Vietnam is a society rich in culture and history. I believe travel should not solely be based on ‘partying’, it should be a combination of understanding foreign cultures and creating memories that you could not have at home. The Citadels, Karsts & Cycle Tour of Tam Coc run through Intrepid Travel has both these elements and gave me valuable insight into this beautiful country and its past.
On a sunny and humid day in Hanoi, was picked up by Thanh, our guide from Intrepid. Thanh was adorable, with perfect English and an inviting, happy persona that made me feel so comfortable and blessed to be a part of the day. We made our way through the city and drove approximately three hours out of Hanoi (with a stop on the way of course!) to the ancient city of Hoa Lu- the original capitol city of Vietnam.
Thanh filled me with knowledge of the history is the past Dynasties, I was in awe at how much he knew and how in 1000 years, a country can go through so much! Walking through the temples and city, I saw the relics of past kings, queens and princes. So much history and so much tragedy.
After discovering the beauty of ancient throwns, we headed off on the cycling part of the tour. This 12km ride will have you winding through the tiny countryside roads while you take in the views of gigantic lime karsts bulging out of the rice fields. This is not the average countryside bike tour- it is bumpy, rough and definitely an urban adventure!
Post-cycle we headed to Tam Coc Harbor, with lunch awaiting us at a local restaurant and yummy fresh coconut juice! With full bellies we made our way down to the waterfront and jumped on board the little boats, rowed by wonderful Vietnamese men and women, who do this for hours upon hours each day. So much so, they use their feet to row as it is easier! ‘Tam Coc’ or the ‘Three Caves’ is said to be Halong Bay on Land. Winding through karsts and caves down the Red River, I felt like I was in the Jungle book! Tam Coc is beautiful, however I couldn’t help feel a little sorry for the boat rower. I grabbed a paddle and had a turn, but nothing helps more than a little tip at the end- What’s $10 for three hours rowing my bum down a river!
Taking it all in, I realise how lucky I am to be from Australia, though our history is nothing in comparison to the kingdoms of Vietnam past. This was a well organised and fun tour for any age group- just make sure you can get through the cycle portion- it hurts the legs a little!
If you would like to be a part of this great tour, contact Intrepid Travel Vietnam on;
$84 per person http://www.hanoiurbanadventures.com/hanoi_tour_Citadels_Karsts