We invite you to come and discover the rich tapestry of Vietnam's ancient past with us as we travel south from Hanoi to the Province of Ninh Binh. Soak up the ambience of Hoa Lu, the ancient capital city during the Dinh and Le Dynasties, one thousand years ago.
Swap dry land for traditional Vietnamese transport as we board a sampan for a cruise down the Tam Coc River with the further option of floating down Trang An or Thung Nang Rivers famous for their charming grottoes and limestone karst mountains.
Detailed Itinerary Of A Day Hoa Lu & Tam Coc from Hanoi
We set off at 0830 for the two and a half hour drive through rural northern countryside to the site of Vietnam's very first capital city: Hoa Lu. For those interested in the mystical ancient culture of Vietnam, this will be a real treat. Even to those who are making their first foray into Vietnamese history, the temples dedicated to Emperor Dinh Tien Hoang of the Dinh Dynasty (968-80), and Emperor Le Dai Hanh of the Le Dynasty (980-1009) really give an excellent feel for the grandeur of this ancient culture.
If time permits after visiting Hoa Lu, take a half-hour walk up one of the surrounding limestone karst hills, the climb is rewarding with spectacular views. This extra highlight is recommended for those guests who are fit and healthy due to the relatively strenuous nature of the climb.
As late morning approaches, departing for Tam Coc Town for a Vietnamese lunch. Along the way there is an opportunity to stop and take photographs of local villages and the stunning landscape (so make sure your cameras are fully charged!)
After lunch board your private sampan* (see other options below) and effortlessly glide down this beautiful river. The enormous limestone karst jutting out from the green rice fields - undoubtedly a highlight and an excellent photo opportunity - have given rise to other nickname, ‘Halong on Land’.
Once you have worked through your lunch, call upon your adventurous aide as you climb up to Bich Dong Pagoda on nearby Ngu Nhac Mountain. Dating to 1428, this wonderful pagoda is comprised of three structures: Ha, Trung, and Thuong Pagodas, in ascending order. Following its back by sampan to Tam Coc town before returning to Hanoi where you arrive in the late afternoon. (L)
Trang An: situated near to Tam Coc, Trang An is a nature reserve that is similar to Tam Coc, but less visited. Limestone hills surround a peaceful river which passes through a series of caves (one of which takes 15-minutes to pass through in darkness). An ‘eco tourism’ area, the only interruptions here are the sound of birds and the gentle paddle of the oar upon the crystal clear river.
Thung Nang: Thung Nang is similar to not as spectacular as Tam Coc but a very a pleasant alternative. Pass through a cave, fields of lotus (in summer) and reach a quaint pagoda before returning on the same route.
Note: Please be aware that some women on boats may try to sell local products to tourists. Guests should refer to their guide if this situation makes them uncomfortable.
Transport: Bicycle, Private Car, Rowing Boat, Local Boat