In the nutshell
After Indochine, the movie won an Oscar in 1993, Ninh Binh and its beautiful landscapes became more famous. Until Kong: Skull Island – a blockbuster was filmed in a part of Tam Coc, people starts to feel curious about the place; and indeed, the canals, karstic rock formations, rice fields & limestone grottoes spread words even more significantly.
Lots of wonderful things await you, such as a cruise along the Ngo Dong River, passing through three magnificent caves that earned Tam Coc the nickname “Halong Bay on land.” Explore the nearby Hoa Lu Ancient Citadel, once Vietnam’s capital, and immerse yourself in its captivating history. So not only Tam Coc, here in this article, I am recommending you a full-day excursion so that you can have an insight into the place prior to plan.
Tam Coc boat trip
Located around 100 kilometers from the center of Hanoi, Tam Coc is easy to reach by car/van in within 2 hours. Using the highway both ways costs you about VND 250.000 (appx US $12) for the entrance fee, but once you book the trip with Indochina Voyages, it never is a detail to worry about.
Once you reach Tam Coc, proceed to the Tam Coc boat pier, where a lot of traditional colorful boats are docking, hearing the sound of the river lapping against the oars. What a tranquil view! The boat trip around the area takes 1 hour and 40 minutes. Your eyes are widening to witness the green rice fields and karstic rocks surrounding the Ngo Dong River. Tam Coc means three caves in Vietnamese. Thus, you will get through those caves while paddling, and they were created by the erosion of rocks.
The interesting of the paddlers here is they are using the oars by their feet. Yes, you are reading it right. They are using their arms too, but with the nearly 2-hour excursion, feet can be the wingman to help, and surprisingly. They never miss the track or make you feel unsafe. All is handled very well! While slowly floating in the greenish water of the Ngo Dong River, here and there, you will hear the singing voices echoing in the air. It is because there are some small “floating stages” located along the way, where two to three local artists sing the traditional songs.
Hang Mua – Dancing cave
After the boat trip in Tam Coc, Dancing Cave in the next spot that will definitely be spoiling your eyes only approximately 5 km away from the pier. Hang Mua has its meaning as “dancing cave”; because this site was previously set up as the place where Tran King used to come to enjoy dancing and singing shows performed in this cave.
To conquer the cave, you will start with hard trekking through 500 steps with a height difference is pretty significant (very steep); and sometimes, those are uneven. So brace yourself! Once getting on top, the magnificent panoramic views will let you know that it is worth all of your effort to reach here. With one side to the overview of local temples & houses, and the other side is facing the Tam Coc boating area that you have just enjoyed. But with a different angle, you will see how amazing Mother Nature brings this to us.
A Typical Ninh Binh Day Trip
Here are our suggestions for an unforgettable day in Ninh Binh:
- Start your day early and head to Trang An, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Embark on a boat tour to explore the stunning landscape, featuring limestone karsts, rice paddies, and winding waterways. Marvel at the natural beauty as you glide through caves and immerse yourself in the tranquility of the surroundings.
- After the boat tour, make your way to Tam Coc, also known as “Halong Bay on land.” Hop on a sampan boat and journey along the Ngo Dong River, passing through three mesmerizing caves: Hang Ca, Hang Hai, and Hang Ba. Be captivated by the breathtaking scenery, with towering limestone cliffs and lush greenery at every turn.
- Take a break from your adventures and savor a delicious lunch at one of the local restaurants in Tam Coc. Indulge in traditional Vietnamese cuisine, including regional specialties such as goat meat dishes and crispy rice.
- After lunch, continue your exploration with a visit to the Dancing Cave, also known as Hang Mua. Climb the 500 steps to the peak, where you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. Capture stunning photographs and take in the beauty of Ninh Binh’s landscape from this vantage point.
- Descend from Hang Mua and explore the area further. Stroll through the picturesque countryside, marvel at the lush rice fields, and soak up the peaceful atmosphere.
- As the day draws to a close, return to the city center of Ninh Binh. Take some time to explore the local markets, where you can find souvenirs, handicrafts, and traditional products.
- Wrap up your day with a delicious dinner at one of the local restaurants, where you can sample more of Ninh Binh’s culinary delights.
This one-day itinerary offers a balanced mix of natural wonders, cultural exploration, and culinary experiences, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the beauty of Ninh Binh’s Trang An, Tam Coc, and Dancing Cave.
Tam Coc accommodation
If you would like to stay overnight in Ninh Binh, there are plenty of local homestays, hotels & resorts. But near Tam Coc, I would like to suggest a few as below:
- Tam Coc Garden Resort – having a true experience of living in the garden or in the authentic village of North Vietnam.
- Tam Coc Bungalow – a budgeted option.
- Tam Coc Boutique Garden – also another low-cost accommodation with ¾ view from the room is to the garden and located just 1-200 meters from the Tam Coc pier.
If you like natural scenery, staying away from the city noise and the crowd, you can spend 2-3 days exploring the Ninh Binh attraction. You can row sampan trip in Trang An Ecological Site, Van Long nature reserve; trek in Cuc Phuong national park or to Dancing Cave; bike along the winding road of the rural villages and mountains; or homestay with a local family for authentic local culture and foods.
Or join us, the Indochina Voyages Team, experts in tailor-made tours, to make the most of your time in Ninh Binh. Discover Trang An, Tam Coc, Dancing Cave, and more with our personalized itineraries. Contact us today for an unforgettable adventure. We’re always here to create your perfect Ninh Binh tour.
Here are our suggestions for Ninh Binh tours for you: