A trip to Yen Tu Mountain in Quang Ninh Province offers temples to pilgrims, traditional experiences for culture aficionados and scenic views from the top.
Yen Tu Mountain, 40 km away from Ha Long Bay in Quang Ninh Province, attracts large numbers of pilgrims and sightseers who come to enjoy its views. It is most visited in the first three months of the year.
Visitors can trek to the top on a stone bridge starting from Giai Oan Waterfalls. On the way up, you will see Hue Quang tower garden, Mot Mai Pagoda (pictured), Hoa Yen Temple, and other well-known sites. The last destination is Dong Temple at the top. Visitors can also take a cable car. Dong Temple is about 700 meters from the cable car station.
Some images of a village in the Tran Dynasty (1225–1400) era can be seen at Nuong Village at the foot of Yen Tu Mountain. Situated along a stream, it has 50 houses in two blocks. According to Vietnamese folklore, when King Tran Nhan Tong relocated to Yen Tu in 1299, he did not allow his concubines and women servants to accompany him. But many stayed at the foot of the mountain to be close to the king, and thus the village was created.
In the village, people carry on activities like making leaf hats. Luong, a craftsman with 20 years’ experience, said: “It’s more than just a job; the hat is a beautiful trait of Vietnamese culture. So we should explore and maintain it.”
Besides leaf hats, artisans also do Dong Ho woodblock printing. The craftspeople guide you through the creative process from start to finish. A typical Dong Ho painting has five main colors made from freshly baked bricks (red), cajuput leaf (green), bamboo charcoal (black), scallop (white), and sophora japonica flower (yellow).
Behind the Dong Ho painting booth, visitors can also learn how to make natural oils. There are various scents that offer benefits like curing headaches and stress and helping you get better sleep. The finished product is put in roll-on bottles.
Nuong Village offers its own kind of night party with a fan dance set to traditional instruments including drums. After the show visitors can enjoy a massage using natural herbs.
There are three restaurants at the village which serve vegetarian dishes and a few Yen Tu specialties like apricot juice and forest bamboo shoots. A meal costs around VND150,000 ($6.5).