There are very few places in the world that are not touched by the concrete jungle. Hanoi in Northern Vietnam is no different. It is buzzing with so much activity, people and sound that it almost feels like you are on a different planet when you move out of the city. We decided to take a day trip to explore the “Halong bay on land” by selecting a tour that took us to Hoa Lu & Tam Coc in a hope that it soothes and refreshes our soul. What we discovered took our breath away. We were not only treated to the best natural views but it also helped us look at Vietnam through new eyes.
As I write this post, I am taken back to the lush green Northern Vietnamese landscapes where I was a happy traveller. I hope these pictures make you yearn for the Vietnamese countryside just as much.
THE BREATHTAKING LANDSCAPES OF HOA LU AND TAM COC IN NORTHERN VIETNAM
I am so glad we took up this offbeat tour as boating and cycling amidst these surreal views of the limestone mountains, river, rice paddies are now etched in my mind forever.
THE HUMBLE BOAT RIDE THAT WE TOOK IN TAM COC REGION
We took up a boat ride that took us along the Ngo Dong River, which is the best way to see this beautiful region. We recommend that you visit early morning or late afternoon when things are quieter then. You will be seated in small boats with a maximum of two people per boat. I was amazed to see Rowers use their feet to propel the oars, on the complete ride (which lasted more than two hours).
THE LIMESTONE MOUNTAINS THAT ARE TYPICAL TO VIETNAM
We were delighted to be in a region that has a system of caves, limestone rocks of karst formation as well as historical relics from prehistoric times.
CYCLING ALONG THE VIETNAMESE COUNTRYSIDE
Have you ever felt so happy that you want to just be totally lost in the moment and not let it go? I had one of those experiences while biking in the Vietnamese countryside. Now who doesn’t love bike riding in off-the-beaten-tracks like these where it’s just you and nature!
ENJOYING THE LITTLE HAPPINESS ON THE WAY
Let me share with you the story behind this picture. We were cycling along these lovely rice paddy fields and limestone mountains when I spotted this beautiful hammock lying next to a tiny refreshment shop. That very moment, I abandoned my bike and perched myself on the hammock to enjoy this moment of happiness which is so difficult to pen down in words.
EXPLORING THE ANCIENT CHINESE CAPITAL OF HOA LU
Founded in 968, Hoa Lu was the capital until the early 11th century when Emperor Ly Thai To moved it to today’s Hanoi before which it was part of China.
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VENTURING INTO THE FAMOUS CAVES THROUGH A BOAT
Tam Coc originally means 3 caves so it was impossible that a trip to it be complete without exploring these caves. The best part about these caves is that they can only be seen via a boat! Apart from the element of surprise that we experienced when in the caves, we had to duck our heads at certain locations too which made it a very memorable travel memory for us.
WE WERE TREATED TO A MARKET ON WATER AS WELL
Midway on the boat ride, we spotted few ladies who had parked their boats right outside the last cave. To our surprise, we came across a mini market of sorts, albeit in water.
UNDERSTANDING WHY THE VIETNAMESE WORSHIP THE WATER BUFALLO SO MUCH
As we traversed around Vietnam and met more locals, we understood why they worship the Water Buffalo so much. We learnt that Vietnam is an agricultural country and for the locals, the water buffalo is always regarded as a family animal. This is why the image of the buffalo is closely tied to the rural landscape of Vietnam. (If you’re in Hanoi, and want to learn about the Vietnamese culture and their respect for water buffalo then you must see the famous water puppet theatre)
SOAKING IN THE BEAUTIFUL VIEWS
With views like these, who would want to come back?
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Would you like to visit Northern Vietnam someday?