We encountered drizzly weather during our time there but the rain somehow enhanced the landscape's natural beauty and added an element of mystery to it. Damien and I toured the area by private car and tour guide, both of which turned out very well. We wanted to tour the area by bike but the rain stopped us from doing so.
We kicked off our day on a boat tour of the Tam Coc river. It is touristy, yes, but totally necessary. We got there really early in the morning, which is the way to go if you want to visit. The river tends to get overcrowded with tourists and hawkers by 10am. After that, we visited a small local market where I bought coriander seeds (which have sprouted!) and took some pretty pictures. From there we went to the ancient imperial capital, Hoa Lu and finished our day with a boat ride down the river and through the grottoes of Trang An.
My favorite part of the day was our walk through a small local village and cemetery. It was so peaceful and green and lovely!
We stayed in Ninh Binh, a city just 15 minutes away from Tam Coc. Ninh Binh isn't a destination in and of itself but it offers many places to stay and easy access to the sights. We got there by private car (yes, another one). Our driver drove us from the Halong Bay area to Ninh Binh in about 3.5 hours. Not bad considering the two lane road was totally effed!