The rice fields of Tam Coc, Vietnam

June 2012

 

One of Vietnam’s pic­tur­esque tourist attrac­tions is located two hours south of Hanoi, near Ninh Binh: Tam Coc, a river land­scape that can be explored on bamboo rowing boats.

It’s a beau­ti­ful place, but nothing you’d explore when in search for tran­quil­lity. Be pre­pared for a crowded and over­com­mer­cial­ized exper­i­ence.

There is a great altern­at­ive, however, if you’re not in a hurry. Almost every hotel in Ninh Binh has bicycles for rent and ador­able, hand-drawn maps that are by no means true to scale. File under car­to­graphic poetry.

Bike west/southwest through rice fields and small vil­lages to Tam Coc Lake (start­ing point for boat tours, a 90 minutes bike ride from Ninh Binh), then bear right into a little street to Thai Vi temple (Google Maps).

Leaving Tam Coc village, the dirt road quickly turns left into a silent, magic valley that looks like being exclus­ively made for post­cards. And nobody is there.

Except you, maybe, some day.