The final tour that we took in Vietnam from Hanoi was the Perfume Pagoda tour. It is a day trip that takes you along a river with beautiful scenery to a complex of several different pagodas as well as the actual Perfume Pagoda, which is located in a cave at the top of Perfume Mountain. The tour started with a visit to the Thien Tru Pagoda, which is at the heart of the temple complex. The Thien Tru Pagoda is over 500 years old and is truly spectacular with wonderful architecture, artwork, and cultural features.
We visited during the offseason, but from January to March, during the festival season, it is extremely busy as thousands of people come to Perfume Pagoda. To enter Thien Tru Pagoda, you walk up a series of stairs and go through a typical Buddhist arch entry with three openings. The openings represent past, present, and future with the center opening being the present. The main courtyard features two large, gold lions guarding the main temple. It is an active temple and there are offerings inside of the temple and monks can be seen walking around in their orange robes.
In addition to the interesting architecture, the surrounding mountains and trees make it even more beautiful. We were some of the only people visiting during our time at Thien Tru Pagoda, but we weren’t completely alone as we did see a snake climbing one of the gates. Since it was fairly colorful, we didn’t get too close as we didn’t know if it was poisonous. We took about an hour walking around the pagoda complex and looking at all of the amazing details.
The age of the temple is quite apparent as many of the buildings and stupas are weather worn and the details have faded. The overall experience of walking the grounds of Thien Tru Pagoda is something that make this a worthwhile trip for anyone visiting Hanoi. From the golden Buddha statues, ornate decorations, unique buildings to the natural environment surrounding it, the time spent in Thien Tru Pagoda was one of our favorite memories from Vietnam.