Tam Coc or Trang An?

You are planning a trip to Ninh Binh and you want to take a boat trip on a river in Ninh Binh. However, you have limited time in one day so you may consider choosing Tam Coc or Trang An because they both seem very interesting boat trips with stunning scenery around with mountain and clear water. You may see there are many tour companies advertise for both of those tours to Tam Coc and Trang An and they both have good reviews. I am a tour guide and I sometimes get this question from clients “ Tam Coc and Trang An, which one is better?”.

In fact, that is not easy to give advice for choosing Tam Coc or Trang An in general. However, in a special case, it is fine to choose Tam Coc or Trang An depending on some conditions like the number of travellers, religions, seasons and interests...etc. Below I give some advantages/disadvantages in different conditions so it can help you to choose one of the boat trips for your holiday in Ninh Binh.

Tam Coc or Trang An? Which One Is Better? 

Many people say Tam Coc and Trang An are similar but different. Yes, they are right. You can see the similarity and difference as below.

The similarity of Tam Coc and Trang An 

When you visit Ninh Binh, if you take a boat trip in Tam Coc or Trang An you can experience an interesting boat trip with stunning caves while admire thousands of karst mountains popping up above from clear water.

Boat trip along the river

You will do a boat trip along rivers with hundreds of limestone mountains along the rivers in both of the tours to Tam Coc or Trang An. And both of Trang An or Tam Coc tours you will take a sampan boat rowed by a local in this area.

Tam Coc or Trang An is not so far from each other – Just some km so they share the same climate and geography, local culture.

Ninh Binh makes tourists feel interesting and say wow not only by no-word-describe natural beauty but also skillful boat rowers using their feet to row the boats. When you search images for Tam Coc or Trang An you may see many photos of boat rowers in Ninh Binh taking their hands over their heads and row the boats by their feet easily. That is amazing! 

However, you may not see those boat rowers using their feet on your trip because the local authority does not wish them to do that. The reason is “ Respecting tourists”. Anyway, you may ask them to do it if you wish and they may use the feet on the way where they do not see the security guards. That is also a way to rest their arms after a long trip.

Ms. Thanh – A boat rower said that when you can use boat arms and feet then using feet is a better way as feet are stronger than arms but of course, that is only when you are skillful and you can use both of arms and feet well.

Both Trang An and Tam Coc, you will take a sampan boat without shelter so please bring a hat with you in case it is rainy or sunny.

Trang An

The difference between Tam Coc and Trang An Boat Trip 

The scenery and boat trip 

Tam Coc has been known as Dry Halong Bay for a long time while Trang An is a new route, especially for international tourists.  

The length for a boat trip in Trang An and Tam Coc is different. The boat trip in Tam Coc is about 2 hours while the boat trip in Trang An can be from 2.5 to 3.5 hours depending on the route.

Many people say Tam Coc is more natural while Trang An is artificial. That is because in Trang An people widen some small caves to make sure that the boat can go through while Tam Coc is natural.

Golden rice field in Tam Coc

In the rice season from May to early June there is rice field in Tam Coc and the scenery is really beautiful while there is no rice field in Trang An. So in Tam Coc, local people still work along the river while there is no local people work along the river because all this land is for tourism.

There are some temples, pagodas along the trip in Trang An while the boat trip in Tam Coc will not stop for any temples. There is Thai Vy Temple which is not so far from the river where you take the boat trip but if you wish to visit it you should ask the boat rower. Your boat rower will stop for you to walk there and set up the meeting point. In this case, tips for your boat rower is advised.

Boat Trip Route

There is only one route for Tam Coc so when you buy the tickets you do not need to choose any but there are some routes for Trang An Boat trip so when you buy tickets you can choose a route with more or fewer caves and temples, shore trip or long trip.

There are 3 caves in Tam Coc while there are 9 caves in Trang An and there are some routes which you can choose with more or fewer caves as said above.


In Tam Coc you will pay 2 kinds of tickets, one is sight-seeing tickets, the other is a boat tour.

A sight-seeing ticket is 120,000VND/Person and boat is 150,000 VND/Boat.

For foreigners, the maximum is 2 persons and Vietnamese the maximum is 4 persons/boat. So if you are a foreigner, one person will pay 120,000 VND for sightseeing ticket and 75,000 VND for boat and totally, you will pay 195,000 VND/person. If you are solo travellers, then you need 1 boat for 1 person then you will need to pay 270,000 VND/person for a private boat.

In Trang An, a ticket price for adults is 200,000 VND/person and for children under 1.4 m is 100,000 VND/person. One boat in Trang An is for 4 persons.

So if your group is 4 persons then each person will pay 200,000 VND for tickets. 

If you are less than 4 persons you can wait for full of seats with other travellers from other groups to save the cost.


If you do not want to wait for other people for full seats, you can pay for full seats which cost 800,000 VND to save your time or you want to have a private boat. However, waiting for others is not a problem there are quite a lot of travellers every day. 


Tam Coc is a small area and considered as small Halong Bay while Trang An is a larger area. While you are on the boat trip in Tam Coc, you will pass local houses and see local people working while the boat trip in Trang An will go through natural area only where you only see tourists.

Tam Coc is really beautiful in the rice field but Trang An is still very beautiful and many say Trang An is more beautiful than Tam Coc.

The best time to visit Tam Coc is from May to early June for the rice season. From March to April is good also when the rice field is green. However, if you visit Ninh Binh from March to April please do not visit Trang An as that is the domestic tourist season. It is very crowded because there are many local tourists going to Trang An on a pilgrimage trip. So this time if you wish to visit Ninh Binh then Tam Coc is the best time and to avoid crowds.

If you follow Buddhism or you are Vietnam then you may like to visit Trang An from March to April. There is no matter for Vietnamese with crowds as they seem to like going to the crowded area and they feel that is interesting. 

Cao Son Temple

Tam Coc is more famous for foreigners while Trang An is really famous for domestic tourists as there are temples and pagodas along the boat trip so there are a lot of pilgrimage tourists visiting Trang An. So if you visit Trang An, you will see there are more local people than Tam Coc.

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