Kayaking vs. Traditional Boats in Trang An Ninh Binh Skip to content
Kayaking vs. Traditional Boats in Trang An Ninh Binh

Kayaking vs. Traditional Boats in Trang An Ninh Binh


Kayaking and taking a traditional boat are 2 popular waterways in Ninh Binh. Which one is the most suitable for your group? This article brings a close look at these 2 options. After a comprehensive comparison, you will see the best way to explore Ninh Binh is by waterway.

Ninh Binh is home to waterway destinations like Tam Coc, Trang An, Thung Nham Bird Valley,... Tam Coc, features winding rivers flanked by towering limestone towers. Trang An is known for its scenic boat tours that pass through caves and temples while Thung Nham Garden is the best place for bird watching. You can’t walk to discover all the highlights of these places. 

Waterways offer a tranquil and peaceful atmosphere. The slow-paced boat rides allow you to relax and immerse yourself in the serene surroundings, making it a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Comparison of Kayaking vs. Traditional Boats in Ninh Binh

Overview of Kayaking in Ninh Binh 

Kayaking is a small and slim boat that can accommodate only 1 to 2 people at a time, providing a combination of sightseeing and physical activity. When talking about Ninh Binh water activities, some might not know about kayaking. 

Not all locations in Ninh Binh offer kayaking; currently, kayaking is only operated and available in Trang An. It has been in operation since August 17, 2020, and continues to attract tourists. 

The kayak route and the traditional boat route with a boatman have completely different itineraries. Currently, there are two journey options available, covering distances of 5km and 8km (round trip) for customers to choose from.

2 kayak routes in Trang An

Route 1: 

The initial route sets off from Trang An Wharf, navigating through key landmarks such as Trinh Temple, Tam Quan Gate, the entrance of Dark Cave, Quy Hau Cave's entrance, and Nui Ngoc. Covering a distance of 8 kilometres (round trip), visitors can capture numerous "check-in" moments on the boat, including picturesque scenes under a banyan tree at Tam Quan gate or a visit to Trinh Temple.

Route 2: 

The second route spans 5 kilometres (round trip) and begins at Trang An Wharf, leading to Kong Island Wharf while passing by Thuy Dinh (Pavilion on Water) and Vu Lam Palace. In addition to capturing memorable photos on the boat, tourists opting for this route have the opportunity to delve into the history of Vu Lam Palace.

Kayaking Ticket Rates

  • Single Kayak (2 hours): 250,000 VND/boat
  • Single Kayak (3 hours): 300,000 VND/boat
  • Double Kayak (2 hours, for 2 people): 350,000 VND/boat
  • Double Kayak (3 hours, for 2 people): 400,000 VND/boat

Trang An Kayak - Things to keep in mind

  • Kayak boat ticket is non-refundable if you have entered the departure area.
  • Wear life jackets throughout the kayaking process.
  • Be conscious and responsible for protecting the landscape, natural environment, and tourism resources
  • Follow the designated tour route, avoid prohibited areas, not enter caves, and refrain from river jumping or swimming.
  • Playing music through any device is not allowed in the tourist area, and personal speakers are prohibited.
  • Participants must sign a commitment to ensure their health before boarding the boat.
  • Penalties ranging from 1,000,000 to 3,000,000 VND will be imposed for violations such as littering, environmental pollution, entering restricted areas, exploring caves, swimming in the river, or using speakers on the boat. 

Please note - Cases not allowed to participate:

  • Individuals under the influence of alcohol, beer, or stimulants upon entering the tourist area.
  • Individuals with health conditions such as high blood pressure, joint problems, nervous disorders, or weak physical conditions.
  • Children under 16 years old.

Overview of Traditional Boat Tours Ninh Binh

A traditional boat or a sampan boat is an old and most popular way to discover Ninh Binh today. You can easily buy a ticket and jump on a boat in Trang An, Tam Coc, Thung Nham and other attractions in Ninh Binh. Each traditional boat can accommodate 4-5 people at the same time. Controlled by local people, traditional boats now are mainly used for tourism purposes. When sitting on the boat, you are required to wear a life jacket and sit in the middle of the boat, to ensure it keeps balance and moves smoothly. 

  • Ticket price (Trang An/Tam Coc): 250.000VND/Pax (2-5 people/boat) 

3 boat routes in Trang An

map for 3 routes in trang an

In Trang An, there are 3 main routes. After getting your boat ticket, you can go to the wharf and tell the operator which route you prefer, they will arrange a boat for you. This means the prices for 3 routes are the same, look below to see the differences between them: 

Route 1: Explore caves and temples (9 caves, 3 temples)

If you love rocks and exploring caves, Route 1 is the adventure for you. This tour takes you to 9 caves and 3 spiritual spots along the Sao Khue River, including Tran, Khong, and Trinh Temples. The circular route is 15 kilometres long and takes about 3 hours to complete.

Route 2: Short boat tour (4 caves, 3 temples)

For those with limited time, Route 2 is ideal. The tour lasts over 2 hours, allowing you to experience natural caves and temples without getting bored. Along the way, you'll visit Trinh Temple, Dot Cave, May Cave, Suoi Tien Temple, Dia Linh Mountain, Dai Cave, Vu Lam Imperial Palace, and Kong film studio: Skull Island. However, this Kong island is closed now to protect the natural ecosystem. 

Route 3: Discover the longest cave (3 caves, 3 temples)

The newest addition to Trang An boat tours, Route 3, started in late 2017. It lets you explore the 1000-meter-long Dot Cave, formed over thousands of years. Along with Dot Cave, you'll visit Van Cave, Dai Cave, Trinh Temple, Suoi Tien Temple, and Vu Lam Royal Steps. The route takes around 3 hours and is a favourite among tourists for its immersive experience.

You might read: The best Trang An Guide for 2024: A Comparison of 3 Boat Tours in Trang An Ninh Binh

Boat route in Tam Coc

All boats in Tam Coc follow the same route. The typical boat tour in Tam Coc lasts around two hours. During this time, local boat rowers often used their feet to paddle. One highlight of the boat route is passing through three natural caves – Hang Ca (First Cave), Hang Hai (Second Cave), and Hang Ba (Third Cave). As you sail along the river, you'll witness the beauty of Tam Coc's rice fields. Depending on the season, the fields might be green or golden.

Trang An -Tam Coc Boat Tour - Things to keep in mind

  • In Trang An or Tam Coc, the entrance ticket is 250,000 VND/per pax. Each boat has a maximum capacity of 4 people (Trang An) or 2-3 people (Tam Coc). If you are travelling with only 1-2 people, you have to share your boat with 2 more people. 
  • Passengers are required to wear life jackets when sitting on the boat 
  • There are many boats here. All are in the same colour. You should remember your boat number, after visiting historic sites, you can get back to the right boat 
  • Avoid visiting near closing time (from 5 PM) as it may affect your experience due to darkness or cold weather

All About Boat Tour in Ninh Binh: Tam Coc vs Trang An Boat Tour?

Kayaking vs. Traditional Boats, which one is better? 

Choosing between kayaks and traditional boats, what is your preference? 

Advantages of Kayak in Ninh Binh

Firstly, it’s more unique than a traditional boat because it requires a good health condition. Secondly, kayaking provides a more independent and hands-on experience. You have direct control over your kayaks, allowing you to explore at your own pace and choose your routes. On a kayak, you get closer to the natural surroundings, such as caves, water and plants. Besides, couples or small groups can enjoy a quiet and private journey. It’s more suitable for those who love a sense of adventure and exploration. 

Disadvantages of Kayak in Ninh Binh

It requires a certain level of physical fitness and basic paddling skills. Some may find it more physically demanding than a traditional boat ride. Moreover, larger groups may find it challenging to stay together, and coordination could be more complex. Although kaking will be more flexible some may prefer a more relaxed and guided experience, which kayaking might not always provide.

Advantages of Traditional Boat in Ninh Binh

Traditional boats are often rowed by local boatmen. So you will have a more relaxed and comfortable experience. You can sit back and enjoy the scenery without the physical effort of paddling. It’s safe, especially when you have small kids or the elderly in your group. It is well-suited for larger groups, allowing friends and family to share the experience. Besides, many traditional boat tours come with knowledgeable local guides who provide information about the history, culture, and significance of the sites. 

Disadvantages of Traditional Boat in Ninh Binh

The experience might feel less adventurous for those seeking a more active. Boatman follows a set route, limiting the flexibility. Secondly, popular traditional boat routes, especially in well-known areas like Tam Coc and Trang An, can attract a significant number of tourists. This may result in crowded conditions. 

Suggested itinerary with traditional boat tour experience in Ninh Binh 

Full-Day Ninh Binh Highlights Tour from Hanoi

Overall, both kayaking and traditional boat rides offer unique experiences for Ninh Binh river excursions, but they have distinct characteristics and advantages, therefore the choice between kayaking and traditional boats in Ninh Binh depends on individual preferences, physical abilities, and the desired level of adventure. Hope that our Ninh Binh boat trip comparison helps you arrange your best boating experiences in Ninh Binh.

Kindly leave your information and we will contact you and advise you on a meaningful itinerary. 

Plan your trip to Ninh Binh now.

Other Articles