Bich Dong and Tam Coc
Ha Long Bay on the land
What we say:
The area surrounding Tam Coc and Bich Dong is characterised by stony outcrops not unlike those at Ha Long Bay, though a bit smaller in size and of course without the water. If you're there at the right time of the year, when the paddies are full of water, the reflections make Bich Dong, in particular, almost as beautiful as Ha Long Bay.
At Bich Dong there's a series of pagodas and a fascinating collection of caves farther up the outcrop. Some of these caves were used by the Viet Minh to hide from the French during the First Indochina War. The caves are full of stalactites that have been carved into Buddhist images, as well as stalactites that are hollow upon which tunes can be played.
You can climb all the way to the top of the outcrop, from where there are fantastic views. The rice paddies all reflect the surrounding peaks giving the effect of an emerald mirror.
At Tam Coc the scenery is very similar to Bich Dong but you can observe it from a small boat that one of the locals will paddle you around in. This is quite a tourist scene so expect to have to bargain hard to get a decent price. During the boat ride you will have the opportunity to visit Thai Vi Temple and a series of caves as you drift along a shallow river densely packed with reeds and birdlife.
More detailsHow to get there: To get to Bich Dong and Tam Coc from the railway station at Ninh Binh, you go up to the main road (Le Dai Hanh St), turn left and follow it to the main four way intersection. Go straight through the intersection and continue for about 4km where you then take a right turn. You continue along this minor road for another 4km and you will come to where the boats leave at Tam Coc. About another kilometre along the same road you will reach the toll gate for Bich Dong. All up it is about a twenty minute ride, and if you become lost, just ask a local as they all know where the sites are. It is also possible to travel between Bich Dong and Hoa Lu by boat.
Last updated: 2nd October, 2006
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