Tam Coc or Trang An? All you know before visiting

You are planning a trip to Ninh Binh and want to take a boat tour on the rivers in the area. However, with limited time during the day, you may consider choosing between Tam Coc and Trang An as both offer seemingly fascinating boat trips with beautiful surroundings of mountains and water. You may notice many travel companies advertising tours to both Tam Coc and Trang An, and both receive positive reviews. As a tour guide, I sometimes get questions from customers like, “Tam Coc or Trang An, which one is better?”

Tam Coc or Trang An
Tam Coc or Trang An

Honestly, it’s not easy to give advice on choosing between Tam Coc and Trang An in general. However, in specific situations, you may choose Tam Coc or Trang An based on factors such as the number of tourists, religious preferences, seasons, and interests, among others. Below, I provide some pros and cons under different conditions to help you choose one of these boat tours for your vacation in Ninh Binh.

Tam Coc or Trang An? Which one is better?

Many people say Tam Coc and Trang An are similar but different. Yes, they are right. You can see the similarities and differences as outlined below.

Common features of Tam Coc and Trang An

When visiting Ninh Binh and taking a boat tour in

Tam Coc or Trang An, you can experience an exciting boat trip through beautiful caves and admire thousands of limestone karst formations rising from the clear water.

Common features of Tam Coc and Trang An
ninh binh 11

You will embark on a boat journey along the river with hundreds of limestone mountains lining the river banks in both Tam Coc and Trang An tours. In both Trang An and Tam Coc tours, you will ride in traditional rowing boats operated by local residents in this area.

Tam Coc and Trang An are not far from each other – just a few kilometers apart, sharing the same climate, geography, and local culture.

Ninh Binh captivates travelers not only with its indescribable natural beauty but also with the skilled boat rowers who use their legs to paddle. When searching for images of Tam Coc or Trang An, you may come across many pictures of boat rowers in Ninh Binh extending their hands over their heads and skillfully paddling the boats with their feet. It’s truly amazing!

Tam Coc or Trang An
Ninh Binh- tour packages-https://vietnamdiscoverytours.com/

However, you may not witness boat rowers using their legs during your journey because the local authorities discourage them from doing so. The reason is to “respect the tourists.” Nevertheless, you can request them to do so if you wish, and they might use their legs when they are not in view of the security personnel. It’s also a way for them to rest after a long trip.

Ms. Huong, a boat rower, mentioned that using both hands and feet to paddle the boat is a better technique as the legs are stronger than the arms, but of course, it requires skillful coordination of both hands and feet. Good to know.

In both Trang An and Tam Coc, you will ride in open boats without a roof, so be sure to bring a hat in case of rain or sun.

Ninh Binh- tour packages-https://vietnamdiscoverytours.com/
Ninh Binh- tour packages-https://vietnamdiscoverytours.com/

The Difference Between Tam Coc and Trang An Boat Tours

Landscape and Boat Journey:

Tam Coc has long been dubbed the “Dry Halong Bay,” whereas Trang An is a relatively newer route, especially for international tourists.

The duration of a boat trip in Trang An and Tam Coc varies. The boat ride in Tam Coc takes about 2 hours, while in Trang An, it can range from 2.5 to 3.5 hours depending on the route.

Many people believe that Tam Coc is more natural, while Trang An is more artificial. This is because in Trang An, some small caves are artificially expanded to allow boats to pass through, whereas Tam Coc is more in its natural state.

Ninh Binh- tour packages-https://vietnamdiscoverytours.com/
Ninh Binh- tour packages-https://vietnamdiscoverytours.com/

During the rice season, from May to early June, there are rice fields in Tam Coc, creating a beautiful landscape, while Trang An does not have rice fields. Therefore, in Tam Coc, locals continue working along the riverbanks, whereas there are no local residents working along the river in Trang An, as the entire area is dedicated to tourism.

There are several temples along the route in Trang An, whereas the boat journey in Tam Coc does not stop at any temples. There is the Thai Vy Pagoda not far from the river in Tam Coc, where you can go by boat, but if you want to explore it, you should inquire with the boat rower. The boat rower will stop for you to walk there and arrange a meeting point. In this case, the advice for your boat rower is crucial.

Boat Routes:

There is only one route in Tam Coc, so when buying tickets, you don’t need to choose a specific route. However, there are multiple boat routes in Trang An, so when purchasing tickets, you can choose a route with more or fewer caves, temples, or coastal stretches. There are 3 caves in Tam Coc, while Trang An has 9 caves, and there are several routes with varying numbers of caves, as mentioned above.

Ninh Binh- tour packages-https://vietnamdiscoverytours.com/
Ninh Binh- tour packages-https://vietnamdiscoverytours.com/


In Tam Coc, you will need to purchase two types of tickets: an entrance ticket and a boat ticket. The entrance ticket is 120,000 VND/person, and the boat ticket is 150,000 VND/boat. For foreigners, a maximum of 2 people is allowed per boat, and for Vietnamese, a maximum of 4 people per boat. If you are a foreigner, you will pay 195,000 VND/person (120,000 VND for entrance and 75,000 VND for the boat). If you go alone and need a boat for yourself, you will pay 270,000 VND/person for a private boat.

In Trang An, the ticket price for adults is 250,000 VND/person, and for children under 1.4 meters, it is 100,000 VND/person. A boat in Trang An is for 4 people. So, if your group is 4 people, each person will pay 250,000 VND. If your group is less than 4 people, you can wait to share a boat with other tourists to save costs.

If you don’t want to wait for others and prefer a more private experience, you can buy a fixed-seat ticket for 1,000,000 VND to save time or opt for a private boat. However, waiting for others is usually not a problem as there are many tourists every day.

Other Aspects:

Tam Coc is a smaller area and is considered a miniature version of Halong Bay, while Trang An is a larger area. During a boat ride in Tam Coc, you will pass by local houses and see locals at work, while the boat trip in Trang An takes you through natural areas with only tourists.

Tam Coc is truly beautiful during the rice season, but Trang An remains stunning, and some argue that Trang An is even more beautiful than Tam Coc.

The best time to visit Tam Coc is from May to early June during the ripe rice season. From March to April is also good when the rice fields are lush green. However, if you travel to Ninh Binh from March to April, please avoid visiting Trang An as it is the domestic tourism season, and the place is crowded with local pilgrims. During this time, if you want to visit Ninh Binh, Tam Coc is the best choice to avoid the crowds.

If you follow Buddhism or are Vietnamese, you can visit Trang An from March to April. For Vietnamese people, the crowds are not an issue as they seem to enjoy crowded places and find it interesting.

Cao Son Temple
Cao Son Temple

Tam Coc is more renowned among foreign visitors, whereas Trang An is truly popular among domestic tourists due to the presence of temples and pagodas along the boat journey, attracting many pilgrims. Therefore, if you visit Trang An, you will notice more local residents compared to Tam Coc.

When planning a trip to Tam Coc or Trang An, aside from There, you should consider visiting other fantastic destinations such as Thai Vi Temple, Tuyet Tinh Coc – a Fairyland in Ninh Binh, Van Long Nature Reserve and Mua Cave. etc.. These places offer diverse experiences, ranging from pristine beaches and bustling cities to charming historical sites and enchanting landscapes.

To ensure the best vacation experience in Vietnam, it’s important to plan and book in advance. Among the many tour companies offering services in Vietnam, Discover Vietnam Tours is a great option for arranging your travel itinerary with just a few emails and WhatsApp messages. They provide airport transfers, accommodation booking, tour guides, drivers, and customizable activities based on your preferences.

With their assistance, you can tailor your trip according to your desired schedule and preferences, ensuring a seamless and enjoyable travel experience throughout Vietnam.