Perfume Pagoda, Vietnam - My the Road less Travelled Trip

Perfume Pagoda, a religious sacred place where locals flocked to pray on the Vietnamese Tet.  (New Year). It is on North Vietnam's Marble Mountain. There are about 15 pagodas or Buddhist Shrines that are built into the karst cliff of Huong Tich Mountain which is also known as the Mountain of the Fragrant Traces. (Source Lonely Planet)

The lotus flowers along the bank of the river gives a refreshing view. 

The tour guide told us in Spring there are more lotus flowers floating on the river like a sea of pinkish red.

Perfume Pagoda is 60 Km southwest of Hanoi. The trip started with an hour boat ride. Oh, yes, the boat is made of metal, so it can be quite hot when we sit on it especially in the summer. The scenery along the 1 hour boat ride is captivating.

 We can see shadows of misty mountains ahead. 

When we book this tour, we were told there is cable car ride up. But, oh dear, when I was there in June 2014, we were told that the cable is under repair! So it's human energy and leg strength then.

Tour guide pointing to the top, there, that's where we are going!

It was a tiring 2 hour hike up. Initially there are about 15 people in my group. But only 10 of us manage to reach the top. Two old Vietnamese ladies from Ho Chi Ming City are the first two to say they can't go. This hike can be rough with some uneven paths. Not all paths have steps and for some areas it can be very steep.

This is half way up only. There are some stalls along the way, but the prices are high. So, be sure to bring your own water and some biscuits. A good pair of walking shoes are highly recommended. 

This dog is contemplating on whether to continue the route??  Looks like its still a long way.... up and down and up and down.

Finally, we reached the  entrance, a very original blend of wall of rocks intertwine with vines and trees. There is the inscription "Supreme cave under the Southern sky" on the rocks. 

We have to take a flight of 120 steps down into the dragon mouth - like entrance. The shrine is right in the middle of the entrance of this lime stone grotto.

Imposing unique formation of the shrine.

Our tour guide told us the locals believe that drinking the holy water that drips onto this limestone will enable childless couple have children. So, anyone wishing to conceive can try?

There are other temples along the way. My tour guide said he prefers to take us to the top one first, then only we stop by the others on the way down.

Perfume Pagoda tour is not for anybody as some may like the hiking, exploring rustic, old traditional temples while others may find it boring. On the day I went, I saw only a few groups there. My group is multinational, comprises of people from Sweden, Austria, Germany, Vietnamese and a young couple from Russia. I admired one of my tourmate from Sweden who is walking with a limp (depending more on just one leg to walk). But he never gave up and made it all the way to the top. Such perseverance!  May Buddha Protect and Bless him!

"The gladdest moment in human life, me thinks, is a departure into the unknown lands." - Sir Richard Burton

"Two roads diverged in the wood and I - I took the less traveled by." - Robert Frost

My other related Vietnam Tours blogpost:
1. Halong Bay & Hanoi: Halong Bay & Hanoi
2. Tam Coc : Tam Coc

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