For a day trip in Vietnam and something a little different, consider heading to the Tam Coc region in the north. Tam Coc is arguably one of the most beautiful places in Vietnam (and there are some pretty spectacular spots to compete for that title). Just picture this: floating down a lazy river through golden rice fields, towering limestone karsts, and jade colored mountains while you explore twisting caves and stunning scenery. That’s what Tam Coc has to offer you– consider it the other Halong Bay (without the tourist crowds).
Tam Coc is very close to the city of Ninh Binh, which is only about a two hour drive from Hanoi. There are plenty of places to stay in Ninh Binh, so you can make that your base and just head out into the countryside for your adventuring.
To best explore Tam Coc you can hire a rowboat and guide for the afternoon. The rowers often row with their feet while they recline in the boat with their cone staw hats and let the river take you on its course. Go in the morning or late afternoon when the sun isn’t as strong and just enjoy the beautiful ride. The stretch of river to float takes about three hours and will take you along some incredible landscapes of the rice fields, karsts, and jungle covered mountains that are all often compared to Halong Bay. Some of the best parts of the trip are when you get to take the boats through caves that the river winds through. Locals may come in their own boats to try and sell goods, drinks, and food, but they tend to be over-priced so give them a firm ‘no’ and they should paddle on their way.
If boats aren’t your thing but you still want to experience the natural beauty of Tam Coc, rent bicycles or motorbikes in Ninh Binh and go where you please out in the countryside. Take the small roads that twist through the rice fields or climb up into the mountains. There’s an ancient cave temple called Bich Dong to see– as you pass through the caves and climb upwards the temple becomes more mysterious and secluded, filled with foreboding statues and smokey incence. If you make it to the top you’ll be rewarded with a spectacular view.
For the nature lovers, head to the Cuc Phuong National Park. It’s located in a dense and verdant jungle that is threaded with trails to explore the area. Hike through butterfly-filled rainforests, spot tropical birds and the occacional primate, and make your way to groves of ancient trees, some that are thousands of years old and still stand with an incredible determination as the heart of the jungle. Or head to the primate center, where they are currently rehabilitating over 150 primates to release them back into the wild.
However you decide to spend your time, plan on seeing some truly wonderful scenery. The natural beauty of the area is what Tam Coc really has to offer, so soak it up and make some memories. Explore, play, daydream and wander through the rivers and caves, jungles and mountains of Tam Coc.
Tags: Ninh Binh, Halong Bay, North vietnam tours