The best ways to enjoy the scenery in Ninh Binh is to take a boat trip. The main kicking off points for boat trips are Tam Coc and Trang An or Thung Nham, although smaller, less touristy outfits can be found near Bich Dong Pagoda and between Trang An and Hoa Lu.
Boat trip through along the gentle streams and through the scenic caves of Ninh Binh are a highlight of a visit.
A leisurely row boat trip through the stunning Ninh Binh countryside – its rice paddies, Karst Mountains and cave formations – is a definite highlight of a visit.
Boats usually wait for a group of four to assemble and then set off with a local woman rowing.
Small boats will be paddled by local woman along the river for a couple of hours, through caves and past paddy fields and karst formations. If you start from Tam Coc you will also visit Thai Vi Pagoda. Whether one route is better than another is open for debate -- we'd suggest choosing whichever suits your travel plans better.
Both Tam Coc and Trang An are big tourist attractions -- Trang An in particular, though more popular with Vietnamese visitors -- so don't expect to have the river to yourself, but if you avoid weekends and Vietnamese holiday periods it's not too overwhelming.