Da Nang, our 3rd city and now the must-visit destination on a Vietnam tour, is famous for its Han River with a unique set of well-designed bridges, stunning My Khe beach, beautiful natural landscape and its distinctive local cuisines. But today we check out three of its main attractions: Son Tra Peninsula, magical Marble Mountains and Sun World Ba Na Hills 1487m above Da Nang where three pagodas have the same name – Linh Ung!
1. Linh Ung Pagoda on Marble Mountains
Linh Ung pagoda on Marble Mountains is the oldest of the three and was first built more than 200 years ago at the time of our King Le Hien Tong.
The pagoda is located on the eastern side of Thuy Son (Water Mountain) – the most famous of the Marble Mountains, on the outskirts of Da Nang on the road to Hoi An. Climbing 108 steps from the east gate or 156 steps from the west gate to the pagoda is a should-try! Alternatively, an elevator service for VND 20,000 (about 90 cents) is available for those who like an easy life…………………
Inside the pagoda’s main sanctuary are three Buddha statues: Sakyamuni in the middle, Maitreya on the right and Amitabha on the left. It also has a 7-level tower named Xa Loi Thap (Relics Tower) built in 1977. Xa Loi Thap has 200 stone statues of Visvabhadhra Bodhisattva, Manjusri Bodhisattva, Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, Ksitigartha Bodhisattva, and the eighteen arhats. The Marble Mountains Relics Tower is thought to hold the most stone statues of any building in Vietnam
War and natural disasters destroyed Linh Ung pagoda and it has been re-built in different formats a number of times, but its cultural values remain unchanged.
The Buddha Garden on magical Marble Mountains on the outskirts of Da Nang cityMarble Mountains is a well-known pilgrimage site with a number of other pagodas and temples which hold great historical and cultural values, especially of traditional Vietnamese pagoda architecture and Vietnamese Buddhist culture. Its use during our recent conflict of the 1960s/1970s is fascinating in itself and overlooks the remains of the US Marble Mountain Air Facility (MMAF).
2. Linh Ung Pagoda on Son Tra Peninsula
Leaving Marble Mountains and heading north we take a ride on Da Nang’s most beautiful road past My Khe beach to our right and Da Nang city itself to our left, to Son Tra Peninsula with its verdant jungle and tranquil atmosphere (and the exclusive InterContinental Da Nang Sun Peninsula Resort), we head up to our second Linh Ung Pagoda.
Linh Ung Pagoda on Son Tra Peninsula is the largest pagoda of the three and one of the most attractive destinations in Da Nang for both locals and tourists. It is about 15 km from the city centre to its northeast and just 15 minutes or so from Tien Sa Port.
The most striking part of this pagoda is the startling white ‘Lady Buddha’ statue in its grounds, facing the sea and seen from most parts of Da Nang city. ‘Lady Buddha’ (Guanyin) – the Buddha of Mercy, is 67m tall built on top of its lotus-shaped base, and is considered to be the highest Buddha statue in Vietnam. Inside the statue are 17 floors and each floor has 21 Buddha statues with different shapes, facial expression and posture. Da Nang people believe that ‘Lady Buddha’ is looking out for and protecting our city from storms and our fisherman during rough seas.
Many locals from city and rural central Vietnam make the journey up to this Linh Ung Pagoda for worship. But it also provides the most wonderful panoramic view of Da Nang, its beaches and the East Sea – right out and beyond the Cham Islands.
Along with Marble Mountains, I include Son Tra Peninsula and Lady Buddha in my Da Nang Private Tours – I guess I’ve visited this place hundreds of times with my international visitors, yet still look forward to the beauty of Son Tra’s Ling Ung Pagoda and its location – not to be missed!
3. Linh Ung Pagoda on Ba Na Mountain
About 45 minutes from Da Nang centre is the cable car station for entry (up) to the Sun World Ba Na Hills Resort where we find our 3rd Ling Ung Pagoda built in 2004. At over 1400m above Da Nang city, this is the highest pagoda of the three. As part of the Ba Na Hills attraction, this pagoda is somewhat overshadowed by the now famous Golden Bridge but is worth the visit to escape the crowds within Ba Na itself.
Located on the eastern side of Ba Na mountain, this pagoda has a spectacular panoramic view of Da Nang, its bay and coastline with stunning white sandy beaches stretching from Hai Van Pass to Marble Mountain. And of course, from here you can see’Lady Buddha’ up on Son Tra Peninsula!
Interestingly, there is a pine tree with three different types of leaves, from the ‘Red List’ of Threatened Trees in Vietnam, planted in front of this pagoda. And a statue of Sakyamuni Buddha, 27m tall and meditating on its 6m lotus-shaped base – crafted to tell the story of the 8 stages of Buddha’s life.