Day 2 in Ninh Binh
Contrarily to the first day, this one can be done on a bike as distances are shorter. All the sights are in or around Tam Coc.
Tam Coc Rice Fields
The boat ride in the Tam Coc rice fields are the main reason tourists come to Ninh Binh. The area is surrounded by hundreds stony outcrops similar to the ones found in Halong Bay. For this reason the area is nicknamed “Halong in Land”.
I skipped the boat ride when I heard it’s a hotspot for scams and hawkers. Apart from the ticket fee, the rowers often “ask” (aka demand) tourists a tip on the middle of the ride. Plus, when you get back on shore, you’re coerced to buy some food for your rower. Since I had already experienced the awesome boat ride in Trang An, I decided I could live without it.
A great alternative option to explore the rice fields is on a bike. It’s hassle-free, way more adventurous and cheaper in the end. Cycling along the paddies, waving to the people working on the fields and getting up close with some cute animals on the way felt like the absolute right choice!
Bich Dong Pagoda
If you’re coming from Tam Coc, the road to Bich Dong Pagoda is simply gorgeous. At a given point, you’ll be surrounded by huge rice fields with limestone cliffs as a backdrop. Definitely worthy of stopping for some selfie moments!
Bich Dong Pagoda itself is a set of 3 temples enclosed in an mountain. To explore the highest one you need to pass through a series of caves. At some point it’s pitch dark inside, so watch your step!
Inside you can find several Buddhist images carved in stone and hollow stalactites on which you can play some tunes. Some of these caves were used by the Viet Minh to hide from the French during the First Indochina War.
Bich Dong Pagoda – Tips
- Where: Bich Dong is located about 2km after Tam Coc center, a 2-min walk from the place we stayed.
- How long: Aim to stay 1 hour maximum, as the site is not that small.
- How much: There is no entry fee to the temples, although we had to pay 5,000 dong to park our bike. Motorbikes are double the price.
- Tip: Bring comfortable shoes to climb up to the third temple on the very top.
To be continued…