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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.