Public transportation in Vietnam seemed to be quite scarce so we often had to rely on private drivers or taxis to get places. Since we wanted to spend quite a lot of time at the Marble Mountains in Da Nang, we decided for the only option that wouldn’t leave a serious dent in our travel budget; we went by bus.
And it was worth the adventure as the entire site is really beautiful and diverse.
Once again it was the friendly people at the reception of our hostel, Funtastic Da Nang, that helped us figure out the bus. We were to take line 1 in the direction of Hoi An. The stop was only a short walk away from our hostel and the bus should come every half an hour. The price one way was 30.000 dong (=+/- 1,3 euro)
Of course as we were nearing the stop, the bus passed right by us, which led to some colorful profanities. Just our luck. That would be a half an hour wait for the next one. But suddenly a local man started running and signed for it, making it slow down. We of course hurried and magically managed to catch the bus anyway. Apparently the guy was “crew” of the bus as he got on as well and later assisted other people on the bus after us. Weird.
We sat down among the other people -who seemed to be transporting half of their belongings going by the amount of boxes around them- and wondered where and when the hell we would have to pay. Since no one really bothered us, we decided to just wait and see. Suddenly the same guy who assisted people on the bus came to us and asked us for the fee; 50.000 dong. Going by the information from the hostel, we only gave him 30.000. Without arguing, he accepted. Scam avoided. Thank you Funtastic Da Nang!
Anyway, after about half an hour we made it to the site all safe and sound. The Marble Mountains are actually a complex of five limestone and marble mountains, but you can only visit the pelgrimage site of the Water Mountain. It houses beautiful caves, temples and magnificent views and is only an entrance price of 40.000 dong away.
At the foot of the mountain you can find many workshops selling all kinds of stone carvings, from very small to extremely large. It’s quite impressive to walk through and mostly leaves you wondering how most of those objects get to their final destination after having been bought.
Once the entrance fee was paid, we set out to explore the area. Everywhere you look, you can find amazing staircases, temples, caves and ornate pagodas. It seems impossible to see everything that’s being offered.
We started off with the Am Phu Cave. This is one of the most beautiful worship caves I’ve seen. I didn’t know what to expect so upon entering the cave it was like magic. There is just so much to take in, and all with so much detail. I was in awe.
Another one of my favorites was the view from Heaven Gate. The climb up there is quite strenuous so if you’re interested in going up there make sure you have decent footwear. Flip flops and high heels don’t belong in that category although we’ve seen some people try it. Without success. Luckily we were better equipped and were rewarded with this gorgeous view.
And the last point of interest I want to mention is the Linh Ung Pagoda. The Pagoda itself is definitely beautiful, but everything surrounding it makes it even more special. You have a small but ornate gazebo on the left, and in front of it is a beautiful pond with a white marble Buddha behind it. I felt like I would never be able to take it all in.
Through Gate 2 we left the Marble Mountain site and went back to the bus stop to catch the bus back to Da Nang. Luckily for us it came pretty quickly, and once again we were helped inside. And thank god for that, because it didn’t completely come to a stop to let us in. Apparently people mostly just have to jump on while it still slows down.
This time the helper appointed us a seat and came uncomfortably close. Read; he actually touched us with his feet the entire time. Ew. It took a few nasty looks and raise of the voice for him to get the hint. Fortunately on that part, this was the only negative thing we experience on our entire trip. In general Vietnamese people are very respectful towards women.
So the bus was quite the adventure, but the sights we got at Marble Mountains make it all worth it.