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Visiting the Marble Mountains in Da Nang, Vietnam

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AsiaCavesDa NangHikingMountainsTemples & ChurchesViet Nam
Article author: michael
michael
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Marble Mountains, or Ngũ Hành Sơn in Vietnamese, is the name given to five limestone mountains located in the south of Da Nang city, in Viet Nam. The mountains are a popular tourist attraction in Da Nang, but also a well-known pilgrimage site for Buddhists.

The mountains, named after the 5 elements, are as follows:

  • Thủy Sơn (representing water, and also the largest of the 5 mountains)
  • Kim Sơn (representing metal)
  • Mộc Sơn (representing wood)
  • Hỏa Sơn (representing fire)
  • Thổ Sơn (representing earth)

Quick Nav

Marble Mountains Info

  • Address: 81 Huyền Trân Công Chúa, Hoà Hải, Ngũ Hành Sơn, Đà Nẵng
  • Hours: Daily 07:00 - 17:30
  • Time needed to visit: 3 to 4 hours
  • Best time to visit: Early morning or late afternoon
  • Entrance fee:
    • 40,000 VND per person
    • 15,000 VND per person extra each way if you want to take the elevator
  • Official website: english.nguhanhson.org

Getting There

The Marble Mountains are located about 9km south of Da Nang city center, and take about 10 to 20 minutes to get to, depending on your mode of transport.

The easiest way to get there is by Grab (or taxi). If you’re travelling solo, definitely opt for a Grab Bike as it’s super super cheap! If you opt for a taxi as opposed to Grab, make sure they turn the meter on, or agree on a price before you get in!

Alternatively, you can take the local bus (bus 1), which will drop you off on the main road about 500m from the entrance of the Marble Mountains. You can probably also find a tour bus to take you there, but that would of course be more expensive.

The Marble Mountains

Marble Mountains view from far

We were in Da Nang around mid-June to mid-July this year, when my wife sporadically decided one early afternoon she wanted to go hike “Ngu Hanh Son” (which is the Marble Mountains - but I didn’t realize that at the time). We were about 20 minutes away, and I was up for some hiking, so it sounded like a fun thing to do!

Now I promise you it gets DAMN HOT in Da Nang in the summer, and so if there’s an ideal time to visit the Marble Mountains, mid-day in June and July is not it!

Well, most of Vietnam is not fun to visit mid-day in the summer, really, due to the high heat. But climbing mountains or hiking in the peak heat in Vietnam is definitely something I’d recommend against, as it’s just too hot and humid.

But because I didn’t know what Ngu Hanh Son was when she mentioned it, I didn’t realize what we were getting ourselves into on the way there. In fact, I’d already hiked Thủy Sơn in 2019, which is the main Marble Mountain that tourists visit, but I didn’t realize that’s what she was talking about until we got there!

Thủy Sơn - Water Mountain

While there are 5 mountains that make up the “Marble Mountains”, as far as I’m aware, only one of them (Thủy Sơn, the water mountain) is generally visited by tourists and pilgrims. So if you visit, “Thuy Son” is the Vietnamese name of the one you’re likely going to be climbing.

The Entrance

There are two sides of Thuy Son that you can enter from …

The side with the steps:

Marble Mountains ticket booth

Marble Mountains steps

And the side with the elevator:

Marble Mountains ticket booth

Marble Mountains elevator

Both this time, as well as when I visited the Marble Mountains in 2019, I entered using the steps, and bought my ticket(s) at the booth on that side. It seems though that the majority of people enter using the elevator, and so the steps are a lot less likely to be crowded when you visit.

Old Map of the Mountain

Marble Mountains - Thủy Sơn Map

Climbing Thủy Sơn

Despite the heat, and my trepidation about climbing a mountain in Vietnam in the middle of the day, and in the middle of summer, in Da Nang, my wife wanted to go for it anyway. We had our toddler in tow, so I’m still not sure if we made the right choice, but we took it really slow and stopped a lot to rest on the benches on the way up, and drank lots of water.

Marble Mountains - Climbing Thủy Sơn

I’m in pretty decent shape, and love hiking up mountains, but with the high heat and carrying a toddler up as well, it definitely was not an easy climb.

It’s 150+ steps up to the top, so while there are higher climbs in Vietnam, it’s still a very tough climb if you’re not in decent shape. And like most steps at temples up in the mountains, a lot of the steps are neither level, nor are they the same height or depth. So you have to be careful when climbing up and down.

Marble Mountains - Climbing Thủy Sơn

So if you’re not in good shape, have little ones along with you, have mobility issues, or if you’re not used to the heat and humidity, I’d suggest taking the elevator up instead of the steps.

1st Stop - Nhà Phương Trượng

After finally making it up the first series of steps, my wife needed to have a good rest! 😂

So we hung out at the steps of Nha Phuong Truong, which, from what I gather, is either an assembly hall or perhaps the dinning hall for the monks here. Nha Phuong Truong is located to the left of Tam Thai Pagoda gate, which is the first thing you’ll see when you reach the top of the first set of steps.

Marble Mountains - Nhà Phương Trượng

2nd Stop - Tam Tôn Pagoda

Once my wife was feeling rested and hydrated, we walked around Nha Phuong Truong to check out the area.

Right next to the hall, there’s a lookout point that gives some fantastic views of the city and the other Marble Mountains.

There’s also a shrine, and opposite the shrine, a temple called Tam Ton.

Marble Mountains - Chùa Tam Tôn

My wife paid her respects at the temple, and then we continued on our way.

3rd Stop - Từ Tâm Pagoda

As my wife was paying her respects, I found some partly hidden steps that I hadn’t noticed back in 2019 in front of Tam Ton pagoda. We decided to check them out, and they led down to a little temple called Tu Tam that doesn’t seem to appear on the old stone map (but I believe does appear on the newer maps in several spots).

Marble Mountains - Chùa Từ Tâm

It’s pretty hidden away, so it looks like most people don’t know about it, and so it was really peaceful and quiet here with only us walking around.

Marble Mountains - Chùa Từ Tâm

Marble Mountains - Chùa Từ Tâm

It looks like you can also drink tea here, and there even seemed to be some souvenirs, but no one was actually around when we were there as it was pretty much deserted. So we just checked it out quickly, and then headed back up the steps to return to the main path again.

4th Stop - Tam Thai Pagoda

Back on the main path, we continued on, towards Tam Thai Pagoda.

When you climb up the main steps from the bottom of the mountain, the gate to Tam Thai pagoda is the first thing you see straight ahead once you reach the first landing.

Marble Mountains - Tam Thai Pagoda Gate

Once you pass through the gate, you’ll enter the courtyard for Tam Thai pagoda.

Marble Mountains - Chùa Tam Thai
Image Credit: Unknown source

5th & 6th Stops - Hoa Nghiêm & Huyền Không Caves

After passing through the courtyard of Tam Thai (via the left side of the pagoda), you can walk ahead and slight right (towards Van Thong cave), or head to the left. We headed to the left, which leads off to Hoa Nghiem cave, through which you enter Huyen Khong cave.

Marble Mountains - Hoa Nghiêm & Hoa Nghiêm entrance

Hoa Nghiem is just a small cave with a little shrine inside, but you need to pass through Hoa Nghiem in order to access Huyen Khong cave, which is much larger and more beautiful.

Hoa Nghiem cave

Marble Mountains - Hoa Nghiêm cave

When you are in the caves, especially when going from Hoa Nghiem to Huyen Khong, mind your steps. On rainy or humid days, the marble floors and steps get extremely slippery.

Huyen Khong cave

Marble Mountains - Huyền Không cave

Marble Mountains - Huyền Không cave

Marble Mountains - Huyền Không cave

Huyen Khong has a few shrines in it along the cave walls, with a large Buddha high up on the back wall above one of the shrines.

Marble Mountains - Huyền Không cave

The roof in this cave has been partly worn-down over the centuries, creating holes that let natural light enter the cave, and makes for some really beautiful lighting inside.

Marble Mountains - Huyền Không cave

After admiring Hoa Nghiem and Huyen Khong caves, we headed back out to the main path, and continued on towards Van Thong cave.

7th Stop - Vân Thông Cave

Marble Mountains - Động Vân Thông

Marble Mountains - Động Vân Thông

When you first enter Van Thong cave, there’s an area with a small shrine and Buddha:

Marble Mountains - Động Vân Thông

But then behind there’s some pseudo-steps, and I say pseudo because they become just a smooth wet marble slope heading into a narrow passage:

Marble Mountains - Động Vân Thông

Unfortunately, both in 2019, as well as this time round, we didn’t actually go all the way in the cave.

In 2019 I was ill-equipped to climb up using some very smooth-soled shoes, and this time with our toddler and wearing flip-flops, I wasn’t about to risk it. So we just admired the cave from the entrance. But if you’re better prepared than us, and have shoes with good grip, and you’re not carrying a toddler, then I’d definitely recommend going in and checking it out. 😁

After that, and due to the heat and our water supplies being pretty much diminished, we decided to head back down the mountain and back to our apartment. But there’s still a few more things to see, which I did see when I was there in 2019…

Linh Ứng Pagoda

Now, first off, there are 3 Linh Ung pagodas in Da Nang! There’s Linh Ung Pagoda on Son Tra Peninsula, Linh Ung Pagoda on Ba Na Hills, and finally, this one on Thuy Son (the Marble Mountains).

Marble Mountains - Chùa Linh Ứng
Image Credit: Paul Mannix

Linh Ung Pagoda is located on the south side of Thuy Son, and is the largest pagoda on the mountain. It’s also the only pagoda on the mountain that’s not located in a cave.

To the right of the pagoda is a huge Buddha statue, Linh Ung I presume?

Marble Mountains - Chùa Linh Ứng

To the left of the pagoda, there’s a small bridge that crosses over a little pond, and leads to lady bodhisattva statue.

Marble Mountains - Chùa Linh Ứng

Marble Mountains - Chùa Linh Ứng

From there, you can head out towards the right, to Tang Chon cave.

Tàng Chơn Cave

Marble Mountains - Động Tàng Chơn

Marble Mountains - Động Tàng Chơn

Tang Chon is a pretty extensive cave filled with tons of different crevices and paths. There are also quite a few shrines here, a bunch of Buddha statues including a few huge stone Buddhas and a number of bronze Buddhas, and it’s semi-open to the elements, so some areas are quite well lit.

Marble Mountains - Động Tàng Chơn

I didn’t take many pics here unfortunately and mostly just filmed, so the pics here are mostly screen grabs, and quite grainy.

Marble Mountains - Động Tàng Chơn

Marble Mountains - Động Tàng Chơn

Marble Mountains - Động Tàng Chơn

Marble Mountains - Động Tàng Chơn

I also heard bats while I was walking around, and I think one or two flew by me at some point. Thankfully no bat-guano as a souvenir to bring home! 😮‍💨😜

Marble Mountains - Động Tàng Chơn

Xá Lợi Tower

Finally, right next to the elevator on the other side of the mountain, there’s a stupa (tower) called Xa Loi, with a small shrine.

If you take the elevator up, it’ll be the 1st thing you pass. On the other hand, if you take the steps up like we did, it’ll likely be one of the last places you stop.

Marble Mountains - Xa Loi Tower

Marble Mountains - Xa Loi Tower

Marble Mountains - Xa Loi Tower

The Views

And finally, not to be missed, the views from the top of Thuy Son are pretty awesome!

Marble Mountains - The Views

Marble Mountains - The Views

There are a number of lookout points through the mountain, most of which you need to do some climbing to reach, but the views are definitely worth it!


That’s all for my visit(s) to the Marble Mountains. I hope you enjoyed the read, and if you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below.

Until next time,
michael 😀

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