Different from Hue and Hoi An, Da Nang has limestone caves and grottoes. All of them are within the Marble Mountains (Ngu Hanh Son), a complex of 5 amazing hills formed by a broken dragon egg in the legend. It’s only of the kind in the whole region, because of its great values in geological, landscape, history, religion (Buddhism), local folk and handicraft traditions. In 19th century, a king visited here and renamed it to “Five Elements Mountain”. Each mountain takes the name from an element, particularly, “water” (Thuy), “fire” (Hoa), “wood” (Moc), “earth” (Tho) and “metal” (Kim). Interestingly, local miners find a different colored stone in a mountain. Coming into a workshop around the hillfoots, travellers will see many sculptures varying in size, shape and hue.
Joining a Da Nang cave tour is necessary. The caves themselves are hidden away in the rocks, interconnected and are home of temples, shrines, Buddhas and old inscriptions that are strongly linked to local folk religions. During the wars, revolutionists and communists lived there, and gained the final victory to end terrible battles. If traveling with a guide, he or she definitely shares a lot of knowledge and fun facts about them. By that, a cave sightseeing is not just to see wonderful natural formations, but also about culture, history and legends also. This article introduces to you travellers every best cave and recommendations for a guided Da Nang cave tour. We highly recommend reading other related posts for further details, such as travel guide to Marble Mountains, Da Nang’s caves, Festivals in Da Nang.
- Things to Do in Da Nang
- Guide to Da Nang Outdoor Activities
- Da Nang Mountain Temple
- Day Tours from Da Nang
History of Da Nang Caves
Da Nang’s caves are a part of the Marble Mountains which were islands on the sea and then moved to the land around 15th century. That is what geologists say, but for locals, the hills are pieces of a broken dragon egg in the legend. Also according to them, the first inhabitants here are a couple of a girl borned from the egg and her adopted father who was responsible for protecting it. Historians believe that the Chams ever lived in this area and built Hindu temples in the caves. Remains of sandstone sculptures are still visible around.
Vietnamese came later, at least from 16th century, and kept its important role in religion. Some Buddhist pagodas were constructed, and lots of small shrines were added into the cavern chambers. Making full use of spaciousness and interconnection, Vietcong (communists) hid in the grottoes and one of them was a field hospital. American soldiers attacked many times but it’s not easy to find where the opponent was. After the wars, only bats there!
See travel guide to all caves in Da Nang here
What are the Best Caves in Da Nang?
Dong Huyen Khong – Largest Cave
This cave is the largest in Da Nang, located in Hon Thuy Son (“water mountain”) of the Marble Mountains. Its entrance is another cave (called Hoa Nghiem), in the end of the walkway behind and to the left of Tam Thai Pagoda. It has a chamber only that looks like a bell, and in the ceilings, there are 5 holes, allowing the light to drop everyday. During very sunny days, a fall of light down from a height of 30 meters, appears and amazes visitors. The staircase leading to the bed of this cave is lined by 4 colorful god statues, with a strong altitude on the face. There are 5 temples and altars by the wall, all facing a spacious paved yard. The most sacred temple is owned by the Goddess of the Mountain under the Buddha, and the biggest temple is in the right corner. Stories and how important these places are in local belief, are interesting to know.
Dong Am Phu – The Hell Cave
Name of this Da Nang’s 2nd largest cave means “the hell”. It’s located in the southern foot of Hon Thuy Son (“water mountain), the highest of the Marble Mountains. During the American war in 1960s and 1970s, Vietcong communists stayed here, and established a field hospital to cure injured soldiers, and veterans. Many attacks were carried out, but not really successfully because people could hide and go to other places quickly by hidden passages. Entrance of the cave was covered by falling stones after a bombing, but recently accessible. At the end of a small tunnel, visitors will come to a large chamber where marble statues of the King of Hell, judges in the Last Judgement (before rebirth) and Buddhas. Stepping down till the lowest spot of the 18 Floors of Hell, a clean spring is seen.
Dong Tang Chon – Steps to the Heaven
Tang Chon is among the nicest caves to discover in the Marble Mountains. Its entrance passage is behind Linh Ung Pagoda, the first-built of three sisters in Da Nang. Historically, the first Buddhist monk lived and practiced Budha teachings here before a brick edifice was constructed by the king. The first chamber is largest, housing a temple with three doors and long roots of climbing trees. It’s connected with 4 other caves, 2 of which leading to the top of the mountain (called “the heaven”). The furthest grotto from the temple is for worship of Buddha, and on the same side, a Champa sandstone altar and Lady Buddha was placed in two neighbors. The last is added with two fairy men playing chess together.
Dong Quan Am – The Lady Buddha Cave
This little-known cave was discovered after a dream of the monk leader of nearby Quan Am Pagoda, in Hon Kim Son (“metal mountain”). He said that in which, the Lady Buddha (Bodhisattva) revealed the ways to find a rock formation like her and disappeared then. The day after, he did the same and finally found it. The passage is small, hidden in rocks and to see it, visitors need to walk upstairs and turn left. Lights are equipped in the cave but not much, so it’s needed to use phone flash light, and in the end of walkable areas, that is a cool freshwater spring. Different from caves in the water mountain, no ticket required.
Why are Da Nang’s Caves Worth Visiting?
Distinctions of Caves in Da Nang
Compared to Halong Bay or Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park, Da Nang’s caves have distinctions that are worth visiting. First of all, the caves are close to each other and interconnected. In a small mountain, travellers can sightsee many caves just in one trip, and don’t need to go far to see the next after the other. In a cave, it’s possible to see steps, a tunnel leading to another. Going through mysterious passages to discover is really fun. Making full use of this characteristic, communists hide here because they believed that they quickly escaped when the American soldiers came. Other distinctions are “leaking ceiling” and filled by holy temples, shrines and Buddhas.
The Vietnam War
Caves in the Marble Mountains are home of Vietcong (Vietnam communists) during 20 years of the Vietnam War. They established a field hospital, and other facilities to serve their daily life, cure, and meeting. Knowing this, the American troops and South Vietnamese army attacked here many times, but didn’t succeed. Reasons why the people chose to base, are much hidden passages to escape when needed, enormous spaces, availability of fresh water all year around and supports of the monks. The most well-known communist is Phan Hanh Son who killed 450 opponent soldiers and shot down an aircraft. Vietnam presidents rewarded him nearly 30 titles of “national hero”. Many other interesting stories are told during a guided tour.
Local Folk Beliefs
A special thing that other caves across the country don’t have but Da Nang’s caves have, that is an array of temples. Outside of the caves, there are the oldest Buddhist temples of the city, 2 of which are really famous. Within the chambers, travellers will see smaller and holy edifices. For example, the largest cave Dong Huyen Khong contains 5 temples where different gods, goddesses and Buddha are worshiped. If traveling with a tour guide, he lets travellers know the importance, ancient customs and awesome stories or secrets behind. That is really much!
The walls of the caves house some hundreds of inscriptions in Chinese and Vietnamese themes in Buddhism, donation and inspirations. These are carved by local artisans in the sculpture village nearby. Poetries and kings hired them in their visits to the Marble Mountains. Da Nang has been seeking a Uneco documentary heritage title for the collection.
Amazing Surrounding Environments
Da Nang’s caves are within a very famous attraction, the Marble Mountains. So, a visit to them means an adventure around these striking natural monuments. What to expect are scenic peaks with a panoramic view, outlooks to the plains or the sea, ancient and shaded trees, flowers and century-old buildings. Another thing to make travellers surprised, is its sudden emergence out from the flat lands.
The Best Da Nang Cave Tour
Note: To be quicker, browse here to see our pick for the best Da Nang cave tour
The best Da Nang cave tour includes all the caves that are worth visiting most. There are the largest, most impressive natural monuments or richest in history or strongly linked to the spiritual life of locals. During it, travellers have fun experiences under the ground, from climbing steep steps, going through low tunnels, checking out mysterious chambers to marveling at incredible formations. The Hell Cave should be in the itinerary, due to stunning things to see that are related to the Buddhist concept about life of people after death.
In addition, it must provide a knowledgeable and well-spoken English guide who is responsible for revealing all secrets behind things before the eyes of the travellers. A cave tour in Da Nang also covers sightseeing in old Buddhist temples, Buddhas, folk-religion sites, war remains, ancient inscriptions, and workshops where tradition in carving stone sculptures is alive. So, without a guide, travellers may miss a lot of fun and little-told stories. Now, there are no introduction boards anywhere to inform the visitors, a thing needed to improve. Lastly, if just to discover the caves, a half day is enough (including visiting the mountain where they’re located).
Private Da Nang Cave Tour
Private option is among the best Da Nang cave tours. In the market now, its price is not much more expensive than join-in-group packages. In which, a local guide makes the way to discover every fabulous caves of the Marble Mountains, and sights nearby. He or she explains ins and outs at each stop, providing lots of knowledge. Not only about nature, the shared information helps travellers understand better Buddhism, folk beliefs, thoughts of people formerly and handicraft traditions. Yes, if the booking is private, you (and family) will learn a lot and have the chance to ask about what’s wondering.
Flexible time of departure is another advantage of the private Da Nang cave tour. travellers can choose when to start the exploration. A start in brunch time, after noon, in the sunrise or sunset are all possible to seek. Privacy also means comfort, especially during the high seasons, the guide knows how to plan the trip away from long queues and crowds.
Looking for a private cave tour or tour guide? We may help, our whatsapp number is +84968009827 and email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Da Nang Cave Tour By Yourself
If would like to have cave explorations by yourself, it’s feasible. Read our guides to Da Nang’s caves, the Marble Mountains and Da Nang’s mountain temples before making a first trip ever to mysterious underground worlds there. You can hire a transport by yourself (or get on a bus) and book a tour guide to travel with. This way may be cheaper than booking a private tour. Text us in whatsapp number +84968009827 if you need a knowledgeable and well-spoken English guide.
Da Nang Private Tour Guide
A journey to the fantastic caves of Da Nang is exactly an exploration to the Marble Mountains, one of the attractions with richest history and cultural relations. Not just a kingdom of caverns, it’s a Buddhist sanctuary with old temples, visited by many famous personalities and linked to traditional handicrafts. So, a local guide who is knowledgeable and good at English, is needed to learn about. Moreover, information boards are not available on the site. Sure, visitors have no ideas about the place they stand in and everything around it. If planning a day trip, traveling with him/her to My Son Sanctuary or Hoi An Old Town is really helpful, very good value for money.
We may help to seek a local tour guide for you. Text us your requirements in our whatsapp +84968009827.
Cost of Guided Da Nang Cave Tour
Price of a Da Nang cave tour depends on transport (pick up, drop off, kind of vehicle), duration (half-day, full day), type (private, group, sunset, sunrise) and local tour guide (with, without). Generally, it often covers Marble Mountains entrance fee, Am Phu Cave entrance fee, a round trip transfer from hotel, and a knowledgeable English speaking guide. Elevator tickets may be included, up to the package. A day trip itinerary includes more attractions and a longer distance, so travellers definitely need to pay more.
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