Trang An or Tam Coc Vietnam? Can you tell the differences?

Trang An or Tam Coc? A usual dilemma of every tourist coming to Ninh Binh. No one can answer this question surely as it must depend on your style and preference. But there is one thing that we can assure you: Both are amazing and beautiful in their own way. Together with Original Hoa Lu Tam Coc, let’s find out which one can win your heart!

First, we will break into the detailed of both trips for you to have some rough ideas. Then, our local experts will tell you the differences between of Trang An and Tam Coc as well as reviews from previous travelers. And don’t miss out the list of helpful tips at the bottom as you will definitely need it!

Tam Coc or Trang An boat ride – Some rough idea!

Trang An and Tam Coc belong to Trang An landscape complex, Ninh Binh, Vietnam. The complex has been recognized as a UNESCO Heritage Site since 2014.

Taking a day trip from Hanoi to Ninh Binh, these two places are definitely the highlight of your trip. Both will give you a chance to explore the beautiful natural landscapes by a boat trip. Now come to the details – Trang An or Tam Coc boat ride!

Trang An boat tour

First, get to know the Trang An boat tour.

Trang An offers you a boat ride into the pristine nature. Small paddle wooden boats float on the Sao Khe river and slowly pass through valleys, mountains, caves, temples and palaces along the route. After all, the thing that leaves you in awe is the beauty of amazing sceneries reflecting on the tranquil green water.

Trang An or Tam Coc boat tour

A row into wonderland with Trang An boat tour

There are 3 Trang An boat tours for you to choose. Each has a different route and duration.

The first route passes 9 caves and 4 temples in 3.5 hours:

Habour – Trinh Temple – Toi Cave – Sang Cave – Nau Ruou Cave – Tran Temple – Ba Giot Cave – Seo Cave – Son Duong Cave – Khong Palace – Bao Hieu Temple – Khong Cave – Tran Cave – Quy Hau Cave – Habour.

This route offers the most sightseeing trip with 13 destinations in total and the most suitable for those who want to get the most of Trang An.

The second route passes 4 caves, 2 temples and the highlighted film set of “Kong: Skull Island” in 2.5 hours:

Habour – Lam Cave – Vang Cave – Thanh Truot Cave – Suoi Tien Temple – Dai Cave – Vu Lam Palace – Kong film site – Habour.

This route is shorter and more suitable for the elderly and children. Especially, this is the route for anyone having a keen on the Hollywood movie “Kong: Skull Island”.

Trang an or tam coc boat tour

The Skull Island is definitely the highlight of this boat trip!

The last route passes 3 caves, 3 temples and the famous film site in 3 hours:

Habour – Trinh Temple – May Cave – Suoi Tien Temple – Dia Linh Cave – Dai Cave – Vu Lam Palace – Kong film site – Habour.

This last route is more about relaxation. You can have more time to enjoy and admire the sceneries as it has fewer spots in the duration of 3 hours.

Which route to choose, it depends much on your likings and priorities!

Tam Coc boat tour

The second one in “Trang An or Tam Coc boat tour” – same small paddle wooden boat but a totally different vibe.

You will slowly move on the poetic Ngo Dong river and surrounded by grandiose limestone mountains and lush green or golden paddy fields on both sides. Sometimes, you can spot naughty goats climbing and playing on the karst mountainsides, then “respect” the true hikers!

Along the route, you can notice the top of the splendid Mua Cave that will captivate your heart in the Tam Coc Mua Cave tour. From that top, you can view to not only the Tam Coc valley but also the whole amazing Ninh Binh – which will blow your mind away!

Ninh Binh day trip from Hanoi to Mua Cave

The stunning Tam Coc is filled with green and yellow paddy fields looking down from the top of Mua Cave

Not like Trang An, you only have one choice to go on a 2-hour boat route passing 3 intriguing caves Ca Cave (The First Cave), Hai Cave (The Second Cave) and Ba Cave (The Third Cave).

Deep into the caves, many things are waiting for you. From the beautiful stalactite towers hanging from the ceiling like crystal chandelier to the thrilling feeling while covered by the dark with glimmering lights. And at the exit, a whole new scenery will show up right in front of your eyes!

A special thing you can witness in Tam Coc is the unique skill of the boatmen here. They sail the boat with their feet, how incredible! This technique does not only add a unique to Tam Coc boat tour but also help the boatmen prevent major injuries by reducing the stress on their back and arm.

Trang An or Tam Coc boat men

Only in Tam Coc, can you see this unique technique!

Trang An or Tam Coc boat tour? – Now pick your side!

The 2 most popular tour Hoa Lu Trang An Mua Cave and Hoa Lu Tam Coc Mua Cave always make tourists confused. You may ask “Which is better Trang An or Tam Coc?”. We say “There is no fixed answer”. Sound a little indecisive but we really mean it!

Trang An or Tam Coc boat tour has its own advantage and drawback. After collecting advice from local experts and reviews from travelers, we come up with:

About the scenery

Tam Coc is considered more natural and scenic but really busy with tourists.

Not as busy as Tam Coc, Trang An, on the other hand, are more constructed and artificial. It has been developed for Asian tourists as ecotourism and religious destination.

Besides the exciting boat ride, Trang An offers more explorations with pagodas, temples and palaces decorating the scenery. That’s why Trang An is more diverse and well-organized. And there are no locals trying to sell you things while on the boat!

Tam Coc or Trang An boat ride

Trang An has several hidden pagodas, temples and historical relics along the route

But if you once see photos of Tam Coc in its best seasons, you may change your mind. In the harvest season, Tam Coc is painted with the gorgeous golden rice fields making the whole landscape turns more breathtaking and magnificent.

To witness this scenery, come to Tam Coc around May and early June. Otherwise, you can contemplate the vivid lush green rice fields in the period of January and February.

Trang An or Tam Coc

Tam Coc in its finest season – the period of May and early June

About the price

At Tam Coc, you will have to pay 120.000 VND for the sightseeing ticket and share the boat ticket that is 150.000 VND/boat for a maximum of 4 people. While in Trang An, the ticket costs 200.000 VND in total.

Tam Coc or Trang An ticket prices are quite the same so apparently, you don’t have to consider much!

About the duration

Tam Coc boat ride takes you appropriate 2 hours while the one in Trang An takes 2,5 to 3,5 hours depending on the route. So if you don’t want to spend much time on the boat, you can pick Tam Coc then use the remaining time to visit one more destination or just take a short bike tour cycling around the wharf and idyllic villages.

>>> You may want to check out the itinerary of a typical Hoa Lu Tam Coc day trip!

tam coc or trang an cycling

Just half an hour can help you learn more about local life!

Trang An and Tam Coc – Can I do both?

The question is “Is Tam Coc and Trang An possible in 1 day?”

It is, you can visit Tam Coc in the morning then Trang An in the afternoon. But your trip will be quite rush and has no highlight since both offer you the same activities.

However, if you don’t want to miss any single place, the best answer to “Trang An or Tam Coc” is taking a Ninh Binh tour 2 days. With 2 days in Ninh Binh, you can explore Tam Coc, Hoa Lu, Hang Mua in day 1 then Trang An, Bai Dinh in day 2. Absolutely make the most of Ninh Binh in 1 trip!

>>> If you are looking for the best Ninh Binh tour 2 days, let us know!

Read a review of our previous customer who chose to visit both places:

“Lovely boat ride & amazing caves.

I won’t repeat all of the other details already mentioned by others but will say that we couldn’t decide whether to visit Trang An or Tam Coc, so we did them both. Trang An trip lasted about 3.5 hrs, going through a 300 m cave, another smaller cave 160 m and a third 100 m. The precision the women steered the boats through them was amazing, and seemingly so effortlessly.

A few stops along the way and then the return trip, (which goes a different way as the caves are so tight that traffic can only go one way) goes through other smaller caves and then out in the open river. It gets very hot in the full sun, so be sure to wear a hat/sunscreen, etc. you can buy drinks, etc at stops along the way. The guide/paddler does try to sell her wears near the end, but not forcefully.

Tam Coc, also a river/paddle boat experience is a closer to the rice fields experience. Go early morning before the Hanoi day trippers or late afternoon. Seemed more international visitors here than Trang An, maybe not as many people know about it as I think it has only been open a couple of years. Caves were good but not nearly as long or as low as Trang An, but still a lovely trip…”

– Janet Janwa Newcastle, Australia from Tripadvisor

Tips for taking Trang An or Tam Coc boat trip

No matter Trang An or Tam Coc boat tour, consider these tips for a better trip!

trang an or tam coc boat tour tips

Hats or lotus leaves? It is on you!

  • Prepare sun-protectors: sunscreen, sunglass, hat or umbrella as you will be under the direct sun, a lot!
  • Wear comfortable clothes and sneakers for outdoor activities
  • Bring along water and some snacks. Or you can buy these at the stops (in Trang An) or from the locals selling on boat (in Tam Coc) but the price will obviously be much higher.
  • Wear the life-jacket when you are in Trang An as the water is very deep. While in Tam Coc, it is optional.
  • In both places, tips are not required but the boatmen will be much appreciated receiving some tips for the great service they have delivered. The tips should be around 50.000 – 100.000 VND.

Have you decided Trang An or Tam Coc yet? Our recommendation is choosing the one that makes your heart flutter at first sight (even just with photos)

If you still cannot make a choice, feel free to contact us. Original Hoa Lu Tam Coc team are happy to help!

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