These days, Vietnam becomes one of the best places to travel thanks to the traditional culture and natural beauties. Owing to the harmonizing combination of mountains and beaches, Danang city is a famous tourist complex to travellers from either Vietnam or all around the world. Known as a natural icon of Da Nang city, Marble Mountains had long been Buddhist worshiping sites with a complex of peaks, limestone caves and temples all just waiting to discover.
Location: 52 Huyen Tran Cong Chua, Hoa Hai Ward, Ngu Hanh Son District, Da Nang 550000
Open time: 07:00 – 17:30 (Mon – Sun)
I. History of Marble Mountains
Following the legend of Cham, long time ago, there was a giant dragon who flew to give her birth in here. After that, the dragon’s egg became bigger and bigger until one day, a fairy flew from the dragon’s egg and their egg’s shell grew into five mystical Marble Mountains as people see today.
In the 19th century, Marble Mountains had been named “Ngu Hanh Son” by Minh Mang (the second King of Nguyen Dynasty) according to the theory of five essential elements of Eastern (water, wood, fire, metal and earth). Vietnamese Government keeps this name until now and it becomes a famous destination in Da Nang.
II. Best Time to Visit Marble Mountains
Located in the middle of Vietnam, there are two seasons in Da Nang: dry season (from December to August) and rain season (from September to November). Therefore, tourists can visit Marble Mountains at any time of the year.
However, the best time to visit Marble Mountains is summer time when people can combine swimming natural beaches in Da Nang or Hoi An as My Khe Beach and An Bang Beach. If tourists are travelling in summer, not only will they experience the mountain clusters at its finest but also discover Vietnam at its most beautiful time of the year.
During this time, people can go hiking since the weather is not too hot.
Because of typhoon season in Vietnam and rain season in Da Nang, the weather can be unpredictable and the stairs of the mountains can become very slipper as well.
III. Where to Visit in Marble Mountains?
1. Thuy Son – Water Mountain
With the height of 106m above the sea level, Thuy Son is the highest and the most beautiful mountain in Marble Mountains which has become the sanctuary place for many Buddhist anchorites.
The mountain of water which is home to pagodas dating back to 17th century and number of caves is one of the most frequent climbs. Therefore, tourists usually choose this mountain for hiking because of spectacular views over the beaches and countryside. An elevator with fee of 15.000 VND is another option for people who do not want to climb up to the top of the mountain.
There are two ways to hike up Thuy Son: one is Westside (go up) and another is Eastside (go down). A panoramic view of the other Marble Mountains along with the coast of My Khe Beach is the reward for reaching the peak of Thuy Son.
Entrance fee: 40,000 VND/person
Elevator fee: 15,000 VND/ person/trip (7:00 – 17:30)
2. Kim Son – Metal Mountain
Kim Son was shaped like a huge bell and next to Co Co River (Stock Neck River). Nature lovers will love spending hours of boating along Co Co River and enjoy peacefulness of Kim Son and Marble Mountains. Quan Am Pagoda is lying on the back of this mountain.
The must-visit destination in Kim Son is Quan Am Cave which was discovered until 1956. Because of small entrance with steep cliffs on its sides, it is difficult to find this cavern. However, the deeper you get into, the larger the cave becomes.
People said that the Cam Lo bottle that Quan Am (Bodhisattva in Vietnam’s culture) holds is similar to the shape of this cave. On special lunar occasions, Vietnamese people usually bring offerings here to pray for health, wealth and happiness.
Through many years, the process of the magical power of water influenced on marble was created a human-size natural marble sculpture of Bodhisattva. It is interesting that a natural clear water pond is located at the centre of the cave, just take a few walk. The source of this pond is from Co Co River, passing various rock layers and giving the water its clearness.
3. Hoa Son – Fire Mountain
Another mountain in the cluster of five Marble Mountains is Hoa Son. People call two mountains heading their own ways which were connected by a natural rock formation the Positive and Negative. The middle of this rock road is Ung Thien pagoda.
In the past, Co Co River ran along the southern side of Hoa Son, on the contract, there is a narrow strip of water remaining connected Ba Cha and Bai Dai rivers.
Hoa Son is not a popular spot about its natural beauty but Linh Son pagoda and Huyen Vi cave inside Hoa Son are famous Buddhist worshiping sites.
4. Moc Son – Wood Mountain
Moc Son is located parallel to Thuy Son in the southeast. Although named “Wood”, the fact is that the number of trees in Moc Son are not as much as expected. The shaped of a special stone in Moc Son looks like a human-shaped, called “Co Mu Stone”.
In the north and south of this mountain, it was extremely excavated so the mountain slopes look like an old wall that was abandoned.
5. Tho Son – Earth Mountain
The last element and also the last mountain in Marble Mountains is Tho Son, also known as “Da Chong Mountain” located in the Northwest. It is not only the lowest but also the longest mountain, similar to a dragon lying on the sand.
Tho Son was a Cham’s great shelter before Cham lost their lands to Dai Viet’s government (Vietnam now) in the Viet-Chiem war. Nowadays, Cham temples with their original structures still exit in this mountain.
This mountain is not a popular destination but tourists can give a quick look to complete their tour to the Marble Mountains.
6. Huyen Khong cave
Huyen Khong Cave is an ancient sanctuary guarded by Buddha gods and one of the largest caves in the Marble Mountains.
The way of natural light moves through the cave is the reason why its beauty is very famous among tourists. The moment when the sunlight is shining on the Buddha statue’s face in the cave, it is a marvellous scene to witness. Its three meters high Buddha God placed in the centre of the caves was made in 1960.
On the left and right of Huyen Khong cave, there are two smaller temples made for worshiping Ngoc Phi and Loi Phi to bring wealth and health for people.
Many years ago, during the two big wars in Vietnam, this cave was used as a secret base for the local revolutionary officers to plan strategies, train soldiers and treat injured soldiers. Huyen Khong Cave has become one of famous historical attractions in Vietnam.
7. Linh Ung Pagoda
In the East of Thuy Son, Linh Ung pagoda was considered part of beautiful landscape of Marble Mountains and Da Nang, has been restored many times.
The highlight of Ling Ung pagoda is the thirty meters height of Xa Loi tower, was built in 1997 and consists of 200 Buddha statues. Tourists can stand at the gate of this pagoda for great ocean views.
8. Tam Thai Pagoda
When tourists came to Thuy Son (Water Mountain), after hiking up 165 steps, people will see the three-gate entrance to reach a Buddhist pagoda called Tam Thai pagoda. The middle gate is for monks, men will go to left gate while women go to the right.
During the late Le Dynasty era in 17th century, it was built and become one of the National Historical – Cultural Sites. Throughout long history, Tam Thai pagoda was destroyed by wars and natural disasters, so most of its structure have been renovated many times. Besides, this pagoda is still keeping the original architecture of Hue’s tombs and pagodas.
Interestingly, King Minh Mang donated the heart shaped card of fire to Tam Thai pagoda and it becomes one of two ancient relics in Marble Mountains.
9. Am Phu Cave
One of the biggest caves in Marble Mountains areas is Am Phu cave which is opposite of Huyen Khong cave in Thuy Son. As its name “Am Phu”, this cave illustrates Buddhist’s hell – the world of passed away people.
According to Buddhist’s literary, if people commit wrong-doings, they will go to hell after they died. Therefore, Am Phu cave was constructed as a dark and scary place to evaluate people’s bravery and mentality.
Entrance fee: 20,000 VND/ person
10. Non Nuoc Village
Set at the foot of Da Nang’s Marble Mountains, Non Nuoc village is known as Non Nuoc fine arts village, the village of local handicraft made from marbles.
This village has more than 200 years of history since the end of 18th century. Nowadays, it becomes a famous attraction besides Marble Mountains with manufactures, artisan workshops and retail outlets selling marble goods at affordable prices.
Tourists are interested in handcrafted jewelleries such as rings, necklaces, etc. Not only local people but also tourists make their ways to this village to purchase Feng Shui items while Buddhist anchorites can find Buddhist products such as Buddha statues.
From lifeless stones, they become special lively arts with human spirits through the craftsmen of Non Nuoc village. Although this process takes place in many work stages including extremely difficult ones, the happiness from their customers with incredible arts and also benefits from this job united the people of this village in their careers.
11. Non Nuoc Beach
From Marble Mountains, it just takes travellers 10 minutes by walk to reach Non Nuoc Beach. The beach has gentle slopes with white sands, purely blue sea water and mild waves all year along.
Regarded as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, the unpolluted water source has attracted a number of tourists to sightseeing and leisure activities such as swimming, beach volleyball and go fishing while enjoy local special seafood dishes at its many beachfront restaurants.
Along the beach, with a forest of age-old casuarinas on the white sand, Non Nuoc Beach an interesting place for resting and camping. People also lay on beach to watch sunrise or sunset and listen to melodious sounds of waves. What a chill moment!
How to Get to Marble Mountains
11km away from the centre of Da Nang, travellers can easily to go to Marble Mountains using different transportations: motorbike, bus or taxi.
By motorbike: Going to Marble Mountains with a motorbike is the most flexible way. For those who decide to go by motorbike, people can park inside the designated parking at gate two.
Hire fee: 100,000 – 150,000 VND/ day
Parking fee: 10,000 VND
By bus: Go to nearest bus station and take Da Nang – Hoi An bus
Ticket: 15,000 VND
By taxi: If travellers are a group of more than 4 people, riding a taxi should be the most convenient and budget-wise option.
Tips on visiting Ngu Hanh Son
- Get early to avoid the terrible traffics and explore these mountains before it gets too crowded.
- For hiking, tourists should wear comfortable clothes but make sure they’re decent if plan to visit temples or pagodas. For example, too short skirts can be considered as impoliteness.
- To have a safe and smooth hiking trip, travellers should prepare water bottles, light meals, etc. Especially, flashlight is an important tool to explore caves under these mountains.
- Thanks to the location near Da Nang and Hoi An, people can combine their a day tour between exploring Marble Mountains and visiting Non Nuoc Beach or Hoi An ancient town.
Marble Mountains (Ngu Hanh Son) still has other destinations to explore such as Tang Chon Cave and Linh Nham cave. If people want to find peaceful places, those attractions should be the spots to put on the list.
Owing to the magical hand of Nature Mother, Marble Mountains has its mystery of the way to create itself as people see and its hidden beauty behind lifeless stones and caves. All of them cannot cover in one article, just be there and experience in your own way.