Boat tours in Ninh Binh to visit Tam Coc or Trang An in one day trip

Boat tours in Ninh Binh to visit Tam Coc or Trang An in one day trip

You would like to visit Ninh Binh and explore its natural landscapes? But you do not know whether to choose the boat tours in Tam Coc grottoes or in Trang An ecotourism complex. Let's have a reference about these travel sites and make up your mind with the boat tour that you prefer....

Boat tours in Ninh Binh whether to do in Tam Coc or Trang An ?

Travelling to Ninh Binh will be a big miss to enjoy stunning scenery of mountains, rivers and caves if you do not take part in rowing boat tours in Ninh Binh.There are serveral boat tour destinations that you can  think of such as Tam Coc, Trang An, Thung Nang, Hang But ,Van Long & Kenh Ga.Among them, Tam Coc grottoes & Trang An Eco-tourism complex are considered as the best attractions with beautiful & natural landscapes to view in rowing boat trips. In this blog, we will share our own experiences on boat tours in Ninh Binh whether to do in Tam Coc or Trang An.

Boat-tours-in-Ninh Binh

Nice view from boat tour in Tam Coc

Boat tours in Tam Coc & Trang An.

Tam Coc and Trang An are the most beautiful attractions in Ninh Binh.Both offer us with pristine scenery of desserted limestone mountains along the rivers & impressive caves that you can view from a rowing boat.Quiet, relaxed, pleasant & beautiful are the words that we normally hear from our customers about both of these sites.It has the same view as Halong bay – that is why we call it “ Halong bay on land”.

To avoid the mass tourists approaching Tam Coc & Trang An, you should visit them in the morning ( around 8h00-10h30) when most tourists are on their way to reach here or in the afternoon ( 15h30-17h00) when the other tourists finish their travel routes.Also you’d better not travel to these sites in festival times ( Vietnamese new year, Vietamese holiday vacations), there will be a big number of local tourists heading to Ninh Binh for Bai Dinh pagoda which attracts a huge number of local buddhish followers annually.When Vietnamese visit this pagoda, they also spend their time boating in Trang An & Tam Coc. As a results, these sites become very crowded and busy

boat tour in Ninh Binh- the view from Mua cave

The view of Tam Coc from Mua cave

If  you do 2 day tours to Ninh Binh, our suggestion is to visit both of them because they have their own beauty.However,if limited time you have, then your choice is doing your day tour to Ninh Binh.You would like to connect your visit to other attractionsin Ninh Binh such as Mua cave, Bai Dinh Pagoda, Phat Diem cathedral or Hoa Lu ancient capital with one boat tour route ( Tam Coc or Trang An), then it hard to decide whether to choose Trang An or Tam Coc. Below are our local shares about Trang An & Tam Coc- its strengths that could be your good comparision to choose the one of your interest.

Tam Coc boat trip & the reasons why you should choose Tam Coc grottoes?

Tam Coc means three caves including Hang Ca, Hang Hai & Hang Ba.It has been a famous attraction in Ninh Binh for a long time and attracted many local & international tourists.Rowing boat trip (1,5 hours) is a  very nice way to contemplate  those three natural caves, magnificent limestone mountains & authentic farming activities along the journey.Those are the main reasons why we love & introduce Tam Coc for your day tour in Ninh Binh.

Tam Coc boat ride

·         Different with Trang An, boat trip in Tam Coc offers you the view of rice fields & authentic farming acitivies along the river banks : fish catching, rice planting, ploughing with buffaloes or harvesting.Actually, many  beautiful photos of golden rice fields surrounded by limestone mountains are taken from Tam Coc area (advertising pictures of Ninh Binh). To get this impressive stunning view of yellow rice fields, we suggest you to visit Tam Coc in summer time ( from the end of April to the beginning of May when the rice turns from green to golden colour).To have panoramic view of this natural golden rice & limestone mountain, you should do your trekking trip to Mua cave nearby in the late afternoon or early morning to avoid the strong sun- hard for your pictures & not good for your health.

boat tour in Ninh Binh- the view from the caves

Tam Coc view from the cave

·         The entrance fees & boat fees in Tam Coc are more reasonable for private rowing boat tour.Many tourists travel in pair or alone, they would like to have their sampan privately rowed in Tam Coc with less payment than in Trang An. You only have to pay 400.000 vnd for a private boat with rower in Tam Coc, but 800.000 vnd/ private boat in Trang An. In term of the price & comfort, which destination would you like to select Trang An or Tam Coc ? Surely, it is Tam Coc….

However, Tam Coc get some bad reviews on tripadvior as some scams that you can easily avoid for your nice journey.

Tam Coc is under the government management that they use local villagers who take in turn with their serial numbers serving tourists to make additional incomes.In low season, they only have a chance to row once or tiwce in a month.Most of them do not know English, but are friendly & hard-working with special boat paddle by feet. On your boat trip, they invite you to buy their local embroidery products.If you like any item, you may bargain & buy it for them.If you do not like it, you just refuse them politely.

boat-trip-in-Ninh Binh-selling things

Selling things in the third cave (Tam Coc)

Another thing that you should know is tipping.When you are on the third cave ( Hang Ba), there are a fleet of small boats loaded with fruits, sweet & drinks.The owners of those selling boats try to invite tourists buying their stuffs with over-priced rates as a tipping gift to your boat driver. Our suggestion is to say “No” with them in a friendly way and then say or signal your boat driver that you will tip later at the end of the boat trip.In fact, you pay the boat & entrance fees when have rowing boat trip. The tip is optional ( you tip them when you are satisfied with their service).Normally, you are back to the harbor, the boat rower positively ask for a tip ( tip me, tip me….).For their hard work they do, we suggest our customers tipping them around 3-4usd/1 boat as a thank to them.When they are happy & so you are !

One more thing is taking photos.On your boat trip, some local with their camera from other boats invite you to have photos.If you like to have a few, you can tell them to choose good scenes for your nice pictures, then you get it at the end of the boat tour ( remember to negotiate about the price/ photo in advance).If you do not like it, you just ignore them or say “No” politely.

Trang An ecotoursim complex and the reasons why to visit Trang An?

Trang An is a new travel route that has recently operated and opened to travellers.Trang An was recognised as a natural & cultural heritage site by UNESCO in 2014 thanks to its natural & cultural values and has attracted increasing numbers of tourists year after year.Trang An has no rice fields & authentic farming activities, however, we love Trang An for these following reasons.

Boat tour in Trang An complex

·         Trang An boat tour is longer than Tam Coc one.The boat trip in Trang An is around 2-2,5 hours along limestone mountains without such repetition as Tam Coc ( go by one way & back on the same route).The boat take you around & through 9-11 caves like a circle, then you back to the main harbour.

·         More caves you can visit in Trang An.This boat tour is full of exploration to many tunnel caves ( 9-11 ones of different sizes & misterious beauty.You will view the mixture of many caves such as long caves, short ones, lighted cave & dark ones with much of surprise & impression during the boat journey.

·         Moreover, different from Tam Coc ( you just seat on the boat viewing three caves & scenery), boating in Trang An offers you with stops in certain temples ( Trinh Temple, Duc Ong temple…) or trekking up area for panoramic view of the region.This certainly makes your trip more interesting with natural & cultural exploration. You will get to know more about the history of Vietnam when Ninh Binh was chosen as the capital in 10th &11th century.

·         Not with the rice field view due to its protected area, but this river where doing Trang An boat tour is quite clear & clean so you will have nice view of aquatic plants growing & living in the bed of the river.It can get more majestic mountain view in a longer rowing boat trip.What a nice view of rivers & mountains!!!

·         More professional service that you can expect.Trang An is operated by a private company so they care much about the boat service & its environment.All the rowers work for the company and they get paid by the company monthly.They have to follow the company’s rules and serve the clients well.They work hard to meet the customers’ satisfaction so most of customers are happy to thank them with tips at the end.It is not compulsory but is a nice complement to encourage them.Different with Tam Coc ( the boat rowers may suggest you with tiping, tiping,tiping at the end of the boat trip.In Trang An, you feel relaxed with their service without any tipping suggestion at the end.

boat trip in Ninh Binh-Trang An

The bed of river in Trang An

Explore Tam Coc & Trang An with Golden Holiday Travel

After this article, we think that you can have your own choice on boat tours in Ninh Binh to visit Tam Coc grottoes or Trang An ecotourism complex. If you are in need of local support with travel services : private tours to Ninh Binh, local tourguide or private car hire Hanoi to Ninh Binh…., feel free to drop us an email to or send us your travel request to our contact form, we are happy to support you with customized Hanoi holiday packages of your expectation. We wish you an enjoyable trip in Vietnam

Need local support, please, let us know!

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