Located along the Ngo Dong River in northern Vietnam, Tam Coc -- or “three caves” -- is home to some of the country’s most dramatic landscapes. Similar to Halong Bay, the countryside of Tam Coc is dominated by limestone cliffs jutting toward the sky, but instead of being surrounding by a bay, the karsts are surrounding by rice paddies.
The spectacular scenery of Tam Coc is best enjoyed on a boat ride along the Ngo Dong River. Bright green rice fields extend right down to the edge of the river, as a parade of rowboats operated by local women take passengers on a leisurely journey along the winding waterway. During the two- to three-hour trip, boats pass through the three natural grottoes that give Tam Coc its name: Hang Ca, Hang Giua and Hang Cuoi.
Plan your visit to Tam Coc in late morning, after the sun has burned off the early morning mist that can obscure the view but before the heat becomes uncomfortable. Remember to wear sunscreen, and bring an umbrella or hat if you’re sensitive to the sun, as the rowboats provide no shade.