Explore the Ancient Capital Hoa Lu, ruled by the Dinh and Le dynasties in the 10th and 11th centuries. While it remained the active capital and fortress, during a time of much civil unrest and many conflicts with the China’s south Han dynasty, it was never breached by any enemy army. After lunch, set up-high with a birds eye view of the winding and twisting Tam Coc river, you’ll get into a small 2-3 passenger boat with a local navigator. Your boatman/woman will paddle your boat up and back down the riverway that snakes along, in between the sheer limestone karsts jutting straight out of the rice field flatlands. Paddling you along with both their legs and arms, you’ll pass through 3 low-ceiling caves, with wonderful stalactites looming just overhead. If you visit during the spring and summer months you will witness the lush and vibrantly green thatched rice paddies on either side of the riverbanks.
8.00-8.30 am: Tour guide will pick you up from your hotel in Old Quarter to depart for Ninh Binh city
10.30-11.00 am: You will reach Hoa Lu, the ancient capital.
In 968, Dinh Bo Linh declared himself as the King. Since then Hoa Lu existed as the capital for the next 41 years (968 – 1009), of which 12 years were under the Dinh dynasty – King Dinh Tien Hoang, named the country Dai Co Viet, and 29 years later was under the Le dynasty – King Le Dai Hanh. In 1010, King Ly Thai To moved the capital from Hoa Lu to Thang Long – present day Hanoi. Hoa Lu then became the old citadel. In Hoa Lu there are now 2 temples that have been built on the ground of the old royal palace. One is dedicated to King Dinh Tien Hoang, the other is to King Le Dai Hanh. The visit offers a chance to learn more about the feudal dynasties and historical periods in Vietnamese history.
12:00 pm: Today you will enjoy a buffet lunch at a local restaurant in Tam Coc, named Duc Tuan restaurant. The food is served in an Asian style of local dishes with organic vegetables. The Duc Tuan has a birdseye view over the Tam Coc river, so you can marvel at the amazing aerial views, while you enjoy lunch.
1:30 pm: After finishing your lunch, you will be taking a rowboat from Tam Coc Harbour. Arranged by the local people, the boat is rowed by both hand or legs. The boat will take you thru 3 specular caves with hundreds of limestone karsts along the way. If you travel during harvest season, you will see many terraced rice fields in golden bloom.
The row boat will navigate along up the river for approximately 2 hours. Not only you can see the peaceful scenery of mountains, rice paddy fields, and temples ― you also have chances to learn about local peoples cultures, and their daily life.
Optional activities: Enjoy a bicycle ride through the countryside after the boat trip.
4:00 pm: Leave Tam Coc and drive back to Hanoi. Arrive in Hanoi around 6:30pm and over night in Hanoi.