Ngô Đồng river leading us to one of the most famous sightseeings in Vietnam.
Ninh Binh is famous for one of the most important tourism destinations in Vietnam - "Tam Cốc" or literally means "Three caves". It have been considered as "The Halong Bay on earth" due to its majestic views of mountain and river scenery.
In Hanoi, I made a quick booking at Sinh Cafe office which is located everywhere in the old quarter of Hanoi. I paid 600,000 VND (i.e around 30 USD) for a day trip to Tam Cốc. It's better if we book in advance, I booked only one day before the departure, probably not during high season, so no problem. The package includes the transportation, a 3-dishes lunch and ticket to the sights. On the way to Tam Cốc, the bus tour stops at Hoa Lư for a 30 minutes excursion. Hoa Lư was our first capital over 1000 years ago during the Đinh and Lý dynasties.
The later in the afternoon, the busier the river with hundred of boats...
Wife and husband in their 80s, still strong enough to carry guests to visit the caves.
We depart quite late around 9:00 am (compared to what they said earlier - 8:00 am) as the tour agent still picks up the others at different hotels in town. Sinh Cafe used to be a first and popular tour agent for low budget travelers, the service is just ok!
During the tour we still have 20' riding on a bicycle along the rice fields, please make sure the bicycle rent is included otherwise you probably will be charged an extra 100,000 VND for it. The view during the ride on bicycle is nice. Anyway please check with the tour operator all details of your journey.
Then the second cave appears, 60 m in length...
and the impressive views of stalactite from the roof of a cave.
Along the riding on river, we got some stories from our boatman, from mysterious stones on the mountain which remind the images ,from our folklore, like "wife waiting desperately for husband", an elephant stone related to our historical figures or a bat cave where, during the old war, the bat's feces inside the cave have been used by our soldiers for the explosives.
The last cave with a small floating market, selling beverage, fruits , local snacks...
Counting the money, the more tourists come, the happier she is...
The mountains after mountains scene is really one of breathtaking beauties in Tam Cốc.
The only thing I couldn't do in this trip is to try the local flavors in Ninh Bình - the famous goat meat with scorched rice. I was told later that it depends on the package from Tour agent, you may be invited to the buffet where they serve the grilled goat meat with scorched rice. Heard it's nice. However I bought a pack of scorched rice topped with pork floss - 25,000 VND from local market (it could be cheaper!) and enjoyed it during my way back to Hanoi! Crispy, a bit spicy, tasty! Good snack!