Deep peace pervades volcanic cave, courtesy of a 400-year-old pagoda

By Thanh Nguyen   September 29, 2019 | 10:56 pm PT
In a cave on the volcanic island cluster of Ly Son, the Hang Pagoda adds a soulful serenity, attracting many Buddhists and tourists.

The Hang Pagoda in the central province of Quang Ngai acquires its name from its location. Hang means cave in Vietnamese. Formed by a dormant volcano, the cave is 24 m deep, 20 m wide, 3.2 m high and has an area of 480 square meters. Worship spaces are arranged in accordance to the cave’s contours.

According to writings engraved on stones in the pagoda, an official named Tran Cong Thanh was sent to guard Ly Son Island during the reign of King Le Kinh Tong (1588-1619) around 400 years ago. Here, he discovered and founded the Hang Pagoda. After about 100 years, his descendants Tran Chau and Tran Tiem embellished and expanded the pagoda to what it is today.


In the heart of the cave is an altar with the statues of the Buddha, including Amitabha Buddha, Buddha Tathagata and Maitreya Buddha.

According to some historical records, the Hang Pagoda originally was the temple of the Cham people who worshipped Hindu gods. Later, when the Vietnamese came to explore Ly Son in the early 17th century, the temple became a place to worship the Buddha.


Many people visit this pagoda every year to worship and participate in different ceremonies including full moon days and Lunar New Year.

Vietnam is a predominantly Buddhist nation. It is estimated that over 70 percent of the population are either Buddhist or follow Buddhist practices.

Hang Pagoda locates on the north side of Thoi Loi Mountain and

The Hang Pagoda is situated on the north side of the Thoi Loi Mountain that stands on the sea shore. The pagoda is surrounded by lush green trees and rocks.


In front of the pagoda yard is a Guanyin statue facing the sea. Local fishermen believe the goddess protects them at sea.


Around the pagoda are caves that have offered shelter from storms for centuries. Many cliffs with beautiful patterns shaped by the rain, waves and sea breeze add to the area’s beauty.


At sunset, the tide recedes to expose the coral reefs in front of the pagoda, allowing visitors to walk through.

Ly Son, formed by five mountains, four of which are dormant volcanoes, is a combination of three islands including Dao Lon (Big Island), Dao Be (Small Island) and Mu Cu Islet. The island district, which used to be off the beaten tourism track, has become increasingly popular among both domestic and foreign visitors in recent years.

Local authorities passed a resolution in July to charge VND70,000 ($3) per person for visiting sites on the Big Island, the largest on Ly Son, which includes attractions like the Cau Cave, Cave Pagoda, To Vo Arch, and Thoi Loi Mountain. A tour to Dao Be (Small Island), famous for its historical and cultural sites and museums, costs VND50,000 ($2.2) per person.

Last year, Ly Son received more than 230,000 tourists, a year-on-year 30 percent increase, and also raked in VND276 billion ($11.7 million) in tourism revenues.

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