Pilgrimage festival in the north of Vietnam
In the beginning of the Lunar new year most of the Vietnamese people go on a pilgrimage to pagodas and temples in the north of Vietnam. there are two famous temples; the Perfume pagoda and the Yen Tu pagoda
Perfume pagoda is about 65 km away from Hanoi and is easily accessible by car or motorbike which takes around 2 hours. Upon arrival you will take an hour boat trip on the Yen river that has a very beautiful scenery as the river runs through the middle of the mountains and farms, do not forget your camera...
On arrival you should remember the place where your captain dropped you off, because this is where you must return to to catch the same boat back to the mainland. At the arrival place, you walk up to the Tru pagoda for about 15m, we call this pagoda the Heaven Kitchen, from here it is your choice to go on foot for about 1hour to Huong pagoda or take a cable car which takes about 15m to get up. There is a spectacular view from the top of the mountain and a nice hidden cave pagoda where thousands of Vietnamese people and foreigners visit every year.
If you have more time and want to discover more of this area, you can go for a 2 or 3 days boat ride and climb many different pagodas among the mountainous areas, accommodation is very basic, with share rooms or small rooms for rent.
Sightseeing ticket 50.000 VND per person
Boat ticket 40.000 VND per person
If you do not want to share a boat, you can pay about 400.000 VND for a charter
Eating here is under quite simple conditions but there is a variety of food choices and restaurants, make sure you have a menu with price indicated.
Yen Tu pagoda dated back for the 13th century and about 110km away from Hanoi, it takes about 2:30hrs to get there by car, you should not travel by motorbike due the traffic. The trip, especially for someone who wants to go for a pilgrimage, walking or hiking, should start at Thien Vien Truc Lam for a peaceful travel, learn some history about the Yen Tu pagoda here before you continue your trip by foot oo the Yen Tu mountain, from here you can walk up the hill for about 2 hours or take cable car for about 15 minutes to Hoa Hien pagoda also called the Dragon head, there is a good view from here
Continue your trip to Dong pagoda on the tip of Yen Tu which will take you about 3hours walking or 20 minutes by cable car + a 30 minute walk. Visit the great Buddha status and the Bronze Dong pagoda located on the top of the mountain. You will have a very good view of the surrounding temples. its absolutely a challenge to walk the way of pilgrimage.
Sightseeing tickets are free
Cable car round trips for 2 main pagodas about 280.000 VND per person
There are some local restaurants and snacks here with listed prices