagoda, the Pagoda Hinh Bong, Giai Oan Pagoda, the Thanh Son Pagoda, Huong Tich cave and the temples Long Van, Cay Khe, Tuyet Son y Mau Me.

Recommendations to visit the Perfume Pagoda

The visit to the Perfume Pagoda vary much if we go when turnout is low or if instead visited the resort in high season.

At the Perfume Pagoda is the busiest time during festivals (usually between February and March) and also during the lunar new year (Tet Festival). If you visit this place during those dates, must be taken into account that we will share with thousands of people visit (some years figures of 60,000 people has been achieved).

If possible, we recommend you visit the Perfume Pagoda outside these dates or during weekdays, in order to enjoy this spiritual place without crowds (in the following photos have the Perfume Pagoda a day with few people and one day maximum number of visitors during festivals).

Cave of the Perfume Pagoda
Cave of the Perfume Pagoda
Festival at the Perfume Pagoda
Perfume Pagoda during festivals

As a final recommendation does not hurt to bring an umbrella or parasol to protect us from the sun during the boat ride on the Yen Vi river, especially in the summer months.

The complex of the Perfume Pagoda

These are the highlights of the complex of the Perfume Pagoda:

Den Trinh Sanctuary

Our walk along the River Yen saw ends at the Den Trinh shrine which is the start of our visit to the Perfume Pagoda. The literal translation of this place is the sanctuary of the presentations, where the tradition instructs burn sticks of incense to the gods of our presence and that we granted good luck for the road that begins.

Sanctuary Den Trinh, Perfume Pagoda, Vietnam
Den Trinh Sanctuary

This sanctuary also called Temple Den Trinh, is nothing more than a striking stone structure equipped with two heights with 5 arches in on the floor below and a note, at both ends of the door have statues of elephants.

Thien Tru Pagoda

After a visit to the Den Trinh shrine the next stop before ascending to the top of the mountain of the Perfume is the Thien Tru Pagoda, also called Pagoda Chua Nhãn (outer pagoda). The literal translation of Thien Tru is the kitchen of the sky, from name of Vietnamese legend and imagination in which the rocks of the mountain resemble a Cook working in your kitchen. Perhaps this natural enclave surrounded by rocks and green forests not resembles a kitchen, and a chef, but the beauty of the place anyone can put it in doubt.

The Thien Tru Pagoda was built in the 18th century by Emperor Le Thanh Tong, made of brick and fitted with decorative curved roofs who remember to the Temple of Literature Hanoi.

Thien Tru Pagoda
Thien Tru Pagoda

Destroyed and subsequently rebuilt in 2 occasions, the highlight of this Pagoda which is one of the many temples of the Perfume Pagoda complex, is a monolith of granite called Tower Thuy Tien is located in the middle of the courtyard of this Pagoda, in that same courtyard have other sculptures with the shape of dragons, etc... Although one of the most photographed spots of this Pagoda is the exterior door, 2 heights with 3 arches on each height from which we can see the Pagoda.

For those travelers who want to spend the night at the Perfume Pagoda, near Thien Tru Pagoda of small lodges can be found and places to sleep.

Tien Son Cave

A few meters from the Pagoda Thien Tru Tien Son cave, famous for his 5 sculptures in granite and suggestive ways to the walls of the cave we have. These battered walls being sound like a traditional percussion instrument Vietnamese called Khanh, whose sound resembles the sound of a Bell.

Huong Tich Cave (Cave of Perfume) and Perfume Pagoda

One of the most interesting parts of the visit to the Perfume Pagoda is the Huong Tich cave (also called Cave of the perfume), discovered thousands of years ago (the Vietnamese say that this cave is similar to the mouth of a dragon). We descend 120 stone steps from the main road to gain access to the inside of the cave of the Perfume, which contains the well-known Perfume Pagoda, main pagoda of the complex with a very striking altar, several statues of Buddha and other historical characters and also a 1.24 bronze Bell meters height.

Bell Perfume Pagoda
Bell Perfume Pagoda
Entrance to the Cave of Perfume
Entrance to the Cave of Perfume

The highlight of this cave is an inscription engraved on the rock dating from the year 1700 which says the cave more beautiful under the sky of the Southeast.
The interior of the Huong Tich cave is filled with stalactites and stalagmites, where Vietnamese have been giving names based on forms that evoke these elements, this mode can find stalactites shaped rice plant, forms that resemble children, trees of gold and silver, etc...

Inscription on the inside of the Perfume Pagoda
Inscription on the inside of the Perfume Pagoda

Popular beliefs are still many couples who have no children to this place for the birth of your firstborn pray.

A curious fact about the entrance to the cave entrance Perfume is that this is said to find the way to heaven, you have to go down the road to hell, referring to the stone steps and entrance ways suggestive of cave.

The Perfume Pagoda

We have the Perfume Pagoda in Huong Tich cave inside. The cave, which is 50 meters high is lit by the rays of Sun that enter from the main entrance and also by the lights of candles to the pilgrims and believers left in place. The altar of the Perfume Pagoda, known for his sculptures of Buddha.

Main Altar of the Perfume Pagoda
Main Altar of the Perfume Pagoda

If we are lucky during our visit to the Perfume Pagoda perhaps we are making offerings to Buddhist monks, praying with incense sticks and singing hymns in honor of Buddha.

This place in Vietnam, Perfume Pagoda, is the scene of many legends, popular songs and place of inspiration for poets, philosophers, writers, painters and all kinds of artists.

Recommendations to visit Huong Tich Cave

Inside the cave often cold, so we recommend you bring warm clothes and especially not enter directly if you have traveled the way up to the mountain of Perfume walking, because the sudden temperature change can play tricks.

Festivals in Perfume Pagoda

The Perfume Pagoda is a perigranacion of the Vietnamese people during the first months of the lunar calendar (February to March) coming en masse to pray and make offerings to have luck and prosperity in the year that begins.
Traditionally a Vietnamese pilgrims can spend 3 days touring and praying for all the temples of the complex of the Perfume Pagoda.

The most important festival, called the Perfume Pagoda festival is held on 15 to 20 of the second month of the lunar calendar. This place also hosts other celebrations during the first day of the lunar year (Tet Festival) and also the 6 day of the first month of the lunar calendar. These dates mean celebrations during the months of February and March.

As a curiosity, we know that this festival is a popular place for young people to find a partner because legend has it that this magical place is the ideal place to begin a romance.

Map of the Perfume Pagoda

The Perfume Pagoda is located 70 kilometers southwest of Hanoi in Ha Tay province.

Complex map of the Perfume Pagoda
Complex map Perfume Pagoda (click to enlarge)

Traversing to the Perfume Pagoda

Best to go to the Perfume Pagoda is to hire an excursion at any tourist office in Hanoi (in the old town there are many agencies). The average price for a whole day trip round the 30€, it is important to look at the price includes the entrance to the cable car.

If we want to go to the Perfume Pagoda for free, we will have to take a bus from Hanoi to Ben Duc Wharf, if on the other hand we don't want to make the boat trip along the River Yen saw (walk that we recommend you do), you should take a bus from Hanoi to the perfume mountain. From the center of Hanoi, take the bus No. 1 to Ha Dong (Ha Đong) and take the bus No. 75 to perfume (Chùa Hương) pagoda.

The displacement bike or ride to the Perfume Pagoda not recommended, since the pier Ben Duc have to park the bike in a secure place and also because the road through the village Van Dinh is not very comfortable. The taxi to the Perfume Pagoda is very expensive compared to the price of an organized tour or a bus for free.

The entrance to the Perfume Pagoda is free, the ticket to the cable car costs 2€ / way and boat trip along the River Yen saw costs 2€.

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