The ultimate Trang An travel guide

Situated near the southern margin of the Red River Delta, the Trang An Landscape Complex is also known as the Ha Long Bay of the land. Trang An consists of majestic mountains, gorgeous limestone caves and wild streams flowing through the caves. The beautiful scenery here is naturally created with full of lively stone, river, green forest, and blue sky; making this place become one of the most beautiful and attractive karsts in the world.

Trang An is recognized the world double-heritage by UNESCO in 2014. This place has experienced about 250 million of years of geological tectonics. The archaeological explorations show that there were traces of human activity over a continuous 30,000 – year period. They discovered these moutains through seasonal huntering and gathering, especially when they tried to adapt major climatic and environmental changes. The human occupation continued from the Neolithic and Bronze Ages to the historical era. Hoa Lu, the ancient capital of Viet Nam was strategically established here in the 10th and 11th centuries AD.

Learn about Vietnam’s colorful past as you visit various temples during your tour

This place especially is to conserve and contain many wetland ecosystems, limestone forest, archaeological and cultural relics. Besides, the property also includes temples, pagodas, paddy-fields and small villages. This is an ideal destination for visitor to escape the hustle and bustle city with a fresh climate here. While sitting on the boat, you can see the different vantage points – from the water, from the shore, and even from within the mountains themselves. Fields fill many of them and the fertile grounds are perfect for agriculture and settlements. An extremely beautiful natural landscape is right in front of your eyes.

Trang An at Ninh Binh is easy to get to from Hanoi. It takes about 2 or 3 hours from Hanoi center to Trang An by car. Bus is another option with cheap prices. You can take a public bus from Hanoi at Giap Bat or My Dinh bus station; or the Open Bus like The Sinh tourist, getting to Ninh Binh at 10 – 11 pm. You will spend one night in Ninh Binh, then get to Trang An tomorrow morning. In case you want to ride, please note that the rental price for a motorbike in Ninh Binh is about 120,000d; and the distance to Trang An is about 7km.

From the Trang An wharf, visitors can take a boat ride to visit a complex of 51 grottos. There are sections that are submerged under water, though, and this is claimed as the best way to explore the Trang An landscape complex. While it is possible to cycle, drive – or even walk – around the mountains, most people choose a Trang An boat tour to travel through some of the most scenic parts of the region.

Gain new friends as you meet other travelers who are as excited as you are to explore Ninh Binh

Ticket price is 200,000 VND for adults and 100,000 VND for children under 1.4 m. This fare includes a boat ride to visit Trang An by waterway across the Sao Khe River. It normally takes about 3 hours for visiting 6 to 9 caves. There are 4 to 5 people per boat.

World Heritage – Trang An Landscape Complex


Situated just 7 kilometers from Ninh Binh City, Trang An is a paradise of its own. Hollywood filmmakers knew this fact too when they chose Trang An to be one of the major filming sites of the blockbuster Kong: Skull Island.

Before that, Trang An was recognized by UNESCO in 2014 as a World’s Heritage of both culture and nature – also Vietnam’s very first mixed heritage. Indeed, the complex includes not only magnificent limestone mountains and green rivers but also an impressive collection of ancient temples and pagodas.

The whole complex of Trang An covers an area of 6,172 ha surrounded by a buffer zone of 6,268ha. There are three routes you can take to explore Trang An.

Things to do in Trang An Landscape Complex

Designated as a UNESCO protected world heritage for both cultural and natural values, Trang An is the highlight of your Ninh Binh trip. Known as Halong Bay on land, Trang An has the landscape as just dramatic as the former, yet it has something more – a tranquil, almost still atmosphere as if time here was stopped. The limestone mountains hovering above the stretching golden rice fields and winding rivers. You’ll see no cruises here or no kayaks, but only the quietly floating boats along the river, carrying tourists who are too busy taking the beauty ad if any moment they look away would be a waste.

To visit Trang An, you’ll go by the waterway. You’ll have to hire a boat with a local rower to visit Trang An following either of these three routes:

Route 1: Boat Wharf – Trinh Temple – Toi Cave – Sang Cave – Nau Ruou (Wine Making) Cave – Tran Temple – Ba Giot (Three Drops) Temple – Son Duong Cave – Khong Temple – Quy Hau Cave

  • The longest and most northerly route
  • Takes you to 9 caves and 3 temples

Trinh Temple

View of Trinh Temple

Trinh Temple is believed to have existed for 1000 thousand years, has been restored and expanded many times throughout history. The temple is located at a mountain’s foot. Many Vietnamese people believe that this temple is one of the most sacred temples in the country.

The temple is the worship places the ‘four-pillars’ of Dinh Dynasty, once serving faithfully King Dinh Tien Hoang in the feat of reunifying the country.

You can visit this temple with both routes in Trang An.

Tran Temple

View of Tran Temple

Also known with the name Noi Lam, Tran Temple has a reputation for its special architecture which stands out the most from any other temple.

According to legends, this temple was built by Kings of Tran dynasty to be the place for religious activities. It also served as a base in the preparation for the war against Mongols.

The temple is the worshiping place of God Quy Minh and Princess Minh Hoa.

Toi Cave (Dark Cave)

After passing through Dia Linh, you’ll arrive at Toi Cave or Dark Cave. As the name describes, visitors have to use flashlight to see the karst formations inside the cave. Toi Cave is about 315m deep which owns a lot of beautiful stalactites in odd and interesting shapes. Inside the cave is hotter than the outside about 2-3 degrees due to the hot spring.

Sang Cave (Light Cave)

Adjacent to Toi Cave is Sang Cave (Light Cave) which is absolutely an opposite to Toi Cave. The cave is filled with natural light and you can easily take in the majestic karst formations inside the cave.

Nau Ruou (Wine Brewing) Cave

Nau Ruou is one of the best caves in Trang An with an interesting story behind it. It seems like almost a myth that this cave was the place where ancestors brew the finest wines to offer the kind.

There is 10m deep well with groundwater here, so clean and clear and fresh and just so perfect to brew the king’s wine. Today, you can only see what was left of the story are the old-fashioned wine-containing jars here.

Sinh Cave – Si Cave – Ba Giot Cave

These three caves witnessed such a tragic love story. The story was about a young man who fell in love with a princess. He prepared wedding presents to propose here in front of Sinh Cave but the princess was sent to the neighbor country as an annual offer. Too sorrowful with the turn of fate, the young man ended his life at Si Cave.

Route 2: Boat Wharf – Lam Cave – Thanh Cao Son Temple – Vang Cave – Thanh Truot Cave – Suoi Tien Temple – Dai Cave – Hanh Cung Vu Lam Temple – Kong: Skull Island Film Set

  • Medium length
  • Takes you to 4 caves and 3 temples

Hanh Cung Vu Lam (Vu Lam Citadel)

The temple was originally a military base, lying next to Tran temples. This place is related to important battles and historic events dating back to Tran Dynasty. Tran Thai Tong chose a beautiful place to build Buddhism shrine and spend his time to practice the religion here.

Later, Vu Lam also becomes a base in the second war against Mongol invaders, thanks for its important and brilliant defensive natural features.

Kong: Skull Island Film Set

This must be the most interesting place in Trang An, with such trait of western culture. The whole island was the place where part of the famous movie Kong: Skull Island was filmed. The tribal village you’ve seen on screen now come alive with great details and characters.

On the island, you’ll find the models of ship and airplane mimicking the ones in the movie. This is absolutely a highlight of Route 2.

Route 3: Boat Wharf – Trinh Temple – Dot Cave – May Cave – Suoi Tien Temple – Dia Linh Mountain – Dai Cave – Hanh Cung Vu Lam Temple – Kong: Skull Island Film Set

  • Shortest length
  • Takes you to 3 caves and 3 temples

Dia Linh Mountain/ Cave

With the length of 300 meters, Dia Linh Cave has some of the most impressive karst formations. The cave also has a wide and marvelous looking entrance. The river flows through the cave boasting such a gentle greenish color.

Suoi Tien Temple

The temple is located on the upper stream of Ngo Dong River, in fact an extra part of Tam Coc Route but is included in Route 3 of Trang An. The temple is the worshiping place of Quy Minh God from the South Gate of Hoa Lu Four Gates. This site is only accessible by boat, featuring with wild, dramatic sceneries of nature.

Practical Information for travelers to Trang An Landscape Complex

  • Trang An ticket fee: Trang An: 200,000VND/person (including boat ride)
  • Children below 1.4m ticket: 100,000/pax/route (including a boat trip)
  • Tour guide: 300,000 VND/tour

The boat will leave when four people are seated. All procedures for buying tickets will be guided in detail at the ticket counter and consulted at Trang An wharf.

Remember to wear life jackets whenever you’re on a boat

How to get to Trang An Ninh Binh

Getting from Hanoi to Ninh Binh

By bus

Taking a bus is the easiest way to get to Ninh Binh from Hanoi.

Frequent buses are departing from Hanoi, and the journey takes approximately 3 hours depending on your drop off location.

By train

Vietnam Railways offers daily trains from Hanoi, and you can select a hard seat, soft seat, or berth depending on your budget.

SE7 (departing at 6 am) and SE5 (leaving at 9 am) are great choices if you’d like to start your day early and have more time exploring Ninh Binh.

Getting from Ninh Binh to Trang An

Trang An is about 7km from the center of Ninh Binh city (about 7km from the bus station and 8km from the train station), so you can rent a motorbike or book taxi or Grab car to get to Trang An.

If you’re going by a private limousine/ van, you can ask the provider to drop you off at Trang An boat center.

Your luxury limousine is ready to take you on easy travels from Hanoi to Ninh Binh

What to pack for Trang An

Below is the list of items that you should bring and wear

  • Clothing: You should wear comfortable clothes and prepare a thin jacket if you’d like to visit the temples.
  • Shoes: Instead of wearing high heels, a pair of sports shoes or flat shoes will help you much more comfortable to walk.
  • Hat and umbrella to protect from the sun or rain.
  • Water and snacks for a 3-hour boat ride

What to eat in Trang An Ninh Binh

Besides the beautiful scenery, Ninh Binh also has delicious dishes for visitors to enjoy and explore.

The most famous dish of Ninh Binh is scorched rice cooked from glutinous rice. The rice is left to dry for two or three suns before being fried.

Scorched rice is often served with goat meat or fried sauteed onions. This dish is very popular, and you can find it in a package, so it’s convenient to buy as gifts.

Goat dishes are also popular in Ninh Binh. Households raise goats all year in the mountains by forest leaves, so goat meat is crunchy, low in fat, sweet and nutritious.

Dress code: it’s best to wear longer clothes during the trip because you will visit temples here, all of which are considered sacred places to local people. Long clothes also can help you not to get burned in summer days.

Trang An Route Map

If you are looking for Tam Coc Accommodation, Tam Coc Homestay, Tam Coc Hotel, Tam Coc Hostel, plz refer to:

Little Tam Coc – Leisure Villa & Vietnamese Cuisine

Address: Tam Coc Road, Ninh Hai Commune, Ninh Binh
Tel: +84-965-622-888
Email: booking.littletamcoc@gmail.com
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