The ultimate Tam Coc (Ninh Binh) travel guide
After an overnight, 7-hour no sleep roller-coaster of a coach ride. We arrived at 4am in a rainy and deserted Ninh Binh. We had no 3G to see where our home-stay was, however the offline booking.com app said it was 400 metres away so we decided to walk in the rain. We arrived at the directed app’s destination wet and cold, it was the wrong place. Technology. No-one around and no internet service we was like “what now?”. This was a great start to our adventure on the Tam Coc travel guide. And the best things to do in Tam Coc (Ninh Binh).
Make sure to check out: the Tam Coc boat ride
Then we embraced the sweetest smell of fresh bread being baked, the bakery was open with one lady attending to the old tattered ovens. We asked for help, then another lady appears out of the night on a bicycle, we showed her our home-stay name and she makes a call. She tells us we are being picked up. Relief, our saviour has got us there. We arrived at the home stay and make for the bed instantly, before getting up to begin are Tam Coc 2 day visit .
We did some research before arriving and created a little itinerary of the best things to do in Ninh Binh. But we soon found out there was more things there to be discovered just by exploring this hidden gem in Vietnam. Tam Coc is such a cool place with so much to offer to visitors. Tam Coc is a top place for backpackers to visit. It offers cheap accommodation, cheap food and plenty of cool things to do.
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whats in this post for you to ensure an epic visit to Tam Coc;
- A full guide to visiting Tam Coc
- Where to eat in Tam Coc
- Where to stay in Tam Coc
- Best things to do in Tam Coc
What is Tam coc in Ninh Bin?
Throughout our chosen journey of Vietnam we had met other backpackers of whom all rated Tam Coc very highly, saying it is a “top place to visit in Vietnam”. As a result, we made it a top place to visit before making a way to Hanoi for a 2 night cruise Halong bay.
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Tam Coc is a top tourist destination and is part of the heritage Ninh Binh province, Tam Coc is also known as the area of 3 caves . Tam Coc is not a vast place compared to some of the other previous Vietnam destinations. Therefore, you can make use of a classic cycle to enjoy the unbelievable scenery that surrounds a true gem of Vietnam.
Tam Coc has a small central area consisting of shops, restaurants, cafes, bars and plenty of backpackers. However, the centre is not very busy and you get a sense of a warm-welcoming-atmosphere around the place.
Leave the centre with a 5 minute walk and be astounded by the unbelievable formation of Jurassic Park style mountains and rice fields. This really is an unforgettable place to visit.
I have discovered Ninh Binh’s Tam Coc will become a lot more popular over the next few years. It had breath taking scenery similar to Halong Bay, but receives nowhere near the public attention Halong Bay seems to have. Therefore, as Halong Bay starts to become too touristic, people will start to head towards Vietnam’s hidden gem – Tam Coc.
The Tam Coc Travel Guide of where to stay
- In Tam Coc we stayed at the amazing Cozy Son Hotel in Ninh Binh – The Vietnamese authentic, cute and amazing staffed homestay situated just an easy 10 minute walk from the central area of Tam Coc. Which in my eyes is perfect for anyone looking to visit Tam Coc. Let’s look at the reasons why.
- As I mentioned at the start of this post, one of the lovely accommodation staff picked us up at 4am. From that moment on the service just kept getting better.
- They had a room prepared for us at the crazy early time of 4am, where every other accommodation had made us wait till 2pm. The joy of getting into a bed after no sleep on that wild coach. Furthermore, the rooms decor and air conditioning was amazing and we couldn’t believe it was just $11 a night for 2 people including breakfast.
- This leads me on to the breakfast, which is by far the best we have had. We got pancakes, omelette, tasty French baguette, tea and a smoothie. All this included in the price. We also dined here for our evening meal as there was a good variety of food on the menu and also at a very low cost. We didn’t regret our decision, the food was great.
- In addition to the already sublime service we had got, the rooms was very quite so you couldn’t hear a peep at night and the bed was mega comfy. Compared to some of the previous ironing-board mattresses we have slept on. Furthermore, the location is perfect with just a 5/10 minute walk to the centre and a 15 minute walk to the must see Bich Dong Pagoda. The homestay also provides; Scooter rental: (150,000 a day) Bicycle rental: (50,000 a day) and laundry service.
Other great places to stay in Ninh Binh
- Book Room: Trang An Valley Bungalow
- Book Room: Lam Garden
- Book Room: Trang An Central Homestay
- Book Room: Tam Coc Golden Rice
How to get from Ninh Binh to Hanoi
They also book tours for you and they booked our coach from Ninh Binh To Hanoi .
The are plenty of places of to stay in Tam Coc and I’m sure there are a lot of good stays for cheap. However, for all the above mentioned services and just a warm atmosphere, I don’t think you will find anywhere better to stay at than the Cosy Son at its very low prices.
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What to do in Tam Coc?
Okay, before I start with the best things to do in Tam Coc. I am going to be completely honest with you, there isn’t a lot of things for you to do. However, the few things that you can do are the reason you must visit Tam Coc.
Tam Coc is blessed with amazing scenery. Therefore, you must take advantage of all of the inspirational sights with the amazing days out in Tam Coc.
Tam Coc River Boat ride – This will be one of the most memorable experiences you will encounter in Vietnam. Be amazed of how your boat captain uses their legs to row around the river Sampson. Your Tam Coc boat ride starts from the Van Lam pier, the river route is roughly three kilometres long and takes up to two hours. We enjoyed every minute of rowing through what I can describe as Jurassic Park, the mountains of rock and greenery stand tall at the sides of the river and there is a mystically mist that hugs these epic formations of rock.
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Through your river adventure you will pass underneath 3 very cool caves and you can expect to get low in the boat to avoid catching your head on the low roofs of these unique mountain erosions.
It also rained at one point, but this just added more of a cool effect to the historic river and mountains.
Cycle around the stunning land of Tam Coc – Take in the views at a your own pace, benefit your heart and just adventure around Tam Coc on a bycicle . Tam Coc is not very busy with traffic, so those who are not the most confident can still enjoy this great thing to do in Tam Coc.
Tam Coc is very flat so enjoying a bike ride doesn’t have to be to strenuous and in just a few hours you can see all the views Tam Coc has to offer.
Where to hire a bicycle? cost 50,0000 – your homestay or hostel in Ninh Bin will most likely have bicycles available for rent. However, in the unlikely event they don’t most cafes and shops rent them out.
Visit some amazing temples – Take a visit to the cultural temples of Tam Coc that can be found from hiking up hundreds of steps. My favourite was the Hang Mua, this epic climb rewards you with the best views I have seen in Vietnam (Halong Bay is the next stop so that maybe better). As well, be prepared to sweat as this is quite a climb but as I said the views are worth it. At the top you can see for miles and plenty of mountains, rice fields and architecture can be seen. At the peak of Hang Mua there is a very unique dragon monument that is at least 15 foot long.
Another cool place to visit is the Bich Dong Pagoda . When you arrive here you will notice the stunning scenery at the base of the mountain, then when you make your way into the entrance you will notice the first small temple. There is a temple half way up and one at the top.
The mountain is not as much as a strenuous climb as the Hang Mua beast and offers a little more to see in regards to looking at temples.
One of the coolest places to visit is Sapa, check out The ultimate guide to Sapa in Vietnam
Things to know about the best Mountain hikes in Ninh Binh
- Wear appropriate footwear. Not only will it help with the hiking but it’s also quite slippy in some areas. Furthermore, at the top of Hang Mua there is a couple of rocks you can climb to get to the very peak and next to the Dragon. However, this is very dangerous and you DO NOT want to lose you footing here
- Hang Mua costs – 100,000 VDK per person
- Bich Dong costs – Free
- Have a lazy day with a dinner stroll Even with the amazing views, life changing adventures and unforgettable people, backpacking can get tiring at times. Therefore, it’s important to have a rest at times and what better place to this than at Ninh Binh’s Tam Coc.
- Enjoy a lie in, slowly rise to day good morning to the world, enjoy breakfast with a freshly ground black coffee and then take life at your own pace with a stroll into Tam Coc’s centre. You could even get lost and take a stroll into one of the winding paths into the mountains of Tak Coc.
- After this you could then enjoy dinner at one of the many cheap and tasty restaurants available in the centre of Tam Coc. Top Tip – walk out of the centre for a couple of minutes to find even cheaper prices with just the same quality of food.
Where to eat in Tam Coc
I am now going to share with you the two most delicious places to eat in Tam Coc. Thinking of the food as I write this post makes my mouth water.
- Aroma Curry House Tam Coc – You should have guessed by the name, this is a curry house and is the only one we could find in Tam Coc. We had been wanting a curry for a few weeks and decided this was the place we had to try.
- The prices are a little more expensive than local Vietnamese restaurant’s meals, but not that much more expensive. However, we was so please we decided to eat here.
- The food is absolutely amazing. You can taste each spice used to cook the fine curry and the chicken is so succulent and tender. The flavour of curry wrapped around the chicken was out of this world. The Naan bread was also unbelievable and every bite of naan and curry created pure delight. I can honestly say it is the best curry I have ever tried and it will probably be the best for a good while.
- Thuy Linh Restaurant – I named this the diamond in the dirt as we stumbled across this looking for somewhere to eat one afternoon. The first thing is a review of the menu before entering the restaurant and it looked real cheap. So, we though o well let’s just try it out as we are hungry.
- The food is incredible!
We had the best spring rolls I have ever been lucky enough to taste. The meals was absolutely incredible and bursting with flavour. We dined here for $5, that is for two people which included the starter and a main each.
Once we finished the mouth-watering food the waiter brought over some free fruit. We couldn’t believe how tasty, cheap and plentiful the food is at this amazing restaurant. Furthermore, the staff was also very friendly and never let a smile leave their face.
My 3 best foods in Vietnam
- Spring rolls – The spring rolls will always be a favourite of mine. In all of Asia, Vietnam did the best spring rolls.
- Vietnamese street food – The streets food in Vietnam is amazing! If you’re looking for tasty food whilst travelling on a budget in Vietnam, then you need to try the street food.
- Vietnamese coffee – I know this is not a food, however the coffee in Vietnam is amazing. You have got try the egg coffee in Vietnam.
The Tam Coc guide on the local people;
- The local people of Tam Coc needed to be mentioned within this post, why? Because it creates such a more welcoming atmosphere when the locals share a warm smile and a hello.
- It makes the difference when a native local makes an effort to greet a stranger from a different county.
- The people of Tam Coc live a relaxed and peaceful life which shines through in their body language and personality.
The Tam Coc travel guide conclusion
I have created this epic Tam Coc travel guide as I wanted to share with you this amazing place to visit in Vietnam. If you’re a backpacker visiting Ninh Binh, then you will have a mega experience. As I mentioned Ninh Binh as a very cheap but epic place to visit. Your money will stretch out very far here and there is plenty of things to do in Ninh Binh.
You may only need a couple of days to see everything there is to do in in Tam Coc, but you will see a completely different side to Vietnam in just a couple of days. The hikes and viewpoints in Ninh Binh are absolutely amazing.
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