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Miss this and you'll miss the Halong Bay of the Rice Paddy Fields. The best deal about this trip is the the fun boat trip along the scenic waterway which takes about 30min of constant rowing in a creaky boat. You'll see green quilted rice fields along the way, grazing buffaloes and astounding scenary, particularly around sunset.
Note: Perfume Pagoda is about 75 km south-west of Hanoi and it takes a bum-rotting 2.5bus ride to get there as the road sucks big time. But the scenary and boat ride more than makes up for it. Contact ODC travels for a well-organised trip there. It cost roughly $14 per person, including lunch.
About a 2hour or 70ks drive from Hanoi, it gives you a chance to see the countryside, and perhaps, breathe in a little cleaner air, although there is smog still here.
At the town of Ben Duc, you leave your transport and go by iron boat for approx one hour, where you alight and make your way to the temple.
The boat trip is beautiful, so peaceful, the water clean, sitting on the iron bar is extremely hard on the bottom for an hour!!!
On alighting, you walk pass many eateries with all kinds of animals skun and hung up.
Passing through turnstiles, (no bins to put tickets in, and what a mess on the ground) the ladies on our tour took the option of going up and down in the Gondala.
The views were good from it, but for the disgusting trash.
Huong Tich is a large cavern, with lots of Buddhas, Monks and people.
Back down the hill, plenty of pathway stalls for the Buddhists and tourists to buy from.
This was done on a day tour from Hanoi
- Road Trip
- Historical Travel
- Religious Travel
Trekking up Perfume Pagoda
Also known as Huong Pagoda. The trek up to the Pagoda is about 4 km, slippery and hot if you are doing it in May-Jun. Good news is that there is now a cable car operating - abt 30,000 Dong one-way.
I chose to trek up to experience the "old way" of walking to the Pagoda and you get to see beautiful scenary and some temples along the trek. Coming down by cable car to have another aerial view of the area.
- Hiking and Walking
Most places you will stay in Hanoi will pressure you into taking their perfume pagoda tour. It's a reasonably priced day trip that included all transport and lunch. We left early morning and drove for about two hours where we boarded a small row boat and were then rowed for about an hour to the base of the mountain. Then we walked up part of the way for lunch. After lunch we visted the padoda then took a short trek further up the mountain to a few smaller temples and a cave. All in all it was an enjoyeable experience. I didn't enjoy how we were pushed from place to place without having time to enjoy the sites.... but that's group tourism.....
- Historical Travel
It is definitely worth making a trip to visit the Perfume Pagoda if you have a day to spare. Located around 60km south of Hanoi, the two hour bus journey will take you through padi fields and the countryside. You will then transfer to a small, narrow hand-rowed metal boat for a 1-2 hour trip along a tranquil waterway. The boat ride will come as a welcome contrast to the noise and activity in Hanoi.
There are a few Pagodas that you can visit here. We visited the Thien Chu Pagoda and had lunch there before returning back due to the storm warning. Otherwise, you can expect to take a short trek up the limestone cliffs as part of a usual tour package.
We went on this tour with ODC travel and it cost us US$14 per person. We were reasonably happy with the tour guide and the overall itinerary. As we had to cut short our trip due to the bad weather, the guide took us to a silk factory on the way back.
The Perfume Pagoda Pilgrimage
If there is only one thing you can do out of Hanoi, I would say this is it. Sure it involves a trecherous 2 hour bumpy van ride. Sure it involves an one hour hike up on a rocky path. Sure you have to sit in a shadeless sampan for an hour under the hot sun (rowed by possibly the strongest boatwoman I've ever seen). But boy the views are pretty worth it. While the 1-hour sampan boat ride is not quite a romantic cruise along say in Venice (can't remember what's the name of those boats), but this could be half as good. As the miserable boat cruises through the river, amongst the cliffs (? i thnk there were some? HEh) - I'd say it's a journey well worth it.
Chua Huong - Perfume Pagoda
Chua Huong is not one temple but a cluster of temples and shrines located in Huong son (Perfume mountain). Although there is a road from the pier to the base of Perfume mountain, most people choose to use row boats on Yen Vi river, which is by far the more romantic and scenic route to chua Huong.
This sightseeing is about 60 km. from Hanoi.
If you take an organized trip ( which is the most easy way) you will first take a bus for 2½ hour and then a small boat for 1 our to come to the mountain where the Parfume Pagoda is at the top! To get to the Parfume Pagoda you must walk up a steep hill in the burning sun at noon for 45 -60 minuts. When you finally get there you will see a small cave with an alter inside and then you will walk down again!!
Down the hill there is a great and beautiful temple you can enjoy.
After finishing the sightseeing you will go back with the same boat and the same bus so you have to spend most of the day on this trip when going.
As a total experience this is NOT worth your money or your time - especially if you are short on both!
Sure the temple at the bottom of the mountain is great, you will eat good food and meet other nice travelers but that is it and you can do that in Hanoi!!
The boat ride though a little boring was probably the nicest part of the trip. The scenery was beautiful and it was relazing to just sit back in the boat and be taken somewhere slowly!
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