Van Long is one of those places where you feel like time has stopped. Imagine misty wetlands surrounded by dramatic limestone cliffs with lush vegetation. There is just you and a local lady who doesn’t speak a single word of English. The only noises you hear are the splashing water as the bamboo boat goes into the wilderness and the sound of the langurs somewhere far away.
The boat tour lasts one hour and costs 50.000 vnd per person. If you get there early enough, in our case this was 10 am, you could have all the place to yourself. We saw only 3 other boats along the ride. When we finished the tour two buses with Chinese tourists had just arrived at the parking. Once you are done with the sighseing you can indulge in four different frog dishes offered in the restaurant right in front. If you do please share your experience with us as we … let’s say didn’t have time for it.
The scenery of Van Long is not as imposing as Tam Coc and Trang an but what makes the difference is the uncomparable feeling of stillness and calmness. If I had to choose just one thing to do in Ninh Bình it would be this one. The other routes are undoubtedly more impressive for the eye but the boat traffic and the pushy sellers along the way deprive of you of that unique wanderlust excitement than only very few places in the world will ever give you.
We reached Van Long from the very far end of Tam Coc in 35 minutes in a scooter. If you start from Ninh Bình it will be even closer. You could also go with a taxi or a Grab