All you need to know on how to visit the Vietnam Marble Mountain in Da Nang
The Vietnam Marble Mountains in Da Nang is an incredible historical and religious site to visit, is a great option for a day trip from Hoi An.
The Marble Mountains in Danang are a group of such a unique five limestone and marble hills in Ngu Hanh Son District. The mountains’ sheer, porous limestone is punctuated by caves and tunnels, which are fitted with spectacular Buddhist and Hindu shrines.
It dominates the plain-like landscape along the coast road between Hoi An and Danang. If you happen to land in Danang airport, you can’t help but notice them looming in the distance and jutting up dramatically.
Their intrigue continues as you get closer and see the scores of magnificent marble carvings of lions, Buddha, Jesus, elephants…you name it, and they can carve pretty much anything from marble.
I decided to take a full day trip during my 2-week itinerary in Vietnam one of the highlights was to explore the Marble Mountains and I am glad I did it as I really enjoyed the natural beauty of this place, but also could learn more about the intriguing history and importance of this religious site in Vietnam.
Safe travels and enjoy the Marble Mountains!
BONUS RESOURCES: In this guide you can find all the best tips and practical information you need to travel to Vietnam Marble Mountain. At the end you can find a bonus section for all the RESOURCES you need to plan and book your trip to Marble Mountain Da Nang, and to make your experience as easy, safe and fun as possible.
Marble Mountain Vietnam: Orientation and Map
The Marble Mountains are in the center of Non Nuoc Jewel village, just 8 kilometres South of Da Nang city center. You cross Han River Bridge, follow Ngo Quyen street, Le Van Street and finally turn onto Huyen Tran Cong Chua street.
The Marble Mountains are located only 5.4 miles (8 minutes by car) from the Danang Airport (DAD).
A perfect itinerary is to visit the Marble Mountain as a day trip from Hoi An. Danang is located only 45 km (28 miles) from Hoi An, and it takes approximately 1 hour by motorbike or a little quicker by car ride from Hoi An.
How to explore Marble Mountains in Danang, Vietnam
When visiting the Marble Mountains, you will probably come to the big mountain Thuy Son, next to the parking lot. Then you will make your way around visiting the main sites:
Thuy Son (Water Mountain) – If you are short in time, this is the only place you want to visit in Marble Mountains, it is a sanctuary that attracts many Buddhists.
Summit of Mt Thuy – Behind the relaxation area, slightly off to the right, is a narrow footpath that leads up to the summit. This is the view you must-see.
Tam Thai Pagoda – A 400-year old pagoda build in the 17th centuries. Close by the central avenue that takes you to the relaxation area, which is a collection of small stands, vendors and the restrooms.
Huyen Khong Cave – This is a must-see cave, massive and awe-inspiring with a small temple and a giant marble Buddha
Linh Nham Cave – Is a place to workship three Gods: Nogc Hoang, Nam Cao and Bac Dau. There is a folk tale that every December 23rd of the lunar calendar, these Gods visit the humans and help them with their magical capabilities.
Van Thong Cave (Heaven Cave) – back along the right avenue from the relaxation area
Hell Cave – Just opposite side from Heaven Cave. It is dark, humid and even fear-inducing this cave represents what hell to look like.
Mt. Metal – This cavern was only found in 1956 as it is particularly hard to find, with the gateway facing Southeast, it is hiddin away from the cliffs. The most impressive is a natural marble structure of the Bodhisattva in human size and a stalactite that drops to 0.3 meters above the floor.
Mt. Plant – It was said to be in the past a beautiful mountain with majestic cliffs, but after the exploitation, today this mountain has long been abandoned.
Mt Fire – There are two ancient pagodas Linh Son and Phy Da Son Pagodas.
Each of the mountains have a variety of sights to see and experiences. It was great as many of the caves and pagodas where not overcrowded with tourists and I could enjoy the amazing history, understand the importance of religious of this place and to dive on serenity of this magic experience.
The best option to avoid the crowd is to arrive earlier, around 8:00 AM.
Get to know more about Marble Mountains Vietnam
The cluster of limestone outcrops that make up the Marble Mountains were initially sacred sites workshiped by the Cham peoples of Central and Southern Vietnam.
However, the mountains are not massive in comparison to some of Vietnam’s northern ranges. But they are impressive in relation to the flat central floodplains of the surrounding countryside. So it is easy to see why they cast an attractive spell on the Cham.
They also contain a myriad of cave networks and tunnels that the Cham recognized as holy places.
In 1825, centuries after the decline of the Cham Empire, the Vietnamese King Minh Mang, named the mountains “Ngu Hanh Son”—The Five Element Mountains.
Each mountain is named after one of the five essential elements in Eastern Philosophical thought: Kim (metal), Tho (earth), Moc (wood), Hoa (fire), and Thuy (water).
Together, the mountains were a spiritual destination for both the Vietnamese aristocracy and Mahayana Buddhists. So over the years, Buddhist followers constructed the sanctuaries that you see today.
However, during the French colonial period, French geologists realized the mountains were comprised of marble and re-named them the “Marble Mountains.” The French name stuck, and the rest, as they say, is history.
In the centuries since the Champa Empire, Buddhist followers have built shrines and temples at the summits of the mountains and in the caves below them. Therefore the Marble Mountains and their shrines within, continue to lure visitors to this day to enjoy their expansive views, wander their intricate caves and be swept up in their history.
Visit the carving shops in Da Nang
After spending 4 hours exploring the Marble Mountains, I visited the marble carving stores at the foot of Non Nuoc, a crowed shopping area made up of dozens of stone carving shops and lots of artistic sculptures that are carved by hard-working local craftsmen.
The marble you will see here comes from different parts of Vietnam, and if you decide to buy something, keep in mind that it won’t be a souvenir from Mt. Thuy.
The red, white, and green marble used by local carvers for tombstones, statues, and touristy knick-knacks sold in Da Nang and the surrounding beaches came from the large rock deposits in the mountains themselves.
Sadly the limitless consumption of stone from their reserves would reduce the towering hills to rubble. So, in order to maintain the mountains as a destination worth visiting, quarrying has recently stopped, ensuring the mountains’ longevity.
You can also watch the artisans work, sculpting and sawing huge slabs or marble.
Check out these places and find out how much a 20 foot lady Buddha statue costs. You can negotiate pricing and shipping cost for them to arrange to deliver to your house. BTW, I didn’t buy anything and I am curious to know if anyone decide to buy something to have it delivered in your home country.
TRIP PLANNING RESOURCES
PRACTICAL INFORMATION ABOUT VISITING MARBLE MOUNTAIN
Consider some fitness level: There are a lot of stairs involved and some steps are high and uneven and not too easy if you have short legs, but the view from the top is outstanding. Many areas are accessible through narrow steps in the rock and on a rainy day the steps can be slippery. You have the option to pay to take the elevator up also.
Entry Fee: There are two entrances to Marble Mountains. Gate one and Gate two. Both entrances cost 40,000 VND (1.70 USD) per person to enter. Although the second, further entrance has an easier climb and is less-frequented. The elevator costs an additional 15,000 VND (.65c USD) per person, each way. The 156 step climb at the main entrance is not particularly difficult and offers some interesting views of shrines and stone-carved friezes on your way up.
Tour Time: You can explore the site by yourself, or you can go on a tour. If you decide to go on a tour, there are a variety of options you can do. It takes roughly 1-1/2 hour to view the sights at Mt. Thuy. I did it myself, and it took approx. 4 hours and I visited the 5 mountains and spend time taking pictures.
What to expect: There is a lot to see in Marble Mountains, such as religious temples, pagodas, caves, amazing stone carvings, and local marble carving shops
WHEN TO VISIT MARBLE MOUNTAIN IN VIETNAM
Marble Mountains is open year-round from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
The best months to visit are during the summer season, even though the heat can be stifling. During the rainy season (September to November), heavy rains can come up suddenly and their torrents will slick the marble stairs. I have been during a raining day and it was very slippery and dangerous.
Best time to visit is in the morning, before 8:30 AM as the tour buses start to arrive around 9:15 AM.
Check here for weather condition on this region of Vietnam.
VIETNAM GUIDE BOOK
Prepare in advance for your trip to Vietnam. Here are some of the excellent guide books that can help you to prepare for your trip to Vietnam:
WHERE TO STAY IN DANANG
If you are planning to stay around Marble Mountain area, I have selected the best hotel options for all budgets:
BEST ACCOMMODATION OPTIONS IN DA NANG:
- Great Value: Phuc Than DaNang Beach Hotel
- Boutique Hotel: Tashi Boutique Apartmen
- Best rated on Booking.com: Aloe Garden Homestay
TRAVEL INSURANCE FOR VIETNAM TRAVEL
Considering that anything can go wrong with any trip, we don’t want to risk the fun, right? Risks are of breaking down, loosing your luggage, or even worse, having an accident and get injured.
I recommend and also use reliable insurance through World Nomads. You can just do a quick quote below, and you will be surprised to find out how little it can cost, for the benefit you will get.
RENTAL CAR IN VIETNAM
If you are planning to rent a car for your road trip in Vietnam, I recommend to request a quote from a reliable source and compare the prices from different car rentals available.
BEST TOUR OPTIONS TO MARBLE MOUNTAIN ARE
If you are looking for a convenient and easy way to visit the amazing Vietnam Marble Mountain, I have picked some tours options that you may love:
Private Customized Tour Da Nang full-day: Take advantage of this 8-hour private tour in Danang with your own English-speaker guide.
Danang from Hoi An: A very convenient tour, leaving from your hotel and visit the Marble Mountain and Sculpure Village with a local guide.
Hoi An to Danang & My Son by Jeep: This is a very cool option, you get to visit the two locations in one day, and even better, by jeep where you can see the stunning coast and forest.
WHAT TO WEAR FOR A DAY TRIP TO VIETNAM MARBLE MOUNTAIN
Comfortable clothes: gym attire can be a good choice! A rain jacket is also a great idea if it is on a rainy day.
Sturdy shoes: I recommend to wear sturdy shoes if you are planning to visit all the sites and climb up to the top. Also, I visited it during a rainy day and turns very slepery, so wear a sturdy and water proof shoes to be safe.