Boat ride through Trang An, Ninh Binh, Vietnam

by - 4/02/2024

Ninh Binh is a fascinating town in North Vietnam, just 2 hours southward from the capital city of Hanoi. It is of course a World Heritage Site, like multiple other spots in this country.

 I have a special affinity for UNESCO World Heritage Sites and I feel that one should not lea ve them out if they are in the vicinity of where you are visiting. Ninh Binh deserves at least two days of exploration; ie an overnight stay. But when we had planned our trip, we didn't know that. Moreover we were travelling with two elderly people and 2 kids, so it was more sensible to make Hanoi the base and come back to our hotel room at night.

So we booked a full day trip to Ninh Binh, which included the Bai Dinh Pagoda (the 2 nd largest in Vietnam), Trang An and Mua Caves. I was most excited for the boat ride along Trang An and it did not disappoint. Although the weather played a dampener; it rained continiously for those three hours we were on the river. They provide one big umbrella, but of course that does not mean you can enjoy the ride and photograph freely. Also, it is almost impossible to have your picture taken on the boat; unless you know someone who is on another boat. So if you are a big family, you can go on different boats to capture each other. But that would definitely kill the essence of travelling together. Anyways, choose your battles!

Basically the entire course is through 31 valleys and around 50 caves. Also, it houses more than 600 types of flora and 200 kinds of fauna; some of the species are quite rare and exclusive. It is known as the Halong Bay of land. Since there are limestones kursts strewn all over the river; just like they are on the South China Sea in Halong Bay and Lan Ha Bay.

Every moment of the boat ride is picturesque. Too bad I have very scanty pictures because I was worries of ruining my camera and the previous memories taken in it. We stopped on the biggest pagoda that was midway and then we started again after 15 minutes. The way back was a different course, with natural beauty all over; punctuated at various places with small pagodas.

There is another boat ride coarse that can be done in Ninh Binh: Tam Coc. It's through a village along the rice paddy fields. If you have two days, do both. Because choosing between the two is a mammoth task.

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