Yen Tu: A quick and handy travel guide

Best time to go:

Annually held in January, Yen Tu Festival starts from 10th and lasts until the end of March (the lunar calendar). However, it seems that this is not the best time to visit as the historical site looks more like an overcrowded site than a tourist attraction. Travelling to Yen Tu this time is definitely not a good choice if you would like to avoid the crowds and enjoy some tranquility. Similarly, summertime is not advisable as visitors may get tired too quickly.  The most suitable time for halong tours lasts from September to November when the weather is quite favorable and the place is not yet clustered with tourists.


Suggestions for a full day visit

There are two ways to reach Yen Tu Peak: by cable car and by trekking.

The cable system enables tourists to view the spectacular peak fully, while trekking allows pilgrims a chance to enjoy natural sights, green space and unique tropical flowers. To go on this captivating journey, good health and preparation are essential.

Giai Oan Stream

One of the most amazing destinations was Giai Oan Stream, where concubines committed suicide as a way to persuade King Tran Nhan Tong to return to the palace. The King decided to build the place as a death memorial of the poor women dying for him. The stream, combined with a 10m long bridge, looks ancient with unique architectural features.

In front of the pagoda yard are white and yellow lilies. There are totally six towers around the pagoda, with the biggest one for Tran Nhan Tong’s tomb. On both sides of the tomb are the graves of Phap Loa and Huyen Quang sorcerers.

Hanoi Ancient House at 87 Ma May Street

Yen Tu Pagodas

Giai Oan (Exoneration) 

Giai Oan Pagoda is the first destination in the journey to conquer Yen Tu Climbing Route, with the next stops being Hoa Yen Pagoda and Dong Pagoda. On the way climbing up the mountain peak, Hue Quang Tower Garden, which is made of marble, features King Tran Nhan Tong in a meditative pose. In 2015, some of the towers inside Hue Quang Tower Garden were restored in a national scale project, but the ancient look is well maintained.

Hoa Yen

Hoa Yen, the largest pagoda, is adjacent to Hue Quang Tower. Built in the 11th century, this pagoda was the place in which King Tran Nhan Tong used to preach. At that time, it was called “Ca Pagoda”, and was renamed “Hoa Yen” after King Le Thanh Tong noticed its spectacular beauty.

One-roof Pagoda

Halfway from the ground is the One-Roof Pagoda, with a wide range of altars being protected here. The site was originally Thanh Long Cave, where King Tran Nhan Tong read books and wrote religious texts. Half of the roof is exposed to the sky, while the other half hides itself in the mountain. This explains  why it used to be called Ban Mai (half-roof).

Dong Pagoda (Bronze Pagoda)

Dong Pagoda, also called Bronze Pagoda, is on the top of the Yen Tu Mountain, at 1068m above sea level. The peaceful and quiet spirit sets this historic site apart from others in Uong Bi city. To reach the pagoda from the ground, it normally takes a strong hiker 3 hours, so it is a good idea to bring some food and drinks along.