Trang An, where the Kong movie is filmed

Trang An is one of the most beautiful tourist areas of Ninh Binh province. The beautiful scenery is endowed as a natural gift. Trang An landscape includes winding mountain ranges surrounding the water flow of natural streams, creating countless beautiful and mysterious caves. That is why it is chose as the place to film the movie Koong- the Skull Island.

Sitting on a boat, you will discover the caves around, silently watching rice fields on two sides of streams. A extremely beautiful natural space open itself fades out before your eyes. If you have any chance to visit Vietnam, you should go to Trang An at least once.

The information below is written by sunkissedsuitcase showing her experience on a trip to Trang An

How to get to Trang An

You have two options when traveling to Trang An: drive a motorbike or take a bus. We chose the latter. Buses leave from Giap Bat Bus Station about every fifteen minutes during the day time. Our bus left Hanoi at 7:15 AM, arriving in Ninh Binh two hours later. Now, Ninh Binh is not a very exciting city but it is a great jumping off point for lots of day trips including Trang An.

Once you have arrived in Ninh Binh, all you need is a motorbike {if you chose to take the bus}. You can either rent a motorbike for 7.00 USD/day or hire a motorbike driver for about 10.00 USD/day. If you are comfortable driving, renting a motorbike is the way to go! You won’t have to worry about tipping a driver and the drive is only about 15 minutes on a paved and fairly empty highway. Tip: Be sure to have a copy of your passport. When you rent a motorbike, they will ask you for your passport information as a “security deposit” so you don’t try to steal the bike.

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Enjoy a leisurely boat ride at Trang An

Trang An is known as the “Halong Bay on Land” because the scenery of the two destinations is semi-similar. Both locations involve being on a boat and being surrounded by green-covered, limestone cliffs, although Trang An is on a smaller scale.

trang an

trang an

As you drive down the highway, you’ll easily spot the boat dock. Pull into the parking lot across the street, then buy your ticket at the ticket window for the boat ride {150,000 VND or just below 7.00 USD per person}. There will be about a dozen boats, each with their own local, female guide. The rest of the afternoon is spent leisurely rowing down the Sao Khe River. I had read that Trang An would be very busy and touristy; however, I went on a Tuesday afternoon in the middle of October so I did not have the same experience. This may be something to consider during peak travel times in Vietnam. A majority of visitors to Trang An are Vietnamese travelers coming to enjoy Trang An’s landscape and boat rides.

The boat ride lasts about two hours. Since there were so many boats available, my three friends and I had a boat to ourselves, unlike on my day trip to the Perfume Pagoda {read more here} where I was in a boat with some rather grumpy travelers. Our guide allowed us to help her row with the two extra oars in the boat; however, she did most of the work and entertained us along the way by rowing with her feet! Because of the time of the year I visited, our boat was often the only boat we could see, making the trip very serene and relaxing.

Explore small caves along Sao Khe River

Small caves are dotted along the river that you will travel through to complete the journey. The local guide will warn you to duck so you don’t hit your head as you enter. The caves all vary in size. In some caves, you must remain bent at the waist in order to get through them. Other caves are tall enough to sit up straight. Whether the caves or high or low ceilings, we were in and out of all the caves within five minutes. The longer caves had dim lighting throughout so if caves aren’t your thing, don’t let that stop you from visiting. You won’t be in them long and you aren’t in the pitch black. Alternatively, if you enjoy caves {I do!}, you’ll wish the caves were longer.

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Why I loved Trang An…

As I said earlier, I really enjoyed my day to Trang An. The boat rides and the caves were a really fun, yet relaxing, way to see more of Vietnam. However, I think I liked it so much because I spent it with new friends and we did it on our own. We navigated the public bus system ourselves. We drove rental motorbikes to the boat dock without getting lost. We didn’t need to use a scheduled tour guide where we were herded from one place to the next. We were able to enjoy the day on our own time schedule, just so long as we made the last bus back to Hanoi that evening. And one day was the perfect amount of time for everything we wanted to see.

Tips for you!

  1. At the Giap Bat Bus Station in Hanoi, you will be hassled by local men trying to sell you bus tickets. I imagine they make a commission off any bus tickets they help sell. It is fine to allow one of these men to help you get your ticket, just make sure you go to the ticket window with them to make sure they are getting the correct ticket.
  2. Bring a copy of your passport to rent the motorbike.
  3. If you like your tour guide, tip her! The guides work really hard to row you around for two hours.
  4. Trang An is easily visited in a day; however, Ninh Binh {where to get off the bus from Hanoi} is a great jumping off city for other one to three-day trips, including Tam Coc, Cuc Phuong National Park, and the Dong Huong Pagoda. You can stay in Ninh Binh taking day trips, then travel from there for 2-3 day trips.



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