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Bai Dinh is an impressive pagoda in scale but for me, I prefer something truly ancient over it. However, the boat trip in Trang An is awesome. About 2 hours on the boat is neither too long nor too short, just the right amount of time to relax and enjoy it all. Read about Kimmi a lot but he wasn't my guide on this trip. No worries, Circus did a wonderful job too! Very glad I took this trip. For me, there is a special feeling about Ninh Binh. It seems like a spiritual center of the country. Hopefully I could go back and explore more one day. Thanks for organizing this trip
Very nice day, the tour planning and organization was perfect, our guide Kimmy was extremely nice and funny, made us feel all like old friends. The place is beautiful! Unfortunately Trang An was quite crowded with tourists, but that it's not the tour agency responsability. Very recommended!
What a great tour!
Out hotel was outside their Old City pickup area in Hanoi, so we took a 3 taxi ride to their office at 8am where someone from the tour company office met us as we exited our cab. We waited maybe 5 minutes and then were guided onto the shuttle van, which was modern and comfortable. We then picked up a few more people at their hotels and we were on the road to Bai Dinh at 8:30.
After a 45 minute ride, we arrived at the temple. Our guide bought our tickets and guided us through this amazing place. You will be overwhelmed by the size of the place, the number of Buddha statues, and the solemnity and grandeur of the overall site. Be aware that you will be walking for approximately 2 miles there, so wear comfortable shoes which you can easily slip off at certain points.
After about 90 minutes, we returned to the van and went on to the Trang An boat dock. You are on the backside of the mountains of Ha Long bay, so the scenery is spectacular. In high season, there are as many as 1000 4 person boats on the river, but at this time of year early December, there were only a few hundred.
Each boat has a rower assigned,, mostly women, who expertly and tirelessly move your rowboat along. Passengers are encouraged to row if they choose to do so, so we did for about half of the trip.
The river was serene and the setting was astounding! You will go through about a half dozen caves on the river, some so low that you will need to duck your head. Karst rock formations will be all around you.
About 2/3 of the way along, you will stop at Skull Island. I'm not really clear about it, but it seems that some portions of the movie King Kong were filmed in this area. Anyways, you are turned loose on one side of Skull Island and told to meet your boat driver on the other side. You walk along a path past the restrooms and eventually come into a simulated native village where locals are dressed up and made up in what are supposed to be dangerous looking native costumes in front of their little huts. Most looked bored and uninterested until a tourist came along, when they would assume threatening poses with their spears and cell phones. They will play along for photos if you want, so give them a tip of you choose to do that.
We returned to our rowboat and had another 15 minutes of river time, after which we returned to the main dock. Restrooms and refreshements are available there. We then boarded the van and were returned to the office at 1pm where they arranged for a cab back to our hotel.
This was easily the best of 5 tours we booked through Viator for our 3 weeks in Vietnam and Thailand. I can't recommend it highly enough.
I booked this tour for my mom and husband who visited me in Hanoi while i am on a business trip. The booking is very easy and the tour organizer, which is Wati travel also very easy to be contacted. I contacted them via email to make sure about the booking and informing them where to do the pick up for mom and hubby, etc. They responded the email in a timely manner. As for the tour itself, my mom and hubby said it was great. the get picked up on time, the tour guide was very entertaining and kind, the lunch was great and decent, and for trang an itself it was very serene, tranquil, and beautiful. My hubby and mom seems to enjoy it. I also went to trang an around 2-3 years ago and i loved it myself. One note though, bai dinh requires a lot of walking and with some stairs too. My mom is not a huge fan of walking but she still managed. So maybe if you're travelling with elderly you should take note on this