Climbing up Marble Mountains | Vietnam

When your trip through Vietnam leads you to Da Nang or Hoi An, then you can’t get around a visit to the amazing sight of Marble Mountains.

Marble Mountains are a group of five marble and limestone hills located about 10 km south of Da Nang and known for its holy Buddhist temples, pagodas and natural beautiful caves.

The five mountains are named after the five elements: Kim (metal), Thuy (water), Moc (wood), Hoa (fire) and Tho (earth). All of the mountains have cave entrances and numerous tunnels, but the only Marble Mountain accessible to visitors is Thuy Son (Water Mountain). There are lots of small “trails” to explore, caves to climb through, plenty of pagodas and statues to admire.

The entrance fee is 40,000 VND and you can then access a stairway of 156 steps leading to the summit of Thuy Son (Water Mountain). If you travel with smaller kids you can take the elevator (for another 40,000 VND) which brings you to the Gate one where the Xa Loi Tower is located.

Whenever you can, take rather the stairs. The view is fantastic and some of caves  are only accessible from the stairway path. We recommended to wear at least some good sneakers because the stairs are very uneven, steep and slippery. With flip flops, sandals or high heels you will have a hard time to climb up all the stairs.

After you make it to the top of the mountain from Gate one, there are three main avenues you can explore. All lead to different caves, view point or pagodas. You can find a “relaxation” area, which is a collection of small stands, vendors and the restrooms just before the Tam Thai Pagoda. This 400-year-old pagoda was built in the 17th century and has been destroyed, rebuilt, and renovated many times.

Behind the relaxation area, is a narrow footpath leading up to the summit of Mt. Thuy. From here you have a beautiful view to the north and over the seaside.

Buddha & Pagodas on top of the mountain

There are several incredible caves naturally built in the mountain. The Hoa Nghiem & Huyen Khong Caves which are linked together, are probably the most famous ones. When you pass through the entrance gate, you step directly into the Hoa Nghiem Cave. The huge standing Bodhisattva, carved out the caves wall, is very imposing. Go your way through the passageway and you will enter the larger cave Huyen Khong. Lighten up by five openings in the ceiling, this cave contains a sitting Buddha statue built out of the wall, a temple construction and several altars. It’s all very impressive and unexpected. And the light which shines through the large openings in the ceiling and falls on the different altars and statues gives the place a mystic mood.

The area is still known for stone sculpture making and stone-cutting crafts and you can visit the ateliers in the village.

The sacred stone hills even supplied the building material for Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum in Hanoi. Today, the direct extraction from the mountains was banned recently and the marble is now imported from China.

Tip: Marble Mountains is an incredible place to visit with your family but also a very popular one. Unfortunately, we didn’t know about the overload of tourists and arrived at 11 am and the place was already packed with people . Some of the caves were so crowded that it was difficult to enter.

We recommend to come in the morning at around 8 am. I promise you want regret to get up early!

Opening hours: Marble Mountains is open year-round from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Time to spend: About 2 – 3 hours

Entry price: 40,000 VND + another 40,000 VND for the elevator (recommended when you visit with small kids)

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