Trang An is not an unfamiliar name with travel geeks – it is certainly one of the best places to visit in Northern Vietnam. If you feel Halong Bay cruise tour is too business-like or over-tourism, Trang An boat tour will be your best shot to go sightseeing on the water. Once you fall in love with the beautiful nature here, you are unlikely to get it out of your heart.
Trang An Heritage Complex is a part of Ninh Binh province, it is about 100km away from Hanoi city center. If Halong holds an impressive and magnificent beauty, Trang An will be its best rival. Though smaller in size, you will be lost in a wonderland with the karst mountains, lush green forests, sparkling and crystal-clear river and the endless rice field running to the horizon. Mind you, this place was the film set of the worldwide blockbuster “Kong: Skull Island”.
From Hanoi to Trang An, check out transfer options below
In terms, Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex is a world heritage site, consisting of a large number of tourism destinations. However, the highlight of this incredible landscape that is strongly recommended to you is taking a Trang An boat tour!
Unlike Halong Bay, there is no luxury cruise here, the narrow waterway makes going by small paddle wooden boat the best choice. You will have a chance to grow slowly through the jade-like water and serpentine streams with mountains and valley on both sides. And gradually, you will enter a cave with a whole new world lying before your eyes.
Since taking a Trang An boat tour is the only way to discover Trang An UNESCO heritage site, you may wonder what it looks like and how to get the best of it. This guide including tour routes, price and tips will definitely help you!
Taking a boat to Trang An UNESCO heritage site
To get a boat trip in Trang An, you need to arrive at the Trang An Ecological Park. The ticket office is right at the entrance and the tickets include a boat trip. You have to pay 200,00VND (around US$10) for an adult and 100,000VND (around US$5) for a child (the condition is his height must be below 1.4 meters). If you wish for a tour guide, the price is 300,000VND ( around US$15) for a tour.
A note for you is each boat will have 6 pax and it only starts the journey when the boat is full, but when it's not peak season, the tour can start even there are only two people on a boat. If you want some privacy, of course, you can buy all of the 6 slots and have a boat for yourself. And the boat is the paddle typed and you will be accompanied by a joyful ferrywoman along the trip.
What the ticket looks like
There are three boat trip routes available in Trang An Ecological Park. The first route will take around 3.5 hours with 9 caves and 3 temples and palaces.
Trang An boat tour route
The second route will lead you to the famous “Kong: Skull Island” film set site, 4 caves and 2 temples and palaces. This route is quicker, only 2.5 hours are needed. The last route will take you to the film set site, 3 caves and 3 temples and palaces all in 3 hours.
The schedules for the three routes are:
Habour – Trinh Temple – Toi Cave– Sang Cave – Nau Ruou Cave – Tran Temple – Ba Giot Cave – Seo Cave– Son Duong Cave – Khong Palace – Bao Hieu Temple– Khong Cave – Tran Cave – Quy Hau Cave – Habour.
This is the route which includes the highest number of destinations. If you want to visit as many places as possible, this may be a good choice for you, you will be impressed by the magnificent grottos, limestone karst and the ancient temple.
Also, this choice will suit young travellers the most since you will spend a long time on the boat and constantly moving to new destinations. Elders and children may easily get tired in this route, so you should consider the plan if you go with family.
Trang An boat trip overview
Habour – Lam Cave – Vang Cave – Thanh Truot Cave – Suoi Tien Temple – Dai Cave – Vu Lam Palace - Kong film site– Habour.
The second route is more suitable if you go with your family. This route has fewer destinations, but the highlight is the aboriginal village or the “Kong: Skull Island” film set site.
Although its length is shorter than the first route, the beauty of the cave and scenery alongside the river will surely not disappoint you. And you will have the chance to be in a real-life ancient world while visiting the film set.
Everything was preserved at the best condition to bring the true feeling in the film to the visitors.
A beautiful scene at Trang An
You can take 15-30 minutes to visit the temples, the boat will wait for you at the riverside (Photo: camiwi_m)
Each boat has an extra pair of paddles so you can try to roll yourself (Photo: ssegundo)
Habour – Trinh Temple – May Cave – Suoi Tien – Đia Linh Cave – Đai Cave – Vu Lam Palace– Kong film site – Habour.
And the last option will be for a relaxing purpose. This route has the least of destination and shortest time spent, so you will have a quick view of the Trang An. However, this may be best for photographers: you have to travel less and have more time to take photos. Also, the pace of the trip is slower, so you have more time for sightseeing.
You should consider the choices and select the best option according to your liking and schedule. All the destinations are wonderful, photogenic and worth the wait. The only difference is the length of the journey.
Kong film set is a highlight for this route
You might want to visit some attractions near Trang An:
The best time to visit Trang An it in the early months, from January to March, when the weather is dry and cool. This is the festival season of Bai Dinh Temple, so you can combine the boat tour with visiting the temple. However, this is the peak season so the place may be crowded and you have to wait a bit until you can get on your boat.
Or if you want to enjoy the beautiful golden rice field, you should go in late May and early June, when the rice ripens. This season is a bit hotter and the sunlight may be strong, but there will be fewer tourists.
Some small thing you should bring is water, light snack, hat, sunglass because you will have to spend a lot of time outside, directly under the sun. So it’s better not to get burned and dehydrated. You should also wear comfortable and travel-friendly clothes since you will be moving around a lot.
Don't let the weather affects your trip to Trang An Ninh Binh
If your starting point is Hanoi, you have many options for transportation. In order to get to Trang An, you need to arrive at the city center of Ninh Binh. You can either D-I-Y your trip, or you can get a tour package from the provider.
Of course, if you plan the trip yourself, it will be more to your liking and flexible. However, a designed tour from an agency is more advantageous to some extent. The tour provider is more professional and has better understanding of the destinations, so the tour will be more effective and safer.
If you D-I-Y your trip, you need to arrange a means of transportation by yourself. The tour buses are a reasonable choice to travel from Hanoi to Ninh Binh. It’s really easy and convenient to book a bus ticket, you can buy the ticket online, with a phone call, at the bus stations or at bus agencies. The ride on the bus will be approximately 2 to 3 hours, depending on the traffic. Some bus agencies provide pick-up service, but you can also catch a bus yourself at the bus stations.
Or, you can choose to go by train. The Hanoi train station is at 120 Le Duan Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi and Ninh Binh railway station is at 1 Hoang Hoa Tham Street, Ninh Binh city. The stations are open 24/7 and all year round. The train journey’s take 2 – 2.5 hours without delay.
If you travel from Hanoi to Ninh Binh in a group, the best option for you should be rent a private car. It is a bit pricy if your group is small (under 10 people). But if you go in a large group (more than 15 people), it can be cheaper than travelling by bus. You can arrange the pick-up location and time, the type of cars and so on.
Trang An is around 10km away from Ninh Binh city center. You can choose to take a taxi to get there, or rent motorbike or car and drive. One more time, the latter option is not well recommended, unless you have been familiar with the route here. A tip for you is you should choose a metered taxi to avoid over-charge.
If you choose a Ninh Binh tour, usually the means of transportation will be included in the service. Typically tour provider will transfer you in a shuttle bus or private car and you can arrange the pick-up destination and date. Remember that, if you pay money for the service, you can deal fairly with the provider about the schedule to make it more suitable to you.
If you still wonder how to get the best out of your trip to Trang An, here are some tips that you must know:
Although the boat tour is safe and you can take it off to take pictures sometimes but we highly recommend that you should wear it every time due to safety reason. The life jacket is included in Trang An boat tour ticket.
Always keep your phone and camera with you by a hand strap, once you drop it to the water, there is no way to bring it back
You can meet new friends on the boat trip
If you are planning to take a boat tour in the middle of the day, do not forget your hat, bug repellent and sunscreen home. There is little to no shade along the way.
If you go to Trang An in the spring (from January to April), bring an umbrella or thin raincoat, there is high chance of drizzle, it’s not a big deal but definitely can wet you
Each boat has an extra pair of paddles. If you want, you can use them and help your guide. I can imagine that paddling for that many hours per day can get pretty tiring for the guides.
These are all the things you should know before going for a boat tour in Trang An. If you are still not sure how to plan an enjoyable boat trip in Trang An, feel free to contact us, the AZ Local Trip team for further information and advice!