Ninh Binh

Mua Cave and Tam Coc – Bich Dong Tourist Area

Mua Cave (Vietnamese spelling: hang Múa) is 12 km from the entrance of the Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex in Ninh Binh Province. It’s the most popular tall vantage point with the best views inside Tam Coc – Bich Dong Tourist Area.

Hang Mua (Hang Múa) is commonly mistaken as the name of the area, hence the English name Mua Cave. Múa meaning ‘to dance’ is the name of the mountain, and hang means cave in Vietnamese.

The actual Mua Cave is to the East on top of the Mua Mountain. The story goes that it used to be a place where Tran kings enjoy royal dances.

About Tam Coc – Bich Dong Tourist Area

Tam Coc - Bich Dong
[ by Tuấn Mai from Flickr ]

Tam Coc – Bich Dong Tourist Area (Khu du lịch Tam Cốc – Bích Động) is a destination in the Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex (Quần thể Danh thắng Tràng An). It’s entrance is 8 km away from the entrance of the complex.

You can explore traveling along two fun routes. One by boat and the other predominantly on land with a few boat excursions. For this reason, the entrance fee and the boat fee are separated. Most tours will also separate the boat and land routes.

Note: If you want to get to Mua Cave, you need to take the land route.

Things to Do at Mua Cave

Hang Mua Mountain
[ by jirehfoo from Unsplash ]

The main activity here is to enjoy the challenge of hiking up the mountain. You can go directly to Mua Cave, but usually, there are a few stops and other things to do along the way like the Trang Am Grottoes and Bich Dong Pagoda.

At Mua Cave, there’s a small entrance fee to pay at the bottom. However, if you book a room at the Hang Múa Ecolodge for tourists, you won’t have to pay for entry.

It takes about 30 minutes to the top, and along the way, magnificent landscapes gradually open up. The staircase ledge is decorated with stone carvings of animals like birds and dragons. There are spacious resting spots and a pavilion on the top.

Before you begin your walk up 486 steps along the grand path, it’s nice to stroll around the gorgeous lotus lake at the bottom. If the lotuses are in bloom, it’s all the more enjoyable and great for photo shoots.

View all locations mentioned in this article

The Land Route at Tam Coc – Bich Dong

The Land Route at Tam Coc - Bich Dong
[ by Bryan Garcia from Unsplash ]

The land route, with Mua Cave, allows for more activities compared to the boat route. The Bich Dong Pagoda, a key attraction, is included in both the land and boat routes.

If you’re looking for more adventure and things to do along the land route, the Thach Bich – Thung Nang Valley, Thung Nham Bird Garden, and Galaxy Cave each has their own boat ride.

Some of these destinations can be quite far apart. If you follow your own itinerary, you’ll need to rent a vehicle before getting here as mentioned in our article about ‘Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex’.

Ancient Vietnamese Village Complex

Ancient Vietnamese Village Complex (Cố Viên Lầu) is right by the entrance of Tam Coc – Bich Dong. It comprises old houses from the Nguyen Dynasty with the typical architecture of the time.

There’s also an exhibit of rural village life in the past. Most houses are used to display everyday objects but you can also stay in some of them.

Spiritual Hiking at Bich Dong Pagoda

Bich Dong Pagoda
[ by gmaart from Unsplash ]

Bich Dong (Bích Động) is the name of the mountain and the pagoda with three structures positioned along the slope. It’s only 7 km away from Mua Cave. The original pagoda was only the middle one dating from 1428. The construction of all three pagodas didn’t start until 1705.

 The Lower Pagoda (Chùa Hạ) is at the bottom of the mountain. The Middle Pagoda (Chùa Trung) is just 120 steps along and partly fused to the mountain. There are 3 halls here and one is connected to the Dark Cave (hang Tối) with a bronze bell forged in 1707. The Upper Pagoda (Chùa Thượng) is 40 steps further up.

Note: You can take a boat ride through Xuyen Thuy Cave (Xuyên Thuỷ Động) inside Mt. Bich Dong to the entrance to the pagoda.

Thach Bich – Thung Nang Valley

There’s another boat ride at Thung Nang (Thung Nắng) or Sunny Valley and it’s cheaper than the main boat route on Ngo Dong River. Just follow the sign for 500 m from Dinh Cac Dock to Thach Bich Dock (bến thuyền Thạch Bích) and you’ll reach it. The ride here is relatively new, which makes it good for some peace and quiet in nature.

Photogenic Thung Nham Bird Valley 

Photogenic Thung Nham Bird Valley
[ by Nguyenvanson01122 from CC BY-SA 4.0 ]

Thung Nham Bird Valley (Vườn chim Thung Nham) is a different location to Thung Nang mentioned above. It’s a new under-the-radar eco-tourist area 10 km away from Mua Cave. A lot of younger people come here for unique photo opportunities.

The Bird Park is a preserved natural habitat of a variety of bird species, many of which are endangered. The boat ride also includes stops by a thousand-year-old Streblus Tree (cây duối ngàn năm), a moving Banyan Tree (cây đa di chuyển), Mermaid Cave (động Tiên Cá), Vai Gioi Cave (động Vái Giời), and Buddha Cave (hang Bụt).

There are some interesting tales behind them that you may hear on the boat ride. In Thung Nham, there are also gardens where you can pick-and-pay which are separate to the boat ride.

Galaxy Embraced by a General

Galaxy Embraced by a General
[ image from ]

Galaxy Cave (động Thiên Hà) is hidden in General Mountain (núi Tướng) got the name a natural sky well in its roof. The cave spans 700m with growing stalactites and stalagmites depicting mythical figures in ancient tales.

Visitors have to take a 20-minute boat ride to the mountain which can be accessed from Thung Nham on a separate ticket to the Bird Valley. Once there, you follow a 500 m trail around the bottom of the mountain to the cave entrance.

The first 200 m is the dry area where archeologists found traces of ancient human life. To continue exploring the 500 m wet area, you will need to pay for another boat ride.

The Boat Route at Tam Coc – Bich Dong

The Boat Ride at Tam Coc - Bich Dong
[ by dangquangn from Pixabay ]

At the Dinh Cac Dock (bến thuyền Đình Các), near the entrance of Tam Coc Tourist area, you can purchase your boat ride ticket along the Ngo Dong River (sông Ngô Đồng). It lasts two hours, and if you visit from the end of April to early May, the river is surrounded by golden rice paddies.

The trip will take you through the three caves of Tam Coc, to Bich Dong Pagoda, Tien Cave (động Tiên), and the structures of Vu Lam Palace including Thien Huong Cave, Thai Vi Temple, and Linh Coc Pagoda.

Vu Lam Palace

Vu Lam Palace
[ by Jordan Opel from Unsplash ]

Vu Lam Palace: 

Vu Lam Palace (Hành cung Vũ Lâm) is the name for a complex constructed during the Tran Dynasty. It was built in the mountains of Tam Coc as a zen place for Tran Kings and became a stronghold during the war against the Mongolian in 1285.

Along the river, you can stop by Thien Huong Cave (động Thiên Hương). It’s dedicated to Trần Thị Dung— the last queen of the Ly Dynasty and mother of the first queen of the Tran Dynasty, Queen Thuận Thiên.

Thai Vi Temple: 

Thai Vi Tempel  (đền Thái Vi) is a place of worship for royalties of the Tran Dynasty. It’s 2 km away from the dock and you can also come here via the land route.

It has statues of Kings Trần Thái Tông, Trần Thánh Tông, Generals Trần Hưng Đạo, Trần Quang Khải, and the aforementioned Queen Thuận Thiên. Respectively, they are the first and second kings, the two most respected generals of the Tran Dynasty.

Linh Coc Pagoda

Linh Coc Pagoda (chùa Linh Cốc) was built by King Trần Thánh Tông. It worships Mahayana Buddist figures like Ananda and the Three Mothers of the Vietnamese Mother Religion. 

They are Mother Lieu Hanh (Mẫu Liễu Hạnh) of the sky and heavens, Mother Thuong Ngan (Mẫu Thượng Ngàn) of the forests and mountains, and Mother Thoai (Mẫu Thoải) of the waters.

Traveling Tips for Mua Cave and Tam Coc – Bich Dong

Traveling Tips for Tam Coc - Bich Dong
[ by Raissa Lara Lütolf (-Fasel) from Unsplash ]

Best time to visit: Around the latter half of April to the first half of May when the weather is nice and the paddy fields are golden for the best scenery.

Ticket Prices at Mua Cave and Tam Coc – Bich Dong

Tam Coc – Bich Dong:

  • Land Route Adults: 120 000 VND per person.
  • Land Route Children: 60 000 VND per person.
  • Boat Ride: 150 000 VND per person.

Mua Cave:

  • Entrance ticket: 100 000 VND per person.

Thung Nham Bird Valley:

  • Entrance ticket: 100 000 VND per person.
  • Bird Garden ticket: 30 0000 VND per person.
  • Buddha Cave ticket: 30 000 VND per person.

Galaxy Cave:

  • Boat Ride Adults: 120 000 VND per person.
  • Boat Ride Children: 40 000 VND per person.

Thach Bich – Thung Nang: 

  • Land Route Adults: 20 000 VND per person.
  • Land Route Children: 5000 VND per person.
  • Boat ride: 100 000 VND per boat of 4 people.

Check out our article about the ‘Trang An Landscape Complex’ to know how to get to Hang Mua, where to stay, and eat.

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