Ha Long Bay of the land

Exploring Ninh Binh

Having decided to buy a motorbike to travel through Vietnam, we were ready to head south from Hanoi in search of warmer climes.  As it was our first journey on the bikes, and in fact Jay’s first time ever on a motorbike, we decided to start slowly and only ride 100km to the nearest city.

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Ninh Binh, a small, unassuming city off the tourist trail in the Red River Delta was our planned destination. And although we had previously never heard of the place, a simple Google search revealed that the surrounding landscape was stunning- most notably, Tam Coc.

Described as the Ha Long Bay of the land, the limestone formations protrude proudly from the rice paddies lining the river, creating a mystical landscape.

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The most popular (and over touristic) way to experience the area is on a boat trip down the river. Opting for more of an adventure, we decided to check out Mua caves, which it turned out aren’t actually caves at all.

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Nearly 500 steps and some rugged limestone scrambling later, we arrived at the altar to Quan Am (the Goddess of Mercy) where offerings are left. Climbing even higher to the lying dragon that guards the mountain, we were afforded spectacular panoramic views over the rice paddies, the city in the distance and the river meandering through the rock.

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The climb to the top is fairly easy and well worth it. I was slightly unsure about stopping in such a small city when we had so far to travel but it was a good call. The views over the rice paddies were spectacular, even if the weather wasn’t in our favour.

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Lying Dragon, Tam Coc from Elliott Waring on Vimeo.

 My advice would be to visit this spectacular place, but don’t stay too long. There’s nothing else to do in Ninh Binh- like literally nothing- so a quick stop is more than enough.

It’s definitely worth stopping in the smaller places when travelling through Vietnam. It’s in these villages and towns that you can experience the real Vietnam.

5 thoughts on “Exploring Ninh Binh

  1. Wow, it looks really cool! I’m in Ninh Binh right now and will be getting a motorbike to visit these places. Were you able to travel around the Tam Coc area, not have to pay to get in, and still get the really cool views? Or do you have to take the boat ride to see it? Really wanting to get the drone out, but I’m afraid to do it if there are a ton of tourists! haha.

    1. Honestly, it’s incredible! The views from the top of Mua Caves is amazing. We rode from Ninh Binh to Tam Coc and parked our bikes at the bottom of Mua Cave. There is a small fee for parking and entry but it’s not much. We avoided the boat tours and just climbed up to see everything. Flying a drone over the tops would be class! I’d love to see the footage if you do get it out! If you have any more questions let me know!

      1. Sweet, I’ll be looking up maps to Mua Cave later tonight and going straight there 🙂 Out of curiosity, how much did they charge you for parking and entry? I like to research prices before so that I’m aware if I’m being jipped! lol

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