Da Nang, the coastal city in Central Vietnam, is not only famous for the high-end resorts but also its magnificent natural landscapes. Coming to Da Nang City, besides some well-known attractions such as Ba Na Hills or Dragon Bridge, tourists should not miss a visit to Marble Mountains (or Ngu Hanh Son Mountains). There are various sites at Marble Mountains waiting for visitors to explore, and one of which is Hoa Nghiem Cave. Not as outstanding as other destinations in Da Nang, Hoa Nghiem Cave is located in a small corner of Thuy Son Mount.
- Location: Marble Mountains, Hoa Hai Ward, Ngu Hanh Son District, Da Nang
Opening hours: 07.00 AM – 06.00 PM
Entrance fee: no charge
I. Highlights of Hoa Nghiem Cave
Marble Mountain, also called Non Nuoc Mountains, is the most famous mountain in Da Nang. The mountains include five mounts named after five elements in Wu Xing (or Five Elements): Kim Son, Moc Son, Thuy Son and Tho Son. Of the five mounts, Thuy Son is the largest and most beautiful with a wide range of pagodas and a system of caves.
The total area of Thuy Son Mount is about 15 hectares and its height is 160 meters, which is relatively low. Since Thuy Son comprises three peaks in the shape of Tam Thai constellation (a part of Ursa Major), it is also called Tam Thai Mount. Three peaks of Thuy Son are Thuong Thai (the highest peak), Trung Thai (the middle peak) and Ha Thai (the lowest peak).
Hoa Nghiem Cave is located in Thuong Thai, the highest peak of Thuy Son. The surrounding area of Hoa Nghiem Cave consists of many attractive places such as Huyen Khong Cave and Tam Thai Pagoda. However, Hoa Nghiem Cave is not overshadowed by these sites thanks to its uniqueness.
2. Inside Hoa Nghiem Cave
Hoa Nghiem Cave is a small stone cave which is quite antique and peaceful. The gate leading to the interior of Hoa Nghiem Cave is called Huyen Khong Quan. In the name, “Huyen” means magnificent, “Khong” is space and “Quan” is gate. Huyen Khong Quan is the gate opening a magnificent space inside Hoa Nghiem Cave with the combination of light, dark, fauna and rocks.
The stone surface Hoa Nghiem Cave suffered from the abrasive effect of wind and water for millions of years, so that the stone became rough and some kinds of plants can live on. In the ceiling of the cave, there is a natural oculus for sunlight getting inside the cave. Looking at the ceiling, tourists can see the light through the leaves and stop at the floor and stone of Hoa Nghiem Cave, which is such a sparkling scene.
The interior of Hoa Nghiem Cave includes an ancient stone statue of Bodhisattva, some steles carving the construction process of the cave, some altars for tourists to stop and pray. The atmosphere of Hoa Nghiem Cave is tranquil and solemn with the quiet appearance and the incense smell spreading in the space.
II. What to See and Do in Hoa Nghiem Cave?
1. The Bodhisattva statue
An altar with the statue of Bodhisattva is the very first thing tourists can see when entering Hoa Nghiem Cave. The Bodhisattva with the gentle face is standing on a cloud and blessing the humans. The time has left a mossy color on the statue, but tourists can still see the meticulous features on the statue. According to the locals, the statue was constructed in the 1960s by the craftsmen of Non Nuoc Village, a famous craft village near Hoa Nghiem Cave with its stone products.
2. The ancient stele
On the left-hand side of the Bodhisattva statue is an ancient stone stele which was built in 1640 by Hue Dao Minh Monk. The stele was called “Pho Da Son Linh Trung”, which is one of the most ancient ones in the Marble Mountains. The stele is in rectangle shape, with 1.47 meter in height and 0.65 meter in width. It is decorated with the pattern of lotus flowers and the sun. The stele was carved with the Chinese characters to commemorate those donating to build Hoa Nghiem Cave. Some of them were not the locals but people from Hoi An and even other countries.
3. The poems on the cave wall
On the wall of Hoa Nghiem Cave, there are some poems in Chinese and ancient Vietnamese characters, which were written by the visitors to Hoa Nghiem Cave. One four-sentence poem in Chinese was written by a Quang Nam mandarin named Tran Van Thong when he visited Hoa Nghiem Cave on a spring day. Therefore, in another area, a “ca tru” song (a type of traditional music in North Vietnam) with 132 letters was written by Nguyen Van Mai from Thua Thien – Hue to glorify the beauty of the Marble Mountains in general and Hoa Nghiem Cave in particular.
4. Nearby locations
Hoa Nghiem Cave is a part of Thuy Son Mount in the Marble Mountains, the most stunning mount of the system, so there are also many other attractive destinations near Hoa Nghiem Cave for tourists to visit. Two of the sites are Tam Thai Pagoda and Huyen Khong Cave. While Tam Thai Pagoda is a holy place for worshipping, Huyen Khong Cave is considered as the most charming cave in the Marble Mountains that is worth visiting.
III. How to Get to Hoa Nghiem Cave?
The Marble Mountains is about 7 kilometers to the east of Da Nang city center, so tourists can choose a variety of vehicles to get to these sites, including bikes, motorbike, bus and taxi.
If you go by bike or motorbike, you can follow the roads Vo Nguyen Giap – Truong Sa – Non Nuoc or Le Van Hien – Non Nuoc to get to Thuy Son. It takes you about 15 minutes to go by motorbike and 20 minutes to go by bike to get to Hoa Nghiem Cave.
If you want to go by bus, you can take the bus 01 from Da Nang to Hoi An, departing from Da Nang Central Station and getting off at Ngu Hanh Son bus stop. The frequency of the bus is about 20 minutes.
Besides, you can catch a taxi that is available in every street of Da Nang center to get to Hoa Nghiem Cave. The price to go by taxi is higher than other means of transport, but it is still affordable.
IV. Extra Tips
- The best time to visit Hoa Nghiem Cave is summer, when you can feel the cool air inside the cave. Besides, you should go on a sunny day to fully contemplate the beauty of the interior Hoa Nghiem Cave.
- Since the cave is like a small temple, tourist had to dress politely. Shorts or sleeveless shirts are not encouraged. Tourists should wear comfortable clothes to take mountain-hiking.
- The nearby area of Hoa Nghiem Cave includes many well-known landscapes in Da Nang that tourists should visit at least once. These places are Linh Ung Non Nuoc Pagoda, Tam Thai Pagoda and Huyen Khong Cave.
Hoa Nghiem Cave with its historical values is a worth-visiting place for all tourists coming to Da Nang in general and to the Marble Mountains in particular. If you have a chance to Da Nang, don’t forget to take a visit to Hoa Nghiem Cave and share with us your wonderful moments of your trip.