Hanoi: Bai Dinh and Trang An Tour

Hanoi City Tour Itinerary

It was our second day in Hanoi and we were looking forward to see more of the city. Prior to the trip, we originally booked the “Hanoi City Tour” to explore the popular attractions and landmarks of Hanoi. We did opt for a guided tour this time because it seemed way more convenient (than the hassle of having to encounter one taxi driver to another and given our limited time in Vietnam) plus, they do offer a “shared tour” which is a really cheaper option that the private tours. We ended up taking the Bai Dinh/Trang An Tour though, which was recommended to us by the manager of Discovery Hotel (Mrs. Nhan). Glad we did take her up on the offer as the tour was just amazing and worth it. Note: The standard rate for this shared tour is US$32 per person, inclusive of all transports, entrance fees, and lunch. But of course, you can always negotiate for a cheaper price (like we did) 🙂 Here is an overview of the full day itinerary:

Time Activity
AM
07:45 Pick up from Hanoi Discovery Hotel.
8:30 Stopover for coffee, etc.
10:30 – 12:00 Arrival at and exploration of the Bai Dinh Temple Spiritual and Cultural Complex.
PM
12:30 – 1:30 Lunch in a local restaurant.
1:30 – 1:40 Head to the Trang An Ecological Tourist site.
1:40 – 4:00 Boat trip (about 2 hours) of the “Halong Bay on Land,” passing through various caves.
4:00 – 7:30 Return trip and drop off at the Hotel.

Coffee Stopover

I was surprised to learn, through our tour guide, that Vietnam has become globally popular for its coffee. Great! This is just the kind of stopover we love!!! So we went in this café shop (which by the way is a souvenir shop as well) to have a try. Yup, it was a good cup of coffee… only that it was a really small cup at that, (bitin baga, haha…) and they usually serve condensed milk as creamer/sugar.


Bai Dinh Temple Spiritual and Cultural Complex

It was already drizzling when we reached Ninh Binh province where the Bai Dinh Temple Spiritual and Cultural Complex is located. The area is about 107 hectares, which houses the Bai Dinh Pagoda, the largest one in Vietnam (source:http://english.cinet.vn/DefaultArticleDetail.aspx?zoneid=10&newsid=2530). So I found out that Vietnam is predominantly a Buddhist nation, and this site serves as the largest complex of Buddhist temples in the country. Thus, Buddhist pilgrims from all over Vietnam come here to pray and meditate.

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Exploring the area entails climbing up some 300 stone steps, passing through hundreds of different Buddha stone sculpture images.

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It was an interesting walk, while hearing about the religious and cultural practices of Vietnam. Plus, we really enjoyed the beautiful and panoramic landscape that continuously unfolds as you reach the main temple called “Tam The Hall”.

 


Trang An Ecological Tourist site (“Halong Bay on Land”)

My prayers were answered as the rain finally stopped just in time for the afternoon adventure that awaits us. Also known as the “Halong Bay on Land,” the beauty of Trang An is best explored by boat, which we took for about 2 hours, where you also have the opportunity to paddle along, to have a better feel of the whole experience, and so that you can help the boat driver?? haha.. 🙂

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Breathtaking, tranquil and all things serene … these are words I can describe the Trang An ecotourism site. It’s such a peaceful and relaxing place, endowed with  beautiful mountain scenery, and the water here is so calm and lucid you can clearly see the bushes of green weeds underneath.

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Plus, we were really thrilled traversing through various caves as we marvel at the limestone formations inside.

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