Tam Coc Caves
Ninh Binh Travel Blog› entry 54 of 121 › view all entries
From the moment we got up we were being sold excursions; rentals; food; you name it, from the hotel staff! Even whilst we having our breakfast! It was a bit pushy to say the least and we point blank refused to purchase anything. The guy actually had the cheek to ask us for $80 USD to rent a moped! What? I can almost buy one for that much! Enough quickly became enough, and we hurried through breakfast and went into town to find more realistic tour operators.
Lonely Planet had said Tam Coc is near by and the best thing to do is just turn up and book on whilst there. We flagged down a taxi and got there for the afternoon.
It was a pleasant boat ride through the rice fields and onto the caves (the Vietnamese call them grottos), but despite its over-exaggerated reputation of being able to rival Halong Bay, it certainly put a meaning to actually coming to Ninh Binh. I do believe this was made pretty good due to a large slice of luck though. We managed to get on board one of the first boats to leave the dock and, of course, this a largely un-obscured view. That did change after a while, but by that time we’d already gone through the first cave and had taken quite a few unopposed photos.
The ride took us through a total of three caves and this filled enough of the day to make me content with the stop off. We continued with a short walk around the park, but we were both a little less than impressed with the constant hassle for tipping. Poor Lori was sat behind me and in front of the rowers. They did their job, and then for around 10 -15 minutes, all you would hear is ‘tip, tip, tip, tip, tip’. Well that cancelled any hope of a tip for them. Usually, after the ride I’d probably give a fair tip if I’d enjoyed it, but being constantly pressured to tip? Bugger off!
Overall I was glad to leave Ninh Binh, and we passed the time playing (learning for me) cards whilst waiting for the sleeper bus to arrive. I was started to absolutely crave some beach time and Hue, Hoi An, and Nha Trang couldn’t come fast enough.