Vietnams Hidden Secret - Tam Coc, Ninh Binh
Hello :) Britney & Damien here!
- How to get to Ninh Binh?
When you hear of people travelling to Ninh Binh, I am 99% sure they are all actually going to Tam Coc. Ninh Binh city itself is far from interesting. We were travelling south from Ha Long Bay and was told that the bus was the best mode of transport. It was supposed to be a 4 hour bus trip, which in true south-east asian style ended up taking 6 hours. After all, this is Asia and nothing really is what it's said to be.. Luckily we aren't in a rush! The bus conveniently stops in the middle of Tam Coc out the front of The Long Hotel. From here you have easy access to the majority of accommodation and eateries.
- Why Tam Coc?
Tam Coc is a quaint little town situated in northern Vietnam, 90km south of Hanoi. The name Tam Coc means '3 caves' and is known to travellers as the "Ha Long Bay on land". You will find this place nestled between luscious rice fields and the Ngo Dong River. The spectacular landscapes are the main reason why you would put this place on your itinerary. The town of Tam Coc is backpacker-friendly with enough chilled out bars and hostels to keep everyone happy. One of the things we enjoyed most about Tam Coc was that it is relatively untouched. Especially when compared to Ha Long Bay or Hanoi. It also makes a convenient stop over between Ha Long Bay and Hoi An. The bus journey from Ha Long / Hanoi to Hoi An is simply too long to endure in one trip! Check out our images below and see for yourself. This sure is a hidden beauty!
- Where to stay?
I am only going to recommend one place to stay. Call me bias but I don't think you can do any better! We stayed at the lovely TAM COC FAMILY HOTEL. They went above and beyond for us and made our stay extra special. We have never met a family host so kind and generous to us. The husband and wife that owned the hotel spoke very little english so we communicated mostly with their young daughter, she was the sweetest. The breakfast was delicious, they cook it on the spot for you! I chose chicken Pho and Damien ordered fried eggs which gets served with a fresh, warm baguette. Mmmm mouth watering!
- PRICE: For a standard double room we paid 408,000 Dong ($23 AUD) per night, including breakfast
- What to do?
Our favourite thing to do in Tam Coc was to hire a boat with a local driver and cruise down the Ngo Dong river. The 1.5 hour round trip takes you on a journey under the 3 caves and along the stunning, winding river of Ngo Dong. This is a must-do.
The other activity we did was hiring bicycles and made the 30 minute cycle to Mua Caves. The 20 minute hike to the top of Lying Dragon Mountain takes you up the steepest set of 450 stairs you have ever seen. The pain in our legs was worth the view at the top. Panoramic views of the Ngo Dong River and the surrounding limestone cliffs are simply stunning. Hot Tip: do this early in the morning - we did it in the midday heat and it was almost unbearable. On the way back to the hotel we were racing against an incoming storm - check out the photos below!
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