Every region in Vietnam leaves unforgettable imagines in travelers’ mind. It is not just the magnificent landscapes that leave a deep impression on those who have lived here or simply passed through, but ordinary moments of daily life. Unlike imagines of mysterious ancient temple-towers in Central Vietnam or bustling floating markets and river wafts in the Mekong Delta, tour to Northern Vietnam offers a cultural journey through a history that spans thousands of years, represented by bamboo, water wells and the courtyards of old communal halls. On these days, when you come to Tam Coc Ninh Binh, you will admire very spectacular scenery by the bright yellow of rice field.
Travelling as a photos hunter, I choose this time to hunt for amazing pictures and you will be you will be immersed in the natural sky of a quiet countryside. Throughout the journey, you’ll see the sceneries of harvesting fields, ripening paddy field and pictures of farmers on their fields. The journey bring us to yellow rice fields where storks take flight, ancient village gates that have witnessed people’s up and down, and small markets full of traders. Visiting Tam Coc Ninh Binh, you can have chance to dip into the natural space of the countryside which is very quiet and peaceful.
How to best travel to Tam Coc Ninh Binh
Only about 110 km from Hanoi, you can easily take a trip to Tam Coc by using rented car, rented motorbike or bus. When I visit Tam Coc, I prefer using my own motorbike so that I can effectively and actively manage our time and trip. However, if this is your first time, and you are not that familiar with Vietnam riding, I would recommend using a car or getting on a tour.
The best time to visit Tam Coc
The best time to visit Tam Coc is from mid April to mid June when the rice harvest season. In April the rice paddies are evergreen, and from late May till early June, they turn yellow as they ripen. Shades of green in between shades of yellow rice paddies are breath-taking if you take pictures from above.
However, some people agree that any time is a good time to visit Tam Coc. If you go there when it is rainy you will be welcomed with bright green rice paddies. And if you go there when it is dry, golden paddies will be an awe to look at. Try to avoid September though, because there can be heavy rain threatening.
What to do in Tam Coc
Tam Coc means “three caves”, including Ca cave, Hai cave and Ba cave. All three caves are formed by the Ngo Dong River pierced through the mountain. Ca Cave is 127 m long, through a large mountain, the cave gate is over 20 m wide. In the cave, the weather is cool and there are many stalactites hanging down with many shapes. Hai Cave, which is nearly 1 km from Ca cave, is 60 m long. The cave ceiling has many stalactites curving down that looks very strange. Ba cave, near Hai cave, is 50 m long. The ceiling cave like a rock arch, which is lower than the other two caves. These 3 caves were created by Ngo Dong River flowing through lime stone mountains. To properly witness the majestic beauty of Tam Coc, you will need at least 3 hours on the boat ride.
If you want to visit Tam Coc, you sail from the central station. The boat will take you on the Ngo Dong River winding through the cliffs, caves and watching the ripen rice fields. It takes around two hours to go and come back. The scenery of Tam Coc, especially on the two sides of the Ngo Dong River, can vary with the rice season (green rice, yellow rice or silver color of water in the field). However, the most beautiful scene is still in the season of ripen rice field, when along the banks of the Ngo Dong river, the yellow color blending with the green of the grass to create a wonderful painting.
Cycling is a must
Don’t even think of renting a scooter, get a bicycle instead. As soon as we get out of town, you can spot plenty of tiny roads on the small dams between the ponds. Goats are running ahead of you. Quaking ducks rush into a pool as we pass by. Cycling in this village is really fun and adventurous, from town to the Bich Dong pagoda and through the rice fields and huge rock formations. Bich Dong pagoda is 3 km away from Tam Coc and was built in 1428 on a mountain. It takes at least 2 hours for you to climb up the stairs and explore the complex; we recommend that you go to the very top to see Tam Coc from above as it is absolutely epic.
Climbing up to Mua cave
Would you like to get panoramic view of Tam Coc? Mua cave is a great place with trekking activity to conquer Mua mountains.You will have an impressive overview and beautiful photos of limestone pillars, Ngo Dong river, rice fields in Tam Coc and Ninh Binh city. Hang Mua is constructed following the model of “miniature Great Wall” in China with nearly 500 steps up to mountains to conquer. It is a hard trek up with many of its uneven limestone steps, especially at the top point; but worth your conquering efforts for impressive panoramic view when you reach the top point of Ngoa Long mountain. Take your leisurely trek up with care due to steep steps on the way.
Tam Coc is very famous for their goat dishes, mountain snails cooked in lemongrass and chilli, rice crust, eel vermicelli, etc.
Visitors come to Tam Coc every weekend when the road is quite easy, which is suitable for short trips, picnics, or simply looking for a place to forget about daily life. It can be accommodated to a 2 days 1 night trip if you want to make the most of every destination you go to. If you have more time in Vietnam tours, you can consider this Exclusive trip Pu Luong to Ninh Binh 4 days tour.
Therefore, if you do not want to miss the beautiful scenery like heaven in Tam Coc this season, carry your backpack on the road right away!
Nam Lucas – Travel Specialist