Exploring Tam Coc – Bich Dong – the most famous destination in Ninh Binh
Tam Coc - Bich Ðong is the popular tourist destination in North Vietnam and part of the Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex UNESCO World Heritage site. It consists of two distinct attractions: Tam Coc, a flooded cave karst system; and Bich Ðong, a series of mountain pagodas. For hundreds of years, the place has preserved the primitive beauty that has attracted countless visitors. Let’s find out what makes Tam Coc – Bich Dong so alluring with Whatsup Vietnam.
Tam Coc literally means three grottos, located in Ninh Hai Commune, Hoa Lu District, Ninh Binh Province. Once upon a time, this place was full up with flapping sea waves, passing many centuries the waves eroded into the cliffs created different shapes of karst landscapes. The only way to visit Tam Coc is by waterway which normally takes about 3 hours.
Far from Hanoi about 100 km, Tam Coc is known as the ‘Ha Long Bay on land’ and is a great destination for your holiday in the north of Viet Nam. In Tam Coc, you’ve got the perfect recipe for calm and impressed in this beautiful countryside.
2. Best time to visit Tam Coc – Bich Dong
Depending on the individual plan you can choose the time to travel Tam Coc Bich Dong, but there are some timelines as follows you can refer:
April: In this time, the weather is quite dry, there is no longer the hot and humid annoyance of the north but the sunshine is not also too harsh, so sitting on the boat will not be annoying.
From the first to the third lunar month: is the time when the festival of Bai Dinh Pagoda is organized, visitors on Ninh Binh tours can combine the pilgrimage and discovering Tam Coc Bich Dong on this occasion. If you want to add Hoa Lu to the trip, remember come in 8th to 10th of the third lunar month yearly, because this is the time of the Truong Yen festival.
In late May and early June: is the season of rice in the field Tam Coc Bich Dong, then the image of rice fields mixed with green rice fields and yellow gold will create a picture with beautiful colors.
3. How to get there?
The most interesting way to get there is to rent a motorbike from Hanoi with the cost 100.000 to 150.000 VND/day. It will take 3 hours to get the destination, but you can admire completely beautiful sceneries on your way.
It gets easier for you to buy a bus ticket from Travel Agency in Hanoi or get one from your hotel. If you just use the shuttle bus to transfer to Ninh Binh then spending 1 day or a few days you can buy 1-way tick or 2 ways tickets. In case you book a day trip Hoa Lu Tam Coc Mua Cave Tour the price includes transportation
Every day there are some trains from Ha Noi to Ninh Binh station. The earliest one usually starts at 6:00 am. One day in advance you should buy your train ticket at Ha Noi station
4. What to expect in Tam Coc – Bich Dong
These grottoes were made due to the transformation of geology, seawater, and rainwater that have worn cliffs in a long period of millions of years. The three grottoes are situated on Ngo Dong River and are permeated by the water of this river, so they are also called the “Three Trans Grottoes”. The longer we travel on the rowing boat, the more beautiful, fanciful and poetic the scenery becomes; the air becomes fresher as we are far away from the bustling and dusty atmosphere of streets. On either side of the boats, there are green rice fields and lotus puddles. Rapids have developed in The Ngo Dong river by the accumulation of falling rock.
Tam Coc means three grottos: Ca grotto, Hai grotto, and Ba grotto. When the boat comes into three grottos, tourists will feel cool. Stalactites from the ceiling like iridescent pearls. This grotto is adorned with beautiful stalactites and stalagmites of different shapes and colors that sparkle like gemstones. Now when drifting along the gentle Ngo Dong River under the Grotto, you can feel the deeply pure atmosphere with special smell of fresh rivers water and cool air from karst mountains when reaching each of the 3 caves in turns.
Tam Coc has long been opened to tourists so that its rowing boat services are quite good and in order. All boats are numbered and take in turn to supply their service ordered by the harbor's operation. You just get entrance and boat ticket ( around 10usd/person) at Tam Coc ticket station, then start your boat trip slowly rowing along winding Ngo Dong river with the breathtaking view of majestic limestone outcrops, paddy fields cultivated on both sides of river, aquatic species underwater or sometimes the moment of goats eating plants on mountains.
Bich Dong is a beautiful pagoda on the nearby Ngu Nhac Mountain dated to 1428 under the Le Dynasty, comprising three structures: Ha (lower), Trung (middle), and Thuong (upper) Pagodas, in ascending order. The Low pagoda has five compartments built on the ground at the foot of the mountain. From the Low pagoda, up to 120 steps are the impressive Middle pagoda with half of it was carved into mountain including three compartments. Up to 40 steps are the Upper pagoda located on the highest point nearby the top of The Bich Dong mountain. From here you can have the wonderful perspective view of the Bich Dong pagoda area.
In 1773, Mr. Nguyen Nghiem (the father of the great writer Nguyen Du) visited this cave. He was much impressed by the whole magnificent scenery of mountains, waterways, fields, and sky covered in green mist. Thus, he gave it a very beautiful and romantic name, Bich Dong, which literally means “Green Pearl Grotto”. From the upper pagoda, you will have the most magnificent view of Bich Dong, which is romantically charming in terms of architecture and history. Bich Dong Grotto reveals its natural beauty with colors, shapes, and sounds of stalactites that no one could refuse to touch and feel indeed this beauty.
- Tam Coc - Bich Dong ecotourism area is very large and the journey always takes up a long time, if you go in the dry season, you should bring an umbrella or conical hat and sunscreen to use while sitting on a riverboat. You can also bring a thin coat when sailing into a cave because there, the low temperatures will cause a cold feeling. When going in the rain season, a thin raincoat is extremely necessary to not interrupt your tour.
- When sitting on a boat to travel through the caves, visitors should pay attention to the instructions of the boatman to avoid hitting their body to the cave or sinking the boat and causing an accident. You are required to wear a life jacket and comply with the regulations of the tour guide.
- You should wear soft shoes or sports shoes for climbing and traveling. Also, you should not wear too thin or too short clothes when visiting temples and pagodas.
Written by: Hieu La