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HOALU, NINH BINH - VIETNAM

Ninh Bình is located to the south of the Northern Delta, between the Red and Ma rivers. It is bordered by Hòa Bình and Nam Định to the north, Hà Nam to northeast, Thanh Hóa to the south and west. Ninh Bình also has a very short coastline abutting the Gulf of Tonkin.

BICH DONG PAGODA
Bich Dong Pagoda, considered the second most beautiful cave in Vietnam behind Huong Tich cave ( in Perfume Pogoda) , is about two kilometres from Tam Coc. The Bich Dong Pagoda was built near the cave in the Le dynasty. Bich Dong Pagoda, built on Ngu Nhac Mountain, is divided into three levels: Ha Pagoda (lower pagoda), Trung Pagoda (middle pagoda), and Thuong Pagoda (upper pagoda). On the mountain peak stands the statue of a Mandarin scholar looking at the horizon in the hope of viewing the spectacular landscapes of Hoa Lu.

From the upper pagoda, one has the most magnificent view of Bich Dong, which is romantically charming in terms of architecture and history. The location for this pagoda was chosen in 1428 after two monks were charmed by the view of the river and the mountains. Later, King Le Canh Hung  wrote a poem in honour of the beautiful pagoda and landscape. He said that Bich Dong Pagoda was the second nicest pagoda in Vietnam, after the Huong Pagoda, also called Perfume Pagoda, in Ha Tay Province.

TAM COC - TREE CAVES
During the harvest season, the Ngo Dong is as thin as a silk strip running in the middle of the rice field. In flood season, the river is vast. Literature, Martial Arts and Eagle Beak Mountains go up and down on the two sides of the river. They look like islands on the Ha Long Bay. The Ngo Dong River passing through the limestone mountain ranges form three water caves, therefore it is called Tam Coc, including Ca (Biggest) Cave, Hai (Second Biggest) Cave and Ba (Third Biggest) Cave. Inside the caves, stalactities and stalagmites are glistening and they look like a Buddhist statue, a fishmen catching fish or women’s breasts.

A trip to Tam Coc is very interesting and should not be missed. You can reach Tam Coc by a boat ride along the stream flowing through green and lush rice fields dotted with towering mountains as the backdrop. At Tam Coc, there situates the temple built in memory the Tran Dynasty Kings who defeated Kublikhan's army. The bell tower predominantly stands in the front yard. The heroes are worshipped inside the temple

CUC PHUONG NATIONAL PARK

Established in 1962, Cuc Phuong is the oldest national park in Vietnam. Located only 120km southwest of Hanoi and nestled between the provinces of Ninh Binh, Hoa Binh and Thanh Hoa, Cuc Phuong boasts engaging cultural and wildlife heritage and enchanting scenery. Magnificent limestone mountains rise up majestically from the green rice-terraces and traditional stilt houses of the Muong hill-tribe. Covered in a dense forest they form a habitat for some of Asia's rarest species.

Some tree species have been introduced from Burma, India, and Borneo. Clusters of orchards grow near cave entrances, where the moisture conditions and light are ideal. Varieties include thousand-year dracontomelum and parashorea trees which can be visited in a one or two hour hiking, and coral, vanilla, snow-white, and butterfly orchids everywhere. Large mammals inhabit the park including panthers and bears, but rarely appear, so the most popular animals you can see are monkeys, gibbons, flying squirrels and pheasants. There are also over 120 species of birds and many varieties of beetles living here, and April and May arrive swarms of butterflies. At night, million of cicadas create a deafening din, and million of fireflies flicker about. It is no wonder that researchers, naturalists, enthusiasts and conservationists alike are drawn to this corner of the world. It is 120 km from Hanoi that you can go by car ( 2 hours), mortobike (3 hours) or adventure cycling. There?re no public tranportation to this park, except you go with a tour or hire a vehical to come there. It is 45km North of Ninh Binh and follows Kenh Ga and Van Long Nature Reserve.

(Source: LuxuryPrivateTravel.Com Inc)
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