Chùa Hương (Perfume Pagoda) is a vast complex of Buddhist temples and shrines built into the limestone Hương Tích mountains. It is the site of a religious festival which draws large numbers of pilgrims from across Vietnam. The centre of Chùa Hương lies in Hương Sơn Commune, Mỹ Đức District, former Hà Tây Province (now Hanoi). The centre of this complex is the Perfume Temple, also known as Chùa Trong (Inner Temple), located in Hương Tích Cave.
The Vietnamese believe that Hương Sơn is Buddha’s Heaven. Hương Sơn complex is considered the place to worship Quan Thế Âm Bồ Tát (Brodhisattva Kwan Yin).
1/How to Visit Perfume Pagoda?
*Hanoi – Perfume Pagoda
There are many ways to travel to Perfume Pagoda, such as cars, buses or motorbikes, because the distance is not long, so most people choose to go by motorbikes, while students usually travel by bus. Actually, cars will be the most suitable vehicles if traveling in the daytime because of cold weather in the early morning and late afternoon in the new year days. The traveling time from Hanoi center to Perfume Pagoda is approximately 1h30’.
*Reach the Perfume Pagoda
- Rowing along the Yến Stream
Rowed by young women, boats carry visitors along the Yến Stream through a stunning landscape of blazing green rice paddles studded with jagged limestone mounts to the base of Perfume Mountain.
- Proceeding to the pagoda
From the riverbank, pilgrims proceed on foot, past various ancient pagodas, monasteries and shrines, up hundreds of stone steps and a switchback trail, all worn smooth by the passage of countless feet. Taking a cabin car is an additional way to reach the pagoda.
2/ Where to Visit Along Your Journey to Perfume Pagoda:
A pilgrimage to the Perfume Pagoda overview is not only for religious reasons, but also to see the numerous natural landscapes and valuable artifacts of the nation.
2.1. Trình Temple
Trình Temple is also known as Ngũ Nhạc Linh Tử, is a small temple on the right of the Yến Stream. This place is dedicated to the soldiers of the mountains, guarding the Pagoda. Visitors must go to the temple to present before entering the complex and this is a little procedure that everyone should do when visiting Perfume Pagoda.
2.2. Hương Tích Cave
The cave is considered to be the center of the Perfume Pagoda complex, and is the destination of all visitors when coming here. If you come to Perfume Pagoda without setting foot on Hương Tích Cave, you have not been to Perfume Pagoda.
2.3. Vân Song (Double Cloud) Temple or Cửa Vọng (Echoing Gate) Temple
This shrine is formerly a small shrine built by the villagers Yến Vỹ from ancient times to worship their Forest Goddess. The temple is on a high mountain, at the base of a mountain is a deep valley, while overlooking the valley is a mountain hamlet.
2.4. Giải Oan (Exculpate) Pagoda
There is a clear fresh water well calls Long Tuyền (Black Dragon) in the Pagoda. If the people with unexplainable matters in their hearts which can not be shared with anyone can come here and tell the stories, they will reach serenity.
2.5. Thiên Trù Pagoda
This pagoda is built from the reign of King Lê Thánh Tông (1460 – 1497), located on Lão Mountain.
3/Lễ hội chùa Hương (Perfume Pagoda Festival)
The main pilgrimage season at Perfume Pagoda is during the Perfume Pagoda festival, when hundreds of thousands of pilgrims make their way to Hương Tích cave and other temples. Known as the longest lasting festival in Vietnam, the Perfume Pagoda Festival lasts from the 6th day of the first month to the end of the third month of the lunar calendar. The Festival is seen by some as a good opportunity for young people to find romance and begin courtships.
People conduct a dragon dance in the yard of Trình Temple, and sail the royal barge on the 6th day of the 1st month. The festival is held in three places, Hương Tích Pagoda, Tuyết Sơn, and Long Vân. The festival is most crowded from the 15th – 20th day of the 2nd month of the lunar calendar as this period marks the main festival. The path leading from Outer Pagoda to Inner Pagoda is full of visitors coming up and down the mountain.
- You should wear appropriate clothes, could be casual but don’t wear anything too short or too revealing.
- You can bring some offerings for the Pagoda such as fruit, biscuits,… In the case that you didn’t prepare anything, you can also buy offerings at the local shops but the price will only get higher once you enter closer to the Pagoda.
- Remember to ask for the price and to bargain before buying anything. If you are not careful, you will end up buying something with the price much higher than the value of the thing itself.
- There is a hotline to call if anything should happen: 0912558905
The Perfume Pagoda Festival is one of many traditional and well-known festivals throughout the country. This is a perfect opportunity for Vietnamese people to show respect to the Highers we worship and also to pray for good blessings for the New Year.
If you have any questions about this article or are in need for assistance about travelling in Vietnam or just anything at all, please do not hesitate to contact us, and we are sure to be thrilled to help.