Traveling to Vietnam soon?
Vietnam e-Visa 2022: How to enter Vietnam (Full Guide)
About the Trang An boat ride in Ninh Binh
Every traveler we met recommended the Trang An boat tour instead of the most famous Tam Coc one because it’s much more peaceful, with boat operators not harassing you to buy things left and right.
Note: We didn’t do the Tam Coc ride, so we don’t have first-hand experience, but a couple of our friends went and said it is true (it’s a common theme on other blogs as well). So we’d also recommend the Trang An boat ride instead of Tam Coc.
Boat ride experience in Tràng An Scenic Landscape Complex
The boat ride in Trang An comprises three different routes you can choose depending on the length and the things you want to see.
We suggest taking route number 3, which includes the 1000 meters long Dot Cave, the longest cave in the complex. Route number 3 is the only route that includes the longest cave, so if you take any other route, you will miss it.
The Dot Cave was definitely the highlight of our boat trip. It takes quite a bit of time to pass it, so it’s long enough to “feel” the cave. But it’s quite a relaxing ride, so you should be fine, even if you’re a bit claustrophobic. Remember that it’s a well-trodden route, and everyone gets out! 🙂
Note: We checked the timings of the photos and videos we took while entering and exiting the cave, and it seems like it took us about 20 minutes to pass it!
Price and duration of the Trang An boat tour
A ticket for the boat ride in Trang An is around 250.000 VND (approximately $11) per person for adults or double if you want only two people in the boat (usually four people fit inside). Kids under 1 meter have free entrance, and for the ones under 1,3 meters, the ticket is 120.000 VND (approximately $5).
Note: Only bring your younger children on this boat ride if you know they can sit still for an extended period of time.
The boat ride in Trang An lasts between 2 and 3 hours, depending on the route. Our ride took 2 hours as we did minimal stops in the temples, and nobody else was in the complex.
Honestly, the 2 hours boat ride was more than enough for us. We feel that anything more would be a bit too much for us personally. 🙂
Different routes of the Trang An boat tour
Route number 1: Trinh Temple, Tran Temple, Khong Palace
Route number 1 takes you through 9 caves (Toi Cave, Sang Cave, Nau Ruou Cave, Ba Giot Cave, Seo Cave, Son Duong Cave, Khong Cave, Tran Cave and Quy Hau Cave) and 3 temples of the Dinh Dynasty (Trinh Temple, Tran Temple and Khong Temple – Bao Hieu Pagoda). All these caves are relatively short.
Route number 2: Thanh Cao Son Temple, Dia Linh Mountain, Vu Lam Royal Steps
Route number 2 takes you through 4 limestone caves (Lam Cave, Vang Cave, Thanh Truot Cave, and Dai Cave) and 3 temples (Thanh Cao Son Temple, Suoi Tien Temple and Vu Lam Royal Steps). This route includes Dia Linh Mountain, which is in the shape of a giant pen tower.
Route number 3: Trinh Temple, Dot Cave, Suoi Tien Temple
Route number 3 is the only one that takes you through the 1000-meter-long Dot Cave, the longest cave in the Trang An complex. The stalactite system in this cave is quite impressive.
On this route, you visit 3 caves (Dot Cave, Van Cave and Dai Cave) and 3 temples (Trinh Temple, Suoi Tien Temple and Vu Lam Royal Steps). This route also takes you through Dia Linh Mountain, the same as the previous one.
What is the difference between the routes?
As you can see from the route descriptions, some spots repeat in every route. The biggest similarities are between route number 2 and route number 3.
Which route to take for the Trang An boat ride?
Considering that everyone usually cares the most about the last temple (the one on the water), many choose route number 3 as it’s the only one that includes the longest cave in the complex. It takes about 20 minutes to go through the cave, and it was definitely the highlight of our experience.
Most of the photos from the temples mostly look incredible from the aerial perspective and a bit less from the ground.
Best time to do the Trang An boat ride
The best time to do the boat ride in Trang An is early morning or late afternoon because of the extended time in the sun. Take a Non la – Vietnamese conical hat, and sunscreen for the best protection.
Some people like to take umbrellas on the ride, but remember that there are other people in the boat too, and you might be blocking their view if you have an umbrella.
Do you need to book the Trang An boat ride in advance?
You do not need to book the Trang An Boat ride in advance, as you just show up at the ticket counter, buy a ticket, and wait in line for a boat.
If you’re taking the boat ride as part of a tour, the ticket will be included in the price, and you shouldn’t need to queue up for tickets.
How to get to the Trang An boat ride starting point?
The starting point of the Trang An boat ride is easily reachable from any point in Ninh Binh, as it’s right next to the main road connecting Tam Coc and Hoa Lu/Bai Dinh.
If you’re staying in one of the towns nearby, we suggest going by bicycle, or if you’re in Tam Coc, it’s best to go by motorbike or a taxi.
Where to stay in Trang An, Ninh Binh
There are many options for accommodations, from hotels to homestays in the Trang An area.
We stayed at the Ha Lan Homestay in Ninh Xuan, which is also very close to Hang Mua, and we highly recommend it. And we also stayed at Hang Mua Ecolodge, part of the Hang Mua complex, right at the foot of the hill and next to the lotus lake.
These are also some of the well-reviewed and liked hotels in the area:
- Trang An Retreat
- Trang An Moon Garden Homestay
- Trang An Lotus Lake Homestay
- Ninh Binh Mountain Side Homestay & Cafe
The difference between Trang An, Tam Coc, and Van Long boat rides
The Van Long Nature Reserve boat ride is definitely much more peaceful, as it’s still not in every guidebook and tour itinerary, unlike the Trang An and Tam Coc ones.
The Trang An and Tam Coc boat rides are longer, and there’s more sightseeing included. Therefore, the price is also higher. But, Van Long, on the other hand, is a better choice for seeing some wildlife.
Because of the significant demand for boat rides in Trang An and Tam Coc, you might need to wait in line and share a boat with other tourists. There are four or five people per boat. And if you want to do a private boat ride, you’ll need to pay the same price as for the entire boat.
In Van Long, there’s usually no waiting in a line, and there are usually only two people in a boat, so it’s a more private experience. Families of 3 to 4 can also go in one boat in Van Long, but it’s a bit more cramped then.
The scenery and landscape are beautiful in all areas of Ninh Binh, where the boat rides occur, and they are pretty similar. However, we have to admit that the Trang An landscape was a bit more majestic as limestone mountains are much higher there. And you do get the chance to pass through a 1-km long cave.
Note: “Kong: Skull Island” movie was filmed in both Van Long and Trang An areas. There was also a movie set in Trang An until the end of 2020, but it’s since been removed and you can’t see it anymore, unfortunately.
The boat rides at Trang An, and Van Long are both free from hassle and begging for tips and selling all kinds of stuff, unlike the Tam Coc boat ride. We’ve heard from friends that went on a boat ride in Tam Coc that it was pretty overwhelming.
What else to do in Tràng An Scenic Landscape Complex?
Since 2020, you can also rent a kayak and go around the Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex all by yourself on two different routes (8km or 5km).
The kayak rental cost in Trang An is 250.000 VND ($11) for the single and 400.000 VND ($17) for the double kayak.
There are some rules you have to follow while kayaking in Trang An:
- Wear a life jacket
- Stick to the route
- Do not bathe in the water
Where to eat in Tràng An Scenic Landscape Complex?
There is an on-site restaurant at the Trang An boat wharf, and there are a lot of restaurants on the road leading there, so you can easily find a place to eat if you’re feeling hungry after the ride.
Is the Trang An boat ride in Ninh Binh safe?
Taking a boat ride in Trang An, Ninh Binh, is a very safe activity, as you’re exploring the area on a boat operated by a very-skilled rower. All the caves you pass through are equipped with lights, and you are also provided with a life jacket.
What are the available facilities at the Trang An boat wharf?
The Trang An complex provides an ATM, parking, toilets, and an on-site restaurant.
Is Trang An in Ninh Binh worth visiting?
Ninh Binh’s Trang An boat ride is worth visiting because of the beautiful landscape, fascinating caves you go through and the temples you visit along the way. It’s an equally good option to the more famous Tam Coc boat ride (or even better).
Let us know in the comments if you have done any of the boat rides in Ninh Binh and how it was. We’re eager to know others’ experiences and thoughts.