Mua Cave, also known as the Dancing Cave, is a captivating destination in Ninh Binh province, often regarded as the “Halong Bay on land.” As you embark on your North Vietnam tours, Mua Cave should be on your radar. Though not as widely recognized as Trang An and Tam Coc – Bich Dong, Mua Cave holds its own charm, earning its nickname “The Princess of Ninh Binh.” From the cave’s summit, you’ll be treated to a mesmerizing panoramic view of Tam Coc. Don’t miss the opportunity to include Mua Cave in your itinerary and experience its enchanting allure firsthand.
Is Mua Cave worth to be visited?
The answer is an absolute “Yes”. Mua Cave is one of the worthiest attractions you must visit when arriving in North Vietnam.
Gift of Mother Nature
Known as “Hang Mua” or “Mua Cave”, the destination has been popularly mentioned by Western visitors on social networks as well as personal blogs after their North Vietnam tours because of its picturesque mountain scenery.
Particularly, Mua Cave, located at the foot of the mountain, is a big upside-down bell-shaped, estimated about 800m2 in size, named Mua (Dancing). From the bottom of the mountain, you can see clearly the white stone steps leading to the summit of the mountain. The two sides of the staircase are carved sophisticatedly on the stone with dragon and phoenix images, which is typical for Tran architecture.
Unlike the other hustle and bustle tourist hubs in the area, Mua Cave has a charming and peaceful traditional beauty that is hard to be found anywhere else. Being put into exploitation early, the services for tourists here are orderly and clear. Therefore, you can avoid being jostling and scamming. Presenting exclusively cultural values, traditional performances that recreate the ancient kings’ daily scene in the tourist area are one of the special highlights of preserving the nation’s thousand-year culture.
The Historical values
Besides the natural value of spectacular scenes, Mua Cave’s history also contributes significantly to the value of this site in general. According to Vietnamese legend, King Tran established Am Thai Vi, located on the top of the mountain, on his visit to Hoa Lu, which is the old capital of Vietnam. Since then, the King often came here to relax, sightsee and enjoy the dancing and singing performed by the odalisques. Therefore, this place was named the Mua Cave meaning literally “Dancing Cave”.
Mua Cave is located on the plain, surrounded by hills and mountains, which make Hoa Lu both a good shield and prosperous agriculture of wet rice. From that point, you can partly guess the reason why Mua Cave used to be the capital of Vietnam under 2 dynasties of Dinh and Tien Le.
In addition, Mua Cave also reflects religious values, especially Vietnamese beliefs and Buddhism. Getting into the cave, you can explore the practice of worshipping “Tiger,” which is very common in East Asia. Furthermore, you can see the statue of Quan Am Bo Tat (the Goddess of Mercy) looking toward the old capital of Hoa Lu.
Mua Cave viewpoint
It is interesting that although the charming destination named Mua “Cave”, what attracts travelers the most is not the cave but the conquering of 500 stone steps to the peak of Mua mountain to enjoy the whole beautiful scenery of Tam Coc ultimately. The way leads to the top of Mua Cave was constructed under the inspiration of the Great Wall in China, with nearly 500 steps up to the top of the mountain. It is a hard trek up with many of its uneven limestone steps, especially at the top point; but worth your conquering efforts for an impressive panoramic view of Tam Coc, Trang An, and Ninh Binh City when you reach the top point of Mua mountain. Take your leisurely trek up with care due to the steep steps on the way.
From the highest peak of the mountain, the breathtaking landscape will blow the pickiest minds. The entire landscape of the field is captured along the wandering river with some lovely touch of local small boats. As far as the eye can see, limestone islands rise majestically from the land, what surrounds them is not endlessly boring water; but a patchwork of perfectly laid out paddy fields, small picturesque villages, fields of grazing animals, and winding rivers. If you decided to pay a visit to Tam Coc – Bich Dong, don’t forget Mua Cave – the princess of Ninh Binh.
How to get to Mua Cave?
Mua Cave is located on the foot of Mua Mountain, which lies approximately 100 km south of Hanoi. It is easy to arrive here by taking a 2-hour trip by car, bus, coach, motorbike, or even boarding a train from Hanoi. Moreover, If you are enjoying your North Vietnam tours in Halong, you will travel nearly 200 km to get to the Cave.
Shuttle Bus or Private Car
The price for taking a coach is about VND90,000-100,000 (approx US$4) from Giap Bat station. Another option suggested is you can book a ticket for the shuttle bus, private limousine car at The Sinh Tourist, Futabus, Interbuslines, etc. The ticket price is higher but more convenient.
For those who prefer adventure, riding a motorbike will be a perfect idea to reach Mua Cave. From Hanoi, follow the old National Highway 1A, go through the Ha Nam section and then turn towards Ninh Binh – Thanh Hoa. Once arrive in Ninh Binh City, continue to Trang An – move to 491C road to reach Ninh Xuan commune. It takes around more than 2 hours for your motorbike journey.
You can take a train to Ninh Binh at Hanoi Station (120 Le Duan Street). The train starts daily at 6.00 – 6.15 am and arrives at Ninh Binh station after 2 hours. From there, you can take a taxi to Mua Cave.
A little notice that Mua Cave has an entrance fee of about US $4 (VND100,000).
Mua Caves Ecolodge
For staying, you can choose to stay at the Mua Caves Ecolodge, with great accommodations and service, or some lovely local homestay in the area. On the other hand, the Ecolodge also provides other options, such as villas for a big group of guests. With its rural landscape, Mua Cave reflects the image of an authentic North Vietnam village. Its tile-roofed houses, green bamboo hedges, lush paddy fields, and cultivated vegetable gardens bring a peaceful and slow lifestyle, which would be wonderful for those who are seeking a relaxing stay. Staying here, travelers have a chance to discover authentic Tonkin citizen life and to learn more about green and cultural tourism; that will be one of the most memorable things in Vietnam tours.
A Special thing is if you are already staying here, the entrance fee of Mua Cave is free. Moreover, in accordance with the spirit of solidarity projects, most of the employees at Mua Caves Ecolodge are local people living in the nearby village. Visitors are more likely to treat them as dear friends rather than guests. Mua Caves Ecolodge, a charming resort with a quiet atmosphere and comfortable accommodations, is truly a place where human relationship takes precedence over the quality of services.
Some useful tips for you
- For wonderful panoramic photos of golden paddy fields and limestone mountains, you’d better arrange your trip to Ninh Binh & Mua Cave during its “Golden season,” which is between late May and early June, sometimes early in May when the rice is getting ripe and changing from green to beautiful golden. The attractiveness of natural scenery is undeniable from the top of Hang Mua.
- The best time to hike the Mua Cave Peak is the early morning. You should start at 5 a.m. – 6 a.m. to capture the magnificent sunrise view. The sunset is also great but doesn’t try to hike after 4 p.m and leave early; because it will get dark really quick which would be quite dangerous.
- Don’t forget to bring your hat, water, some light snacks, and maybe a handy fan, since it is really sunny and hot in the summer. Even if it’s not summer, you shouldn’t let yourself dehydrate.
- Wear sportswear and sneakers (trainers), which are suitable for trekking. Plus, you would want to wear bright colors to have the best photos on the green-yellow-gray background of nature.
- Finally, don’t forget to bring your BEST camera and several memory cards; you would want to capture everything on your way.
Suggestions for Ninh Binh Tours
Attractive and easy to visit at a reasonable price, extra less touristy than other destinations in Ninh Binh, Mua Cave will meet all criteria of an ideal place for your North Vietnam tours. So why not Mua Cave Ninh Binh? Give me a reason.
Le Huu Dan – Travel Lover