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Home / Travel Blog / Vietnam / Vietnam's Newest Hiking Destination Yen Tu : Listed on UNESCO Tentative List

Vietnam's Newest Hiking Destination Yen Tu : Listed on UNESCO Tentative List

Article | April 16th, 2020 | Maya

Yen Tu Mountain & Its Misty Landscapes are nominated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Yen Tu is one of the most important mountains to the Vietnamese people. It features breathtaking landscapes with a beautiful Buddhist temple complex atop the peak, and these advantages have granted it a spot on the UNESCO Tentative World Heritage Site list. Yet despite these wonders, Yen Tu remains unknown to many people. The Yen Tu Mountain and its religious monuments are situated in Quang Ninh Province, or about 30 miles (50 km) away from the UNESCO Natural Heritage of Ha Long Bay.

Yen Tu Mountain and surrounding misty landscapes are home to many religious monuments that are unique to the local sect of Vietnamese Buddhism, Truc Lam (lit. “Bamboo Forest”) Zen Buddhism. From the time this sect of Vietnamese Buddhism was founded at Yen Tu in 13th century, the temple complex was developed as its spiritual heart which spreads out over a dozen kilometers (about 7 miles), forming a breathtakingly beautiful landscape. For years, many local pilgrims follow an ancient route up the holy peak to pay a visit to these ancient places.

Local pilgrims and hikers trek past groves of pine and bamboo trees

These captivating religious buildings are an absolute must for those with an interest in Vietnam’s history and spirituality. Truc Lam Yen Tu, also known as Lan Pagoda, is one of the most significant of Yen Tu Mountain’s heritage buildings. Built in 1293 by King Tran Nhan Tong after he abdicated to devote his life to Buddhism, the pagoda was constructed to regal magnificence, featuring a great bronze statue of the Buddha weighing nearly four tons in its courtyard. Hue Quang Tower enshrines a marble statue of the illustrious king, surrounded by smaller stupas to other notable monks who tended the mountain temple. Hoa Yen Pagoda is another must-see, the monk king’s former meditation space and the largest pagoda on the mountain. Then there is Dong Pagoda, with some impressive statuary of the Buddha and the founders of the Vietnamese Buddhist sect, and an inspiring view of the coastline all the way to Ha Long Bay.

Hikers that trek past groves of pine and bamboo trees, taking the same pilgrimage path as King Tran Nhan Tong, will be entranced by forest vistas full of natural charm, especially as you cross the bridge over Giai Oan Stream. The mysterious and captivating beauties of the region around Yen Tu Mountain make for quite a hike. But if the challenging mixed path of rugged stones and trail for 4+ miles (about 6 km) is not your thing, let us help you traverse this sacred land by arranging a cable car. From the cable cars, you can observe stunning panoramas that take in the verdant mountain and many religious monuments.

From the aerial cable cars, we can enjoy breathtaking landscapes of Yen Tu National Forest dotted with temples and pagodas

The locals around Yen Tu still embrace their traditional way of life – an agriculture-centered life. At the foothill of the peak, there is Yen Duc Village, one of few villages that still retains the traditional Vietnamese lifestyle. If you travel from Hanoi or Ha Long Bay to the region, be sure to soak in the poetic scenery including emerald rice terraces, lush gardens, and rustic homes. For visitors who wish for deeper insights into the local country lifestyle, spend your day working with optimistic local farmers at the rice paddies, organic gardens, or making farming tools. The local villages also offer a homestay at a local home that preserves a long architectural tradition adjusted to their lifestyle.

Inspired by Yen Tu's architectural tradition, Legacy Yen Tu aims to replicate the 13th century ancient palace. The luxury hotel is located up on the ridge of the holy land.

After returning from the mountain, take some time to relax at a hotel. Our favorite in the region is Legacy Yen Tu – M Gallery, designed by Thailand-based architect Bill Bensley. He has been designing some of the most renowned and iconic hotels and resorts worldwide. Legacy Yen Tu – M Gallery is located on the misty ridge of the Yen Tu Mountain. The hotel buildings are inspired by the religious heritage of the region and built with local architectural technique. Step inside your room, and you will reach real "Zen" relaxation. All the rooms boast beautiful local design elements such as copper knobs on each door, incense jars, and stuffed rice sacks that represent Yen Tu Mountain's sacred history.

Legacy Yen Tu is designed by star-architect Bill Bensley

For more than 700 years Yen Tu Mountain has been a sanctuary for Vietnamese people. In 2011, the Vietnamese government decided to establish Yen Tu National Forest that covers an area of nearly 7000 acres. This arrangement is not only to maintain the mountain and symbolic relics, but also to preserve the diverse nature that no other place in Vietnam has. You will find more than 900 species of flora and fauna in the entire national park and some of them are treasured as endemic plants. With the unique Vietnamese Buddhist culture, history, architecture, and rich environment, Yen Tu Mountain and its religious relics are nominated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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