If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path destination in Vietnam, a place where you can explore away from the huge crowds of tourists, climbing the Yen Tu Mountain is highly recommended. The mountain is sacred to the Buddhist religion and was founded by Tran Nhan Tong, the founder of the Truc Lam Zen sect, which bears the normal Buddhist tradition for the Vietnamese people. With its scenic landscape, beautiful architecture, and interesting history and culture, the Yen Tu Mountain is a great place to visit on your Vietnam trip.
About the Yen Tu Mountain
The Yen Tu Mountain was founded about 700 years ago when Trần Nhân Tông, the 3rd emperor of the Tran dynasty, decided to leave his royal palace in order to live an ascetic religious life based on the beliefs and practices of the Truc Lam Zen sect. Climbing to the top, the first thing that you’ll encounter is the Giai Oan Spring, which features a 10-meter long green stone bridge connecting both sides. Legend has it that when King Trần Nhân Tông decided to leave his throne to become a monk in the mountain, his wives and concubines have persuaded him to change his mind by jumping into the spring. Thus, the king built a temple nearby to honor their memory.
As you climb further, you’ll reach a lush green yard, where there’s a pagoda surrounded by different species of beautiful and colorful flowers. There are also six enormous towers around the pagoda and the biggest tower is dedicated to King Tran Nhan Tong. Of all the pagodas in the Yen Tu Mountain complex, it is the Hoa Yen Pagoda that is the biggest. It features a long row of pine trees that were grown during the time when the king first took shelter at Yen Tu.
Climbing further to the top, you’ll find the Van Tieu Pagoda set against the layers of beautiful white clouds. Beside it is the magnificent Đồng Pagoda that’s made entirely of copper and has an impressive height of 1,068 meters. Both pagodas were built thousands of years ago and are both sacred to visit.
When you reach the highest peak of the mountain, you’ll be able to catch a glimpse of the beautiful panorama of the Northeastern part of Vietnam, most especially the famous Halong Bay.
Where is the Yen Tu Mountain Located?
Since the mountain is in the northern part of Vietnam, it is best to fly directly to Hanoi if you’re coming from outside the country. If you require a visa to the country, it is best to apply for your visa in advance from vietnamvisa.cheap.
From Hanoi, you can take a bus going to Halong Bay or rent a private car. Located in the province of Quang Ninh, about 65 km away from Halong Bay, the best way to get to Yen Tu Mountain is to hire a car from Halong or rent a motorbike and drive all the way to the town of Uong Bi. There are also shuttle buses that travel directly to Yen Tu Mountain coming from Hanoi. If you want to take a cruise at the Halong Bay, spending an extra day at Yen Tu Mountain would be a great idea.
Upon arriving at the mountain, you can start walking to the top for about 30 minutes or you can take the cable car system that will allow you to get to the top for as early as 10 minutes. If you’re up for some adventure and if you’re healthy enough to walk, then walking is definitely a great way to start your tour of the mountain. Taking the cable car is also a fun experience where you get to see the entire landscape of the mountain, as well as the pagodas, temples, and towers, in the midst of the lush green forests.
More Tips to Visiting the Yen Tu Mountain
The best time to visit the Yen Tu Mountain is during the months of May, September, October, and November. If you want to avoid the crowd, avoid visiting during the Tet New Year, or around the month of February. As a sacred sight to the Vietnamese, most locals would head to the mountain during the Lunar New Year to pay their respects and to take advantage of the holiday. Thus, the mountain gets very crowded.
If you want a more convenient way of visiting the Yen Tu Mountain, it is best to book a tour from a local operator in Hanoi that includes a visit to both the Halong Bay and the Yen Tu Mountain. This is much better than having to take public transportation. If you decide to take the public bus from Halong going to the town of Uong Bi, you can hire a taxi from the town that can take you to the mountain or rent a motorbike and drive yourself.