Trang An is a scenic landscape complex and a world heritage site in Ninh Binh, a province in northern Vietnam. It is famous for its boat cave tours, which take visitors through a network of rivers, lakes, valleys and caves surrounded by limestone karst mountains. Trang An also has a rich history and culture, as it was the site of the ancient capital of Hoa Lu and the birthplace of many kings and heroes. In this blog post, we will explore some of the attractions and activities that Trang An has to offer, as well as some of the history and culture that make it unique.
The Attractions of Trang An
Trang An has many attractions that appeal to different types of travelers. Some of the most popular ones include:
- The boat cave tours: The boat cave tours are the main attraction of Trang An, as they offer visitors a chance to experience the natural beauty and diversity of the landscape complex. Visitors can choose from different routes that vary in length and difficulty, but all of them include passing through several caves, some of which are very narrow and dark. The caves have different names and features, such as Sang Cave (Bright Cave), Toi Cave (Dark Cave), Ba Giot Cave (Three Drops Cave) and Nau Ruou Cave (Wine Making Cave). The boat cave tours also include visiting some temples and pagodas along the way, such as Tran Temple, Khong Temple and Phu Khong Pagoda.
- The Hoa Lu ancient capital: Hoa Lu was the capital of Vietnam from 968 to 1010, during the Dinh and Le dynasties. It was also the birthplace of many kings and heroes, such as Dinh Tien Hoang, Le Dai Hanh and Ly Thai To. Hoa Lu is now a historical and cultural relic site that preserves some of the original structures and monuments, such as the Dinh Temple, the Le Temple, the Nhat Tru Pagoda and the King’s Well. Hoa Lu also has a museum that displays some artifacts and documents related to the history and culture of the ancient capital.
- The Tam Coc-Bich Dong scenic area: Tam Coc-Bich Dong is a scenic area that is often referred to as “Halong Bay on land”, as it features a similar landscape of limestone karst peaks rising from rice fields and waterways. Tam Coc means “three caves”, which are Hang Ca (First Cave), Hang Hai (Second Cave) and Hang Ba (Third Cave). Visitors can take a boat ride along the Ngo Dong River to enter these caves and admire their stalactites and stalagmites. Bich Dong means “green grotto”, which is a complex of three pagodas built on different levels of a mountain. Visitors can climb up to these pagodas and enjoy a panoramic view of the area.
The Activities in Trang An
Trang An has many activities that cater to different interests and preferences. Some of the most popular ones include:
- The cycling: Cycling is a great way to explore Trang An and its surroundings, as it allows visitors to enjoy the scenery at their own pace and discover some hidden gems along the way. Visitors can rent a bike from one of the local operators or join a tour group. They can cycle along the paved roads or the dirt paths, passing by rice fields, villages, temples and mountains.
- The hiking: Hiking is another way to enjoy Trang An and its nature, as it offers visitors a chance to challenge themselves and get closer to the wildlife. Visitors can choose from different trails that suit their level of fitness and experience, but all of them include climbing up some hills or mountains, such as Mua Mountain, Thien Ha Mountain or Thung Nham Mountain. They can also visit some caves or viewpoints on their way, such as Mua Cave, Thien Ha Cave or Bird Valley.
- The photography: Photography is a must-do activity in Trang An, as it offers visitors a chance to capture some stunning shots of the landscape complex and its elements. Visitors can take photos of the boat cave tours, the Hoa Lu ancient capital, the Tam Coc-Bich Dong scenic area or any other places that catch their eye. They can also take photos of themselves posing with some props or costumes that are available for rent at some locations.
The History and Culture of Trang An
Trang An has a long and rich history and culture that date back to thousands of years ago. Some of the highlights of its history and culture include:
- The name: Trang An means “ceremonial offering” in Vietnamese, and it refers to the legend that says that the landscape complex was created by the Jade Emperor as a gift to his daughter, who married a mortal king. According to the legend, the king and his wife lived happily in Trang An until they were attacked by a jealous general, who wanted to take over the throne. The king and his wife fought bravely, but they were outnumbered and killed. The Jade Emperor was so angry that he turned the general and his army into stone mountains, and turned his daughter and son-in-law into two rivers that flow through Trang An.
- The festival: Trang An celebrates many festivals throughout the year, but the most important one is the Trang An Festival, which is also known as the Bai Dinh Pagoda Festival. It is held every year from January 6th to March 6th according to the lunar calendar. It is a time when people visit Bai Dinh Pagoda, the largest pagoda in Vietnam, to pray for peace, prosperity and happiness, and also enjoy various activities such as music, dance, art, sports and games.
- The museum: Trang An has a museum that showcases the history, culture and nature of the landscape complex and its surroundings. It has four main sections: the natural section, which displays specimens of animals and plants; the historical section, which displays artifacts and documents from different periods; the cultural section, which displays costumes, instruments and tools of different ethnic groups; and the revolutionary section, which displays weapons, uniforms and photos of the wars.
Trang An is a scenic landscape complex and a world heritage site in Ninh Binh. It has many attractions and activities that appeal to different types of travelers. It also has a long and rich history and culture that make it unique. Trang An is more than just a scenic area, it is a destination that offers a memorable and authentic experience.