Tam Coc – Bich Dong in Ninh Binh, Vietnam

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The areas of Tam Coc and Bich Dong are part of the UNESCO heritage site, the Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex. The complex is recognized for its natural and cultural heritage values.

 

Tam Coc

Tam coc
Tam Coc

The name Tam Coc derives from its three enchanting caves: The Hang Ca, Hang Hai, and Hang Ba caves. Tam Coc is also known for its astounding landscape of river with rows of paddy fields lying on its sides. It is also surrounded by marvelous limestone karst peaks.

To explore the landscape, you may cycle around the serene scenery of paddy fields while letting yourself be enlightened by the simple traditional local life. Another exciting way is to take a traditional wooden boat trip from Van Lam Wharf along the Ngo Dong River.

On the boat journey, you will go through the Hang Ca Cave. This is the longest cave of all three caves in Tam Coc. Hang Ca Cave is around 127 meters long with a width of about 20 meters. Legend has it that it was a fishing ground of an old white-haired male fairy, as seen in the shape of the cave from outside.

The second cave is Hang Hai Cave. As you go through the 60-meter-long cave, you may enjoy the view of sparkling stalactites hanging from the roof of the cave.

Located not too far from Hang Hai Cave is Hang Ba Cave. This cave is quite different from the previous caves as it has a lower ceiling compared to Hang Ca and Hang Hai Caves.

After going through a series of caves, you may enjoy the extraordinary open-air scenery of the Tam Coc landscape.

 

Bich Dong Pagoda

Bich Dong Pagoda
Bich Dong Pagoda

Bich Dong Pagoda is located around 3 km from Tam Coc. The Pagoda was built in 1428 on Truong Yen limestone mountain. Bich Dong means green or pearl grotto.

The pathway leading to the gate of the pagoda is surrounded by water full of water lilies. Bich Dong pagoda consists of 3 separate pagodas: Ha Pagoda (lower pagoda), Trung Pagoda (middle pagoda), and Thuong Pagoda (upper pagoda).

The Ha Pagoda is made to worship Buddha and honor the masters who built the pagoda.

From the Ha Pagoda make your way to the Trung pagoda and the Dark Cave. To reach the Trung Pagoda, you have to climb up more than a hundred steps. 

The Thuong Pagoda is built on the top of the mountain to worship Bodhisattva. From this upper pagoda, you may see 5 mountains that resemble 5 lotus petals of Bodhisattva, which are the Ngu Nhac mountains. 

 

The Best Time to Visit

The Tam Coc – Bich Dong area has two major seasons which are the rainy and the dry season. The rainy season starts in May and lasts until October, while the dry season lasts from November to April. The best time to visit is in May until mid of June. It is the golden rice field season in Tam Coc, where the paddy fields turn from green into bright yellow.