(3) Vietnam – Trang An (Hoa Lu and Tam Coc Caves)

Tuesday 01/04/2014

It was nice to see Hanoi in the morning – instead of streets full of scooters and sidewalks full of traders and other people, you could now see only some local people sitting on litte chairs, or on the ground, eating breakfast (soup of course :-D). Peace and quiet.

Hoa Lu

Trang An – is a beautiful area near Ninh Bình famous from ancient capital (Hoa Lu) and river boat trips through caves. On 23 June 2014 the Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

After arrival to Hoa Lu, first we went to explore local old temples, these were small but really worth seeing – especially gilded throne in which the emperors were carried. Everything had kind of increadible athmosphere – old walls corroded by time, beautiful green hills around.

By the entrance there was an old lady with a bison wearing Vietnamese traditional decorations, you could take a photo and have a ride for 20 000VND, and so I did. Our guide told us not to do this, but I don’t know why, the bison had quite tough hump, and the ride was very wobbly. The ride took around 5 minutes and it was worth it just for fun only.

Tam Coc Caves

After the temples we went for a boat trip to Tam Coc caves. The boats were taking 2 passangers and the boat rowers were rowing using … feet – it looked quite funny, but they were good at it.

We were going on a river between green hills, rice fields and through the caves, some of them were really long and it was completely dark in moments just seeing little light at the end of the tunnel – it was really interesting.

At the furthest point of our journey, where we were turning around, we had a quick stop where we were surrounded by local people selling drinks and food (chips, cookies), they were very intrusive, if you didn’t want to buy anything for yourself they were asking you to buy something for the rower, it wasa bit uncomfortable situation and we both a can of coke for a piece of mind. The rower smiled and hidden the drink under the seat, I suspect the coke came back to the seller for half price later. On the way back the rower suddenly opened a big metal case which was in the middle of the boat and started showing us things he has for sale: t-shirts, bags, paintings. We’ve decided to buy 2 t-shirts for my husband, but there was no XL size. The rower has made few phone calls, and when we were going under one of the bridges, someone on scooter stopped on the bridge and dopped few t-shirts to the boat. Unfortunately it was still not what we wanted, but by the time we got to the end of the journey, there was another guy waiting for us on the river bank with the t-shirts we wanted. For the 2 t-shirts I paid 100 000 VND – dropped from 200 000 VND after negotiations. The quality appeared not so good though, after few washes it’s gone to bin.

Apart from what we’ve paid already for the trip, we had to pay mandatory tip 50 000 VND. After the trip we went for a lunch and then we had a bike tour for 1 hour on local paths between fields and hills. I’m not used to biking so it was a bit painful for me, but it was definitely worth it just for the views – the colours there are so live. Half way through we came across a market, in a small village, with souvenirs and local products, and the prices were very attractive. I bought a bag, a range, fridge magnets and a hair clip, in very attractive prices especially after Thomas’s negotiations.

I really recommend going for that trip – beautiful nature, temples, boat trip, one of the best.

On the way back from the trip, we’ve managed to find out an address of restaurant where you can eat a snake as it was on top of Thomas’s to-do in Vietnam list.

Continue reading about our trip in Hanoi here: Vietnam – Hanoi or you can read Vietnam – Hoi An

Basic Travel Information and Our Travel Plan you will find here: Vietnam – Basic Travel Information and Our Travel Plan

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