Introducing Tam Coc
Poetically penned ‘Halong Bay on the rice paddies’, the area around Tam Coc boasts stunning scenery. While Halong Bay has rugged rock formations jutting out of the sea, here they soar skywards from a sea of green.
Tam Coc (entry fee 30, 000d, boat 40, 000d) is named after the low caves through which the Ngo Dong River flows. The essential Tam Coc experience is to sit back and be rowed through the caves – a serene and scenic trip, which turns into a surreal dance towards the end.
The boats carry two people as well as the main rower at the rear and a secondary rower, usually an elderly woman, whose purpose becomes clear at the end of the journey. Hang Ca, the first cave, is 127m long; Hang Giua 70m long; and the third, Hang Cuoi, is only 45m. The boat trip takes about two hours and tickets are sold at the small booking office by the car park. Even on cloudy days, bring sunscreen and a hat or umbrella, as there’s no shade in the boats. It pays to arrive early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the day-tripping crowds from Hanoi.
The area behind the Tam Coc restaurants is Van Lan village, which is famous for its embroidery. Here local artisans make napkins, tablecloths, pillowcases and T-shirts. A lot of these items wind up being sold on Hanoi’s Pho Hang Gai, but it is cheaper to buy them here directly from the artisan. The village has a much better selection and slightly lower prices than those available from the boat vendors.
Last updated: Feb 17, 2009