The beautiful town of Tam Coc is a must visit if you’re traveling to Northern Vietnam. Located just 2 hours south of Hanoi, this small mountain village in the province of Ninh Binh has started to gain steam in the tourism world. There’s many great ways to get out into nature, but when looking for what to do in Ninh Binh you should start out with the Mua Caves. Here you can explore underneath the massive rocks, and hike 500 steps to the best Ninh Binh viewpoint over Tam Coc from Lying Dragon Mountain.
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The Long Game of Parking
Cost: 100,000 VND
Time Needed: 1-2 Hours
Entrance Location: Hang Múa Ecolodge (Mua Caves Ecolodge)
When you first pull down the long road heading towards Dragon Mountain in Vietnam you’ll need a place to park your motorbike or bicycle.
There will be many locals trying to pull you into their personal parking places right away. One man even jumped into the middle of the dirt road and tried to force us to park with him. Do your best to avoid them and head as far as you can to the end.
Not only will this put you within steps of the Mua Caves and the Ninh Binh mountain view, but you can park your bike in the official spot!
We were told by our accommodation not to leave your bike on the side of the road. If you don’t pay to park with one of the many locals or at the main entrance you do risk something happening to your bike.
Climbing the Endless Steps
We’re not gonna lie… The first time we took a look up the 500 steps to Dragon Mountain in Vietnam we were a bit intimidated. However, after seeing pictures we knew we needed to conquer the climb for this epic Ninh Binh view!
Once you make the initial ascent you’ll reach a middle platform, and a divide where you can go left or right. We recommend heading left first to the top of Lying Dragon Mountain for incredible views of the river and vast landscape.
Lying Dragon Mountain and Quan Am Statue
At the top of the highest peak of the Ninh Binh viewpoint you’ll find the Lying Dragon Mountain statue stretching out across the top. From here you’ll have an unbelievable shot of the mountains and river. You’ll also see the Quan Am Statue there which represents the Goddess of Mercy.
Take a moment to watch the boats coast down the Ngo Dong River with the picturesque scenery in the background. This view alone is why many travelers make the trip to Tam Coc Vietnam!
On a side note, it’s important to mention mother nature. In this area of Vietnam it’s common to have rain, fog, and stormy weather. If you have several days it’s best to try and plan for a nice and early morning to beat the crowds.
Mua Caves Tower
Just across the way when you’re heading down the the peak you’ll see another set of stairs with traditional Vietnamese architecture standing tall. Hiking down and back up to this other Ninh Binh viewpoint is tiring, but definitely worth it!
The tower is a popular photo stop for both locals and tourists. Unfortunately, at the time of our visit the rice fields were just harvested, but it was still an amazing view.
The Ultimate Snack Shop
In between the two Ninh Binh viewpoint peaks you’ll see a place to grab snacks and drinks. If you look directly behind that you can even sit on top of the shop and grab a seat in some lounge chairs. This is a great stop for a rest and something to sip on after climbing up Dragon Mountain in Vietnam!
Tiger & Mua Caves
There are many great caves to explore throughout the country, and Tam Coc Vietnam has one of the most visited. Hang Mua means Dancing Caves, which got its name for that exact activity hundreds of years ago.
Apparently the Tran King used to come here to enjoy local singing and dancing shows. Luckily, these days you can walk through the Mua Caves and explore them for yourself!
Immediately to your left upon entering is the smaller Tiger Cave, or you can walk out straight ahead into the bigger area behind. Without a doubt the most impressive caves we saw in Vietnam were in Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng National Park. Still, the Mua Caves are a must see while exploring Ninh Binh.
Walking on Water
Last but not least, end your trip by heading out to the manmade walking path out on the water. The winding wooden bridge will give you an up close and personal view of what you just saw from above, and it’s a perfect way to close out your day. Hopefully our Mua Caves guide gives you some ideas, and a glance at what to do in beautiful Ninh Binh!
Where To Stay In Tam Coc Vietnam
Luxury – Tam Coc Garden Resort – This Tam Coc resort is located out in the rice paddy fields which makes it the perfect place to relax in Ninh Binh. The secluded property includes large bungalows and a beautiful pool area.
Fun – Ninh Binh Hidden Charm Hotel – If you’re looking for a nice hotel instead of a lodge or bungalow then this is for you! Hidden Charm also has a restaurant, gym, and pool.
Budget – Tam Coc Nature Lodge – This was where we stayed for a few days while visiting Mua Caves in Tam Coc Vietnam. The rooms are surrounded by rocks and mountains which gives you a one of a kind intimate feel in nature. We definitely recommend staying at the Tam Coc Nature Lodge on your visit!
Hostel – The Banana Tree Hostel – Banana tree is an awesome place to make friends, hang out by the pool, and plan your next adventures through Vietnam. There aren’t many hostels in Tam Coc, but this is one of the best.
Have any questions about hiking Dragon Mountain Vietnam, or want to share your own tips for what to do in Ninh Binh? Comment Below!
Brigitte & Jake
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