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“an interesting place to see”
Review of Perfume Pagoda

Perfume Pagoda
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US$38.00*
and up
Perfume Pagoda Day Tour from Hanoi
Ranked #63 of 287 things to do in Hanoi
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Attraction details
Fee: No
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Reviewed 14 April 2014

The boat ride to the pagoda, if you do not come at festival time, is relaxing. We came just at the end, and didn't have a problem with a crush of people. I could not imagine going here at festival time!
It is a bit of a culture shock coming here. This was the first time seeing dog ready to eat, and several animals kept in tiny, tiny cages for sale.
Also the sellers here of everything imaginable, that has nothing to do with worship, is at times overwhelming. (toys, toy guns, food, herbs, candy, clothes...you name it and you can find it here!)
We opted for taking the cable car up and down. Having had 2 major operations lately climbing the stairs for 4 kms was not an option. Plus I think having sellers all 4 kms would be wearing.
The cave of Fragrant Traces was interesting once getting there. it really is huge! I think that I enjoyed the Heaven Kitchen pagoda more. You see this after lunch and it is in the same area (after coming back down the cable car)
We had local lunch and it was good.
Be prepared to have your picture taken lots, but we enjoyed it.
The surrounding area is just beautiful also. The cable car gives you a good view of the area and was a good idea for a different view of the area.
Certainly a place to go and see the culture of Vn.

1  Thank Susan B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 27 February 2014

from Ha Noi this is a perfect day trip...by bus to the embarcation place and the on the river...a rowing girl brings you to the place where it goes up to the pagoda. I was there in January 2013, before the tet holidays. So everything was in prepare for the big pilger. And very empty and quiet...With some imagination it is full of Vietnamese people goes to pray in this pagoda...

3  Thank Koenaki
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 February 2014

The Perfume Pagoda is a full day trip from Hanoi. The drive is a solid 1-3/4 hours each way. From the dock to the Pagoda complex is a one hour trip on a rowboat, hence about 3 hours travel each way.

The Pagoda complex itself is interesting but no more so than many other temples in Vietnam. If you're going only to see the Pagodas you should probably save your time.

What really makes the Perfume Pagoda interesting is the atmosphere during pilgrimage season. The river is packed with boats loaded with pilgrims heading to the Pagoda. Part of the fun is the boat ride itself. You can pay a few dollars extra to have your own boat, or join a group. Most boats are filled with families or friends out for a day's excursion. It is truly a festival for them.

Once you arrive at the Pagoda complex it is a carnival atmosphere. It is controlled bedlam. The people watching is very entertaining. The route is lined with stalls selling everything you can want, including beer and vodka, lots of street food, trinkets and offerings for the Buddha, none of which is really in sync with the religious significance of the site.

The hike up to the main Pagoda was a pretty strenuous 45-minute climb - and we are in pretty decent shape. If you're not up to a strenuous hike, better to take the gondola.

1  Thank GVancouver
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 February 2014

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.

9  Thank KQN
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 22 January 2014

I spoke to some Vietnamese tourists and they pointed out that they were waiting until the festival started before they went on a visit as the place was not the same without thousands of visitors, I beg to differ. I really enjoyed a leisurely row up the river a ride up on the cable car and a walk down the long path. The Pagoda is well worth the visit. In spite of now being particularly spiritual I could sense some of what others must feel when they enter the cave. A very good day trip and the scenery is very impressive.

3  Thank ericon991
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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