Trang An Landscape Complex Ninh Binh Vietnam

Considered as Halong bay on land, Trang An scenic landscape complex attracts visitors thanks to its diverse system of limestone mountains and natural caves.

What to do in Trang An?

This article is a complete travel guide to Trang An in Ninh Binh, Vietnam, with tips to make the best of your trip to this beautiful attraction in one day.

Trang An Ninh Binh things to do

About Trang An scenic landscape complex

In June 2014, Trang An landscape complex was designated by UNESCO as a world cultural and natural heritage.

With an area of over 2,000 hectares, Trang An area is made up of limestone ridges, mysterious caves, valleys, rivers, and dozens of historical sites.

Among Trang An scenic landscape complex, you can find Hoa Lu ancient capital, in the north, Trang An eco-tourism site is in the center, and Tam Coc – Bich Dong in the south.

These three areas are linked together by forests on limestone mountains and systems of rivers, lakes, and swamps.

This article explores Trang An eco-tourism area (Trang An boat tour).

Trang An view

Best places to stay in Ninh Binh

Although you can experience Trang An boat trip in one day, I strongly recommend staying in Ninh Binh for at least one night to visit other attractions such as Mua Cave, Hoa Lu, Tam Coc – Bich Dong, and Bai Dinh Pagoda. 

I stayed at Trang An Retreat and loved it. The resort is located in a quiet area, and it’s close to Trang An and Mua Cave. The staff is friendly and accommodating, and the room is spacious. 

 The resort has an outdoor swimming pool, so you can dip in after a long day exploring the area. 

best places to stay in Ninh Binh Trang An Retreat

Trang An tour from Hanoi

If you only have one day allocated for Ninh Binh, you should take Trang An day tour from Hanoi.

You’ll first visit Bai Dinh temple, enjoy lunch at a local restaurant, and then get on Trang An boat tour around 1:30 pm.

The tour includes pickup and drop-off service at your hotel in Hanoi, so it’s convenient if you only have a day to spend in the area.

Trang an cave exploring

Best time to visit Trang An

Although you can visit Trang An any time of the year, you should avoid the rainy season in Vietnam (July-August), so it won’t interfere with your plan.

The best time to visit Trang An Ninh Binh is from February to June. 

From February to March, the paddy field is lush green, and then the tone gradually changes to a bright yellow towards the harvest time from the end of May to the beginning of June.

Note: The site can be crowded during Lunar New Year (Tet holiday).

Ninh Binh Vietnam Travel guide

How to get to Trang An Ninh Binh

Getting from Hanoi to Ninh Binh

By bus

Taking a bus is the easiest way to get from Hanoi to Ninh Binh

Frequent buses depart from Hanoi, and the journey takes approximately 3 hours, depending on your drop-off location.

You can book your bus ticket online easily here

By train

Vietnam Railways offers daily trains from Hanoi, and you can select a hard seat, soft seat, or berth, depending on your budget. 

SE7 (departing at 6 am) and SE5 (leaving at 9 am) are great choices if you’d like to start your day early and have more time exploring Ninh Binh.

Trang An Vietnam

Getting from Ninh Binh to Trang An

Trang An is about 7km from the center of Ninh Binh city (about 7km from the bus station and 8km from the train station), so you can rent a motorbike or book a taxi or Grab car to get to Trang An.

If you’re going by a private limousine/ van, you can ask the provider to drop you off at Trang An boat center.

Trang An boat trip ticket

Currently, the entrance ticket to visit Trang An tourist area (including a boat trip ticket) is as follows:

  • Adults: VND 200,000 per person (4 people per boat, excluding the boat lady)
  • Children (under 1m high): 100,000 VND per child
  • Tour guide: VND 300,000 per tour

All procedures for buying tickets will be guided in detail at the ticket counter and consulted at Trang An wharf.

Trang An wharf

What to do in Trang An in one day

Trang An boat ride routes

Trang An Landscape Complex currently offers three main boat routes that visitors can choose from.

a) Route 1: Trinh Temple – Tran Temple – Phu Khong

Duration: 3 hours

This sightseeing tour takes visitors through 9 caves and three spiritual points to explore nature and learn about the history of the Dinh dynasty through the relics and legends.

Skull island Vietnam boat

b) Route 2: Thanh Cao Son temple – Hanh Cung Vu Lam – Kong Skull Island Film location

Duration: 3 hours

This tour takes visitors through 4 magnificent caves and three spiritual points to learn about the history of the Tran dynasty at the Hanh Cung Vu Lam Palace.

Then you’ll get to see the filming location of Kong: Skull Island. 

Skull island Vietnam boat trip

c) Route 3: Dot Cave – Suoi Tien temple – Kong Skull Island film location

Duration: 3 hours

The tour takes visitors through 3 spiritual points and three caves. You’ll be amazed at the stalactite system of Dot cave and the scenery of Ninh Binh. 

Trang An boat ride review

The view

“This place looks unreal!”

It was what I thought on my first Trang An boat tour. I have already visited Trang An a few times and am still blown away every time I visit.

Trang An Ninh Binh Vietnam boat trip

From Trang An wharf, we entered the reserved area with impressive limestone and a unique ecosystem. 

Trang An Ninh Binh Vietnam view

The temples

The boat lady first took us to the temple in Trang An and let us wander around for about 15 minutes. 

Trang An temples boat tour

Before checking out the new one, I first wandered to the old temple area.

The old temple looked quite simple but retained its historical value, while the newer one had different rooms for worshipping gods and kings.

Note: I brought a light coat with me on this trip so I could enter the temple. I suggest you do the same if you wear a skirt or sleeveless shirt.

The caves

Trang An cave

Cave was one of the outstanding attractions of this tour ride. The boat lady took us to explore some caves; it was amazing to see the structure.

Trang An cave entrance

Sometimes, the cave entrance was really low, so we had to avoid hitting our heads. 

Trang An Ninh Binh Vietnam travel guide

Getting out of the cave, the breathtaking view was revealed in front of us.

Skull Island village

Kong: Skull Island is an American blockbuster film filmed in 2016 in several locations in Vietnam, such as Trang An, Van Long Nature Reserve, Tam Coc – Bich Dong, Halong Bay, and Phong Nha Ke Bang. 

Skull island Vietnam boat

The aboriginal village film studio was restored in an area of about 10 hectares, including spire huts, with the participation of aboriginal people.

Tips: Selecting route two or route 3 of the boat tour, you’ll get a chance to visit this filming location.

Trang An skull island filming location
The actors were friendly and ready to take creative poses with visitors. 

I enjoy walking around the village and seeing the huts and animals. The surrounding area was peaceful and charming. We got about 20 minutes to explore the whole area. 

Trang An filming location

What to pack for Trang An

Below is the list of items that you should bring and wear

  • Clothing: You should wear comfortable clothes and prepare a thin jacket if you want to visit the temples.
  • Shoes: Instead of wearing high heels, a pair of sports shoes or flat shoes will help you comfortable walking.
  • Hat and umbrella to protect from the sun or rain.
  • Water and snacks for a 3-hour boat ride

What to eat in Trang An Ninh Binh

Besides the beautiful scenery, Ninh Binh also has delicious dishes for visitors to enjoy and explore.

The most famous dish of Ninh Binh is scorched rice cooked from glutinous rice. The rice is left to dry for two or three suns before being fried.

Scorched rice is often served with goat meat or fried sauteed onions. This dish is popular, and you can find it in a package, so it’s convenient to buy as a gift. 

what to eat in Ninh Binh Vietnam

Goat dishes are also popular in Ninh Binh. Households raise goats all year in the mountains by forest leaves, so goat meat is crunchy, low in fat, sweet, and nutritious.

Note: The Skull Island village has been unavailable to tourists since October 2019.

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