Marble Mountains

An essential stop

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What we say: 4 stars

The Marble Mountains have been extensively developed and promoted as a tourist attraction, but the haunting beauty of the spot makes it easy to forget you're part of the crowd. It's an essential stop if you're in the area. The mountains are comprised of five limestone outcrops in isolation from the surrounding plains, each riddled with caves and grottos, with some made into pagodas and shrines. Each mountain represents one of the five elements of the universe: water, wood, fire, metal and earth. The main mountain, representing water, has a path to the top with two entrances open to tourists. There is a 15,000 VND entry fee at the base of a very long flight of stairs. You can also enter from the second entrance, farther down the road, which is a much less strenuous climb, though most visitors feel the attractions 'flow' better if you start from the steps. The top offers spectacular views of Da Nang and the surrounding Marble Mountains. A better vantage point is reached through a small hole at the top of one of the caves, with the views including China Beach and Cham Island.

Some of the larger caves have been transformed into religious shrines, with Buddha statues built within them along with all the associated guardians. Some are quite eerie with the pungent smell of incense wafting in the air and the walls pocked by bullets from small arms fighting during the American War, when cave-to-cave battles occurred here. In Huyen Khong cave, one of the large holes in the ceiling was caused by a bomb. Within this cave there are a number of shrines, temple guards and Buddha statues, and there are still stalactites on the ceiling. Off to the side of the cave there are two small stalactites believed to represent breasts. One is dripping while the other is dry. According to legend, when Emperor Tu Duc entered and touched one of the stalactites, it stopped dripping and never has since.

There is debate about the best time of day to visit the Marble Mountains. Morning and evening offer relief from the heat, and some people arrive after 17:00, when they stop charging admission. This provides an opportunity to watch the sunset from the mountain, though bring a flashlight for the trip down, and you must be fairly surefooted to make it without breaking your neck. But the real highlight of the caves is the light streaming into the caverns through the incense-laden air from the openings above. Great for pictures, and it only happens between 10:00 and 14:00. Our advice is to go in the middle of the day and sweat it out. There are plenty of cool caverns in which to seek relief between trips out into the blazing sun.

More details
China Beach
Opening Hours: Daily: 07:00 to 17:00
Last updated: 18th November, 2008

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