Tam Coc translates to “three caves” consist of Ca Cave, Hai Cave, and Ba Cave formed by Ngo Dong River. It is known as the Halong Bay on the land one of the best day trip locations to visit is Tam Coc in Ninh Binh province from Hanoi, Vietnam. 

Ninh Binh, Vietnam
Tam Coc Van Lam Pier

Taking a Minivan to Tam Coc

The minivan was jam-packed already when my tour guide picked me up from my hotel from old quarters. At 8:00 AM right after an excellent complimentary breakfast. It was not comfortable squeezing in to the back seat of a minivan with no leg room at all. Sometimes I hate to be the last guy getting onto a bus with only one last seat available.

Oh well, the excitement of visiting a place well known as Halong by on land superseded my pain. I guess that is what happens to us all who are so obsessed about traveling and exploring. Eventually when I return back home will definitely forget the uncomfortable 2 plus hours journey (about 100 km) and definitely, only the good memories will prevail.

The water-buffalo is known as The BMW of Vietnam

Arrival at The Ancient Capital of Hoa Lu

After 2+ hours of the bumpy ride, we arrived at Hoa Lu once was the capital of Vietnam in the 10th and 11th. centuries. The ancient capital of Hua Lu – Ninh Binh was once a magnificent, grand palace surrounded by the stone mountain with beautiful views of the lakes, making this place fascinating and spiritual. In recent days Hoa Lu has nearly 30 monuments, in which the temple of King Dinh and temple of King Le is most visited in this area.

Ninh Binh, Vietnam
Ninh Binh, Vietnam

Visit Bich Dong Pagoda

Bich Dong pagoda is located on Truong Yen Mountains, a few minute’s drive from Tam Coc. This religious site consists of 3 separate pagodas, bottom pagoda, middle pagoda, and the top pagoda. The iconic attraction worth visiting not only for its beautiful and charming scenery but also for being a place historical monuments of the province.

Finally At Tam Coc

After visiting King Le’s temple, we arrived at Tam Coc at about 12:00 noon. It was time for the Vietnamese buffet lunch, wide verities of food to choose from but the taste was ok nothing to brag about. I could not wait to see the Wharf and pave my way towards getting some good shot despite the Sun was shining like crazy right above my head.

Ninh Binh, Vietnam
Ninh Binh, Vietnam

Boat Ride From Tam Coc Van Lam Pier

Finally, our tour guide organizes few sampan boats for us and yes we are on Boat tours in Tam Coc are the most popular events in the Ninh Binh area. Finally, our tour guide organizes few sampan boats for us since we were part of a guided tour, and yes, we are on for a 1.5 – 2 hours boat ride along the scenic farmland. We will be going through the Tam Coc mean three caves. The actual entrance fee to Tom Coc is 120,000 VND per person plus 150,000 per boat. Only two tourists are allowed on each boat, therefore 195,000 VND per person if you are sharing a boat with someone.

Feet Rowing at Tam Coc, Ninh Binh
Feet Rowing at Tam Coc, Ninh Binh

Boat Experience

It is interesting to see most of the boat rowers more comfortable rowing with their feet so skilfully, which appeared quite challenging and very hard work. Even though they don’t ask for tips, But a tip of 25,000 VND per person is common. For their hard work and as a token of appreciation, giving them a few more wouldn’t dent your wallet.

As we cruise through the rice fields in between the limestone caves. Enjoyed the peaceful and beautiful reflection of the rolling mountains on the clear and calm water. I definitely felt relaxed when traveling through this stunningly beautiful place. I couldn’t just simply sit idle, so I grabbed the extra paddles and started rowing. It was an exciting experience.

Going through one of the three caves there
Going through one of the three caves there

Through the Cave

We passed through three caves, and a few of the cave ceiling was so low that we needed to duck down when passing through. At the end of the 3rd cave, we turned around for our return. Daytime sunshine was strong, and will hit you directly during the entire trip, wearing a hat could be a saver.

Since I already visited Ha Long Bay , my expectations were set so unrealistically high for Ha Long Bay on land. Unfortunately, my visit was in the wrong season to see the rice fields in their prime with the bright green and yellow colors, as shown on the postcards and online pictures. So plan accordingly.

Tam Coc boat ride
Tam Coc boat ride

Discover Tunspoiled Nature by Bicycle

Next stop chilling out at the wharf restaurant and then go biking on a Next stop chilling out at the wharf restaurant and then go biking on a country road around the village. It was an interesting one-hour bike ride. We stopped a couple of times, taking pictures of the beautiful unspoiled scenery of rolling limestone mountains lit up with ailing sunshine at the end of the day.

Tam Coc, Ninh Binh, Vietnam
Bike Ride in Tam Coc, Ninh Binh
Tam Coc, Ninh Binh, Vietnam
Tam Coc, Ninh Binh, Vietnam

Helpful Information

The best time to visit Vietnam is between December and March when temperatures vary between 24- 26°C (75 – 78°F). During this time weather becomes very mild and beautiful with moderate temperature, less rain, and warm sunshine. Perfect for the beach when the sun is out all day, waters are calm, and lifeguards readily available from 05:00 to 20:00 daily. Central and Southern Vietnam has two main seasons; rainy and dry seasons instead of four seasons like in Northern Vietnam.

The best season to visit Tam Coc is between May to Early June when the rice fields look a very colorful mixture of green and golden. If you are an enthusiastic photographer then early morning or late afternoon would be the best time to capture stunningly beautiful pictures.

Whereas Many avoid visiting Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, Hoi An, Hue between September – November when it rains continuously may occur typhoon and flood may also disrupt your planned trip.

  • December – March daily average temperature is between 24 – 26 degree Celsius ( 75 – 78 deg F)
  • June – August The highest temperate may hit 38 degrees Celsius ( 100 deg F) during the day.

By Train From Hanoi To Ninh Binh

It is an interesting experience to travel by train in Vietnam. The 2.5 hours of a comfortable train ride between Hanoi and Ninh Binh is nothing short of that. Tam Coc is only 5 km from Ninh Binh train station and there is plenty of transpiration available at the station. There are six daily trains to and from and you can buy a ticket online from the 12goAsia web site.

By Bus from Hanoi to Tam Coc or To Ninh Binh

There are Tourist buses running from Hanoi to Ninh Ninh or directly to Tam Coc and they are definitely affordable. The bus journey is about 2 hours and one-way ticket runs between 80,000 – 150,000 dong (US$ 4 – 6 ). I would recommend Bookaway.com for your bus ticket. You can also Buy your day trip tour from Hanoi to Tam Coc from one of the reliable travel agents if you prefer a guided tour.

Tourist Bas heading to Tam Coc
Tourist Bas heading to Tam Coc


Regardless if you are staying in Tam Coc or Ninh Binh, tourists absolutely need to have your own transport. Otherwise, you won’t be able to see places off the beaten track. Such as places like the beautiful view of rice fields and exploring the surrounding. You can reach out to your hotel or travel agents for rental information. Renting a motorbike would not cost you more than US$ 5,00/day. 

Another option is to rent a bike. Roads are flat and decent, so biking is an excellent way to get around in Tam Coc and the Ninh Binh area. But some of the attractions could be too far away; therefore, biking could be too tiresome.

Tam Coc Friendly Homestay

With mountain views, Tam Coc Friendly Homestay is located in Ninh Binh and has a restaurant, a 24-hour front desk, bar, garden, playground, and terrace. Both WiFi and private parking are accessible at the family stay free of charge.

All units comprise a seating area with a sofa, a dining area, and a fully equipped kitchen with various cooking facilities, including a microwave, a fridge, an oven, and a stovetop.

Lodge By Tam Coc lake

Located in Vũ Lâm, 5 miles from Ninh Binh, Lodge By Tam Coc lake has a bar and free WiFi. There is a fully equipped private bathroom with a shower and a hairdryer.

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My Opinion and Tips

Have you been to Tam Coc, Vietnam? Any additional tips to share?

Please leave a comment below! I’d love to hear from you to improve my knowledge. 

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Hasan Mahmud

Traveler, Blogger, and Travel Photographer!

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