We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“Heaven on Earth” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Tam Coc

Tam Coc
Ninh Binh, Ninh Binh, Vietnam
Improve this listing
Ranked #5 of 15 Attractions in Ninh Binh
Type: Landmarks/ Points of Interest, Landmarks
More attraction details
Attraction details
Fee: Yes
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Cebu City, Philippines
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
8 attraction reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
“Heaven on Earth”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 10, 2014

When in Hanoi, Vietnam, dont forget to take a day tour to Ninh Binh. Its not really that far from Hanoi 2 hours depending on the weather and driver if he drives fast. Theres a boat ride for at least 2 hours. Youll get into caves, dont worry, they are well lit. Careful with the head though, its a bit low.

Visited February 2014
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a Review

542 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    211
    210
    91
    24
    6
Date | Rating
  • Chinese (Traditional) first
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Indonesian first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Korean first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Swedish first
  • Turkish first
  • Vietnamese first
  • Any
English first
Hanoi, Vietnam
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
5 attraction reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
108 helpful votes 108 helpful votes
“must do”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 7, 2014

Tam coc is so beautifull in our trip around vietnam.sitting about 2 hour on small rowing boat.the lady with pretty smile rower riding us on the river beside green ricefield and karst moutain.all in all combine to the best nature painting, that you just see when you are on the boat in tamcoc only.

Visited February 2014
Was this review helpful? Yes 7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Liverpool, United Kingdom
Top Contributor
364 reviews 364 reviews
204 attraction reviews
Reviews in 104 cities Reviews in 104 cities
385 helpful votes 385 helpful votes
“Serenity and beauty .. if you get there early enough...”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 1, 2014

We walked the 8km from Ninh Binh and arrived 10.50am - tickets were 180k VND per person (interesting sign stated 'not more than 2 foreign visitor per boat'!) We got a boat - just 2 of us. The 6km - 3km there 3km back - going through 3 caves by boat - the trip took 90 mins start to finish. It was serene - no-one ahead of us and very few returning. The views, caves and birds were stunning. Some photographers early on the trip asked if we wanted photos - we declined. At the 'turnaround' we were asked by another boat lady to buy a drink for the rower - we declined - no problem - then when our lady asked if we wanted to buy some items we also declined! Easy - don't succumb to pressure, just 1 firm no thanks - no ongoing debate. Trip weather was overcast but still a truly amazing visit. We tipped the boat lady 50k VND. Note that at 12.15 there were many boat loads of tourists being rowed in. Highly Recommended.

Visited February 2014
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hanoi, Vietnam
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
6 attraction reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
“Tam Coc it beautiful place.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 27, 2014

Tam coc it beautiful place.
i by entry fee ticket and the local people rower boat on small river it take about 2 hour to visit.
scenic it beautiful you will see The scenery of the surrounding country is truly bamboo shoots grpeaceful, along the riverbank which look like rice, lotus flowers bloom everywhere & are naturally beautiful in the wild.

Visited March 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Parramatta, Australia
Top Contributor
429 reviews 429 reviews
232 attraction reviews
Reviews in 183 cities Reviews in 183 cities
1,351 helpful votes 1,351 helpful votes
“Shameless...piracy on the calm waters of Tam Coc”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed February 18, 2014

Tam Coc’s evocative image is seen on most Vietnam tourist brochures featuring tall karst rock towers covered in jungle foliage, like crumbling ancient temples they are an unusual sight. The karsts lie in amongst lush green rice paddies while tourists can float along a snaking river on a private sampan, admiring the views. Unfortunately, in my opinion much of Tam Coc’s serenity is spoilt by tourism & the shameless greed of boat rowers, drink-hawkers, souvenir sellers & tour guides who no longer grow rice & raise cattle in the area but flock to day-tripping tourists like flies on a warm day.

The tour bus pulls up at the small river jetty where we are assigned a sampan boat & rower by our guide. It’s great to see many of the rowers are women who can earn a living in rural Vietnam, they wear the iconic conical hats while working in this small piece of heaven. The scenery of the surrounding country is truly peaceful, bamboo shoots grow along the riverbank which look like rice, lotus flowers bloom everywhere & are naturally beautiful in the wild. We rowed into the shade of caves, which offered a cool break from the blazing sun & saw dead stalagmites, stalactites & examples of water erosion which had carved out the cave over thousands of years. Once we reached the end, turned around & came back out of the caves it all began….another boat approached our bow like a pirate ship trying to board our vessel. The most common scenario is a woman rowing her sampan selling drinks.

Using a well well-practised line she urged us to buy our rower a drink. Out of courtesy, I turned to my rower & offered him a drink from my own bottle. They were both horrified & shocked, I wonder why... It is well known here that rowers sometimes sell the drinks back to the women later for money to complement their income, this is not a problem for me, when its business its survival of the fittest, however she wouldn’t leave us in peace until another boat appeared, she quickly put her pirate hat back on & off she went. Before disembarking, our rower then put out his hand & rubbed his fingers for a tip. I know that our rower is paid a fee from the tour company. Knowing it wasn’t necessary I offered him a 20k VND tip anyway. I was surprised by his nasty scowl! I kept my money but his whinging all the way back to the jetty was so unpleasant that it would’ve been worth paying him twice as much just to shut up. Maybe I offended him & 20k VND was way too much as I know their fee for each trip down the river is approx. 30k VND. Then on dry land, an amateur photographer came running out holding pictures he took of me earlier from a distance….it’s like a Viet Cong ambush! 3 assaults in five minutes, no wonder America didn’t want to fight on.

I think our tour & most others are poorly run. Most are exactly the same & rush people in & out like a production line. In hindsight I would have found more satisfaction doing it all by myself, in particular I’d chose the Trang An Grottoes over Tam Coc, especially if I had the time. Trang An is the alternate river nearby. Paying $30 for a standard tour sounds cheap but it’s even cheaper by yourself. If I could go back in time I’d catch a bus from the My Dinh bus terminal in Hanoi or pay the money & hire a driver for the day. I can imagine capturing more scenic photos in the early morning or late afternoons. More importantly it avoids the mid-morning & afternoon lunch-time period where day tours from Hanoi arrive & crowd the river, contributing to the feeding frenzy for foreign dollars to the once simple rural people who have lost much of their innocence & charm. What used to be something simple, that beautiful natural setting much like from Pearl S. Buck’s, The Good Earth, is more & more like a modern day tourist trap.

Visited December 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers who viewed Tam Coc also viewed

Ninh Binh, Ninh Binh Province
Ninh Binh, Ninh Binh Province
 
Ninh Binh, Ninh Binh Province
Ninh Binh, Ninh Binh Province
 

Been to Tam Coc? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

If you own or manage Tam Coc, register now for free tools to enhance your listing, attract new reviews, and respond to reviewers.