When visiting Hanoi in Vietnam, planning a day trip to the Ninh Binh province is well worth the time. You will likely have the choice to visit several different locations during your visit and choosing to go to Mua Cave should be one of them. It isn’t about seeing the cave, there are plenty of other caves that are more impressive, but it is all about climbing the over 540 stairs to see the incredible views of the countryside.
To be clear, the steps are steep and uneven throughout much of the ascent to the top, so bring plenty of water and take your time. Despite the effort to reach the summit, the views along the way as well as when you reach the top are well worth the muscle pain. At the base of the mountain is a beautiful park with statues of horses and a fountain. It is a perfect place to sit in the shade and unwind after completing the long climb up the staircase.
As you near the top of the stairs, you will have the choice to go to one of two viewing areas, one lower and one that continues all of the way to the top. Obviously you can do both, but we chose just to head all of the way up to the top. Looking down, you can see the Ngo Dong River and all of the boats paddling their way through Tam Coc (or three caves). We had done the Tam Coc tour earlier in the day, so seeing it from above was a truly different experience.
Ninh Binh has been called “the Halong Bay of inner Vietnam” and the scenery will definitely let you know why. By the time we reached the top, it was late in the afternoon and the mist was rising up from the jungle vegetation below, making for stunning views. It was as difficult going down as it was climbing to the top, so give yourself plenty of time for going both directions. It is very popular with tourists for obvious regions, so expect there to be plenty of people joining you as you wind your way up the staircase.