Cruising through Trang An Grottoes in Ninh Binh, Vietnam

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Cruising through Trang An Grottoes in Ninh Binh, Vietnam

Like Ha Long Bay, but more dramatic

The “inland version of Ha Long Bay”, Trang An Grottoes is a great day trip destination from Hanoi for those who are looking for some nature. Trang An is the key tourism area in Ninh Binh province. Located in Trang An Eco-Tourism Complex, Trang An Grottoes has an area of 1,500 hectares including limestone peaks, valleys, caves, and rivers. If you think on an alternate scale (like looking at a bonsai tree), it looks like a place full of rock-sculptures on a pond. It’s one of my favorite experiences among the places I visited in Vietnam. It’s as beautiful as Ha Long Bay but less crowded and we get to see these hills and caves more up-close on a small boat.

Trang An Grottoes

Trang An Grottoes

Three to five people got on each rowboat, with a rower in the back. There are extra paddles so you are free to join in. I was wondering how could we stay still in this boat for 2.5 hours but I forgot those worries as soon as we left the dock. Soon we paddled right up to the limestone hills. The hills looked like something I saw in an ink-and-washing painting. There are some temples to visit if you want to take a small break.

We bobbed on the Sao Khe River and cruised through a series of natural limestone caves (but some were enlarged to accommodate boats) for the next two and a half hours. It was like cruising in the caves of Ha Long Bay, but a lot smaller. The formations of the cave ceiling were amazing! But remember to duck and lower your camera; some caves are quite small.

Trang An Grottoes

Trang An Grottoes

Trang An Grottoes

Trang An Grottoes

Trang An Grottoes

We were soaking wet from sweat, exhausted from the heat, but came back with such excitement after getting intimate with the nature of Vietnam. We didn’t go where you can see this view (photo below) but we’ve heard it was a different part of the Trang An Landscape Complex.

When you go:

  • It’s better to go early in the morning or after 2pm, to avoid the direct sun. There’s no shade on the boat.
  • If you didn’t bring a hat, there is a stall that sells traditional Vietnamese hat for just $1, and it makes a great souvenir.
  • If you want to avoid the crowds, consider visiting in autumn or the winter months. It’s usually too cold for local travelers, we’ve heard.

Trang AnPhoto by Amandine

Trang An Grottoes

Trang An Grottoes

Trang An Grottoes

Trang An Grottoes

Trang An Grottoes

Trang An Grottoes

Trang An GrottoesLooking for the pre-wedding photo shoot location?

Juno Kim
Juno Kim
Juno Kim, a happiness-seeking storyteller. Photographer, writer, and trained mechanical engineer. Life-long nerd. I left the cubic farm to follow my true love: the world. A firm believer of serendipity, astronomy enthusiaster, and living by passion and love in life. Currently, on a quest to discover stories and find the place where I can call 'home'. Follow my journey through @RunawayJuno and Google+ .

3 Comments

  1. Andrew says:

    looks absolutely brilliant! Although I’ve got to say, wedding photos on that boat? There’s a disaster waiting to happen! 😛

  2. Trang An says:

    Wonderful trip, very interesting information and nice shot, beautiful pictures, thank you so much

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