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Drifting Down the River in Trang An

Ninh Binh has beautiful landscapes and a countryside that reminded me of home. I rented a motorcycle with driver to see what this part of Vietnam had to offer. One of the places on my itinerary was Trang An. The latter is best explored by going on a boat ride down the river.

Down the River

After a relaxing couple of hours in Van Long I was back in the usual tourist route. Crowds came and booked their boats with guides. Most of the tourists were other Vietnamese, in fact I was put in a group of locals since I was traveling alone. The boatman was in pretty good shape since there were around 5 of us and he was the only one rowing.

The day was overcast (but hopefully didn't rain), fog wrapped the mountains and stone formations, drifting between the spaces separating them from each other. The waters were tranquil and the current weak enough for our lone boatman to row along.

The Trang An Landscape Complex was included in UNESCO's Heritage List a couple of years ago because of its historical and cultural importance. The entire area covers more than 6000 hectares with a mix of limestone karst, forests and rice paddies. There are also around 14000 residents that subsist on farming, but most of the complex is in a pristine state, untouched by man.

Archaeologists found deposits of human activity in the caves; they cited that there are parts of Trang An that had continuous human presence and activities for more than 30,000 years.

Those were interesting historical tidbits that ran through my mind as I enjoyed the beautiful landscapes.

The surrounding landscape did remind me of another famous destination in Vietnam, Ha Long Bay. Instead of massive cruise ships, this time around visitors settled for tours on significantly smaller rafts.

As we drifted along the tourist route, the views became repetitive, but were still quite impressive.

There were a couple of stops in between, to see temples or just take a break.

Despite the crowds, there spots in Trang An where you could get away from them and just feel your smallness amid the towering limestone formations surrounding you.

How to Get to Trang An


*Everything's in Vietnamese Dong

200,000 - Boat ride fee
250,000 - Motorcycle taxi

You could easily get to Trang An on your own if ever you decide to rent a motorbike. I didn't know how to ride one so I booked a motorcycle taxi to take me to Trang An, Van Long and Hoa Lu in one trip.

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