Vietnam: Tam Coc, the Halong Bay on land

A wonderful surprise. Tam Coc, in the region of Ninh Binh, North Vietnam, is a small haven of peace where you are immersed in an impressive natural setting. Landscapes that can dethrone the very famous Halong Bay. Tam Coc is a small paradise in the middle of rice fields and mountains, far from chaos and crowds, where you live at the rhythm of people on their bikes. Here we discover rural Viet Nam, the one that plunges us into the daily life of farmers and rice farmers.
In short, that was my coup de coeur !

I am sharing some of my favorite activities that we did when we were in Tam Coc  
If you’re looking for information and travel tips – what to do and where to sleep in Tam Coc – go straight at the end of this post… 

 

We arrived at Tam Coc after spending 24 hours in the Vietnamese capital (Hanoi) and the change of scenery is total. I immediately feel immersed by a feeling of freedom and calm.
I am riding my bicycle while admiring the landscapes which pass in front of me. How beautiful it is… Vietnam as I imagined it before I left.
It’s only been a few hours since we arrived in the Tam Cocand I’m already under the spell of these alleys, these rice plains, these rocks that spring up everywhere, this tranquility… What a nice surprise.
The hair in the wind, I especially love all these colors and this rhythm of life…
First, the 50 shades of green that colour nature, from rice fields to karst rocks. A nature that seems both wild and, at the same time, so well preserved.
Then, the boat rides, led by these women who row with their feet and who take us to discover the small water paths that thread between the mountains (karst rocks).
Finally, the alleys where dozens of red flags stand, sometimes Vietnamese, sometimes Communist, placed every 15 meters on the electric poles…
I am happy to know that we have almost 3 days to discover this small haven of peace… and clearly, you can’t get bored here!

 

 

 

 

Tam Coc boat tour in the early morning

Tam Coc is known for its small boat rides, where very often women row…with their feet (yes, yes!). These ladies, for the most part, work first in the rice fields and take advantage of tourism to make ends meet.
From the pier, you are transported inside the small mountains, passing through caves and, within a few minutes, you find yourselves in nature, far from everything…

Riding to discover the surroundings

It is the most popular means of transportation. By bike you can take the most secret paths, get lost in nature, and then advance at the pace of local people

Climbing to Mua Cave (The Lying Dragon Mountain) at sunset

This is the viewpoint I discovered on Instagram, and which is becoming more and more popular. To find the caves of Mua, you have to pass a hotel and climb some stairs (yes, there are almost 2000 steps). From up there, it’s a cinematic setting…

 

 

Bích Động Pagoda

 

 

And then…

 

A few hours later, I could no longer feel my legs (Cycling can be so exhausting!). I was so happy to find our little bamboo bungalow, where it was so quiet and where the bed was so comfortable. The night falls early and very quickly. It’s 7:30pm and it’s already dark.
Before falling asleep I try to rember all the people we had met during the past two days in Tam Coc.  These people we met, with whom we could not always communicate with words, but were happy to offer us their smile and a warm welcome…

 

Travel tips

How to reach Tam Coc (Ninh Binh) ?


Tam Coc is located a few kilometers from the city of Ninh Binh. To reach Tam Coc, the train is the most convenient way (2 hours from Hanoi) – price between 4 and 7$. From Hanoi there are 3 trains per day: 06h00 – 09h00 – 20h10 (see on Vietnam railways website)

There are also many bus companies that make the trip in 3 hours and departures are more numerous.

To reach Tam Coc from Ninh Binh station, the easiest way is to take a taxi (price 90.000 Dong= US$4)

Ninh Binh – Tam Coc: same same? 

Yes, Ninh Binh is the big city – where the train station is. Tam Coc, is in the province of Ninh Binh and is located a few kilometers from Ninh Binh. I would not advise you to sleep^or to go to Ninh Binh because there is very little interest…

Where to sleep ?

As very often in Vietnam, I would advise to sleep outside the city center. Here, I would say not to stay in the center of Tam Coc, but rather to find a Homestay or a small hotel or hostel in the middle of nature, in the surroundings. The advantage? You are in the middle of nature, quiet and we will eat local in the many small restaurants that are outside Tam Coc (even those that do not look it).

We stayed at Ham Rong Homestay: a real little paradise! We had a bamboo bungalow facing a lake, overlooking nature. It is not very far from Mua Cave and you can rent bicycles or a scooter, so it was perfect to get around. 

What to do? 

  • Bike & Scooter ride to discover the region (scooters are useful to go further)
  • Boat tour
  • Climbing on Lying Dragon Mountain, the view is wonderful !
  • Discover the pagodas (Bích Động,…)
  • Visit the ancient capital Hoa Lu (quite far from the center of Tam Coc, not very big, but full of history)

We took a boat ride from the Tam Coc pier. We knew that it was a tourist place but when we arrived one Monday morning around 08h30 we hardly met anyone… It was a joy and the place is really beautiful! We paid 295,000 dong for two – but the prices change so fast that it’s better to find out when you get there.

Do not miss ♡

  • Eat local, where there are no other tourists and where only locals eat (you can find Pho and menu for 30.000 dong = US$1) And that’s delicious
  • See the sunset (close to here)
  • Go on a boat tour – a unique experience !
  • Get lost

How many days?

To have time to take your time, to visit and bike around, two to three days on the spot is an ideal duration.
Really, do not go on a “day-trip” (from Hanoi). It would really lose the best of Tam Coc: the morning life and sunset on the karstic rocks or from the top of Mua Cave…

Tam Coc was a real crush for me ♡

 

Are you going to Tam Coc or Vietnam soon? Do you have questions?

Or do you want to share your thoughts?

Leave me a message 🙂 ⇣

 

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