Tam Cốc

Three Caves

Useful Information

Location: Near Tam Cốc village.
(20.227510, 105.931869)
Open: All year daily.
Fee: fee for the boat tour.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave
Dimension: Ca Cave: L=250 m.
Guided tours: D=3h
Address: Tam Cốc.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1428 Bích Động temple built on Ngu Nhac Mountain.
2014 inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.


Tam Cốc (Three Caves) is obviously a sort of key word, and while its literal meaning is easy to understand, we were not exactly sure if it is the name of the tour, the name of the town where the tour starts, the name of the small tower karst area, or probably just a description what you have to expect. So as we do not speak Taiwanese we are not able to tell you this, but we may describe what such a tour named Tam Cốc may offer.

Some 100 kilometers south of the Vietnamese capital Ha Noi lies the city of Ninh Binh in fertile plains and rice fields, on the shore of a meandering Red river. Following road #1 to the southwest for about two kilometers there is a sort of jetty, with hundreds of sampan, elegant wooden boats which are rowed by one person, typically local women, and often in a characteristic style using the feet instead of the arms. The trip starting here takes three hours, so we can understand why they use their feet. And participants, while not rowing themselves, need some patience and probably a soft cushion to be able to sit on the wooden bench for so long. We also strongly recommend a hat against the sun.

From the jetty the tour first goes through rice fields until finally the tower karst area is reached. The towers with their vertical, grayish limestone walls are impressive, the canal becomes a river which winds through the towers, and finally a gorge. The caves are located at the level of the river and are simply visited by rowing through. There are - as the name Tam Cốc (three caves) says - three caves named Hang Ca (Fish Cave), Hang Hai (Second Cave), and Hang Ba (Third Cave). Hang Ca is the largest and longest of the caves, some 250 m long and up to two meters high. It was named Fish Cave because once a black fish was caught here, weighing 45 kilograms. Several men were needed to get the fish out of the river.

Actually there are much more caves, which are not part of the river tour, some say there are 32 caves. The tallest cave in the area is Thung Doi (Bat Cave), which is 210 meters high. The widest cave is Bong Cave with a 16 m wide passage.

The next main site of the tour is Bích Động (Emerald Temple), which is despite the name not a cave, but a temple. On Ngu Nhac Mountain the wooden pagoda was built in 1428. Actually there are again three: Ha, Trung, and Thuong Pagodas are built along the trail uphill and the walk ends on the top of the mountain with a pleasant view.