Marble Mountains Guide: Everything You Need To Know
Located just 12 km away from Da Nang, the Marble Mountains became a popular tourist attraction in the area. The place has a rich history, many cultural values, and a lot of things to see. Here’s everything you need to know about the location for the best traveling experience.
Quick Overview of Marble Mountains
The Marble Mountains are a cluster of 5 marble and limestone hills that are situated near the city of Da Nang. Although they are not as big as Fansipan, they are prominent for many peaks, sights, tunnels, and even temples. Nowadays, it is a combination of ancient sculptures and modern technology.
History of Marble Mountains
First of all, let us talk about the naming of all the five mountains in this area. They are named after the five elements of nature in accordance with the Eastern philosophy:
- Kim (metal)
- Thuy (water)
- Moc (wood)
- Hoa (fire)
- Tho (earth)
The name of the cluster in Vietnamese is Ngu Hanh Son, which can be translated as “The Five Element Mountains.” This name was given to the location by King Minh Mang in 1825. It became a religious place, and many Mahayana Buddhists, along with Vietnamese aristocracy, were urged to visit the place. Over the years, they have constructed the temples that can be seen now.
However, sometime later, a group of French geologists examined the mountains and found out that they were composed of marble. They renamed the location “The Marble Mountains,” and this name became more popular than the local one.
The mountains were also used during warfare. For example, when the French Colonial War broke out, the local revolutionists built a secret command post here and planned guerilla assaults. After the American invasion, the multiple caves were used as a garrison. Later on, the location was used for training marines and became a tourist attraction.
The cluster is located in the center of Non-Nuoc village, which is also called the “Marble Village.” You will pass through this place before reaching the sights. For more than 400 years, people here have been working with marble. They made various sculptures and jewelry from local resources. In recent years, marble is being preserved and the artisans have to use stones from other locations to keep on working. If you want to get a high-quality souvenir from your trip, this is the best place to find one.
Pay attention to the coloring of the stones. Marble from each of the mountains has a slightly different tone. For instance, pink for Thuy and red for Hoa. The coloring resembles the elements and is one of the reasons the mountains were named.
One of your first destinations after the village will be the Earth mountain. In one part of it, you will find Cham temples like My Son. They are not preserved and are a bit tacky, but they are worth visiting if you are a fan of old historical sights. The next location is even more promising!
The Water mountain was the favored place of local Buddhist anchorites. It is thought to be a sacred place, and that is one of the reasons so many religious buildings have been built here. If you are short on time and need to choose only one place to visit, Mt. Thuy is your choice.
The main reason this mountain is one of the most popular tourist destinations is the multiple pagodas and shrines around here. An example is the Tam Thai Pagoda with a 400-year history. This is a must-see place and it will be discussed a bit later.
There are also some caves that enhance the atmosphere of this location. Have you ever seen the true beauty of light? No matter what your answer might be, you definitely must visit the Huyen Khong Cave. The sunlight shines over the Buddha statue and the Trang Nghiem Tu Temple, which was built in 1825, just when the king gave the mountains their name.
Another place that must be visited is the Hell Cave, also known as Am Phu Cave. It is the complete opposite of the heavenly Huyen Khong. The cave is dark, humid, and sometimes it’s even a bit scary. At the entrance, Sir good and Sir bad will be guarding the gate. Further on, you will see sculptures representing Karma and the torturing of bad people. I guess this is the only time when you can say “Go to Hell!” without any bad intentions.
It is possible to see Mt. Kim from Mt. Thuy by using a telescope. Pay attention to the way the mountain looks from there. Does it remind you of anything?
The Am Phu Cave is the reason this mountain is visited. Inside it, there is a full-size statue of Bodhisattva. There also is a pond with crystal-clear water that comes from the Co Co River. The water passes through many rocks that work as a filter.
At Mt. Moc or the Plant Mountain, you will not find a lot of plants. There is no mistake in the name, though. Many years ago, this was a beautiful place, but now all that is left is the abandoned wall. There isn’t much to do here, so visit it if you feel like there is nothing else left to do in the area.
The Fire Mountain combines two other mountains: Positive and Negative Fire. These two are connected by a rock road, so getting to each of the mountains will be easy.
Here you can visit Linh Son Pagoda and Pho Da Son Pagoda. There also are caves near these pagodas that you can visit if you want. Between the two mountains is the Ung Nhien Pagoda, which is a bit different from the others.
How to Get to the Marble Mountains
Getting to the Marble Mountains from Da Nang is not difficult. There are several ways this can be done.
The easiest and fastest way to reach Ngu Hanh Son is by taking a taxi. It is quite cheap and will cost up to 9 USD.
However, do not take the first cab you see. There are many scams that charge significantly higher fees.
It is recommended to use the following companies:
- Malinh Group
These are the most reputable companies in the area that do not rip off their clients.
Don’t forget to check the hotels around![tp_hotelmap_widget coordinates=”15.99262, 108.26815″ width=500 height=250 zoom=12 subid=””]
There are several options depending on your starting location:
- The № 1 yellow bus for around 0.40 USD. It goes on the Ngu Hanh Son Street almost every 15 minutes. The trip takes around 20 minutes. After you arrive at the 618 Le Van Hien stop, you will have to go a bit more than 1 km on foot forward and to the left.
- The bus from Cong Vien Hung Vuong to 618 Le Van Hien. It costs around 0.60 USD per ticket. Buses go every 15 minutes. The trip takes around 40 minutes. Once you arrive at the stop you need, you will have to reach the mountains on foot.
The official public transport website will help you find the best route.
By Motorbike or Your Own Transport
If you have got your own transport like a car or motorbike, getting to the Marble Mountains will be even easier. All you have to do is use Google Maps or any other alternative to get the best route to your destination. It only takes 10 minutes to reach the sight.
You can also rent a car to drive around the city on your own. Although it costs more than 150 USD per day, it is much more comfortable than using public transport or getting a cab every time you need to go somewhere. There are many companies that provide this kind of service.
Traveling with your own transport requires some additional knowledge about the possibility of parking your vehicle near the sight. At gate № 2, there is a parking lot that charges 0.40 USD per hour.
Some tourists state that shopkeepers often offer people to leave their motorbikes “for free” near their stores. However, once you arrive to take your vehicle, you might be asked to pay for the “parking.” In addition, this is not safe because nobody guarantees that it won’t be taken by someone else. Better take a parking lot and avoid trouble.
Organized Tours to Marble Mountain
If you travel with a family or a group of friends, booking an organized tour can help you travel to the sights together without getting lost on public transport. After you book a tour, you will be informed about the place and time where you should meet the driver. There are two types of tours:
- You are only transported to the location.
- You are transported, and there is a guide with you.
Both options are available from Da Nang. A full tour will cost around 10 USD per person.
What You Can See in Marble Mountains
A bit earlier, some of the things that can be seen in the Marble Mountains were described. The location is prominent for its multiple caves, temples, and pagodas. These are places with a rich history and immense cultural value.
Beware of scammers in the area! They charge higher fares than official services.
The Cave Temples are a unique feature of the mountains, especially when talking about Mt. Thuy or the Water Mountain. Here is a list of the three most prominent Cave Temples.
The Tang Chon Cave might seem to be nothing special when you see its entrance. The small opening makes you think that it is going to be tight and dark inside. However, once you enter it, you will be stunned by the spaciousness and amount of natural light.
The cave has an enormous Buddha statue and a small temple near it. Visitors can watch the eternal chess battle between two marble figures at the entrance of the temple. The sunlight from the ceiling gives this place a mysterious atmosphere of calmness that adds up to all the statues and buildings inside.
As you approach the entrance of Hoa Nghiem, you feel the ancient spirit around the place. The ancient gate before the cave is the first thing you will see. The stones have a green color and are almost completely covered by plants of all kinds.
Inside, there is a 400-year-old statue of Lady Buddha, which is not always the first thing to be noticed. It blends in with the cave’s coloring and adds a feeling of the presence of something great.
The Huyen Khong cave is located right behind the Lady Buddha statue from Hoa Nghiem. This is the biggest and most astonishing cave of all around here. It gets a bit darker, and the atmosphere gives off an inspirational feeling.
There is a marble statue that looks like it is built in the cave’s wall. To the left side of it, on the floor, a small temple can be seen. The natural light doesn’t really reach this place, so there are many candles that compensate for it.
Don’t forget to look at the walls of the cave and admire the beauty of the marble walls. Just think of the time it took to form such a view!
The Mountaintop Pagodas
If you think that the Cave Temples were impressive, wait until you get to the pagodas. Their beauty will force you to take some photos. The pagodas are even noticeable from the streets, and this adds to their coolness. Here is a list of the three most prominent ones.
The Xa Loi tower opens up a superb view of the city. It looks cool from far away, but it looks even better when you approach it. If you get to it on foot, consider this as a personal achievement.
The Linh Ung pagoda has a lot of views to offer. There are many temples with astonishing architecture. You can see the ocean from there and make some atmospheric pictures. The most prominent detail in this location is the Lady Buddha statue, which is simply gigantic. There is a small alley with 18 sculptures of gods, each representing a human emotion. The beautiful flowers and trees make this place look even better.
To sum up
The Marble Mountains have many things to offer: magnificent Cave Temples, Pagodas, sculptures, and nature. The places here will make you use your camera more than once. Do not forget to buy some souvenirs!