In Northern Vietnam, there is so much stuff to see that sometimes, you may feel lost. But if you are wondering about where to go, here is a suggestion.

If you are a cultural traveler, or maybe just interested in the diversity of Vietnam’s culture, you may have heard of Yen Tu.

“Yen Tu” is often used to refer to Yen Tu Relic and Landscape Complex, situated on Yen Tu Mountain. This is one of the recommended locations for group tours in Northern Vietnam.

Yen Tu Relic and Landscape Complex is a famous site in Quang Ninh province, Vietnam. Every year, people flock to Yen Tu Mountain to attend the sacred Yen Tu Festival. They come to worship Buddha and commemorate Buddhist Tran Nhan Tong, as well as to enjoy the splendid scenery of Yen Tu Mountain.

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Many people join the pilgrimage

So even if you are not religious, you can always come to have an insightful look into Vietnam’s cultural aspect and contemplate the country’s tropical nature.

Here we will give you some brief information about the site and how to plan your own trip to Yen Tu.

Yen Tu Relic and Landscape Complex:

Yen Tu Mountain has long been known as the sacred land of Buddhism. From the past, Vietnamese Buddhists have come to build amulets for recitation. This was also the place where An Ky Sinh (also known as Yen Ky Sinh) came to attain enlightenment. After that, many generations also came and built temples, towels and other architectural structures.

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Yen Tu from above

But it is the Tran dynasty and king Tran Nhan Tong (also known as Tran Kham) that mark its significance in the heart and belief of the people. From 1226 to 1400, under the Tran dynasty, Yen Tu was invested to build into an architectural complex of pagodas and towers. King Tran Nhan Tong was the one to have given up his throne to devote his life to Buddhism at Yen Tu and found the Truc Lam Zen sect.

The Yen Tu Relic and Landscape comprises of three main parts: 

Here, many historical and cultural relics are still well preserved. They attract flocks of tourists coming every year, especially during the Yen Tu Festival.

Yen Tu Festival

Yen Tu Festival is an annual event. It starts from 10th January and lasts till the end of March, according to the lunar calendar.

People from all around the country gather here every year to express their belief and aspiration. Some come to ask for good fortune and happiness, or just simply to get rid of sorrows and bad lucks. First, they start a solemn ritual at the base of Yen Tu Mountain. After that starts the pilgrimage to the uppermost pagoda. They climb and pray in every pagoda (there are a total of 11) and shrine (there are more than a hundred) until they reach the Dong Pagoda (also known as Bronze Pagoda), located at the peak of the mountain.

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Yen Tu Festival

The entire journey, if walk by foot, covers a remarkable length of nearly 30km.

When to visit Yen Tu:

It really depends on your intentions.

If you intend on experiencing the festival yourself, then the best time to travel to Vietnam is during the Yen Tu Festival. But please always bear in mind that the festival attracts a lot of domestic travelers. This is, as said, a special occasion for the Vietnamese after all.

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The beauty of Yen Tu

However, if you are coming to witness the beauty of Yen Tu then you might want to avoid the festival.

What to wear and bring:

  • Winter:
  • Wear: choose your most light-weighted and comfortable clothes. It is best if you have sports wears. Travel with your sports shoes or walking shoes – make sure that you can walk a long distance with them. Do not bring too many coats – choose the light-weight but cosy one.
  • Bring: bring a small backpack to carry your stuff with you. Bring a lot of water and snacks if needed. And remember to bring cash, not your ATM cards.
  • Summer:
  • Wear: just avoid exposing too much of your skin. It is a sacred place to cover your shoulders, knees, and back.
  • Bring: about a litre of water for each person. You will sweat a lot and will still want to keep yourself hydrated. Also, bring some food – it should be light-weighted too. Breads, baguettes and tinned food are recommended.

During festival season, you will see some people selling food along the way but it is best that you prepare something for yourself because things are overpriced during this season. And there is no guarantee of their hygiene standards.