Exploring Tam Coc and its surroundings
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We arrive at Tam Coc after a 5-hour trip from Halong Bay (https://www.marsontheroad.com/en/destinazioni/67/the-surreal-landscape-in-halong-bay).
We are still in good company with Marica's family who came to visit us this week. We stay at La Belle Vie Tam Coc Brother hotel for € 5 per person including breakfast. Great service and clean room.
Tam Coc is 90 km from Hanoi (about 3 hour-drive by car) and 7 km from the town of Ninh Binh. This village is called the "Halong Bay on land" for its magnificence. We arrive in the evening and we soon notice that here there are not many tourists. The village takes place on the main road where most of the hotels and restaurants are concentrated.
We buy a tour for Trang An for the next day for about 35 euros at one of the local agencies. The latter is a village located near the southern edge of the Red River delta; it is a spectacular landscape of limestone karst peaks, many of them partially submerged and surrounded by steep, almost vertical cliffs.
We start the tour first visiting the Bai Dinh pagoda. The Bai Dinh pagoda covers a total area of 2000 hectares; The Bai Dinh complex is the largest Buddhist centre in South East Asia with hundreds of statues of different sizes. It is characterized by a majestic architecture and still retains the traditional features. Admission is 50,000 dong (1 euro = about 28,000 dong, so just under 2 euro). We reach the entrance of the pagoda with an electric golf machine and take about 2 hours to visit it together with our guide. Here is the largest bronze Buddha statue in Vietnam with 10 meters high, 100 tons of weight.
On the way to the second stop of the tour, we also pass through the ancient capital Hoa Lu and after that, we head to the "Hang Mua viewpoint" where you can admire a wonderful panoramic view of the whole air. We reach the summit along the steps for about 20 minutes. Once at the top, we enjoy the beautiful view even though it is raining. You can admire many green rice fields being now the period of the plantation, mountains of various shapes and the river that flows in the middle. On the mountain on the right we reach the mountain of the dragon: so called for the presence of the dragon statue; while on the mountain on the left there is a small pagoda.
For lunch, we stop at a restaurant with local food including the tour. In the afternoon we go for a two-hour boat ride near the village of Trang An. We arrive near the river and there are many boats with local ladies who row. Get on a boat and start the tour. We visit 3 caves and in the meantime, we help the lady to row. The caves are really fantastic and suggestive. This landscape (included in the list of UNESCO archaeological sites in 2014) leaves us speechless: a mixture of caves, mountains, rice fields that dominates the green colour that is reflected even in the river.
The tour ends at 5.30 pm. In our opinion, it was a really full and intense day, both for the planned activities and for the magnificent landscapes we got to know.