If you are in search of a little adventure in Da Nang, head straight to the Marble Mountain. Full of awe-inspiring caves and breathtaking views, marble mountains give you the opportunity to hike along the less explored rocky paths and forest trails.
Why the name?
Marble Mountain is actually a group of five hills made of marble and limestone. The mountains were named after the five elements namely Kim or metal, Thuy alias water, Moc aka wood, Hoa meaning fire and Tho or Earth. In conclusion, these mountains were a spiritual destination for Vietnamese and Buddhists who built Buddha statues in every size and shape from cave entrances to summits.
The Cave Tour
Your ticket would have a map with the caves and pagodas marked on it. Keep following the dots or ask tourists around and you will find your way. However, it might get a bit confusing. Hence here is a virtual tour of the caves and the direction we followed.
Am Phu Cave- No 15
The towering Am Phu cave enticed us the moment we stepped into the premises. Located at the foot of Tuy Son (Water mountain) this cave charges a separate entry fee of 20,000 Dong.
Inside the 400-year old pagoda of Tam Thai (No. 11), the vast contrast of hell and heaven is clearly visible. Its scary yet exciting.
Additionally, the winding stairs symbolize leading to heaven and an underground dungeon leading to hell. The summit of this cave has a statue of laughing Buddha and a vantage point to view the surroundings. Am Pu Cave is the closest to the elevator.
Post Am Phu Cave visit, we purchased tickets for 55,000 Dong. This ticket included the elevator ride and entrance to all other caves.
Vong Hai Dai- No.4
Our first stop was at Vong Hai Dai, a view point to soak in the breeze and enjoy spectacular sea views. Since the weather was humid and warm, this place left us absolutely energized.
Hoa Nghiem Cave – No. 9
The ancient stone gate overgrown with vegetation welcomed us to Hoa Nghiem Cave.
The 400 year old Lady Buddha statue carved from the same mountain stone, blends in the backdrop. This statue was believed to be made in 1640 by the merchants of Hoi An. There’s another beautiful destination in Da Nang with a noteworthy statue of Lady Buddha. Read here for more.
Huyen Khong Cave- No 10
By far one of the largest and the most impressive cave, Huyen Khong has a large vent in its ceiling. The way light passes through it, makes the cave spectacular. Here, the three meter high Buddha statue placed in the middle of the cave dates back to 1960. While the left of the cave has Ngoc temple, the right side has temple of Loi Phi that brings health and wealth.
The entrance through rugged stone stairs guarded by Mandarin statues on both sides offer quite a dramatic look to the cave. After that what you witness is ages old sheer brilliance.
Linh Nham Cave- No. 6
Our next visit was to Linh Nham cave, a tiny cave dedicated to the gods and kings.
Van Thong Cave- No 5
This is a small cave with low ceiling height. Inside the cave, you can witness an orange clad Buddha statue on a raised altar. A connecting path behind the statue leads you to another smaller cave. One needs to be careful hiking this rocky, slippery path.
We were tired by this time and took a break here sipping fresh coconut water in one of the shacks opposite to the cave.
Linh Ung Pagoda- No 2
This was our last stop at the Marble Mountains. The highlight of Lin Ung pagoda is the 30 meters high Xa Loi tower dating back to 1997.
From the gate, you can enjoy the serene ocean view. Above all, the premises around this pagoda has over 200 statues of Buddha and dragons amid beautiful gardens and a fountain.
Did you know?
Until few years ago, Marble Mountains was a source of marble and colored stones for statues, decor items and building materials. However, quarrying stones from these mountains posed a threat to its ecosystem and its existence. Hence it was banned from this site recently in order to make it tourism worthy.
How to get there?
Merely 11 km from Da Nang city center, it’s a pretty straight route. All you need to do is to map your GPS to Ngũ Hành Sơn District, south of Da Nang city in Vietnam.
There are two ways to enter. Either take the stone stairs which will lead to the Linh Ung Pagoda or pay 500,000 Dong for elevator ride and cave entrance fee. However, our tickets were not checked.
If the marble mountain caves left you awestruck, do check out another cultural heritage near Da Nang.
P.S- This trip of ours was in Feb’2020 right before the pandemic outspread.