Tam Coc means three caves and is the start of our journey in the Ninh Binh Province, it is a two hour drive from Hanoi to the South. On our arrival we take a cruise along the Ngo Dong river for several kilometers to visit the 3 caves. The limestone mountains here can remind you of Vietnams more famous Halong Bay or it has also been compared to Guilin in China. The caves have been created by wind and water from a legend time, while the sea had occupied this area. The tide-mark is still on the rocks about 2m above the water, and on the higher mountain walls the erosion have carved some strange shapes that are now filled of green grass, which can delicious food for the local goats. If you are lucky, sometimes you can also see mischievous monkeys.
The river trip is a fantastic journey and gives a real insight into local life. Enjoy watching the local farmers harvesting their paddy fields along the river, or when they transplant seedlings for the next crop. We then move on to Hoa Lu the ancient capital, which is not far from Tam Coc. Here the remains of the temples are dedicated to King Dinh and King Le, the two heroes who lived in 10th century and chose Hoa Lu to build the citadel of the capital city. From time to time, archaeologists have excavated buried parts of this citadel and found rusty weapons and ceramics. The temples are said to be built on the old foundation of their original palaces in 11-12th centuries and restored in 17th century. Though the temples are not maintained entirely some precious antiques are well preserved, like the whole-stone dragon thrones, wooden bas-reliefs and lacquered statues of King Dinh, Kinh Le and Queen Duong Van Nga.
We then take a couple of hours bike ride in the countryside and discover regional villages. As our ride comes to an end we head back to Hanoi arriving around 6.30pm. Your day will be filled with beautiful Vietnam memories and the whole day is a photographer dream with lush green valleys, limestone mountains, ancient temples and the opportunity to look into the lives of the local people.