Location: Bich Dao Grotto is situated in Nga Thien Commune, Nga Son District, ThanhHoaProvince.
Characteristics: Bich Dao Grotto is also called Tu Thuc grotto, where the scholar fell in love with the fairy.
You only need to travel about six kilometers along the north eastern route from Nga Son's district town before you see the majestic Than Dau Mountain ahead of you, the mountain is in Nga Thien commune. It is famous for the Bich Dao grotto, which is located inside.
Local legend says that this is the place where the scholar Mr. Tu Thuc met a beautiful fairy named Giang Huong. Mr. Thuc fell completely love with Miss. Huong and decided to follow her to her fairyland. He spent his most wonderful days in fairyland, but deep in the back of his mind he always missed his home village. One day he decided to go back to visit his home village, unfortunately, when he returned nobody recognized him. He didn't realize that the time on earth passed much more quickly than time in fairyland. He had been away much longer than he thought and all the people that he knew had long since died. Tu Thuc left his village and has never been seen again since.
In order to reach the grotto, you must cross a large field. When you arrive there, you will see a lot of shady trees nearby. Vines criss-cross to make natural hammocks for you to rest in before you enter the grotto, a stone path leads for some hundred meters from the foot of the mountain to the mouth of the grotto. There you will see two poems inscribed in Chinese script on the rocks outside the mouth. Le Quy Don wrote one of the poems. He was a well-known Vietnamese scholar from the 18th century. However, Le Quy Don did not inscribe the poem himself. A district chief inscribed the poem on the rock in 1905.
Passing through the mouth, you will enter the outer section of the grotto. It looks like a huge upside down bowl. It houses many twinkling colorful stalagmites and stalactites. People have given them different names such as silver store, rice store, salt store and coin store. Some 10 meters further, you will step on a dragon-shaped stalagmite coiling on the ground. In the center of the coil are egg-shaped pebbles. People call this image, "The dragon brooding golden eggs".
The stalactites drop from the roof like leaves. If you beat them with a piece of wood, each one will produce a different sound. They sound very much like traditional musical instruments such as gongs, drums and bells. This area of the grotto is called, "the orchestra."
The middle section of the grotto is not so large, but long. It is almost round with a diameter of 35m and height of 20m. The stalagmites and stalactites here have all sorts of shapes and sizes. One looks like a chessboard. Another looks like shoes. Standing in this area you can see the images of flowery carpets, seals, caps and gowns. These objects make you believe that they must have belonged to the scholar Tu Thuc from the legend.
This section has a path leading upward. The incline is called "the way to heaven." It has another path leading downward which is called "the way to hell." Here there is also a pool of clear and cool water. You can see clearly the pebbles at the bottom. The stalactites hang like a loose curtain, from which water can be heard dripping continuously. This scene makes you think of the bathroom of the beautiful fairy Giang Huong.
The inner section is smaller. It is 12m wide and 8m high. Looking at the bottom of this section, you will see the rock form itself into an altar. The stalagmites look like candles and ancestral tablets. A huge rock in this section represents the grave of Tu Thuc.