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A two-hour boat ride through Trang An Landscape Complex in northern Vietnam

Tuesday, October 18, 2022, 17:32 GMT+7
A two-hour boat ride through Trang An Landscape Complex in northern Vietnam
Phuong Hoang Mountain (Phoenix Mountain), which is behind Thuy Dinh (Water Temple), has a shape that resembles a phoenix spreading its wings. Photo: Linh To / Tuoi Tre News

Though Ninh Binh Province in northern Vietnam is filled with stunning landscapes, the Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex is perhaps one of the most magnificent.

Ninh Binh is a mountainous province located in the southernmost part of the Red River Delta, roughly 100 kilometers from Hanoi.

It is home to dozens of beautiful scenic destinations, the most popular of which is the Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex.

The Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex was designated as a World Cultural and Natural Heritage Site in June 2014 by UNESCO.

The Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex is, unquestionably, one of the most stunning attractions in the northern province, flanked by limestone karst peaks crisscrossing submerged valleys and overlooking near-vertical cliffs.

While it has long been known across Vietnam, its blockbuster debut in 'Kong: Skull Island' made it world-famous.

Currently, the only way to tour Trang An is by boat, which can also be considered the best way to admire the dreamlike landscape that Mother Nature has offered the venue.

To tour Trang An, visitors must first purchase a ticket for VND250,000 (US$10.36) at the ticket counter, collect their ticket, and proceed through a lantern-lit tunnel to a nearby dock.

Lanterns decorate the way to Trang An Boathouse, Ninh Binh Province, Vietnam. Photo: Linh To / Tuoi Tre News

Lanterns are used to decorate the way to Trang An Boathouse in Ninh Binh Province, Vietnam. Photo: Linh To / Tuoi Tre News

The lanterns fill the tunnel with a kaleidoscope of green, red, and yellow light.

At the dock, there will always be dozens of boats awaiting tourists. Each boat can fit three to four passengers.

There are three boat routes through the Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex, ranging from one-hour to three-hour rides.

Boats dock at Trang An Boathouse in Ninh Binh Province, Vietnam. Photo: Linh To / Tuoi Tre News

Boats dock at Trang An Boathouse in Ninh Binh Province, Vietnam. Photo: Linh To / Tuoi Tre News

Some of the most famous landmarks along these routes include Hang Toi (Dark Cave), Hang Sang (Bright Cave), and Hang Nau Ruou (Cooking Wine Cave).

Being threaded through the caves on a small boat while hearing the sound of oars and water cascading down rock walls makes for a surreal experience.

The best time of the year to visit the caves in the Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex is in February and March when the river level is low. 

At the end of the year, the water level can rise too high to allow boats to make it into the caves.

In addition to the caves, tourists can also visit famous historical landmarks in the Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex, including Trinh Temple, Bao Hieu Pagoda, and Hanh Cung Vu Lam – all of which are historical architectural works of religious and spiritual significance.

Hanh Cung Vu Lam (Passing Centuries) used to be a military base during the Tran dynasty. Photo: Linh To / Tuoi Tre News

Hanh Cung Vu Lam used to be a military base during the Tran Dynasty (1225–1400). Photo: Linh To / Tuoi Tre News

River, mountains, and sky create a poetic natural landscape at Trang An Complex, Ninh Binh Province, Vietnam. Photo: Linh To / Tuoi Tre News

Rivers, mountains, and the sky create a poetic natural landscape at the Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex in Ninh Binh Province, Vietnam. Photo: Linh To / Tuoi Tre News

Before returning to the dock, passengers can admire the Thuy Dinh (Water Temple), a temple in the midst of Trang An surrounded by turquoise water, which is the most sought-after photo op of visitors who come to Trang An.

Thuy Dinh frequently has artisans performing ‘quan ho’ (Vietnamese folk love duets) for tourists and on festive occasions.

Thuy Dinh (Water Temple), where traditional music instruments and folklore are performed on festive occasions. Photo: Linh To / Tuoi Tre News

Thuy Dinh (Water Temple), where traditional music instruments and folklore are performed on festive occasions. Photo: Linh To / Tuoi Tre News

Behind Thuy Dinh is Phuong Hoang Mountain (Phoenix Mountain) as its shape resembles a phoenix extending its wings.

The unspoiled beauty of rocky mountains, geological blocks floating on the water, stacked on top of each other shows off the region’s majesty and magnificence. 

On rainy days, clouds hover around the tops of the mountain, blanketing the region in poetic beauty.

The sun begins to sink below the horizon at Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex, Ninh Binh Province, northern Vietnam. Photo: Linh To / Tuoi Tre News

The sun begins to sink below the horizon at the Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex in Ninh Binh Province, northern Vietnam. Photo: Linh To / Tuoi Tre News

Another spectacular sight on the river is the mallards floating on the water surface.

According to local lore, if a couple visiting Trang An sees two mallards kissing, the couple will get married immediately after the trip.

A tour of the complex only lasts about a few hours but the emotions that each visitor experiences are sure to remain forever.

The magnificent landscape at Trang An Complex, Ninh Binh Province, Vietnam. Photo: Linh To / Tuoi Tre News

The magnificent landscape at the Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex in Ninh Binh Province, Vietnam. Photo: Linh To / Tuoi Tre News

The magnificent landscape at Trang An Complex, Ninh Binh Province, Vietnam. Photo: Linh To / Tuoi Tre News

The magnificent landscape at the Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex in Ninh Binh Province, Vietnam. Photo: Linh To / Tuoi Tre News

A tourist takes photos of the scenery at Trang An Complex, Ninh Binh Province, Vietnam. Photo: Linh To / Tuoi Tre News

A tourist takes photos of the scenery at the Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex in Ninh Binh Province, Vietnam. Photo: Linh To / Tuoi Tre News

Boats carry tourists at Trang An Complex, Ninh Binh Province, Vietnam. Photo: Linh To / Tuoi Tre News

Boats carry tourists at the Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex in Ninh Binh Province, Vietnam. Photo: Linh To / Tuoi Tre News

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Linh To / Tuoi Tre News

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