Perfume Pagoda - Chùa Hương -

About 70 km southwest of Hanoi, the so called Perfume Pagoda, is nestled among and in the small and jagged limestone hills called karsts. You can access the pagoda by boat via the Duc landing pier. These flat bottomed boats bring you across and along the Yen River on your way to the pagoda. The hills which you bypass on your journey have names as Rice granary (Mount Dun), Unicorn (Mount Lan), Elephant Head (Mount Voi) and even one which is called Phoenix.

Most visitors start their trek at the Celestial Path Pagoda and stroll along a cliff like path to the central Perfume Pagoda.Along the trail are multiple small shops and stalls and a little bit annoying sellers, but when you reach the top you are - dpending on weather - greated and welcomed by a stunning view.

Now as Tet (Vietnamese New Year) and it's festivities is some time to go it is quite lonely and serene. At Tet Festival this changes alltogether. It will be a commotion of boats shuttling thousands of pilgrims hence and forth from the landing pier to the pagoda and back.

To really enjoy the athmosphere without this hectic tohou wabohou I recommend for 2012 not to go in the end of January (Tet Festival) and not in the two following month. April should be a save bet to have a little more quite and nice feeling at this place.

There are different tours to go there starting at 25 US $ per person and there are some local buses where you can go on your own for about 20.000 to 25.000 Dong. The boat ride will set you back at the moment of posting at about 35.000 Dong but if you are alone you have to bear the cost of the whole boat at about 210.000 up to 270.000 Dong depending of the boat size.

Here just a few images I took from my visit which has been on a slightly foggy day.

More images about Vietnam can be found at my picasa Webalbum at: Kiribane