Hoa Lu & Tam Coc
Hanoi Travel Blog› entry 19 of 35 › view all entries
I booked a day trip to Hoa Lu and Tam Coc which are near Ninh Binh just over a 100km south of Hanoi. Along the way there were a number of churches which could be seen in the towns that we travelled through - they all had large spires and stood out.
Hoa Lu was the capital of the first kings of Vietnam in the 10th century. Here there are two temples which are said to have been built on the foundations of the original palaces of the two kings in the 11-12th century and restored in the 17th century. Following our visit here we moved on to Tam Coc where we stopped for lunch [we could have travelled by pushbike but it was pretty hot so none of the group was keen on this]. Lunch was a massive smorgasbord - I paid more than expected for the ticket but had been told that the quality was better.
After lunch we headed across the road and got into small boats to be rowed down the river and back. Along the way you go through three caves - which apparently is the meaning of `Tam Coc`- the first of these is over 100m long and pitch black in the middle. The other two are shorter but also much lower so you have to keep the head down. At the half way point you get met by women on boats wanting to sell you drinks and then also food and drinks for the rowers. I`d read that this was generally a scam in that the rowers would usually sell the stuff straight back so would not come into this - I`d asked for a drink and next think she was handing over drinks, biscuits and other stuff - for the rowers - and wanting around $7. Ended up refusing to buy anything from her. We turned around and headed back - we hadn`t gone far when a steel chest on the boat was opened and out came table cloths and embroidery for sale. It was then a constant sales pitch all the way back. The french lady in the boat with me ended up buying a table cloth and I got a couple of the small pictures. When we got back the next demand was for 20 000 dong from each of us for each of the two rowers - they sure make money from tourism over here.