Ninh Binh, AKA: Tam Coc, was a favourite destination of mine whilst in Vietnam. When tourists say they are staying in “Ninh Binh”, they’re actually residing in Tam Coc, which is a small town situated within the city of Ninh Binh. Ninh Binh itself is run down and doesn’t have much to offer so when booking accommodation, be careful you don’t choose a place within the city and miles away from Tam Coc. There are plentiful places to stay within Tam Coc, again we simpley arrived and shopped around for best price when bartering with hotel owners. There was one particular owner whose hotel we liked but was fully booked up. Not wanting to lose customers he asked us if we minded staying in his second hotel which so brand new, he hasn’t finished it yet and didn’t have regular staff either. We said yes for a bargain price which included breakfast and it turned out to be a beautiful hotel too. Motorbike rental was also offered.
Cat Ba Island was one of the highlights of our Vietnam/Cambodia trip. It was another place we discussed possibilities of living, me as a TEFL and Yoga teacher and Jon running adventure photography tours. We were in Cat Ba during the low season so the downside to this place during the high season is the night life. This is a party island for young backpackers. This island has everything a fun loving backpacker needs: cheap accommodation like hostels, adventure activities during the day and clubbing by night.
There was much to do during the day on this island and because it was the low season, thankfully the evenings were quiet! I was still getting over my cold from Hanoi the day before so spent most of the first day in our hotel room whilst Jon booked himself on a day trek through the national park- Cat Ba’s beautiful national park is home to 32 types of mammal, including most of the world’s 65 remaining golden-headed langur, the world’s most endangered primate. There are some good hiking trails here .