The sights of Ninh Binh are located slatternly outside the city, too many to see all in one day. However, for a one day trip, Tam Coc is an ideal place for you to spend a morning or afternoon.
Tam Coc is located in the Van Lam village which is 7km southwest of the center. It is is called “The Halong Bay on land” with the stunning limestone and rice paddies. Especially, it is the most beautiful in May, June with the endless fields of grain.
The highlight of Tam Coc is its different experience. It is the most pleasant felling while rowing through the Ngo Dong River in a ‘sampan’ and enjoying the fantastic scenery of mountains, rocks, and paddy fields for around 1 hour. Unique points of this trip are boatmen use their feet to row the boat and you can see wild mountain goats on the hillsides. A small advice to you is that you should not do it in the noon as it is extremely hot and there will be no shade apart from yours.
After an hour trip on the river, take another trip by bicycle around the agricultural villages and through the rice fields, many beautiful valleys on the picturesque quiet roads. On the way, visiting the pagoda or talking to local people is also great experience. Please be advised that, as at other temple/pagoda sites, it’s the better to be well behaved and stay covered up (no shorts), even when no one will officially check or enforce a dress code.
1/ Tickets: fee: VND 180,000/person for entrance fee and boat trip (~USD 90,00)
2/ Bicycle rental: Almost every hotel in Tam Coc has this service, very easy to find. Average price is around VND 50,000 per hour.
3/ Take a hat or umbrella with you to avoid sunburn
4/ You may be annoyed by local people who try to sell snacks and beverage and souvenirs. Just ignore them if you don’t want to buy and wait until the end of your boat trip to give the boatman a big tip. It is around VND 100,000 (USD 5) for your reference.