2016 Nov 28
- Done: Weekday
- VND 920k (~ USD 40) for tour
- VND 100k (~ USD 4.5) for tip
I booked through Kim’s tour office the day before. I did my Hanoi street food tour with them as well. I got a discount since I was booking for two people. Here is the itinerary:
Bai Dinh Pagoda
After getting picked up at the hotel and dropping by a rest station on the way, we arrived at the pagoda. After using the paid restroom (VND 2000 ~ USD 0.1), we took the electric car to the main entrance.
The pagoda was completed in 2008 and it was clean, peaceful, and not crowded. It did not give off the same vibe as some other older religious buildings such as temple of literature I visited earlier, but the sheer size was overwhelming. Walking around the quiet pagoda was an interesting experience. Unfortunately I was with a tour group, but if I came here alone it probably would have been a good meditation stroll spot.
This traditional-looking 17-story tower, apparently has an elevator(!). I seriously thought the tour guide was joking at first, but then I remembered this was completed in 2008.
I found a lizard on the way down.
After a 10-minute ride, we got to an all-you-can-eat restaurant. We arrived around 1:45 PM, so the food was pretty stale. It didn’t taste that good but I was so hungry I really didn’t care at that point. The local specialty, goat meat, tasted very strongly of pepper.
On the way out I bought a bottled water from a stall inside the restaurant for VND 20k (~ USD 1). It had been a pretty hot day.
Trang An Grottoes
After another short ride, we got to the grottoes. Groups of 4 got on the bamboo boats. A rower took the back seat, but there were also some small paddles in the boat.
On we go!
It was a 2-hour ride, mostly tranquil…
…but with some insane cave tours in the middle. There were about 8 small caves. For most of them, you have to watch out so that your head doesn’t hit the ceiling!
The scenery along the route was absolutely amazing.
We also got into some kind of rivalry with a nearby boat. So people on my boat (and the other boat) rowed pretty fiercely throughout the ride.
I tipped the rower about VND 100k (~ USD 4.5).
The pagoda was alright, but I didn’t mind dropping by on the way to Trang An grottoes. The boat ride was amazing. It was green everywhere, and the water was so clean. Navigating through the tight caves was a lot of fun, too. I actually would do it again if I visit Hanoi again!