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Perfume Pagoda, Ha Tay

| 12 Sep 2013
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Map

Map
Perfume Pagoda, Ha Tay
Ha Tay province around 60kms from Hanoi

Map
Our rating
12 Sep 2013

The Perfume Pagoda is a complex of pagodas located in limestone mountains 60 kilometres from Hanoi. It's a popular day trip from Hanoi that includes a boat trip through landscapes reminiscent of a Chinese ink painting.

Note: The information provided in this review was correct at time of publishing but may change. For final clarification please check with the relevant service

The Perfume Pagoda is one of Vietnam’s most revered places of Buddhist worship and receives thousands of pilgrims from across the country during major festivals on the lunar calendar. Crowds during Tet - the Chinese New Year - are especially heavy.

Access to the 30 or so pagodas of the complex is via the Yen River. Travellers take a picturesque one hour boat ride each way. Small boats holding up to 6 travellers are paddled by local women at a leisurely clip.




A day trip from Hanoi will only allow time for exploration of a small number of pagodas. Local pilgrimage to all the religious sites might last 3 days.

The most spectacular of the sites is the giant Huong Tich grotto. It’s the main destination of any Perfume Pagoda tour so expect crowds. Huong Tich is a vast cave with a number of small altars inside. The huge stalagmite in the centre of the cave is said to resemble a dragon’s tongue.

Travellers can get to Huong Tich either by a reasonably arduous one hour climb, or by cable car. The climb isn’t especially pretty and it’s worth noting that in wet conditions, it’s slippery and hazardous.


Travel tips

Perfume Pagoda is an enjoyable day trip but it tends to be rushed with insufficient time for exploration. We’re inclined to recommend an overnight in Ninh Binh or Mai Chau in place of Perfume Pagoda for travellers wanting to experience the beautiful northern countryside.

Most travellers will visit the pagoda as part of an organised tour. Getting to the pagoda independently is difficult (unless you rent a motorcycle in Hanoi) and probably not worth the effort. Tour operators in Hanoi offer both private and group tours. These seem to be priced around $25 - $30 for a group trip that includes transport, guide, a basic lunch, boat trip and entrance to the pagodas (cable car is extra - around 70,000VND each way).
Mark Bowyer
Mark Bowyer is the founder and publisher of Rusty Compass.
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