Am Phu Cave


Useful Information

Location: Troy Son, Marble Mountains
(16.0027, 108.2634)
Open: All year daily 7-17.
[2021]
Fee: Am Phu Cave: Adults VND 15,000.
Thuy Son Mountain: Adults VND 15,000.
Elevator: One Way VND 15,000.
Parking: VND 10.000.
[2021]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave
Light: electric
Dimension:  
Guided tours: L=300 m, self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography:  
Address: Am Phu Cave, Troy Son, Hoa Hai, Ngu Hanh Son, Da Nang 550000, Tel: +84-, Fax: +84-,
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

2006 cave opened to the public.

Description

Am Phu Cave (Hell Cave) is located inside a karst tower which is called Marble Mountains and is located at the sea in the middle of the coastal plain, surrounded by the city Da Nang. Actually its a group of five hills name Ngu Hanh Son (mountains of five elements) each mountain refers to an element. Kim Son (metal), Tho Son (earth), Moc Son (wood), Hoa Son (fire), and Thuy Son (water). According to legend the rocks are eggshells left on earth by a dragon. But as they are actually karst toweres they are full of caves, which are regarded as sacred by the Cham people.

The last Vietnamese dynasty, Nguyen, rediscovered the mountains in the 19th century. They numerous shrines and pagodas on the mountains and in the caves. During the Vietnam War, the caves were used as hospital by the Viet Cong, despite the proximity to the Americans. Today it is used by Hindu and Buddhist sanctuaries.

Am Phu is the Vietnamese word for hell, the name was given to the cave King Minh Mang in the 19th century According to legend he sent soldiers with torches to explore the cave. But even after the twelfth torch they had not reached the end.

Am Phu Cave is located at the base of the mountain. A stone bridge leads over a pond which actually introduces the topic of the cave: from the lake carved hands beg for rescue and help. The pond symbolizes the Nai Ha River, the Buddhist equivalent to the river Styx. Souls with more sins than good deeds are pushed into the river when they try to cross and become food for the dark monsters. The cave is actually dedicated to hell, or however this may be called by Buddhists or Hindus, but it resembles the Christian ideas about hell quite well. The cave symbolises nine floors of Buddhist hell, with sculptures of people being tortured, and masks showing fear and anger. Another path, which leads upwards, represents heaven with beautiful carvings and sculptures on the walls. Steep and narrow steps lead to a small balcony with an altar and a laughing Buddha statue. And again the symbols are quite similar to Christian heaven.

The design on the other hand is quite drastic. The sculptures are colourfully painted, devils and demons have green skin, stalagmites are painted red by spilled blood. Altars with candles representing the departing dead are coloured by kitschy coloured lights.

After the cave it is possible to take the stone stairway to the summit of the Thuy Son Mountain. There are numerous other caves with temples and altars, and there are outlooks and even a glass elevator. You can spend a day at the mountain. We recommend walking shoes, sun protection, and enough water. We also recommend to buy a map at the ticket office for orientation, especially if you are not able to read the vietnamese explanatory signs.

The site is quite popular and a good place for scams. There is for example the older lady, who will drive next to you and make smalltalk. Then she will do you a favour and lead you to a free parking lot, which is of course much more expensive than the parking lot at Am Phu Cave. Or it is free parking, at least until you try to retrieve your vehicle, and are blackmailed to buy some local "artwork". And there are guys selling tickets for much more than at the ticket office. If you are lucky they are actually valid, if not they are fakes and you have to buy a another, real ticket.