One of the more popular day tours from Hanoi is to go to the Ninh Binh province, especially to do the Tam Coc caves (which actually means three caves). There are a couple of styles of boats that will take you along the Ngo Dong River, but the ones where the oarsman rows with their feet are different from anything else that we’ve done. The caves themselves are quite interesting as they have been carved out by the river and they actually create tunnels that take you under the mountain by boat.
The area of Ninh Binh is also known as the Halong Bay of Inner Vietnam for obvious reasons if you visit both of them as we did. The scenery is absolutely beautiful with the mountain scenery and the rice paddies. Due to the popularity of the tour, you will likely find a lot of boats on the river with you as you make your way through the three caves. In fact, we actually teased during our tour that it almost felt like we were on a ride in Disneyworld as the boats went one by one through the caves.
Most tours provide you with a local, handwoven hat, which you will need to protect from the sun during the hour and half tour. The limestone caves have unique formations due to the elements that have created them and will be within arm’s reach at some points as you make your way through them. One of the caves is so long that you will virtually be in the dark as you pass through it. As the boat turns around after passing through the last cave, there will be boats with local vendors offering to sell you drinks, snacks, and other items.
We saw so many amazing sights during our time in Vietnam and Tam Coc in the Ninh Binh province was certainly one of our favorites. There are a variety of choices of places that you can visit during a Ninh Binh tour, but we would highly recommend making Tam Coc one the choices that you make. Between the scenery, the caves, and the unique boats, it is well worth dealing with the potential crowds.