Mua Cave – The Vietnamese “Great Wall of China” – explore the beauty of nature on high magnitude.
The Great Wall of China is the pride of Chinese worldwide. But do you know, Vietnam also has its very own Great Wall? Here are all the things you should know about Mua Cave, the miniature of The Great Wall in Ninh Binh Province.
Let’s go and see with your own eyes the beautiful Mua Cave that captured the hearts of ancient kings and tourists alike.
The Great Wall of China may be physically out of the league for many people. But don’t worry, Ninh Binh Province will give you a chance to visit the Vietnamese version of the Great Wall. Mua Cave does not possess powerfully charming caves like Tam Coc – Bich Dong, but it will pay you a magnificent panoramic view after a short hiking trip to the top of the mountain.
Mua Cave, literally meaning is “The Dancing Cave”, is an eco-tourism complex located in Khe Ha Village, Ninh Xuan commune, Hoa Lu District, Ninh Binh Province, Vietnam. Nowadays, this attraction is a must for hiker and photographer tourists to visit in Ninh Binh.
...And for "the truly hiker" - mountain goats
The way leading to the peaceful, natural Mua Cave is a 500-step zigzag stone staircase. At the end of the staircase is an altar of Quan Am (the Goddess of Mercy). Alongside the staircase, there are stone dragon and phoenix decor. 500 steps will need some physics, but you can take breaks in between.
And when you conquer the staircase, you can stand at the peak of mountains with a stunning view of Ninh Binh. The photogenic and impressive view of Mua Cave will be an unforgettable memory for anyone who seeks natural beauty. If you want something grand, the ornate stone dragon at the peak of Mua Cave is worth the expectation.
The view here is simply heaven. At the dawn, the pagodas at the peak of Mua Cave and the stone-carved dragons and phoenixes will be lighted up by the reddish sunset. Breathing in the chilly and fresh air, gazing at the endless rice paddy field and green mountains will surely calm your mind.
If you wish to spend the night in Ninh Binh, you can stay in Mua Cave ecolodge. Tile-roofed and wooden decorated cottages bring the feel of ancient and dreamy Vietnamese household. Or else, you can choose homestays or hostel with reasonable price and friendly local people.
Mua cave is a good choice for family and friends to visit
>>> Explore The Top Of Mua Cave In Ninh Binh One Day Tour!
If you want to make the most out of your trip, you should visit Mua Cave in May or June. That is the time when the rice paddy fields ripe to a golden shade. They can be seen from the peak of Mua Cave.
However, from July to August, it is highly likely to have storms and heavy rains in Ninh Binh. Therefore, in that period, conquering Mua Cave will be more difficult and less safe. The stone staircase can be slippery and the view can be limited because of the rain.
In the summer, it is recommended to start the trip in the early morning or in the afternoon to avoid hot and strong sunlight. Meanwhile, in the winter, the best time will be before 4 p.m. so the tourist can get back before it gets dark.
Please remember to bring water and wearing hats with you when climbing the staircase. Mua Cave’s staircase is quite high and the stepping stones can be tricky. So the tourists should wear simple, comfortable, suitable clothes and shoes (avoid long dress, skirt and high heels).
Mua Caves Ecolodge is about 100km away from Hanoi and 6km away from the center of Ninh Binh Province. You can get there by a lot of means of transportation.
If the starting point is Hanoi, the first option will be the train. You can buy the train tickets online or at the station. The train trip will be short ( around 2 hours) and comfortable, you should choose soft seats or berths for the best experience.
The first train will leave Hanoi around 6 a.m and the last one departs at 8 p.m. There will be several trains in one day so you can travel to Ninh Binh at any time you want.
The train ticket price can vary between around 100.000VND (US $5) to 200.000VND (US $10) for a one-way ticket, depending on the types of seats you choose and also the trains. The address of Hanoi train station is at 120 Le Duan Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi.
>>> You might want to read: BEST Itinerary to Ninh Binh
Or you can catch a shuttle bus
The second choice will be taking the shuttle bus. The buses run on a daily basis from early in the morning till late at night. It will take about 3 hours to travel by tour buses.
There are more than 25 tour bus agencies in Hanoi and you can choose from the limousine (around 200.000VND/person or US $4), berth-seated bus (around 100.000VND/person or US $2) or soft-seated bus (from 100.000VND/person or US $2 to 150.000VND/person or US $3). The departure time for each bus is different, there will be buses from 7 a.m to around 7 p.m.
For the shuttle bus, there are two options: the buses will pick you up at the fore-arranged address or you can go catch the bus at the bus stations. If you want to catch the bus yourself, you can go to:
If motorbikes are your favorite
If you are a biker, you can rent a motorbike in Hanoi. You can travel all the way to Mua Cave through the route of Giai Phong street - Thanh Tri - Phu Xuyen - Phu Ly - Ha Nam - Ninh Binh.
50.000VND to 150.000VND ( US $2.5 – US $7) per day is the price range for a renting motorbike in Hanoi. The process is quite simple and there are a lot of places everywhere in Hanoi offer this kind of service.
However, this option can be really dangerous if you are non-local. The risk of getting lost or bad things coming up is not low. Therefore, motorbike travelling is not recommended for tourists. You should put safety first and consider all the choices of transportation before the trip.
>>> Check out: Things to do in Ninh Binh – 25 Activities You Shouldn't Miss
In case your starting point is not Hanoi
If you are not in Hanoi, you can pretty much travel to Ninh Binh by tour bus or train from most of the cities in Vietnam. A possible option is airline travelling. However, a plane ticket is quite costly. And after you arrived at Noi Bai airport, you have to get to Hanoi before reaching at Mua Cave.
Once you travel to the center city of Ninh Binh, you can take a taxi or hire a motorbike to get to Mua Cave. A taxi will be faster and more suitable for a group of tourists. However, riding a motorbike offer a chance to discover the beauty of Vietnamese countryside and a sense of flexibility.
The distance from the city center of Ninh Binh to Mua Cave is around 10km, so the price for a one-way cab ranges from 100.000VND (US $5) to 200.000VND (US $10). Meanwhile, you can rent a motorbike at 100.000VND/day (US $5) or even cheaper to travel in Ninh Binh
Small tips for a big trip:
Mua Cave was the place for the kings of Tran dynasty to enjoy dancing and singing shows in the past. Nowadays, the relics, including pagodas, stone statues and decorations are the heart of its beauty.
The enchated lanscape of Mua cave
After parking or get off your vehicles, the first thing to do is buying ticket. After that, to explore Mua Cave, you just need to follow the path leading to the foot of the mountain. If you want to see the cave, take the left side of the path or you can climb the 500-step staircase to the top of the mountain.
The stepping stones are steep up and the hike up to the peak can take around 15 minutes to 30 minutes depending on your strength. You should not overdo it yourself by climbing 500 steps at once, you can take a break during the hike.
You can sit down to take a break and watch a "mountain goats fight", of course if you're lucky enough to be there in time
In the middle of the stairs, there are two paths: the right one leading to one of the pagodas and the left one leading to the stone statue of Quan Am (The Goddess of Mercy) and stone dragon. Both of them are quite the sight, so it is recommended that you go and see both.
Stone statue of Quan Am (The Goddess of Mercy)
>>> Discover Mua Cave Beauty With Trang An Mua Cave Tour!
At some point of the journey, you will have a chance to appreciate the peaceful and dreamy sight of the Ngo Dong River lying between mountains and valleys. At the peak of Mua Cave, you are standing at the locally so-called “dragon mountain” with a spectacular view. You can see everything from there: from the ancient relics, the pagodas to the green mountains and golden rice paddy fields.
The sight of Mua Cave will surely charm your heart and give you one of the best memories of your trips. Nature-lovers and photo-lovers should not miss out this spot on the map.
Mua Cave is open every day and every hour with the entrance fee of 100.000VND/person (approximately US $5). You can buy the ticket at the ticket booth next to the parking space at the entrance. Besides, the parking ticket is 10.000VND per one (US $0.5) and the WC fee is 5.000VND per one (US $0.25).
Ninh Binh province’s cuisine is the back-to-basics, countryside and unique taste. You should not waste the chance to get a bite of the local food there.
Ninh Binh scorched rice, also known as crunchy rice, is a thin and crispy layer of browned rice cooked at the bottom of the pot on direct flame or heat. In 2012, this dish was recognized as one of the most excellent dishes of Vietnam and Asia. You can try scorched rice on the side of Highway 1, at local restaurants or in the center city of Ninh Binh.
It't not burned rice - It's scorched
Dishes from mountain goat is the second thing you should try. In Ninh Binh, there are a lot of restaurants specialised in cooking goat meat with secret family recipes. The dishes are tasty and are one of the brand-name local food.
Goat meat hotpot
If you go to Mua Cave in April to August, you may have a chance to eat the famous mountain snails. They can be cooked in various ways: roasted, steamed with ginger, or boiled with herbs and lemongrass,... This is the new face of Ninh Binh cuisine.
Grilled mountain snails with chili sauce
Mua Cave is one of the most popular attractions that you can select for your trip to Ninh Binh. Besides, there are other destinations nearby, so you can expand your schedule.
Ninh Binh Province possesses a great number of beautiful attractions such as Hoa Lu Ancient Capital, Tam Coc, Bich Dong, Trang An tourism complex, Bai Dinh temple complex, Thung Nham, Phat Diem Church, Cuc Phuong National Park. All of them has their own appeal.
Among them, you can consider Tam Coc – Bich Dong, Hoa Lu Ancient Capital, Bai Dinh temple complex. They are the most popular tourist destinations and are near Mua Cave.
You can see beautiful carved stone statue and learn about history in Hoa Lu ancient capital
Tam Coc – Bich Dong
The area of Tam Coc (or “The Three Caves) charms tourists with its magnificent landscapes. It becomes the most visited destination in Ninh Binh. To get the best experience at Tam Coc, you can choose to travel by motorbike or you can board on boat.
Bich Dong is a pagoda surrounded by a water trench with blooming lotus. The path to the top of Bich Dong goes right through a cave decorated with impressive statues. And at the peak of Bich Dong, you will have a panoramic view of everything around you. This is no doubt a photogenic place.
The best thing is, the entrance fee of Tam Coc – Bich Dong is nothing. Yes, it’s free!
Bai Dinh Temple Complex
Bai Dinh temple complex has three levels. The first level is the bell tower pagoda, the second one is the giant golden Buddha statue and the last one is Bai Dinh pagoda. After that, at the top, there will also be a silver Buddha statue at the peak of the mountain.
You will be impressed by the religious, out-of-this-place and appealing beauty of Bai Dinh temple complex. There is even a 36-ton bronze bell in the Bell Tower! If you love the ancient Asian architecture, you should mark this place on your map.
The biggest Maitreya Buddha bronze statue in Bai Dinh temple complex
Hoa Lu Ancient Capital
Hoa Lu was the capital of Vietnam in the 10th and 11th centuries. It is located in Truong Yen Thuong village, Truong Yen Commune, Hoa Lư District, Ninh Bình Province, Vietnam. The area of Hoa Lu ancient capital of Hoa Lư has a large number monuments. It is including the tombs of previous Vietnamese kings and temples.
There is an annual festival in the third month of the lunar year (around April to May according to each year). The festival hosts ceremonies, traditional games and a fair to commemorate the ancient kings. This is a good chance for tourists to experience traditional festival and culture of Vietnam.
A bonus for movie-lovers: the Kong: Skull Island filming location and the aboriginal village
This is the recently famous place to visit. The aboriginal village is almost identical to the scene in the movie and completely free. If you love the Kong: Skull Island, you should go and the all the places re-created for the tourists. There are a whole village and other architectures that will bring you into a mysterious world.
In order to get to “Skull Island” or the aboriginal village, you can go by boat or on foot. The main pier of Trang An scenic complex is near there.
To get further information and advice on a trip to Mua Cave, Ninh Binh, please contact us, the AZ Local Trip team. It’s our pleasure to help you get the best experience while you are in Vietnam!