Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Hoa Lu and Tam Coc Day Tour (Vietnam)

We spent our third day in Vietnam by joining in another one day tour, this time going to the province of Hoa Lu and Tam Coc which costs $35, inclusive of transportation, buffet lunch, and entrance fees. Again, I didn't know what to expect from the tour but since my friend David recommended this one over my preferred choice of the Perfume Pagoda tour, I agreed to book this instead. All I expected from this tour is us going on biking around the province's countryside and riding traditional Vietnamese boats. I was in awe after realizing a lot more is in store for me that day. Another surprise is that Hiep, our tour guide from the previous day tour in Halong Bay was there to pick us up in the hotel at 8:00 in the morning!

We were fortunate enough to be the first one to board the mini bus for we later realized that the bus will be jam packed since that day tour package have more tourists in it than our Halong Bay tour. My companion and I secured pretty comfy seats near the bus entrance before the bus was filled with other tourists that we picked up from their respective hotels.

As soon as we are all complete, we then headed north of Hanoi to be in the first stop of the tour which is the Ancient Capital of Vietnam in the province of Hoa Lu. It took us around 2 hours to get to our first destination, with one stopover on the way. We arrived in Hoa Lu at around 10:00 in the morning.







We were astounded by the grandeur of the place. It was like stepping into a scene of an old Chinese film. We entered the King's pagoda and saw a lot of magnificent things fit for royalty. The place holds wads of Chinese inspired architecture and artifacts which is totally opulent in every way. 

Entrance to the Temple


King's Temple

I wonder how it feels like to sit there and be carried around...
There are two temples inside the old capital. One for the king and another one for the queen, and both are magnificent. Spend time taking photos of this place because I am certain you will be mesmerized. 



I'm loving the intricate details of these.
After going around the Ancient Capital, we then head to the province of Tam Coc to spend the rest of the tour there. Travel time from Hoa Lu to Tam Coc is around 30-45 minutes. We arrived in Tam Coc and spent an hour having a buffet lunch of Vietnamese specialties. 

A Plateful of Vietnamese Food

How can I skip a good Saigon Beer?
For the buffet lunch, drinks are not included and just like the beverage prices in our Halong Bay Tour, beers here costs around $2 and soda costs $1. 

After feasting on some local food, we then started the second leg of the tour. Now, a warning for the weak at heart, claustrophobics, those who don't know how to ride a bicycle, those who doesn't want to get a little damp from paddling, and lazy tourists in general, this portion of the tour is not for you, unless you want to break free from you phobia and wanted to challenge yourself for an exhausting adventure.

We started by choosing our own bikes which we will use to travel to a place where we would start the boat rides. Bikes are available for everyone with no extra fee since it is already included in the tour cost. The entire bike ride will burn around 30 - 45 minutes in total, with short stops once in a while for photo shoots and chit chats about country living, courtesy of course of our ever reliable guide, Hiep. 

Hiep, telling us about the rice paddy fields and the farming culture in the outskirts of Vietnam.

Group Shot!!!

I totally enjoyed the experience of biking around the countryside. The fresh air and the greenery is certainly relaxing. Biking though is a little exhausting but it was all worth it because there's a lot in store for us when we arrived at a tiny village where we will start our boating. I was surprised to know that we will be cruising along underground river caves similar to what we have here in Palawan. One boat can hold a maximum of 4 people including the paddler. Paddles are also available for use, if you want to dabble around, in which I did in my case, haha! 

Paddlers are mostly women. Prepare a tip of around $1 or feel free to add a little
more for these wonderful hardworking Vietnamese ladies. 



Cruising along the river took us about an hour. Along the way, we saw more limestone formations similar to what we saw in Halong Bay and Hua Lu. The place is quiet and relaxing and perfect for some tete a tete with your boat mates. I totally recommend bringing with you some ice cold beers or some snacks while enjoying the lush scenery of this little village. 

After the boat ride, we then headed back to where we had our lunch with our bikes. Beware that the ride going back is more draining since there will be no stop overs for photo ops and chit chats. Brace yourselves! 

We all got back to our bus at around 5:00 PM and headed back to Hanoi with one bladder break on the way. ETA to Hanoi is around 7:00 PM. 

This is one of the most unforgettable tours I took in Vietnam. I totally had fun biking and paddling and laughing with everyone. I would encourage everyone visiting Hanoi to take this day tour. 

Some tips for this tour: 
- Wear comfortable clothing since you will be off for some adventure. Bring a towel or extra shirt with you. 
- Bringing a water bottle is also recommended. 
- For claustrophobics and aquaphobics, I don't think that this tour is for you. 
- Take a lot of pictures! 


For bookings, please reach out to my friend David, so he can arrange a good deal for you. Email him at: 

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