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Daytrip: Hanoi to Tam Coc (Three Grottoes)?

Daytrip: Hanoi to Tam Coc (Three Grottoes)?

Dec 19th, 2006, 01:55 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2005
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Daytrip: Hanoi to Tam Coc (Three Grottoes)?

We will be in Hanoi about a month from now for a few days. Has anyone done Tam Coc as a day trip? Is it worth the effort? We only have about four days to spend in Hanoi so maybe our time is better spent in the city. Our schedule will not allow an overnight. We will, however, spend one night on Halong Bay on the junk “Jewel of the Bay”, and then on to Hoi An.
tatersalad is offline  
Dec 19th, 2006, 03:40 PM
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I did a day trip to Tam Coc from Hanoi last month. I hired a car and driver and a guide through Exotissimo at the Hilton. It was expensive, IIRC around $100. But the guide spoke English well and did a good job. The car was in good condition and the driver did a good job, relatively speaking (he would have earned at least a dozen moving violations (per hour, I think) from the Virginia State Police but was still relatively tame compared to local standards).

On the drive south we did see the end result of a confrontation between a motorbike and a minibus. The minibus had a bashed headlight. The motorbike was totalled. The driver? of the bike was bleeding from the knee and ankle and foot. The former passenger of the bike looked dead.

The drive south was interesting, as there is some scenery and you get a different perspective on Hanoi as you leave. First stop was at a couple of shrines out in the country. It was somewhat scenic, with the karst mountains around and lush vegetation.

There was a woman in the field on the back of one of the water buffalo in a farm field. She was posing for pictures and I saw one tourist snap a photo of her, in that human zoo kind of way, and then he walked away. She gave him what may have been the VN equivalent of the bird for not giving a tip.

We then drove thru the unattractive city of Ninh Binh out to Tam Coc. Here, you get in a boat with a VN woman rowing in back. After about 150 yards a second woman got up front and rowed also.

This was a very scenic little cruise with karst mountains all around and you float thru a couple of caves under the mountains. At the beginning and near the end of the trip there were quite a few other boats gliding by so it was very much like an amusement park boat ride.

Just before the boat would arrive at the origin, they dropped me off at a spot where the guide was waiting. We walked over to a small shrine and he explained some of the geography. The shrine was ok. The car came and picked us up there and we drove back to the little town where the boats are and had lunch which was just ok. Then back to Hanoi.

It was a lot of riding around. The roads were generally in good condition. Was a nice break from the city.

Since you are going to overnight in Halong Bay and have four days in Hanoi (the right amount, imo, tho three would be ok) then I advise skipping Tam Coc and stay in Hanoi. Or add a second day to Halong Bay.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Dec 19th, 2006, 03:44 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,594
I am just remembering that a good bit of the drive between the shrines and the boat was interesting. Pretty countryside and a glimpse of rural VN life.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Dec 19th, 2006, 05:06 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
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I also did this as a day trip from Hanoi, but I went with a tour arranged by one of the travel agencies in the old town. Minibus ride, then a visit to quite a nice temple and an indifferent buffet lunch. The ride in small wooden boats took about 2 hours out and back, and there was fairly heavy pressure to buy souvenirs, both from one of the women rowing the boat, and from other boats at the turnround point. Although the scenery was interesting, the trip was disappointing after Halong Bay. It's advertised as Halong Bay among the paddy fields, but we didn't see any paddy fields. I'd recommend skipping it in favor of more time in the city, especially if you're already fitting Halong Bay into a four day visit.
thursdaysd is offline  
Dec 19th, 2006, 06:52 PM
Join Date: Jul 2006
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The first temples mentioned by mrwunrfl are at Hoa Lu. This was the capital of VN 1000 years ago. I took a mini bus tour. It was $16. The drive out takes approx. 2-2.5 hours vs. 3.5-4 hours to Halong Bay. The scenery is quite nice. If you have an extra day and you're tired of the city and the terrible traffic/incessent horn honking, it's a nice day trip.
Bisbee is offline  
Dec 19th, 2006, 07:50 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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You may want to look at this possibility n the area. We are planning to do a more extensive tour with this company that offers very different types of experiences.

julies is offline  
Oct 5th, 2007, 08:57 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 452
If JulieS sees this, I would really like to hear about how you liked Ethnic Travel and the excusion with them outside Hanoi. I have found your other VN posts, but haven't found how this worked out. would love to hear as ethnic travel website has excursions that may be alternative to spending all the time to go to Sapa in June/July. thanks.
alison is offline  
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