Hanoi - Ninh Binh

4 days exploring the great nature of Ninh Binh and 2 days of food and cafe hunting in Hanoi.

Prior to departure for our Hanoi trip, Chee Cheong Fun breakfast at Nyonya Colours. Pretty good for Airport standard.

Took a Vinaphone Sim Card at Hanoi Airport, USD for 7G of data (some talk time), valid for 10 days.

This is not the official telco store though.

The best thing about Quoc Khanh Bamboo Homestay is the view. It probably one of the best hotel view in Trang An, fronting a small flowing pond, green field and the hills. Most of the time you could see the reflection of the hills in the water. I could imagine sitting here for the entire day watching this scenery.

The staff are friendly and helpful, offering many transportation arrangements at affordable prices. Good quality mountain bikes are available for rent at 60,000VND per day. Motorbikes are available as well.

Food is not great though, but the Bahn Mi with egg breakfast is nice and crispy.

The only drawback is the inconsistent hot water and cold air sipping through the bamboo wall.

Nice clean bamboo room, pretty comfy.

Walking around Trang An: greenery, water and hills. Absolutely gorgeous.

There are 3 routes available, we choose route 1 which go through 9 caves. I won't say the journey is spectacular, but it is nice and comfortable.

200,000VND for 2+ hours boat ride is very reasonable service. No scam, no tips, no discrimination, no selling.

The roast goat (200,000VND) with peanut and sauce is pretty good, with a complementary soy egg I think. The steam vegetable (20,000) is cheap and nice. Business here is pretty good.

Then again, Ninh Binh mutton are generally too tough for our liking.

Banh Mi breakfast with a few, a bit too perfect. The bread is crispy and soft, love them.

Cycling from Trang An towards Tam Coc.

Stumbled upon a wedding photography location in Trang An.

A beautiful hike up the hill to see long stone dragon and a good view of the surrounding area. There are two peaks, the one without the dragon offer a great view without the crowd. Entrance ticket is 100,000VND per person.

There are 3-4 illegal parking collectors en route to the ticket entrance, so you need quite some determination to avoid then all (and park for free after ticket entrance) as they try very hard to stop you. I assume these operations are run by nearby villagers, collecting 10,000VND per bicycle.

Cycling from Trang An near Tam Coc.

The infamous Tam Coc boat ride due to price discrimination against foreigners and also selling of items by the boat lady. If you want a piece of mind, take the boat ride at Trang An instead.

Meet a nice man (he speaks Mandarin pretty well due to prior working experience in Taiwan) at Tuan Nam Homestay which help Mei Ru to apply medicine on her injured knee.

Serving good food in a good environment.

Tam Coc Market: meat, vegetable, fruit and snack for sale.

Cycling from Tam Coc back to Trang An.

We are the only customer for the night, food is okay.

Banh Mi breakfast with a view is the best.

Our luxury accommodation for the night, a perfect place for relaxation and do nothing. We only wish we have more time or more money for another night.

Tam Coc Garden Restaurant is pretty good actually, with reasonable pricing.

Cycling from Tam Coc Garden to Bich Dong.

This is more of a temple than a pagoda, attached to a mountain and within it's cave. If you are adventurous enough, you can take the forbidden route up to the top of the mountain to have a great view of the surrounding area.

Entrance is free, parking is probably 10,000VND per bicycle. The attendance might try to charge more for other access fee, thus you might need to stand your ground.

The one set dinner (299,000VND) is of generous portion and probably enough for two. Nice ambience, great service and good food.

Awesome free breakfast at Tam Coc Garden, order anything you like with a view.

The paddy field is indeed full of life: groups of butterfly dancing around, fishes popping up occasionally, white crane-like bird gliding in the air and nature music player by insect cricking and bird chirping. I am sure many more of nature's like are hidden from human senses.

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