With Ha Dong as provincial capital, Ha Tay lies to the southwest of and at the entrance to Ha Noi capital. For this reason,all of its tourist attractions are around 50km from the centre of Ha Noi and easily accessible by land. Chua Huong (Perfume Pagoda) stands amidst a large area of scenic interest named Huong Son in My Son district, almost 70km to the southwest of Ha Noi. Actually, Chua Huong (Perfume Pagoda) is a complex of pagodas and Buddhist shrines and natural scenery consisting of mountains ( Mam Xoi or Raspberry mountain, Con Ga or Cock mountain, Voi or Elephant mountain, Lon or Kylin mountain...), forests, streams (Yen and Tuyet), grottoes (Huong Tich, Hinh Bong, Ngoc Long, Chua Tien) and pagodas (Ngoai or Cho, Trong or Huong, Hinh Bong, Long Van, Bao Dai...). The most outstanding spots are Huong Tich Grotto and Huong Pagoda. Nam Thien De Nhat Dong (The most beautiful grotto in the South) - the distinction conferred by Lord Trinh Sam - remains visible on the wall of Huong Tich Grotto. It is in the area surrounding Perfume Pagoda that the traces of the primitive mankind as well as the archaeological artifacts of the Hoa Binh-Bac Son cultures have been discovered. Perfume Pagoda is also reputed for its valuable medicinal herbs. Dong Mois a tourist attraction for those who love nature and are fond of golf. At the very foot of Ba Vi mountain is Dong Mo, a poetic valley with a man-made reservoir covering 1,500 ha and more than 20 islets. Dong Mo Golf Course is covered with velvety, verdant grass, and has 18 holes of international standard. In addition, Ha Tay attracts local and foreign visitors by such beautiful sites as Son Tay Citadel, Tay Phuong Pagoda, Chua Thay (Master's Pagoda). At last is Tan Vien Temple in Ba Vicommune (Ba Vidistrict, Ha Tay). Built in the times of the northern domination, this temple was in dedication to God of Tan Vien Mountain or Mountain God. 

Sixty kilometres southwest of HaNoi is Chua Huong compound. Usually known to foreign tourists as the Perfume Pagoda, it is found on the last range of the Son La-Mac Chau limestone range in northern VietNam and covers 5,134 ha stretching over the four southern communes of My Son district in HaTay province.

Occupying an important position in both Buddhism and Vietnamese culture, Chua Huong adds a unique cultural feature to the Southeast Asian and Asian region. The area's romantic scenery provides a perfect backdrop to the development of spiritual life as well as providing magical natural surroundings.

Impressed after his visit to Chu´a Huong, Hasegawa Mirokazu, president of the Hasegawa Construction Company which manages Japan's biggest cultural and Buddhist villages, said: Chua Huong deserves the pride of being an excellent tourist destination. Foreigners coming here seem to be very drawn to its beauty and nature's romantic scenery which bears deep Vietnamese cultural characteristics. Therefore, it is necessary to improve Chua Huong's infrastructure to preserve its natural as well as cultural heritage. However, unfortunately, the entire area is now facing severe environmental pollution and traffic problems caused, on the one hand by tourists and, on the other, by bad management by local authorities. Better-late-than-never, the Ministry of Planning and Investment has recently received a masterplan on Environmental Improvement and Traffic Solutions. But first,Chua Huong's two major problems must be solved. Local authorities reveal that if these pollution and traffic problems are not overcome quickly, the area will face total destruction in the near future. 

Some are even thinking of making Chua Huong the place to pray for world peace. If so, it would become the third place in the world after Verona in Italy and Hiroshima in Japan, and planners are working hard from now to the year 2000 to achieve this goal. (VNS)



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