Just how do you follow up a visit to Ha Long Bay? Pretty much anything on the planet’s going to be an anticlimax after that!
Well we figured, what better than just head a few hours south to the World Heritage Site known as “the Ha Long Bay of the land,” which is:
Situated near the southern margin of the Red River Delta, the Trang An Landscape Complex is a spectacular landscape of limestone karst peaks permeated with valleys, many of them partly submerged and surrounded by steep, almost vertical cliffs. Exploration of caves at different altitudes has revealed archaeological traces of human activity over a continuous period of more than 30,000 years. They illustrate the occupation of these mountains by seasonal hunter-gatherers and how they adapted to major climatic and environmental changes, especially the repeated inundation of the landscape by the sea after the last ice age. The story of human occupation continues through the Neolithic and Bronze Ages to the historical era. Hoa Lu, the ancient capital of Viet Nam, was strategically established here in the 10th and 11th centuries AD. The property also contains temples, pagodas, paddy-fields and small villages.
So yep, just like Ha Long Bay, except that instead of ocean the karst peaks stick up amidst rice paddies with rivers conveniently placed for the visiting tourist to enjoy boat rides:
Passing by sights ranging from the local version of mountain goats hopping along the karst faces, to funereal reliquary, past rice fields, fish traps, and a never-ending stream of tourists like us, of course
That aside, the rivers are a pleasant journey, especially if you had the forethought we did to bring along some refreshing Vietnamese beverages:
Bird’s Nest White Fungus Drink! I must get the Western distribution rights to that, Red Bull eat your heart out!
All snickering aside, I’d been thinking Thai food was the best in the world, but, y’know, Vietnamese is a pretty worthy competitor. Here’s our post boat dinner of the Tam Cốc version of bò nướng sả — kinda like Vietnamese fajitas, with rice paper tortillas —
Delicious, mmm! We were there since Tam Cốc-Bích Động is not to be missed if you’re in the Trang An – Ninh Binh neighborhood, it’s a flooded karst caves river ride which gets downright spooky in the dark.
Here’s heading into a cave:
And heading out again:
Yep, that’s a nice followup to Ha Long Bay. Thoroughly recommend you make Ninh Binh your next stop like we did!