How to Take a Tam Coc Boat Ride (Unique Cave Tour!)

Tam Coc Boat Ride

Looking for things to do in Tam Coc Vietnam? A Tam Coc boat tour should be #1 on your list! Leaving from the center of town, you’ll cruise along the river soaking in the nature and wildlife. Passing through three incredible Tam Coc caves, this boat ride will be such an unforgettable experience! Here’s everything you need to know before visiting this special part of the Ninh Binh region.

About the Tam Coc Boat Tour

Cost: 150,000 VND Per Person (2 Minimum)
Time Needed: 2.5 Hours
Entrance Location: Tam Coc Departure Boat Ticket

Right in the center of Tam Coc there is a small booth where you can grab your tickets and get on the boat. If you ride your motorbike you can pay to park it with one of the attendants. This is definitely a smart idea so you don’t have to worry about it when you’re on your Tam Coc boat tour.

Also, it’s best to go in the early morning before the day trips from Hanoi start arriving. Each boat that goes the Tam Coc caves fits two people. If you’re a solo traveler you can wait for another single rider, or pay for two tickets to have the boat to yourself. Here’s some more quick tips to know before your Tam Coc boat tour!

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Quick Tam Coc Caves Tips

  • Grab an Early Boat.
  • Bring a hat, sunglass, and rain jacket depending on the weather.
  • Hike Lying Dragon Mountain before to get a view from above.
  • Make sure to have extra cash for a tip and snacks.
  • Take the Trang An boat tour as well if you have time!

UNESCO Boat Ride

They Paddle With What??

You might be surprised to see dozens and dozens of boats being rowed by men and women of all ages… With something other than their hands! Yes, that’s right. On the Tam Coc boat ride the paddles slide through the water in a circular motion made by the rowers feet.

Just a few weeks before our visit to Tam Coc we went on a boat tour in Inle Lake Myanmar and saw fishermen who paddled with one leg. Yet, rowing a whole boat with your feet? This was a new one for us!

What to Do in Tam Coc

Views From the Tam Coc Boat Ride

It’s almost hard to put into words the unbelievable scenery you’ll experience on the Tam Coc boat tour. As you cruise down the Ngo Dong River you’ll be slicing directly through the giant green mountains.

We recommend doing the Lying Dragon Mountain hike the day before to get an aerial view of what you’ll be boating down.

Aside from the amazing mountains and Tam Coc caves, there’s plenty of other action on the water. Keep an eye out for birds, local fishermen, and other wildlife. If you’re lucky, you’ll even spot some mountain goats up on the rocks hundreds of feet in the sky! 

Trang An Landscape Complex 

In 2014, the nature inside of Ninh Binh became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The area known as the Trang An Landscape Complex is filled with limestone karst peaks, valleys, and pieces of the Red River Delta cutting in between.

Through exploration of the Tam Coc caves, researchers have found traces of human life from over 30,000 years ago! After visiting the Trang An Landscape Complex it’s obvious why it was named one of their eight UNESCO sites. 

UNESCO Sites in Vietnam We Loved

Trang An Landscape Complex Vietnam

Traveling Through the Tam Coc Caves

A major highlight of the Tam Coc boat tour is the three caves your boat will drive under. Passing through the dark tunnels as the women paddle with their feet was quite the experience!

The roofs of the Tam Coc caves are actually very low so it’s a pretty spooky feeling. Our guide was laughing and chatting with her friend on another boat the whole time so we knew we were in good hands.

Tam Coc Caves Boat Tour

Tam Coc Caves Boat Ride

Tam Coc Boat Tour Snacks & Drinks

Once you get through the last of the caves on your Tam Coc boat ride you’ll turn around to head back. It was there we passed a group of women each in their own small boats selling chips, fresh fruit, and beers.

Now nothing sounded better than an ice cold drink especially on a hot afternoon. However, stopping to grab something from the boat ladies comes with a small warning.

As soon as we stopped they quickly threw us a drink, and completely avoided us when asking the price. They then overcharged us and made us buy our driver drinks, snacks, and fresh fruit. We really didn’t mind at all, but just be ready to shell out some cash if you stop!

Tam Coc Boat Ride Snacks

Floating Back to Tam Coc Town

Although it is the same route in reverse, it was so cool to view the scenery of the Tran An Landscape Complex once more from the other direction. When we got close to shore the women driver who spoke zero english said “tip me” with a big smile.

I mean she did just paddle us with her feet for two hours… So of course we gave her some extra money! We asked our hotel later that evening and they said it was common to tip anywhere from 50,000 to 100,000 VND. 

Ninh Binh Boat Tour

Another Tam Coc Boat Tour?

When you arrive you may notice there’s another famous Tam Coc boat Tour. Ever since the Hollywood blockbuster King Kong was filmed in Nihn Binh there has been a rush of tourism surrounding the movie.

Subsequently, the other tour which leaves from Trang An has become known as the King Kong boat ride. If you’re looking for things to do in Tam Coc and have multiple days, we recommend taking both tours!

Tam Coc Caves

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 & Resort – If youโ€™re looking for a nice hotel instead of a lodge or bungalow then this is for you! Hidden Charm is also complete with restaurant, gym, and pool for you to enjoy during your stay.

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 Life – 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 arenโ€™t many hostels in Tam Coc, but this is one of the best. 

Tam Coc Vietnam Hotel

Have any questions about this article or your own tips for things to do in Tam Coc? Leave us a comment below!

Safe Travels,
Brigitte & Jake

Where in the world are we? Follow our daily adventures on Instagram @nothingfamiliar

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Tam Coc Vietnam Boat Tour

Vietnam Travel Planning 

Check out all our Vietnam articles to help plan your trip! We cover everything from the best Vietnamese food to 50 travel tips & how to get around.  You can also find our Northern Vietnam and Southern itineraries as well as an amazing 1 month route

Transportation: 12Go is what we use to book ferries, trains, buses, and transfers while traveling through Vietnam! 

 Flights: For cheap flight deals check out Skyscanner and Kayak. That’s how we found flights from Ho Chi Minh City to Phu Quoc for $20 USD and Vietnam to Thailand for less than $50! 

 Accommodation: Compare multiple sites for hotels such as Booking.com and Agoda. Also, Hostelworld should be your go-to source if you’re traveling on a budget. 

Tours: Get Your Guide is an amazing place to find fun activities all over Vietnam! There is everything from a Hanoi Cooking Class and market tour to a Mekong Delta Pagoda & rowing boat trip, and even the Phu Quoc Cable Car Ride with three island snorkeling tour! 

 Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without insurance. We’ve been using SafetyWing for the last few years and they are always there when we need them.

 Packing Lists: Find all the inspiration you need with our Amazon packing lists. Including our electronics and camera gear, must-have medical items, and long flight essentials

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