TRANG AN TRAVEL GUIDE
Guide contents to Trang An:
- Arriving and leaving
- Foods and Drinks
Among the destinations I have had a chance to visit, Trang An and Ha Long have left me the strongest impression. Ha Long gets us lost in a matrix of limestone mountains which stand independently. Tourists can feel like sailors in Pirates of the Caribbean, challenging any terrain, and skilfully steering the ship getting through narrow and crooked creeks.
Arriving and leaving
From Hanoi, tourists can easily get a coach to Ninh Binh. The journey takes exactly 1 hour and 30 minutes, so you will reach the destination before you know it. It may even be more convenient if you choose motorbikes because after you get to Ninh Binh, you will also have to hire a motorbike or grab a taxi to reach Trang An – which is 8 kilometres away from the bus station.
Trang An can basically be divided into two types of places: places to do sightseeing and places to incense. To enjoy Trang An thoroughly, you should take a two-day trip in order to visit all the destinations. Therefore, you will need a place to stay overnight. Here is a quick overview of some of the local accommodation options.
1.Emeralda Resort Ninh Binh (Van Long, Gia Van, Gia Vien)
Emeralda Resort Ninh Binh. CREDIT: emeraldaresort.com
Constructed with a traditional Vietnamese model and environmental-friendly materials, Emeralda Resort offers exquisite and glamorous guest rooms, restaurants, spa, mini golf course and conference rooms. You can wake up in a majestic mountain scenery or have a cup of tea in your bedroom looking directly over the large garden.
2. Vissai Hotel Ninh Binh (848 Tran Hung Dao Street)
Located in the centre of Ninh Binh, Vissai Vasi Hotel has a desirable combination of luxurious facilities and friendly staff. All rooms are furnished in a modern Vietnamese architectural style with a spectacular view of the city. Services and amenities of the hotel include of restaurants, bars, swimming pool, spa, karaoke and fitness room.
3. Ngoc Anh Hotel (36 Luong Van Tuy Street)
The hotel is well regarded with its large, neat and shiny rooms, tasty breakfast and cosy atmosphere. The enthusiastic and joyful staff are always willing to help you with any travel problems to assure your best experience.
4. Queen Hotel Ninh Binh (20 Hoang Hoa Tham Street)
This hotel provides tourists with basic requirements and nice view on the high floors. The food is not so good but acceptable with the low price.
5. Nam Hoa Hotel Ninh Binh (Tam Coc, Bich Dong, Hoa Lu)
Separated itself from the crowded city, Nam Hoa is an old but neat hotel, serving tasty and proper breakfast. The restaurant is situated on the 7th floor with a beautiful view to a mountain range and paddy fields.
Foods and Drinks
“Cơm cháy” (Scorched rice)
CREDIT: dulichninhbinh.com.vn. Photo: Xuan Lam
Scorched rice is one of the most well-known specialties of Ninh Binh. This dish in Ninh Binh differs itself from other provinces as it is scorched to its sauce. A perfect plate of scorched rice is filled with light yummy yellow, and the rice is crispy but still sticky, sweet and not greasy. On my visit to Ninh Binh, I had a chance to taste both scorched rice and grilled goat. The scorched rice is not supplemented with rousong but served with dipping sauce extracted from broth of grilled goats and many other spices.
“Tái dê” (Salad with goat meat)
The overall impression on my latest Ninh Binh trip is the feeling of peace and serenity. If you are half the way but have yet to acquire that sense of tranquilisation, a small bowl of salad will certainly ease your mind. Goats in Ninh Binh are free range on sheer mountains so the meat is firmer and leaner.
“Gỏi nhệch” (Salad with snake eel)
Goi nhech. CREDIT: 2.bp.blogspot.com
“Gỏi nhệch” in Kim Son is considered the most delicious. Fresh fish must be rubbed with salt and several kinds of leaves to remove all the mucus. After being marinated with spices, snake eel is eaten with fig leaf and sauce. The dipping sauce called “Chẻo” is also quiet special, the grinded bone from snake eel, blended with fermented rice and then boiled. “Chẻo” is pretty condensed, meaty and distinguishably fragrant.
Trung Tuyet (14 Hoang Hoa Tham Street, Trung Son Ward, Thanh Binh District)
The restaurant is popular among foreign tourists due to its Western recipes and cooking styles. Food is served in big portion (smaller portion for Vietnamese guests) and the menu shows a diverse range of food. The quality is good and the staff are vibrant. Trung Tuyet is highly recommended due to its lower price given the large amount and high quality of food.
Chookie’s (17 Luong Van Tuy Street)
If you are craving some Western style food and a vegetarian yourself, do not hesitate to go to this small restaurant. The restaurant serves burgers, sandwiches, chips and also drinks like smoothies and milkshakes. All the delicious dishes are served with veggies as well as meat (depends on which you choose), and the price is also reasonable.
Duc Linh (Tam Coc, Bich Dong)
The food is average but with a reasonable price and you can enjoy a beautiful sight form the premises. The restaurant offers several combos especially for two.
Here are some spectacular destinations of Trang An.
Thung Nham Bird Garden
If the overall concept of miraculous world of Trang An is not appealing to you enough, so what about submerging yourself in abundant vegetation and also thousands of birds flying right next to your boat?
You will directly observe natural habits and habitants of almost 40 species of birds. Thung Nham Bird Garden also has the “Moving Banyan Tree”. According to scientists and experts, the tree has moved 3 times around the temple for the last thousands of years and with more than 300 years each time. There is also an 80.000 metre square garden with several tropical fruit plants such as apple, mango and lychee. Tourists can pick some of the fruit and get a bite, and transform into farmers and do farming work for a day.
Trang An Ecotourism
Hang Chuot. CREDIT: facebook/TamBui
Trang An Ecotourism is probably the most outstanding destination in Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex. The place is recognised by UNESCO as World Natural Heritage and World Cultural Heritage. Trang An Ecotourism is widely noticed after the screening of Kong: Skull Island thanks to its breath-taking background. Coming to Trang An Ecotourism, you will not only admire the splendid scenery but also have fun experience passing through very low browed caves (to avoid getting hurt, please make sure to keep your head down, sometimes with your forehead meeting your toes) or encounter multiple aging barrels in the caves for their cool temperature. Apart from “floating” on the water, you can visit ancient temples and pagodas hanging on the mountains (one of which I would really recommend is Am Tien pagoda – 300 metres away from Hoa Lu Ancient Capital).
Bai Dinh Pagoda
If you consider yourself as a pilgrim or just want to have a deeper understanding of Vietnamese religion, the Buddhist Bai Dinh is a priceless treasure to explore. Bai Dinh has set numerous records such as the biggest Buddha gold gilding statue in Asia, the longest hall of Arhat in Asia, and the biggest Maitreya silver statue in Southeast Asia. Visiting Bai Dinh, you will have a chance to see multiple caves, Nguyen temple, Cao Son temple, Gieng Ngoc and more.
Trang An is a perfect place to do sightseeing, instead of adventurous or physical activities.
Coach (Hanoi – Ninh Binh): 80.000 VND/ 1-way ticket.
Rent motorbike (this fee is equal to taxi fare following the same route, as I calculated from my previous trip): 150.000 VND + 50.000 VND to fill it up with petrol
Trang An entrance fee: 200.000 VND pax
Other destinations entrance fee: 100.000VND pax
Food: 100.000 VND/person/meal
Hotel room: 500.000 VND/night
Total: 700.000 – 800.000 VND/person/day
On my last trip to Ninh Binh, I only visited Trang An Ecotourism, Am Tien Pagoda and Hoa Lu Ancient Capital. I thought that was enough and Trang An was an appropriate place for a one-day trip. After returning to Hanoi, I found it was a mistake since Trang An has many more beautiful places I hadn’t known. Nonetheless, even before figuring out that truth, I promised myself to re-visit this place in the near future.
Trang An is sometimes called Ha Long On-land or compared with Ha Long. However, as a tourist who visited both destinations, I would humbly suggest you that you should come to Ha Long for dynamic activities and to Trang An for tranquil and ancient ambience.