Tam Coc village is a wonderful little place in Ninh Binh Province, northern Vietnam. With its stunning rice fields and limestone scenery it’s a place worth visiting.
After our stay in Cat Ba Island, we travelled to Hai Phong and and then carried on to Ninh Binh. It’s quite a journey to make in one day so we decided to stay in Hai Phong overnight.
Getting a high speed boat from Cat Ba to Hai Phong
To get to Hai Phong, you can get a public fast boat at the Cat Ba town harbour. Ticket costs 180 VND ($8 USD) per person and you can buy them just before departing. We tried to buy them beforehand, but the girl who was selling the tickets kept telling us to wait. So we went to a cafe opposite the harbour and got some breakfast.
It took us around 1 hour to get to Hai Phong and the ride was pretty choppy. No more scenic Ha Long bay views, but still interesting scenery.
Getting a bus from Hai Phong to Ninh Binh
The bus to Ninh Binh leaves from Niem Nghia Bus Station. We bought our bus tickets for 140 VND ($6.26 USD) per person when we arrived to the station.
The journey from Hai Phong to Ninh Binh takes around 3 hours and be aware, local buses aren’t the most comfortable. If you can, avoid local sleeper bus journeys.
I really struggled with the drivers assistant smoking in the bus with all the windows closed. The driver also seemed to have a bad day. He was very rude when we asked where we needed to get off. We got dropped off at some random place by the main road next to a massive local restaurant. I doubt this was the bus station, but we got off anyway to avoid further hassle.
We had quite a good experience on a sleeper bus from Sapa to Ha Long Bay. Mind you it was a more touristy bus, hence more comfortable seats and no smoking inside.
Taxi to Tam Coc village
Once you are in Ninh Binh, it’s best to catch a taxi to Tam Coc village. There’s not much to do or see in Ninh Binh as during the American War the area was sadly completely flattened by the heavy bombing. It looks though, that the town is trying to get back on its feet with lots of construction taking place, which is nice to see.
It’s around 100,000 VND ($4.47 USD) per taxi ride. It seems to be a standard taxi price from and to the village.
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Tuấn Ngọc Hotel in Tam Coc village
If you are looking for a place to stay in Tam Coc village, we really recommend Tuấn Ngọc Hotel. It’s a 3 floor hidden gem, away from the busy main street and run by a local Vietnamese family. We really enjoyed our stay here and especially loved the terrace where we could do a bit of work.
On our arrival we were met with a cup of tea and coffee. The lady of the house and the whole family were very welcoming, friendly and accommodating.
Our room was very spacious and clean. It was so nice to be in a room with crisp clean sheets after a poor experience on Cat Ba Island.
We also had a little balcony in our room overlooking the neighbours gardens and the limestone rocks. We instantly loved the place and decided to stay here longer than we initially planned.
At 402,000 VND ($ 18 USD) per night with breakfast included it was a great base from which to explore the Tam Coc village. The food here was great, so most of the time we had lunch and dinner at our accommodation too.
Exploring Tam Coc on a motorbike
It’s amazing how quickly we got used to driving a bike throughout Vietnam. It’s one of the best ways to see places and Tam Coc village is no exception.
It’s great to whizz through some local areas and see the bright green rice fields in the distance. Tam Coc village is pretty flat so it’s easy (and cheaper) to explore it by bike. Just beware when going through some narrow local streets, there are many dogs barking about.
We rented a motorbike at our hotel for 2o0,000 VND ($9 USD) plus petrol 50,000 VND ($2.25 USD).
Scenic Tam Coc village
Tam Coc means 3 caves and it’s a relaxed and absolutely wonderful place. We loved the beautiful limestone karsts surrounding the village. Due to its incredibly scenic landscape and the rice paddies it’s often referred to as Ha Long on Land.
One of the biggest attractions in Tam Coc village is the beautiful Tam Coc lake. From here you can catch a boat called a sampan and get taken along the river Ngo Dong. The locals here row their boats with their feet which is a big attraction alongside the scenic landscape.
We didn’t do the boat tour, but instead admired the lake from the shore.
We were tempted to visit the Mua Cave for some panoramic views of the Tam Coc village, but it was so incredibly foggy and drizzly that we decided to save the pennies and give it a miss.
Sadly, we didn’t explore the village as much as we would have liked, because we were both feeling fragile for a few days.
Charlie caught a bug on Cat Ba Island and a couple of days later, when I thought I got away with it, I started feeling sick on our way to Tam Coc village. I spent two very unpleasant days in bed in our hotel. Luckily we were staying in a nice place for both of us to recover.
Bích Động in Tam Coc village
Located near Ngu Nhac Mountain and dating back to 1428, the Bích Động pagoda is a nice site to visit while in the village. Bike parking next to pagoda will cost you 10,000 VND ($0.45 USD).
The walk to the Lower Pagoda is very pleasant. There is also a bit of climbing to be done to get to the Middle Pagoda. Those 100 steps felt like a big effort only because I was still feeling slightly fragile, but it’s not that high really.
When we made it to the Middle Pagoda, there was some sort of ceremony going on. Women dressed in traditional outfits were singing, burning incense and drinking something that looked like Redbull energy drink.
While watching the ceremony we spotted a group of locals squeezing through the left side of the pagoda and decided to follow them. Soon we appeared in a dark cave with the wet steps leading us towards the Upper Pagoda.
Even through the extreme fog we could see the beautify of Tam Coc Village. We can only imagine how amazing it must look on a clear day. We really liked it and highly recommend visiting this village for the scenic views. You won’t be disappointed.
Tuấn Ngọc Hotel on Google Maps:
Have you been to Tam Coc Village? What was your favourite thing about it? Let us know in the comments below…
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