Perfume Pagoda
Perfume Pagoda
3.5
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Duration: More than 3 hours
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Laughingbear
Wigan, UK788 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2020
Ater the Cornoa virus menat closure of many attractions in Vietnam, somehow this stayed open and are we glad it did.
After a car trip approx 1.5 hrs from HanOI, We arrived at what seemed to be the head of a river within a small village.
Our guide took us to the boats were we boarded a typical s/e asian rowing boat. The rower was a middleaged lady and she rowed for about 45 mins up the river. The views, wildlife and ambiance of the place was fascinating. We saw exotic birds, butterfiles, dragonflies. Mystifying mountained in the background gave a unique bckdrop to this experience. On arrival at the pergodas, there is a bit of a walk which may be dificult for those who have mobility issues, even wheelchair users could have issues as the paths are mainly uneven broken slabs. However, once you see the temples, you will immediately see why this trip has to be done. The place is really spiritual and special. The pergodas are indeed impressive from outside (i didn't go into them as i wore shorts that day and there is a dress code in keeping with such places). My wife went into the pergodas and she was impressed with them. After this, we continued our walk UP the hill and steps towards the cable car. We went on the cable car for a 20 minute journey through the jungle type enviroment towards the top of the mountian. Once there we disembarked and had a short, easier walk, towards a huge cave. The cave too was spectacular in many ways. Within the cave there's a temple with many statues although again, there are quite a few steps to negotiate. We retraced our steps back to the river where our boat was waiting. On the way up (or down) there are many tourist stalls (maybe too many) with opporunities to buy reminders of your visit. The boats are very basic and seating can be a lillte uncomforatbalbe however, you are only on them for a short time so bear with it. The rowing ladies are magnificent in theri ability to row such distances with passengers and at a constant pace. Highly recommend this trip BUT only for those prepared for a bit of discomfort on the boat (single metal board seats) and walking over uneven paths up the hillside.
Written March 15, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

michael h
338 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2020 • Family
We went to the Pafume Pagoda during the Vietnamese lunar new year .we went there by a private car rental from hotel we stayed it took almost 2 hours to get there. When we arrived Yen spring we rent a private boat from local people there which is very convenient and comfortable for us as they did arranged everything for us included entrance tickets.., it took about 1 hour to get to the mountain and the Pagoda on boat. We took a cable car one way only and the return we went down on foot. The view from Cable car was very beautiful indeed and we love so much sitting on boat and enjoy the nice weather and beautiful spring . We also had Pho for our lunch there too which is very reasonable price and delicious. We will definitely going back to the Oagoda and will recommend our friends too.
Written February 20, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Simone
2 contributions
2.0 of 5 bubbles
Dec 2022 • Family
You go there by rowing boat, very tranquil and serene. Beautiful view of mountains. Motor boats are not allowed, although we saw a few. A lot of steps to go up, some steep. Best is to go up and down by cable car as along the route all deserted stalls, and the stalls block all the nice views of mountains. Very commercial, 2 km up, only stalls, although very desolate, as most stalls are empty. Caves and temples are beautiful and definitely worth the trip. In jan-mrt 1 million mostly Vietnamese people are expected to visit to pray. Then apparently bustling with people..now it was nice and quiet.
Written December 23, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

J C
Dilbeek, Belgium212 contributions
2.0 of 5 bubbles
Nov 2022
Most of all,, the place is full of animals (birds, turtles, fish) kept in terrible consitions in captiivity, so that Buddhists may get "merit"by liberating them. Very depressing sight.

The trip is not impressive. For me the best part was the boat trip and then the cable car ride. There is a cave temple in the end,but not worth the journey in my view. We decided to go down on foot to see 2 other small temples, which were not interesting, and quite decrepit. The best temple (though nothing special) was at the bottom.
I deduct points for overall shabbiness and ugliness of shops and restaurants this place is full of. The walk down was not pleasant as any views were obscured by commercial shacks made of rugs and corrugated iron, built along the path from the mountain top to bottom.
Written November 20, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Incredible Asia Journeys Travel
Hanoi, Vietnam456 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2018 • Family
Our family visited the Perfume Pagoda in April when it was still crowed there as the festival in Perfume Pagoda lasts for a long time. In fact, the trip itself is nice with the boat trip on the nice river, nice views with rice fields and mountains.That was nice trekking route even it was a bit tired for the old people. The trip would be nicer if the services in the restuarant was better and the local people were nicer. The local boat rowers always asked for big tip even we had nice tip for them already. It was like they always asked for more tip and not so nice to tourists.
Written November 26, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Rarrie
Plymouth, UK1 contribution
5.0 of 5 bubbles
I unwisely read the reviews relating to excursions to the Perfume Pagoda, after booking a trip through a travel agency in Hanoi. After reading the reviews I thought that I had made a big mistake setting aside a day for the trip. However, it was a pleasant surprise to find a lot of the negative comments, previously made, did not apply to my experience yesterday. The facts are as follows: It is a 2 hour minibus ride from Hanoi which takes you through rural towns and villages. Then a 1 hour boat ride on the river in an open skiff rowed by a woman, both ways. My skiff did have a steel seat but quite a few have plastic chair types of seat. There were some women trying to sell their goods as we boarded the boats, two even rowed along side us, but if you have a good humoured approach towards them, it didn't seem a big problem. The boat trip was very pleasant and peaceful with some stunning scenery along the way. Lunch was good enough, but I didn't go for the food.

The Perfume Pagoda is made up of multiple pagoda's some accessed by different branches of the river. It seems tourists are dropped of in one central point where, as far as I could make out, we are taken to any number of four temples which can be walked to (or reached by cable car). I actually saw two. The main temple is inside a limestone cave at the top of the hill. I found this to be very beautiful especially when our guide explained various beliefs about the rock formations and what they mean to people practising Buddhism. I felt it was a privilege to be allowed in, a Buddhist monk was praying, beating a drum at the time of our visit.

Our trip was well past the festival time and the majority of stalls were boarded up along the path to the top of the hill. There was some litter to be seen if you looked over the edge of the path, but nowhere near the amount seen in Hanoi where I have been living for the past month. I realise that the experience would be very different if I visited during the festival time, early in the year and it wouldn't be for me. I do also realise that the pilgrimage made by Buddhists to the pagoda has been going on for a very long time and as such, it's theirs first and not 'put on' for us tourists.
Written August 1, 2010
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

KQN
Diamond Bar, CA55 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2014 • Family
Chua Huong today is a commercial trap. I visited Chua Huong on February 1, 2014 with both my mother and uncle, who first visited Chua Huong back in 1937.

For many vietnamese growing up with famous poems on perfume Pagoda by Ba Huyen Thanh Quan or Nguyen nhuoc Phap, today's Perfume Pagoda is just a ghost of what it was.

A few decades ago, you will be arriving from Hanoi via Hadong at the pier Ben Duc to take a row boat. The boat will bring you to the first pagoda Den Trinh (Trinh meaning presenting yourself). From Den Trinh onwards, the journey is by walking up a mountain path passing by pagodas like Chua Giai Oan before arriving at the grotto Dong Huong Tich which is also called Chua Trong (Inner Pagoda).

Today, the pier Ben Duc is replaced by a concrete city. You now will arrive at a parking lot. Then you walk up a long concrete path to Den Trinh. You will then take a row boat at Ben Yen, next to Den Trinh. A man made Suoi Yen, straight as a US Interstate highway now links Den Trinh to Chua Thien Tru. From Chua Thien Tru you can walk or take a cable car to Dong Huong Tich. Be aware you need to walk up a lot of steps between Thien Tru and the cable car station stills. So Chua Huong is not for handicapped or older folks with bad knees.

Nature would not know how to make such a straight canal as the new Suoi Yen is today. The limestones relatively distant compete for your eyes with Pepsi billboards and red government slogans. The row boats compete with dozens loud and polluting motor rivercrafts. The only serenity left is the sound of Evinrude or Yamaha open exhaust noise.

There is also plenty of commercial ugliness present. Take this example, when we arrived at Den Trinh on February 1st, we found that the inner sanctuary of Den Trinh was closed to pilgrims. Sitting there is a local gatekeeper dressed in black with a red turban.You need to pay him money, lots of money to get in.

Decades and even centuries ago, Chua Huong is essentially Chua Trong or Dong Huong Tich, Chua Giai Oan and Ben Duc. Those are the original sites to see if you decide to go. Today, a dozen new pagodas were built all over the mountains around Chua Huong. They are mere tourist traps.

As a foreigner, you should just take a tour. That way, you insulate yourself from all the commercial haggling. You will be paying through the nose though. Be aware that the entrance fee to Chua Huong is ~50000 VND/person or $2.5USD/person while the row boat is ~40000 VND/person for the round trip if you share the boat with others (the ladies rowing are paid by government ). I was initially quoted 700000 VND but I bartered the round trip on Suoi Yen down to 200000VND for the 3 of us alone (not shared) on a 15-person row boat. It would not feel very nice to be packed in like sardines anyway.

For a more natural and more authentic looking river experience with much fewer folks going, I would look at Ninh Binh/Tam Coc instead. The ladies rowing in Tam Coc are clearly much better rowers. The rowing in Ninh Binh is harder due to strong winds and adverse currents on certain days. In Tam Coc, you do not hear Evinrude or Yamaha and the limestones are a stone throw away not kilometers away.

I dreamed about the Perfume pagoda when i was young. I ended up being disappointed.
Written February 2, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

wanowandthen
Western Australia254 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2013 • Couples
We were picked up from our hotel just before 8am for our day trip to the Perfume Pagoda. Only 4 others on the trip with us today so there was plenty of room in the van. The van was comfortable and had good air-conditioning. Our guide for the day was called Tim and he was very knowledgeable and helpful. (The company we used was called Open Tours).

We were given a bottle of water (and boy did we need it later) which seems to be a standard inclusion in all these trips, and settled in for the drive ahead.

It was about a 2 hour drive out to the river where we were to board a sampan and there was a comfort stop half way where toilets, drinks and souvenirs were available. We found some nice things to take home so spent a bit of money. The prices here were much more reasonable than the stop we had during the Halong Bay trip.

On arrival at the river I found my romantic notions of what a sampan was like were not quite correct. The vessel that was to take us an hour's journey to the temple was a metal construction, very shallow and with very small, very hard seats. To be fair I had been warned in advance about these seats but in the end I decided against bringing any extra cushioning. As it turned out I got used to the narrow seat and it didn't cause me any problems.

It was a hot day so we were very glad we brought out hats and umbrellas (as the adverts suggest) others in the group had ignored this advice and some had to buy hats before hopping on to the small craft. The 'engine' for our boat was a rather diminutive Vietnamese lady with a couple of oars.

Paddling along the river watching the other boats glide past and being able to view the stunning scenery was very pleasant. It would have been a little more comfortable on a day without so much sunshine but we were ok under our umbrellas and there was a little breeze on the river from time to time that helped as well.

There are two options available to visitors, walk to the temple or catch a cable car. Our option was to catch the cable car as I can't walk too far these days but in all honesty I would highly recommend this option for everyone, at least for the trip up to the temple. It only adds a few dollars to the cost and it is really worth while.

Before going up to the cave temple we first had a look at a temple on the lower slopes. Very pretty and a great place to take some photos. This whole temple complex is spread out and very large. Apparently it would take 2-3 days to see all of it.

The climb up to the first temple wasn't too bad but there is a climb, it isn't located on the river flats so it was good to be prepared and have some decent shoes on. some of the pathway is a little rough and people (like me) with dodgy knees and backs have to take it easy and watch out step on the rougher sections of path.

Next came lunch and this turned out to be a bit of a surprise as it was some of the best food we have had so far in Vietnam. Lots of it and all very tasty. Tofu, fish, pork, rice, vegetables and even a plate of chips (always a favourite with me no matter where I am) plus an egg omelette that was about the best I have ever eaten.

Once lunch was over it was time to head up, yes up and up a bit more, to the cable car station. After a short wait we were off up the mountain passing through one mid-way station and up to the terminus at the top. The cable cars keep moving, even if it is slowly, so it is important to remember to collect all your things BEFORE you get to the top and be ready to get out - unlike me when I left my camera on the floor and had to go after the car to retrieve it before it vanished back down the hill.

Another walk down, then up, then DOWN, DOWN into the cave. It is supposed to be 120 steps down to the cave but for my wobbly legs it felt like many many more. The cave was interesting but has to be navigated with great care as the floor, mostly slippery rock, is made more slippery by strange people hosing it down with water and making it even more slippery. I'm not sure if this was a local game of betting on which tourist would fall over first but it made walking through the cave a bit more challenging that it otherwise might have been.

Then it was time to go back UP ALL THOSE 120 STEPS AGAIN! Oh my aching bones. Thankfully I had prepared in advance by taking a naprosyn pill so my joints didn't cause me any real pain for a change).

The rest of the trip back down the mountain was much more enjoyable. To my great amazement my knees and back held up all the way down. When we finally arrived back at the river for the long 1 hour row back to the bus we were offered the option of taking a motorised boat back for the mere sum of $5. I was all for it but the others in the group didn't want to fork out any more money. It was already starting to get a bit late and I could see thunderstorm gathering in the distance. I knew if we were rowed back it was likely to be a very wet and possibly dangerous trip if the thunderstorms reached us. (I never want to be out on the water with lightning about).

I offered to pay the whole lot, what is $5 after all? but then the lady who had rowed us up started to complain loudly after being given some money. As she was doing this in Vietnamese I had no idea what was wrong. Three of the people in our tour group were Vietnamese and a couple of them joined in what looked like a pretty heated discussion.

In the end it turned out the lady who had done all the hard work rowing us to the temple thought she was being hard done by with the motorised boat pinching her customers before she had got a satisfactory tip. In the end it all got sorted out and she even got towed back with us so everyone was happy.

Just as we got back to the bus the first big spots of rain started to fall. I was very glad I had paid for the ride back as sitting for an hour in the pouring rain at the end of such a long day would not have been a great way to end things.

It was almost 2 hours before we were back at our hotel, exhausted but very happy we had done the trip.
Written May 10, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Brungford
Torquay, Australia601 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Sep 2011 • Couples
Take this trip to experience the real beauty of Vietnam however don't expect it to be five star. A two hour bus tour from Hanoi passes first through hoards of scooters then through lovely green farming country side, past rice paddies and duck ponds and on through small villages. In one small section of the narrow road there are large water filled pot holes.
The boats are very flat and seat six people on plastic chairs that have had the legs cut off and they are attached to the bottom of the boat.Take a hat as the hour being rowed in the boat with no roof can be hot and a little uncomfortable. No one wants to move to much as the boats sit really low in the water and seems like it might tip over if you do.
Lunch is served as several different dishes of local food served in a huge shed with metal tables in rows.
Then you head up steps to a Pagoda to walk around and again more steps to get to the cable car - you can walk all the way up but you need to be keen on walking up lots of steps in the humidity. The cable car was easier and exciting with great views. Still more steps and people trying to sell drinks and such. When we reached the top we then found we had to walk down even more steps into a huge cavern inside the mountain. All worth the effort for the scenary, views and the experience.
As others have mentioned the lady that rows the boat does expect a tip. I personally feel if you can afford to visit this amazing country then you surely can afford to give a lady who has rowed you in the heat and humidity for an hour a little gift. Think of it as a kind deed.
If you don't go you never know?
Written September 23, 2011
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Barbora S
5 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2018 • Friends
The pagoda being in a cave was nice to see, since it’s kind of unique, but the rest of it was quite a horror. We booked the trip with the APT travel agency, but my guess is that none of the other agencies could make this a nice experience.
Starting with a uncomfortable ride from Hanoi, after maybe an hour of driving we had to make a stop at a handicapped store where they were trying to sell us embroidered pictures and basicaly anything you can think of.. we arrived at the harbor where they put us in 2 small boats. Only one of them having a “roof”, we were a group of 4 and they put us in the one without the roof during a hot and sunny day! The boat was metal and heated up really quickly, the seating was not only hot but was made really uncomfortable by the fact that there was absolutelly no leg room in the boat! Also what got us really mad was that the lady who was rowing our boat had a big umbrella over her so she would be in a shade while we were cooking on the sun! We all had hats but it was still too hot! The boat ride took about 1hr, and we were really happy once we made it to the shore. It didn’t improve there, the amount of trash everywhere and the little metal huts in horrible condition completely destroyed the once beautiful natural surrounding. The biggest joke for us was whem our tour guide told us how beautiful and sacred this place was. We even mentioned the piles of trash to him, but he just went on about the beauty of that place! Accordning to our tour guide perfume pagoda is supposed to be one of the most important religious and sacred places in Vietnam, but if you’re lookinh for a serene and peaceful experience you won’t find it here! On your way to the pagoda you encounter locals trying to sell you cheap souvenirs as well as local wild life anymals. They had several basins with turtels and cages with birds! We even saw one cage with a note “buy a bird to set it free” which only got us enraged! And after all that we had to take the little boat back to our bus, after which we were told to tip the lady who was rowing our boat. Not happy with the boat or the whole trip we decided to give her around 30k VND and she got mad started to show us to give her more that she wants 100k, although she already got paid by the travel agency! For us that was something we never experienced before! Someone telling us that the tip is to small and even giving us the right amount we’re supposed to give her!! For us the pagoda was definitely not worth all that!! We all agreed that the best part about the whole trip was when we arrived back in Hanoi!!
Written August 21, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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Perfume Pagoda, Hanoi

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