Most tourists coming to Ninh Binh wonder whether Trang An or Tam Coc is the best place for their trip. It is not easy to answer the question because each attraction has each own beauty and bring you different amazing experiences. Tam Coc vs Trang An boat tour, Which is better

As over 7 year- experience as a tour guide in Ninh Binh, I write the post to break into information about Trang An and Tam Coc to help you have a right decision.

Firstly, we go into what is the similarity and difference between Trang An and Tam Coc. Let me clear it

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Tam Coc or Trang An, where is more worth visiting?

 The similarity of Trang An and Tam Coc tour

Traveling to Trang An or Tam Coc, both are known by the nickname Ninh Binh boat tour, you can experience boat trip through stunning caves while you spontaneously admire the majestic limestone mountains popping up above the water.

Not only do Ninh Binh make tourists say wow by no-word-describe natural beauty but also skillful people who row boats by their feet. The image of boat drivers taking their hands over their heads and effortlessly use their feet to move and paddle boat is famous in both Vietnamese and international newspapers.

ride boat

Ferryman is using his feet to row a boat smoothly in Trang An

Mr. Quang who has worked here for 20 years said that sailing “Tam Coc” sampan by feet is quicker and drain less energy. On average, he took 20 boat rounds per day, his hands were exhausted, changing to use feet was the only way for his hands taking a rest.

Last but not least, those people who rowing boats have to work so hard to earn little money. You should give a small tip about 50 000 VND to say thanks for ferryman who serve you very well.

 The differences between Trang An and Tam Coc boat tour

For Trang An

  1. The scenery

Regarding northern Vietnam, the first image appears in tourists’ minds is the magnificent mountain ranges where the slopes connect to each other in a long undulating stretch.

Unlike Sapa or Ha Giang, Ecotourism Trang An boat tour is well-known by harmoniously mixed between emerald water and limestone mountain, creating breathtaking views like ways to heaven.

  1. Three Trang An routes, How to pick up one?

When entering the entrance gate, you will see a Trang An map beside 3 route options. No matter which route you choose, the ticket price and duration are similar

In order to pick a suitable route with your time and  your liking, let’s read more details below:

Route1: 9 caves and 3 temples

With the longest tour, you will take 3.5 hours to visit 9 caves and 3 temples in Trang An boat tour. If you are a fan of geology, this tour is right for you because it is the only route taking you through many caves.

In the rain season, several caves will be flooded and may not be accessible, when buying tickets, you should ask ticket staffs before.

trang an caves

Massive and spectacular caves in Trang An complex

Route 2: 4 caves and 3 temples.

The second route is popular among people traveling with family or the elderly. With only 3 hours on a boat, the route also makes you satisfied by the scenery along both river and ancient pagoda kept in good condition.

pagoda in trang an

During the route 2, you have the chance to visit lots of ancient pagodas and temples

Route 3: 3 caves and 3 temples

The third Trang An boat tour route just added to meet the requirement of tourists who have a short time for traveling. Combining intriguing attractions of route 1 and route 2, route 3 is created to take tourists to 3 temples( Trinh temple, Suoi Tien Temple & Vu Lam Palace), to three caves ( May cave, Dot cave & Dai cave), and King Kong land.

 Trang An makes its name through the King Kong movie, many tourists visiting Ninh Binh with their aim is to explore and see the breathtaking views of King Kong land through their naked eyes. That’s a reason why route 2 and 3 are crowded all years around. If you do not mind being touristy, route 2 and 3 welcome your exploration.

  1. What is the best time to visit Trang An

In Lunar New Year from January to March is the best time to travel to Trang An. At that time is hold spring festivals, so you can stop by Bai Dinh Pagoda to join activities and understand more Vietnamese religions.

From May to June is a period of riping field, the green color of mountains combined with the vivid yellow color of ripening rice. All things make tourists drop their jaw in front of the beautiful landscape.

  1. Ticket price

Let’s read it carefully to understand the way of taking  boats and tickets

For adults, the ticket price is 250 000 VND/ person and that for children under 1.4 m is 120 VND/ person.

Noticeably, each boat contains a maximum of 4 persons. It means 1,000,000 VND per boat. If you travel alone or have 2 persons, you will have to wait to full of seats. Do not worry, you do not have to wait so long maybe only 10 to 15 minutes because Trang An is a must-see attraction, the number of tourists coming here per day is high all round of years.

Another option, you can pay 1,000,000 VND per boat to save your time for waiting or want to have a private boat.

boat in Trang An

You might be interested in further information about Trang An boat tour and Tam Coc boat tour

For Tam Coc

  1. The scenery

When searching for Ninh Binh on the internet, the image of Tam Coc (Tam Coc viewpoint) with river surrounded riping paddies and limestone mountains often appear on the first page. The destination becomes pride and a beautiful symbol of Ninh Binh province.

Taking a boat in Tam Coc, you emerge yourself into fields and farming activities along Ngo Dong river.

 The scenery of Tam Coc in riping fields is attractive both domestic and international tourists

  1. Tam Coc route

Hearing the name Tam Coc – three caves you can guess a part of your trip. You will go through three caves followed a made-ready itinerary, including Hang Ca, Hang Hai and Hang Ba.

Do not need to take time for opting which route is the best like Trang An, Tam Coc river boat tour has only one route that is set up permanently. Then you will go on a “small boat cruise”  – a funny name of “Tam Coc sampan”  and You only buy a ticket and find a boat to start your trip.

The first cave you go through is called Hang Ca, the second is Hang Hai and the last is Hang Ba. All caves of Tam Coc are attractive by its diverse shape of stalactites hanging down.

caves in tam coc

It is quite cool in caves and there are lots of stalactites  with various shapes

Residents often use their creativity to make up their own stories based on the shape of stalactites during Tam Coc boat trip. For example, a stone in the peak of the mountain, they create a story of an elephant finding food. All shapes of stalactites will trigger your imagination and help children look out of the box

Why do not you play the game with your friends and your family during taking Tam Coc boat tour. It is extremely funny and unforgettable

  1. What is the best time to visit Tam Coc?

Both Tam Coc and Trang An are located in Ninh Binh, the weather of two destinations are the same

Which is the best time to visit Tam Coc? I answer promptly it is in May or a period of between January and March

  1. 4. Opening Hours

All services are available from 8:00 Am to 6:00 PM daily including Saturday and Sunday.

  1.   Tam Coc boat ticket price

The way of paying a ticket for Tam Coc boat tour is a little complicated, you should read it more carefully.

You have to pay for 2 kinds of tickets: the one is sight-seeing tickets, the other is a boat tour

– A sight-seeing ticket is 120.000VND/Person

– The boat is 150.000VND/Boat.

Notice: For safety, each boat can take a maximum of 2 foreign tourists or 4 Vietnamese person/ boat because foreigners often have higher weight than Vietnamese persons

Add up, you will pay 195, 000 VND/ person.

What type of tours should choose Trang An or Tam Coc or both?

Ninh Binh one day tour

With only one day in Ninh Binh, I recommend you should pick either Trang An or Tam Coc. Just imagine that you spend a whole day to sit on a boat. Although the scenery is so beautiful, you will get bored of spending too much time sitting.

If you have only 1 day in Ninh Binh, you can mix Trang An or Tam Coc with Hoa Lu, Hang Mua. For that, you can explore Ninh Binh more and take hiking and boating during 1 day

Don’t forget to book Ninh Binh tour here:

explore tour

Ninh Binh two day tour and more:

2-day tour in Ninh Binh is enough for you to explore both Trang An and Tam Coc. On the first day, you come to Trang An – Bai Dinh, the second day you discover Hoa Lu ancient capital and Tam Coc.

Sum up  Tam Coc vs Trang An

Tam Coc and Trang An are both popular tourist destinations in Ninh Binh province, Vietnam known for their stunning natural landscapes and cultural significance. Here are some similarities and differences between Tam Coc and Trang An:

Tam Coc vs Trang An


  • Both Tam Coc and Trang An offer boat tours along scenic rivers and through limestone caves.
  • They are both recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
  • Visitors can enjoy picturesque views of karst mountains, rice paddies, and rural villages.


  • Tam Coc is often called “Halong Bay on Land” due to its similar karst landscape, while Trang An is known for its vast network of caves.
  • Tam Coc is home to three caves, while Trang An has around ten caves to explore.
  • Trang An is a newer tourist destination and offers a more pristine natural environment, while Tam Coc can be more crowded with tourists.
  • Trang An has more temples and historical sites to visit, while Tam Coc is more focused on the natural scenery.

Overall, both Tam Coc and Trang An are worth visiting for their unique beauty and cultural significance.

Where should you stay in trang an or tam coc?

Trang An and Tam Coc are both popular destinations in Ninh Binh, and offer different advantages and disadvantages for travelers.

Trang An


  • Trang An is known for its stunning scenery, with towering limestone mountains and serene waterways. It’s a great place to explore by boat, and visitors can enjoy a peaceful ride through the caves and grottos.
  • Trang An is also home to several temples and pagodas, including the Bai Dinh Pagoda, which is the largest Buddhist complex in Vietnam.
  • Trang An is less crowded than Tam Coc, making it a good choice for travelers who want to avoid crowds.


  • Trang An is further away from the main town of Ninh Binh, so transportation can be more difficult.
  • There are fewer restaurant and accommodation options in Trang An compared to Tam Coc.

Recommended hotels and homestays in Trang An:

  • Trang An Retreat: A boutique hotel with beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and rice paddies.
  • Trang An River View Homestay: A cozy homestay with a friendly family atmosphere and easy access to Trang An.

Trang An river view homestay

Tam Coc


  • Tam Coc is known for its beautiful scenery, including the famous “Halong Bay on Land” landscape. Visitors can take a boat ride through the rice paddies and limestone cliffs, which is a must-do activity in Ninh Binh.
  • Tam Coc is closer to the town of Ninh Binh, which means there are more restaurant and accommodation options available.
  • There are several nearby attractions, including the Hoa Lu Ancient Capital and the Bich Dong Pagoda.


  • Tam Coc can be crowded with tourists, especially during peak season.
  • Some visitors may find the boat ride through Tam Coc to be more touristy than Trang An.

Recommended hotels and homestays in Tam Coc:

Little Tam Coc homestay

Ultimately, the choice between Trang An and Tam Coc will depend on your individual preferences. If you’re looking for a quieter and more serene experience, Trang An may be the better choice. If you want to be closer to restaurants and attractions, Tam Coc may be the way to go.

Useful tips for Trang An and Tam Coc collected by a local tour guide

  • At noon, you should bring a hat or an umbrella, if you do not have, you can hire one at every store near the pier
  • Bring a waterproof bag and phone neck strap to avoid your camera to drop into water when taking photos
  • It is not compulsory, you should leave a tip about 50000 VNĐ as a reward for ferryman work hard
  • Traveling early or afternoon from 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM, both two destinations are less crowded than other time
  • Bring snacks and water along with, floating convenience stores are available on Ngo Dong River, but the price of them is pushed up twice
  • Unlucky, you meet a local photographer who takes pictures of you and then coming to you to require you buy it. Those pictures are not beautiful because they are stalked. Maybe, your eyes are closing on some, your pose is weird one some other. You should say “ no” immediately.

IV) Reviews of Trang An and Tam Coc

Review of Hanna from UK

I and my husband visited Ninh Binh in July 2014. We could not decide whether to visit Trang An or Tam Coc, after reading information on forums we end up visited Tam Coc. I was impressive by women steered boat effortlessly.  Why could she row the boat by feet like magic? To be honest, the summer in Vietnam is too hot, be sure you bring a hat and put on sunscreen.

Tam Coc, a lovely and tranquil place where I got closer to rice fields. I got there early morning or late afternoon before Hanoi day-trippers. Many tourists visit Tam Coc, only a few knew the tip.

Review of Almere from Netherlands

Like other travelers, I am confused about Trang An or Tam Coc to experience boat tours and grotts. I had 2 days in Ninh Binh, I decided to do both and each has its merits.

Personally, I sum up each destination in several words below:
Trang An is designed for Vietnamese tourists. It is more artificial

Tam Coc is 90% for foreign tourists, it is closer to nature, more open scenery flanked by rice paddies, 1.5 hr tour.

Tam Coc boat tour

Tam Coc is really picturesque. I saw some videos and read blogs before traveling, they told that hawkers. For me, it was not a matter, 1. say no and 2. pretend to be deaf and left them alone.

Have you decided Trang An or Tam Coc? If you have not, don’t worry. Let’s contact us to receive advices from our experienced staff and further information about Ninh Binh.

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