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Van Long Vs Trang An Boat ride: Which one is better?

Van Long Vs Trang An Boat ride: Which one is better?


Van Long Nature Reserve and Trang An are 2 famous places in Ninh Binh which offer unique boat experiences. While both sites are great to discover, they have different beauty so you might be confused. Especially, when considering tours, many tourists find it hard to choose which route offers a more picturesque or enjoyable experience compared to the others. This article provides a comprehensive comparison between Trang An and Van Long wetlands.

Overview of Van Long Lagoon and Trang An Complex 

Van Long Lagoon 

  • Location
    • Located in Gia Vien District, Ninh Bình Province. It's about 80 kilometres south of Hanoi, making it a popular day trip destination.
    • Close to other attractions: Trang An Ecotourism Complex and Cuc Phuong National Park, Bai Dinh, Mermaid Cave…
  • Opening hours: 8:00 AM - 6:00 PM
  • Entrance fee: 20,000 VND/pax
  • Boat ride fee: 70,000 VND/boat/2 pax

Key Highlights of Van Long Wetland Nature Reserve

The name "Van Long" embodies the local populace's desire for a tranquil existence. "Van" translates to "cloud" and "Long" to "dragon" in Vietnamese. Both clouds and dragons symbolize water, and it's believed that bright things occur when the dragon meets the clouds.

Van Long Nature Reserve holds a special allure for eco-tourism enthusiasts. Originating in 1960, this area was formally designated as a nature reserve in December 2001, becoming one of Ninh Binh Province's three special-use forests. Covering a natural expanse of over 3,500 hectares, with 2,745 hectares falling under the reserve's management, Van Long stands as the largest inland wetland in the Northern Delta region.

About biodiversity, it is home to the largest population of Delacour’s Langur with over 100 individuals. The flora within Van Long includes species listed in Vietnam’s Red Data Book, showcasing its ecological significance. In addition to the Delacour’s Langur, the reserve is also home to rare and precious animals such as the Tibetan bear, chamois, stump-tailed macaque, and leopard. Furthermore, Van Long features a bird garden with a variety of 100 species. 

Compared to Trang An or Tam Coc, Van Long is the least touristy, the most peaceful and relaxing site for a boat experience. Besides, it has the cheapest tickets and almost no vendors asking to buy stuff. Therefore, if you want to find a quiet place, Van Long is great. It is voted as a top site for nature and wildlife lovers and prefers off-the-beaten paths.

On the other hand, there is only 1 cave in Van Long. The cave is the smallest and can’t be visited during the rainy season. Therefore, If you are keen on cave discovery or some places that are active with more people, Trang An is better. 

How many days in Ninh Binh: Should I spend 1,2, or 3 days in Ninh Binh?

Trang An Landscape Complex 

  • Location:
    • It's about 90 kilometres south of Hanoi, also a popular day trip destination.
    •  About 7 kilometres northwest of Ninh Binh City,
    • Close to other attractions: Close to Hoa Lu, Mua Cave, Thung Nang, Thien Ha Cave, Am Tiem Cave
  • Opening hours: 7:00 AM - 4:00 PM
  • Entrance fee: 20,000 VND/pax
  • Boat ride fee: 250,000 VND/boat/4 pax

Key Highlights of Trang An 

While Trang An might not have various flora & fauna compared to Van Long, Trang An has a beautiful underwater world. When you look at the clear water, you'll be amazed by its beauty.

The Trang An boat tour offers a journey through stunning karst mountains, which are the highlight of the region. With three route options available, each guarantees views of these magnificent mountains. What adds to the excitement is that every route includes stops at other intriguing sites like pagodas, temples, and caves. Among these attractions is Ninh Binh's longest water cave, spanning over 1000 meters.

Moreover, from February to late March, Trang An is adorned with vibrant decorations to celebrate the Lunar New Year, Vietnam's biggest festival. During this time, visitors can immerse themselves in Vietnamese traditional culture. However, it's important to note that this period also attracts a large number of local tourists on pilgrimage trips, potentially leading to crowds and inconvenience. If you prefer a quieter and more intimate journey surrounded by nature, Van Long might be the perfect choice.

You might read: The best Trang An Guide for 2023: A Comparison of 3 Boat Tours in Trang An Ninh Binh

Van Long Vs Trang An 

To see the difference, let’s look at this table: 


Van Long Lagoon 

Trang An 

Best season to visit
  • May – June: lotus flower season 
  • November – April: it’s time the water birds of the North flock here to build nests, you can see thousands of birds.

Stable year-round 

  • February to April (after Lunar New Year): good weather but crowds with many domestic tourists
  • Late May to June: Golden rice season 
Best time day 

In the late afternoon (15:30 – 16:30) birds fly back to their nests. 

In the early morning or the afternoon, avoid late afternoon
Boat Trip 
  • Duration: 1.5 -2  hours
  • Number of caves: only 1
  • Boat route: 3 routes are available, you can choose your route
  • Price: 70,000 VND /pax
  • Duration: 3 hours - 3.5 hours
  • Number of caves: 3 - 9 caves
  • Boat route: 3 routes are available, you can choose your own route
  • Price: 250,000 VND/pax
What to do 
  • Visit Hang Ca Cave: 250m long, 8m high, 10m wide
  • See limestone mountains with strange names such as Meo Cao, Mam Xoi, Da Ban or Hom Sach
  • Visit Mountainous Temples: Dich Long Pagoda, Thanh Mau Temple or Thanh Son Pagodafly
  • Explore Ancient Temples and Pagodas by waterway: Vu Lam Royal Palace, Suoi Tien Temple, Tran Temple
  • Cave exploration: many beautiful caves 


 Overall, Van Long is known for its tranquil wetlands and bird-watching opportunities, while Trang An is renowned for its stunning landscapes and cave exploration. Both offer unique and memorable experiences, and the choice depends on personal preferences regarding scenery, and activities.

Apart from Trang An or Van Long, there is one place that also offers a wonderful boat experience. It’s Tam Coc. If you are interested, you can find more information at:

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

How to spend 2 days Tam Coc-Ninh Binh? Best accommodation and things to do.

From the reading, we hope you can discover the best option for you as well as gather useful tips for an amazing boat experience in Ninh Binh, a peaceful countryside.

See our offer: 

Hoa lu - Tuyet Tinh Coc- Trang An

Full-Day Ninh Binh Highlights Tour from Hanoi

Hoa Lu - Mua Cave - Tam Coc - Bike - Swimming with Sunset Party 

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

Plan your trip to Ninh Binh now.

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