Friday, November 14, 2014

Exploring marble mountains

The Marble Mountains are located about twenty kilometers north of Hoi An. The five mountains stand at a short distance from the sea, in the middle of the plain. We drove there on our own, fitting the three children on two rented motorbikes. The road to Marble Mountains is easy to ride; wide, straight and with little traffic.

The marble statues

Near the mountains, you’ll witness countless shops offering huge marble statues. Large marble sculptures are processed using machines; smaller objects are still hand carved. The artisans have preserved their expertise, even if they now use an imported Chinese marble.

Two paths lead up the mountain: a marble staircase or a large glass elevator. Entry to Marble Mountain area cost 15.000 VND per person (children enter for free), the ride on the elevator is an extra 15.000 VND per person (children also free).
The elevator

We chose the lift, not to spare us the effort but to enjoy the view. The mountains host many natural caves, as well as several Buddhist and Confucian temples. The elevator leads to a terrace, halfway up the mountain. In the immediate vicinity stands a beautiful pagoda, a little further away, a nice little temple.

View from the top

Behind this temple, there’s a path that leads to a small cave, decorated with marble Buddha statues. Turn back to climb a trail that leads to a point of view. Further, follow the path clogged between the two peaks of the mountain. On the left, a few steps lead to another Buddha cave. Behind the altar, in the darkness, follow the few steps to continue the exploration to a cavity that lets in daylight. Don’t forget your flashlight!

Outside the cave, a path on the left side leads to the top of the southern peak. A little further, there is a path on the right side that will let you reach the top of the (slightly higher) northern peak. Both ways are strenuous climbs but the beautiful view on the sea is a great reward. Back on the main path, follow it straight ahead to enter the largest cave, a huge cavity decorated with temples and statues of marble.

It's already time to go down by a staircase. At the foot of the mountain, next to the elevator, there’s the entrance to another cave. It costs another 15.000 VND per person (children free) but it’s well worth seeing. The cave is huge and has many passages to explore. On the right side, you’ll see a dark staircase going down; if your children are too sensitive, don’t go down. The staircase is a descent into hell and the walls of the cavity are covered with plaster statues representing visions of horror. The tunnel ends in a small cave. On the left side, there is a set of stairs. It is very steep and leads up to a very nice outlook.

Our kids loved exploring Marble Mountains!

How to get there? We rented motorbikes for 5 USD a day. Bikes can be parked at the foot of the mountain for a fee of 5000 VND per bike. You can also easily get there by taxi. The last alternative is to book one of the many tours in Hoi An or Da Nang.


What to bring? The usual sun screen, sun hats and rain coats, but pack extra flashlights for the kids!