Duden Waterfall, Antalya, Turkiye.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Antalya, Turkiye.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Paris, France on May 1st.

Sunday, March 3, 2024

The right place, at the right time!

The highlight of the Ninh Binh area are the various boat tours that take you through the scenery and caves. There are quite a few options to sort through, and various routes to choose from. 

I did a lot of research, and we had made our choice and planned on doing a boat tour on Monday morning when it would be less busy. But it didn't turn out that way, and we're glad that we were in the right place at the right time to do things a little differently!

Once again we decided to forego the bicycle or scooter rental and we set out on foot to explore in a different direction.

The Tam Coc area is definitely a tourist town.

But to be honest, we've enjoyed it just for the big selection of restaurants available.

It doesn't take long to get out of town and into the scenic areas.

Rice fields and big rocky hills.

We took an unpaved path.
It was actually pretty quiet, except for this bit of tourist traffic!

Scenery along the way.

This is a pretty spot.

Looking back the way we came.

Goats living under a rock overhang.

The road got a little muddy!

Ruth, cautiously saying hi to a buffalo.
It turned out to be very friendly.

Two young ducks having a snooze.

More scenery.

It was around this point where we came to an intersection and one direction of the roadway did not appear on my maps. Being curious, we decided to head that way just to see what there was to see. After another 1.5 kms or so, the road ended at a small temple complex by a river. 

Click to make the photo full screen, then click again to zoom in and see the detail of this carving.

We sat beside the river for a while to rest and have a snack.

As we are sitting there, one of the tour boats pulled up at the small dock and a couple got out. We spoke to them about where they got this tour boat, and they said "right here". And yet there were no other boats around. It turns out that the lady operating this boat is on her own, and not part of any commercial operation. It's a quiet spot, but there is the occasional tourist such as ourselves who end up in this place, and she offers one hour boat rides for 150,000 dong ($6.15 USD, $8.25 CAD) per person.

The young couple said it was fantastic because you are pretty much the only ones out there, compared to the more expensive commercial trips that are crowded with people. The spot where we met them is at GPS 20.231225, 105.90588

So we made a corporate last minute decision, and hired her for a boat ride.

Heading out in the boat. Nobody else around.

Our boat operator, Anh.
No idea if that is how it is spelled!

Anh was fantastic. She was constantly smiling and happy. You'll notice in the photo above that Anh actually rows with her legs, and that's a common thing among the tour boat operators here.

Heading down a narrow section.

Into the first cave.

Yes, we had to duck our heads through most of it!

Someone coming the other way.

Heading out the other side.

Coming up to another cave.

This big cave is way up the side of the mountain.

Entering another cave.

Is that all there is holding up the roof??

Somehow, we fit under there.

Inside the cave.

I took a video for you as we exited the cave and then turned around to go back through the other way.

Odd rock shapes.

Nobody around but us.

More odd rocks.

We spotted a pretty kingfisher bird.

Ussie with our boat operator Anh.

Zoomed in on a cave way up the side of a mountain.
Wonder if anybody has ever been in there!

Another kingfisher.
Or, maybe the same one?

What a great hour. So lucky that we just happened to take that unmarked road, and then just happened to be sitting there when that couple arrived back. Had we not spoken to them, we probably wouldn't have gone. Sometimes you are just at the right place at the right time.

We were getting hungry and we had seen a little lunch spot further back so we headed there.

Spotted this beautiful butterfly, but he wouldn't sit still.
I took about 10 photos to get this one that sort of turned out.

Pretty spot where we had lunch.

Those pink things on the stems are clusters of Apple snail eggs.

View from our lunch table.

We passed by another commercial tour boat operation.

And we ended up at the Bich Dong Pagoda temple, with quite a few other tourists.

Fancy interior.

Temple built into a cave.

Inside the cave.

View from the cave temple.



What a great day we had.

And now, with the boat trip out of the way, we feel no urge to go deal with the tourists at the more commercial operations. So today, we are relaxing for the morning then we will rent bikes and go out exploring on the bikes for a couple of hours. Later this afternoon we hop on the train to Hanoi.


And in Canada...


  1. Lucky you. Wanted to see Anh row with her feet

    1. Yes, it seemed like our timing was just right.

      We didn't get a video of Anh rowing with her feet but there were two pictures of her with her feet on the oars.

  2. Wow, that was serendipity to happen across the other couple and Anh! I was thinking about it, and since women's legs are typically very strong compared to their upper bodies, rowing with her legs is actually very efficient! LOVED the beautiful kingfisher and butterfly. Lucky you to see them!

    1. We were lucky with our timing for sure and we are so glad that we talked to that couple. We weren't going to do it but then after talking to them more we were convinced that this was the best place for us to do the boat ride. We knew that we would miss some of the great scenery on the other ride but having the place to ourselves was better in our mind.

      Both the men and the women will row with their legs but they also use their arms as well, I guess by doing both it gives both their arms and legs a break. There definitely seem to be more women then men rowing the boats.

  3. Did you learn anything about the geology of the area? Such a strange landscape - either flat or almost vertical. Some of that rock looked volcanic.

    1. I couldn't find a really good site that explained all about the geology of the area because when I did a search on it all that seemed to come up were blog posts from people who had visited the area and I wasn't about to waste my time sifting through them. The best that I could find was UNESCO's site https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1438/ And yes, geothermal action helped to create this landscape over 5 million year period.


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