Eventful weekend in Ninh Binh

Departing at 5 p.m. from Hanoi, we – three people on our motorbikes – headed on National Highway 1A to Ninh Binh Province.

Eventful weekend in Ninh Binh

After riding 95 kilometers, we got to Gia Sinh Commune, Gia Vien District, about 15 kilometers from Ninh Binh City. We were excited to visit our first destination of Bai Dinh Pagoda, Tam Coc–Bich Dong National Park.

A path to Bai DInh Pagoda

Stepping on Bai Dinh Pagoda, solemn statues appearing vaporously in the incense smoke made us feel like we were in a mysterious land of goddesses. After praying with Buddhists, we tracked along a rock alley to visit Cao Son Temple tucked in a small cave which is dedicated to worship the God of Mountain.

The path to the pagoda reminded us of the Great Wall of China. From there, we continued to another larger cave’s gate where we were amazed by a green valley with many medical plants that the founder of Bai Dinh Pagoda–Monk Nguyen Minh Khong (1065-1141) made into many herbs for residents. The Fairy Cave was also strongly impressive with fantastic stalactites and giant rocks.

The sunset came over with the last rays swooping down over limestone mountains making a beautiful sight. We trekked down to save energy for the next day’s visit to Tam Coc-Bich Dong.

Tourists cruise along Tam Coc-Bich Dong National Park Photos: Pham Thi Thao

The only route to the national park is by boat. So we took a cruise along Ngo Giang River, passing through hundreds of mountains and dozens of grottoes as well as renowned cultural sites such as Thai Vi Temple, Bich Dong Pagoda, Tam Coc Cave and Linh Coc Pagoda.

To have more thrilling experiences, we asked the sailors to let us paddle to get deeper into the cave and we had a chance to hear many stories from them as we tried to discover more about the local people and the land.

After 30 minutes, we reached Ca Cave where the river runs through the mountain’s heart. Once again we were totally amazed by many stalactites in diverse, weird shapes which inspired us to imagine many things. As we came out the cave, Chong Sach Mountain appeared in front of us with rocks laid up together like piles of books.

On the mountainous areas along the two river banks, local residents raise goats.

We then moved to the second and third caves to admire more stalactites. In the afternoon,  we took a bicycle trip around the park to take in some fresh air as well as to learn more about the daily lives of locals.

(sai gon times)