Almost all backpackers go to Hanoi to join in on an epic two day boat trip through the breathtakingly beautiful Halong Bay. Unfortunately for me, due to the fact that I spent too much time partying in Nha Trang and had already booked my flight home, I had run out of time and only had one free day here.
When I arrived in Hanoi I went straight to the popular Downtown Hanoi Backpacker Hostel, it’s a huge place with a lively bar and a great tour operator that will help you book anything you need, like a one day trip to somewhere just as beautiful as Halong Bay, Tam Coc. Cruise through limestone karsts and rice paddies on your own private boat.
After a long and bumpy ride out of the city towards Tam Coc we arrived at the old capital, Bich Dong (stop laughing) for a tour around the old pagoda and temple. It’s a quick drive from Bich Dong to the small village of Ninh Binh where you’re loaded onto a tiny metal boat ready to explore Tam Coc along the Ngo Dong river (stop it!).
It really is stunning, and apparently just as lovely as Halong Bay. You can sit back and relax as your guide rows you through the towering karst towers and bright green rice paddies, passing other boats and little temples. There are three caves that you pass through, the largest is 125m long but only 2 meters above the water.
Even if you are lucky enough to visit Halong Bay, I would still recommend a day trip to Tam Coc. It’s a completely different experience altogether, and one that you shouldn’t miss out on.
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Unfortunately for me, Hanoi was my last stop in South East Asia before flying home via Bangkok. I did get a few nights in BK, and I would recommend splashing out the the luxurious Rambuttri Village Inn and Plaza near Kao San Road. I paid £17 per night for a deluxe private room with an en-suit bathroom and use of the rooftop pool. It’s a great way to treat yourself before flying home to the real world.