Tam Coc river and Bich Dong Pagoda is one of the most famous tourist places in Ninh Binh province and also known as Ha Long bay on land. The whole area includes a system of limestone caves. And the historical sites related to Vu Lam palace of the Tran dynasty are located mainly in Ninh Hai commune, Hoa Lu. Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex is recognized as a special national relic and has been classified by UNESCO as a world heritage site.
Tam Coc Bich Dong tourist area currently has a natural area of 350.3 hectares. Located 2 km from National Highway 1A, 7 km from Ninh Binh city, 9 km from Tam Diep city. Mainly the area is located on Ninh Hai commune (Hoa Lu). Tam Coc Bich Dong tourist area includes many routes to visit yachts, cycling and walking connecting about 20 tourist spots.
Tam Coc means three Caves, also known as Xuyen Thuy Cave, located in Ninh Hai Commune, Hoa Lu, was created by the waves breaking through the cliffs for centuries.
In 1773, Nguyen Nghiem (the father of the great poet Nguyen Du) visited the cave. Looking at the panoramic view of mountains, caves, rivers, fields, the sky here is covered with an overwhelming blue color. So he gave the cave a very beautiful and dreamy name “Bich Dong” (meaning Green Cave). Come here tourists after visiting the temple. The small boat will take visitors around in the fanciful mountain cave. Bich Dong has been called “Nam Thien De Nhi Dong” (the second most beautiful cave in the South Heaven).
In 1773, Nguyen Nghiem (the father of the great poet Nguyen Du) visited the cave. Looking at the panoramic view of mountains, caves, rivers, fields, the sky here is covered with an overwhelming blue color. So he gave the cave a very beautiful and dreamy name “Bich Dong” (meaning Green Cave).
Read more: Tips to travel Trang An (Ninh Binh Province)
Best time to visit
There are a few timelines as follows for your reference:
Around April: At this moment, the weather is relatively dry, no longer hot, humid and uncomfortable like the weather in the early years of Northern Vietnam. Not only is it not too sunny but also the weather is less rainy so spending 2 hours on the boat will not make you too uncomfortable.
From January to March of the lunar calendar: It is the Bai Dinh Pagoda Festival. You can combine going to the ceremony with exploring Tam Coc Bich Dong on this occasion.
If you want to go to Hoa Lu, please remember March 8-10 of the lunar calendar every year. This is Truong Yen festival.
The end of May and the beginning of June is the ripe rice season in Tam Coc Bich Dong field. At that time, you can admire the green rice fields mixed with ripe yellow rice fields… to create a picture with beautiful color patches.
Only about 7km from Ninh Binh City, so you have many ways to get to Tam Coc Bich Dong tourist area. Lily’s Travel advises you to take public transport if you go in a team or rent a motorbike if you go in couples.
Ninh Binh is an important intersection point. There are 9 national highways (including 6 starting national highways and 3 passing national highways) spread evenly across all districts, cities and towns in the province.
Bus and personal vehicles
Bus routes to Ninh Binh from Hanoi start at Giap Bat bus station and end at Ninh Binh central bus station. Because Ninh Binh is also located right on the National Highway 1A axis, in addition to these routes. You can use any other bus route from Hanoi to the central or southern provinces such as Thanh Hoa, Vinh, Ha Tinh… These routes are run quite continuously.
If renting a car, from Hanoi you can follow the Phap Van – Cau Gie – Ninh Binh highway. With a distance of about 90km, it only takes about 1 hour. You will reach the center of Ninh Binh City. From here, going to tourist attractions in the province is almost no more than 30km.
If you use motorbikes, from Hanoi you follow the old National Highway 1A through Ha Nam province then go in the direction of Ninh Binh – Thanh Hoa province. Pay attention to avoid going the wrong direction in the direction of Nam Dinh – Thai Binh to avoid detours.
Ninh Binh province has the Tam Diep – Ninh Binh urban axis located on the North-South railway line. In the province, there are Ninh Binh stations, Cau Yen stations, Ghenh stations and Dong Giao stations. Therefore, whether you are in the South or in the North, you can easily come to Ninh Binh by Thong Nhat train.
Some notice for you: The trains arrive in Ninh Binh most of the time quite late so you should prepare to book hotels or homestay before.
From the center of Ninh Binh city to Tam Coc Bich Dong tourist area is quite close. If you simply want to come here and then return, you can book a taxi or hire a motorbike taxi.
Because the distance between Hanoi and Ninh Binh is quite close, you can completely go and return on the same day. However, if you want to stay overnight to combine sightseeing other than Tam Coc, there are many hotels in Ninh Binh province to choose from.
Boat tour routes
Tam Coc, which means “three caves”, includes Ca (the first) cave, Hai (the second) cave and Ba (the third) Cave. All three caves are created by the Ngo Dong River crashing through the mountain. Tam Coc is the first cruise line operated in Tam Coc – Bich Dong tourist area.
Ca cave is 127m long through a large mountain, the mouth of the cave is over 20m wide. In the cave, the climate is quite cool and there are many stalactites hanging down with various shapes.
Hang Hai is nearly 1 km from Ca cave with the length of 60m, the ceiling of the cave has many strange hanging stalactites with various forms.
Hang Ba is near Hang Hai with a length of 50m. The ceiling of the cave is like a stone arch, lower than the other two caves.
Time to travel and return to 3 caves is about 2 hours. You take a boat from the central wharf, follow the Ngo Dong river winding through the cliffs, water caves, and rice fields. The scenery of Tam Coc, especially the two sides of the Ngo Dong River can change according to the rice season (green rice, golden rice or silver color of the water in the field).
Thien Huong Cave
Thien Huong Cave is located on the road from Ngo Dong River to Thai Vi Temple. Thien Huong Cave is about 60m high, 40m deep and 20m wide with an altitude of about 15m above the water.
The top of the cave is hollow so the cave is also called Troi Cave. Nestled in the cave is a shrine dedicated to Tran Thi Dung, wife of King Ly Hue Tong. Is a person who has taught the people of Ninh Hai commune the craft of embroidery.
Bich Dong – Bich Dong pagoda
Located about 2km from Tam Coc wharf, Bich Dong is a dry cave located halfway up the mountain, in front of Xuyen Thuy Dong – a water cave through the mountain. Bich Dong is the name given to the cave by Prime Minister Nguyen Khiem – father of the great poet Nguyen Du in 1773. This place has been favorably named ‘Nam Thien De Nhi Dong’ – that means the second most beautiful cave in the South of Vietnam, only ranked after Huong Tich cave in Huong Son region.
Belonging to Tam Coc Bich Dong complex, Bich Dong pagoda is an ancient temple built on the Truong Yen limestone mountain range from 1428 to the beginning of the Later Le Dynasty. Today, in the pagoda, there is still a large bell cast from the reign of King Le Thai To, the tombs of the monks who built the pagoda. During the reign of King Le Hien Tong, the pagoda was restored and expanded with three separate pagodas, including Lower Pagoda, Trung Pagoda and Upper Pagoda stretching across three mountain floors.
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