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6 Days in Hanoi, Vietnam - Part 2

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AsiaFoodHa NoiSolo TravelTemples & ChurchesToursVietnam
Article author: michael
michael
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This is the 1st part in my Vietnam & Thailand 2019 series.

You can view my Vietnam overview page, as well as my Thailand overview page with links for all the cities I stopped at.


Day 4

Perfume Pagoda Tour

For my 4th day in Vietnam I booked the Perfume Pagoda tour, which starts with a bus ride from central Hanoi. The bus ride was about 1 hr and 40 minutes, but that included picking up a few of the other people on the tour.

Boat Ride to the Perfume Pagoda

After the bus ride, we arrived at a river, although I’m not quite sure of which exact area it was in … possibly Làng Yến, Hương Sơn? Don’t quote me on that though!

Boat ride

From there, we got on a boat paddled by hand by a Vietnamese woman, to take us to the Perfume Pagoda. The boat ride was about 1 hour, and was a nice relaxing ride. It was also a great way to see the countryside of Vietnam, and some of their beautiful karst mountains.

Boat ride

Boat ride

We passed some local women dressed in white áo dài’s getting their pics taken. Turns out that’s a pretty common site in Vietnam, especially when flowers are blooming! 😆

Boat ride

Perfume Pagoda

The Perfume Pagoda is actually a complex of Buddhist temples, and is built into the side of a mountain. The complex is located in Hương Sơn, which is about 60 km southwest of Hanoi.

When we got to the complex, we started by heading to the inner temple, which is in a cave. The cave is called Hương Tích, and is a very popular pilgrimage site for Vietnamese Buddhists. If you come during certain times of the year, you’d think you were at a rock concert, as the place is absolutely packed with people! Thankfully when I went, that wasn’t the case.

We first had to climb some steps. Beyond the steps in the picture below, the steps were lined with vendors selling all sorts of things, from food, to souvenirs, to incense, and more.

Perfume Pagoda

After climbing up for a bit, you have the choice of either continuing to climb up, or taking a cable car. I really wanted to keep going by foot, but the rest of the tour group wanted to be lazy, so I decided to join them in the cable cars to the top.

Note that taking the cable car is not included in the tour price, and cost an additional 120,000 VND.

In the following pic, you can see another temple hidden in the side of the mountain. I believe this is Giải Oan Temple, which is part of the complex of temples at the Perfume Pagoda.

Perfume Pagoda

The views on the way up were quite gorgeous.

Perfume Pagoda

Huong Tich Cave

Once we got to the top, we actually had to walk down quite a few steps to get to the cave!

Huong Tich Cave

Huong Tich Cave

The inside of the cave is quite beautiful, and filled with some shrines and statues.

Huong Tich Cave

Huong Tich Cave

Some parts of the cave are quite slippery due to the porous nature of the rock, so you have to be careful when walking up and down the various steps within the cave.

Huong Tich Cave

Huong Tich Cave

Huong Tich Cave

Once we were done exploring the cave, we headed back up to the top of the mountain, and then started to make our way back down.

The same group that wanted to take the cable car before wanted to do the same to get down the mountain, but I decided to walk this time.

It was good exercise, that’s for sure! But more importantly I got a better view of some of the mountainside and the complex, and also got to pass right by Giải Oan Temple.

Giai Oan Temple

Giai Oan Temple

Giai Oan Temple

I only had a quick look and continued on, as I had to make a somewhat quick descent down to make it in time to see the final temple, Thiên Trù Temple.

Thien Tru Temple

Thiên Trù Temple is the main temple in the Perfume Pagoda complex, and is located at the base of the mountain.

Thien Tru Temple

It’s actually quite large, much larger than the other temples in the complex, and boasts several buildings within it.

Thien Tru Temple

Thien Tru Temple

Thien Tru Temple

There’s a section of the temple grounds at Thien Tru temple that is not accessible to the public, but you can see it from the outside. I saw several monks walking around in this area, so this is definitely an active temple.

Thien Tru Temple

Thien Tru Temple

Thien Tru Temple

The below pic is of the main entrance to the temple, but looking at it on the way out. It’s quite large and ornate.

Thien Tru Temple

Back to Hanoi

After the visit was over, we headed back to the boats for another hour ride back to the tour bus, and then the hour and change to get back to Hanoi.

Return boat ride

Return boat ride

Tour Verdict

I really enjoyed this tour, and had a great time. The tour guide was very friendly and knowledgeable, and the tour itself was well organized.

I’d definitely recommend it to anyone who’s interested in visiting the Perfume Pagoda.

Dinner

Once I was back at the hostel, I was trying to figure out what I’d do for dinner. I ran into one of the other travellers I had met at the hostel, and he wanted to head out for some Indian food. Indian food in Vietnam? Uhh, sure, why not?

Price: 180,000 VND

So we headed out to a place he’d been before that wasn’t that far from the hostel. For the life of me though, I can’t recall the name of the place!

One thing I certainly won’t forget though is the size of the naan …

Naan

It was friggin’ huge! As for the food, we ordered a few different curries, and they were quite good. The naan surprisingly wasn’t all that great though. Quantity over quality I guess?


And that wrapped up the Perfume Pagoda tour and the day.

Next up was the all day Ninh Binh tour I’d booked, leaving from Hanoi.

Until next time,
michael 😀

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