A visit to Tam Coc and Trang An gives a perfect opportunity to travel along scenic rivers in a small boat paddled by a local woman. These boat trips offer perfect scenery with the karst formations, paddy fields and venturing through caves. Plus, on the Tam Coc tour, it is possible to stop off at sights like the Thai Vi Pagoda.
Tam Coc (also referred to as three caves) is located approx 90 km from Hanoi in Ninh Binh. This region of Vietnam is rich in spectacular and dramatic landscapes. Similar to Halong Bay, Tam Coc is rich in karst rock formations and limestone caves. But, instead of being in a bay area, the local area has the Ngo Dong River which is surrounded by rice paddies. Tam Coc is easily accessible and well worth a visit on the Vietnam tour packages.
The best way to experience the dramatic Tam Coc scenery is on a boat that travels along the Ngo Dong River. This winding waterway has a parade of river boats taking a slow and relaxed journey. A typical journey lasts about 2 or 3-hours and includes passing through three caves. These natural grottoes (Hang Cuoi, Hang Giua and Hang Ca) helped to give this region its name.
The preferred time to plan the boat trip in Tam Coc is late morning. Try to leave it until the early morning mist has cleared – which can obscure the view – but before the intense heat arrives, which can leave travellers on an open boat feeling quite uncomfortable.
But, still remember to pack sensibly and take along a hat or umbrella (useful for tourists with sensitive skin) and wear appropriate sunscreen.
Trang An is another region of spectacular scenery to explore on the Vietnam tour with its sleepy Sao Khe River and limestone caves. It is a perfect place for a relaxing trip on the open-topped rowboats. A typical boat trip lasts about 2 hours and includes a choice of routes with both visiting the local temples and a dozen otherworldly caverns, caves, and tunnels. Boats can stop outside the caves to let passengers have a closer look inside, or where possible, float through the cave systems to witness the hanging stalactites
Trang An is located approx 7 km northwest of Ninh Binh. Similar to the Tam Coc trip, it is essential to take along sunscreen and a hat because these boats aren’t able to provide any shade.
The prices for a boat trip in Tam Coc and Trang An are slightly different. In Trang An, the tourist pays about $6.50 for the hire. Passengers are limited to the number of seats. In Tam Coc there is an initial cost of $4.50 for the boat hire and a further $3.50 per passenger – but the boat is limited to accepting only two or three passengers.
In addition to the group trips on the shared boats, there is also the option to reserve a private boat for a higher fee. Hiring your own boat in Trang An on the Vietnam private tour costs about $25 for a trip that lasts for about 2 hours.