Hi travelers! I’m Demi Cheng, a Dutch-born Chinese traveler who is always searching for and dreaming about new adventures and experiences. Welcome to my travel article on the incredible Mua Caves of Ninh Binh.
Growing up in the Netherlands in a Chinese family, I was exposed to two different cultures from a young age. Growing up, living in five countries and seeing the world only inspired me more to discover new places. My biggest passion is therefore to explore the beautiful places of the world, go on adventures and to learn about different cultures and perspectives!
On my Instagram (@mycolourfulpassport) I share my experiences, but also tips and facts about destinations. I hope to inspire people to get out there more often, because traveling is so valuable. Besides traveling, I also enjoy reading and baking in my free time. On my Instagram you can also find book reviews from the books I read.
17 Amazing Days in Vietnam
It wasn’t Vietnam itself that inspired this particular trip. My boyfriend and I wanted to travel somewhere for a few weeks in Asia and a country we both hadn’t been to, which didn’t leave us with many options. Additionally, Vietnam also attracted us as we heard many good stories from friends about it and obviously Vietnamese food is delicious!
We traveled from North Vietnam to South Vietnam and the duration of the trip lasted for 17 days. We visited some bustling cities, saw epic mountains, majestic rice fields, amazing nature, awesome temples and ate some delicious food. Below is an overview of our 17 day Vietnam travel itinerary:
- Day 1: Hanoi
- Day 2: Lan Ha Bay + Cat Ba Island
- Day 3: Lan Ha Bay + Hanoi
- Day 4: Hanoi + night bus to Sa pa
- Day 5: Sa Pa
- Day 6: Sa Pa + back to Hanoi
- Day 7: Hanoi + evening train to Ninh Binh
- Day 8: Ninh Binh
- Day 9: Ninh Binh
- Day 10: Ninh Binh and 14h overnight train to Da Nang
- Day 11: Da Nang
- Day 12: Ba Na Hills (Golden Hands Bridge)
- Day 13: Marble Mountains + Hoi An
- Day 14: Da Nang + late afternoon flight to Ho Chi Minh City
- Day 15: Mekong Delta, Ben Tre
- Day 16: Ho Chi Minh City
- Day 17: Ho Chi Minh City
- Day 18: Early morning flight to Singapore
Incredible Viewpoints from the Mua Caves
Ninh Binh was definitely on the top of our list of all the places we visited in Vietnam. We spent three full days there and enjoyed being away from big cities and loved being surrounded by beautiful nature everywhere.
I remember seeing pictures of the Mua Caves on Instagram before our trip, so I saved these posts. When we were planning the route, I saw that the Mua Caves were located in Ninh Binh. So we made sure to include the caves on our days in Ninh Binh. Also, when we were googling, Mua Caves was recommended by travelers who had been to Vietnam, so why not go?!
The Mua Caves is one big complex but there are different viewpoints and my favorite was the viewpoint facing the Ngo Dong river. It was special because it looks incredibly serene and peaceful. The moments there felt surreal as well with the endless views of the mountains in the distance.
Experiences we enjoyed here: walking up the 500 steps and enjoying the 360-degree views, walking over the heart-shaped bridge on the ground floor, visiting the dragon, mini temples and pagodas on the top. It’s called Mua Caves but most people visit for the views rather than the caves. I haven’t been to the caves myself, so I can’t say if they are worth visiting.
Stay in the Tam Coc Area of Vietnam
While exploring the Mua Caves, we were staying close to the Bich Dong Pagoda which was located a bit further away from the other main sights, such as the Bai Dinh Pagoda, the Mua Caves and the various boat cruises. Therefore we would highly recommend staying in the Tam Coc area. There are more restaurants, shops and massage salons in the Tam Coc area.
Tips for Visiting the Mua Caves
Before going to Vietnam, when we were researching and planning, we read on many blogs and suggestions from people recommending a day trip from Hanoi to Ninh Binh. Yes, Ninh Binh is not too far from Hanoi (about an hour by train). However, the region is truly beautiful and has so much to offer that a day trip is definitely not enough in our opinion.
We spent three nights and three days there, but our recommendation is to spend at least one night to have around two full days. Of course you don’t need that amount of time only for the Mua Caves, but there is plenty to explore and you can take your time to visit places. Though, if you have a lot of time in Ninh Binh, you could spend a full afternoon there until sunset!
Most tourists travel around the Ninh Binh region and the sightseeing locations by scooter. When you arrive at the path/road towards the Mua Caves, there will be lots of people yelling and saying that you have to park with them – that if you go further it’s more expensive. But that is not true.
You can actually still drive quite a bit towards the entrance and there are enough parking spots for approximately the same price. If you park at the beginning you still need to walk a bit until the entrance and probably you can better save your energy for the 500 steps ahead!