DISCOVER MUA CAVE IN NINH BINH!
Hiking to the highest peak at Mua Cave, also referred to as Hung Mua, is one of the best things to do in Ninh Binh! The Mua Cave itself is not that spectacular to look at but rather the incredible 360-degree views at the top of the mountain are what makes a visit to Mua Cave more than worth it!
I have put together this complete guide of Mua Cave including how to get there, how much it costs, the best time to visit and what to expect when you arrive.
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WHERE IS MUA CAVE
The Mua Cave is located 5km north of Tam Coc village center in the Ninh Binh region.
Getting around Tam Coc is really simple as you can do so on foot, on a bicycle or rent a scooter from your choice of half a dozen rental shops in the center of town.
It’s approximately a 10-minute ride on a scooter from the town center to the Mua Cave entrance.
A scooter rental costs around 100,000 VND per day and a bicycle costs half the price.
Must Read → 4 Week Vietnam Itinerary
The entrance to Mua Cave
One of the two pagodas at Mua Caves
WHAT TO EXPECT AT MUA CAVE
When you arrive at Mua Cave there is a ticket office next to the parking lot and you will have to pay 100,000 VND entrance fee.
I arrived in the dark at around 5 am so I could hike to the top of Mua Cave in time for sunrise. On that note, I highly recommend visiting Mua Cave for sunrise or sunset and I guarantee you won’t regret it!
Follow the path right down to the end and you will reach the foot of the Mua Cave mountain. There is a path leading to the left and one path leading straight up the mountain.
Take the path to the left if you want to check out Mua Cave itself, otherwise, you can head straight up the mountain to the Hung Mua viewpoint.
The Mua Cave hike only takes around 15 minutes from bottom to top depending on your fitness level. There are around 500 stairs in total that ascend very steeply up the mountainside.
At the halfway point on the Mua Cave hike, you will come to a fork in the trail, the path to the right leads to one of the pagodas on a narrow rocky outcrop and the path to the left leads to the Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva statue on dragon mountain.
Personally, I quickly ascended the path to the right to check out pagoda number one and then I raced back over to the much higher peak next to the Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva statue for the sunrise.
Pagoda number one at Hang Mua Cave
Sunrise at pagoda number two at Mua Cave
Drone shot of ‘dragon mountain’ at Mua Cave
THE VIEWPOINTS AT MUA CAVE
As you near the top of the Mua Cave hike, you’ll come to the first incredible Hung Mua viewpoint with a spectacular sight of the Ngo Dong River below that cuts its way around the towering mountains in the south-facing valley. This was by far my favorite spot to take photos on the Mua Cave adventure.
Continue the hike up a little further till you reach the top and to the second Mua Cave viewpoint. The locals call this spot ‘dragon mountain’ as you will see an ornate dragon built from stone that spreads across the ridge at the peak. There is also a statue of Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva underneath a sheltered pagoda that is surrounded by incense and food offerings.
I was lucky enough to have the entire Hung Mua mountain to myself as I sat and watched the sunrise in complete awe. As the light got brighter I decided to launch my drone and take photos of the pagodas and the surrounding landscapes.
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View of Ngo Dong River at Mua Cave
The peak of Mua Cave Ninh Binh
Statue of Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva at Mua Cave
Drone shot of Mua Caves
MUA CAVES – THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
The best time to visit Mua Cave is in the early morning around 6 am before the crowds hit or you can visit in the late afternoon as it is a great location to watch the sunset over the valley.
Mua Cave can be visited year-round though between the months November to April it is mostly dry and cool and when most people tend to visit.
May to October sees plenty of rainfall and hot humid days. The rainy season, in my opinion, is the best time to visit Mua Cave and the Ninh Binh region as there are fewer tourists and the landscapes are vividly green!
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WHERE TO STAY NEAR MUA CAVE
Tam Coc and Ninh Binh has hundreds of accommodations to choose from, so I have narrowed it down to a few of the best places to stay near Mua Cave to suit the needs of budget backpackers, luxury travelers and everyone in between.
See the list of accommodations below that I personally recommend:
Luxury: Emeralda Resort Ninh Binh
Emeralda Ninh Binh Resort is the best luxury accommodation in Ninh Binh. Located on the edge of a beautiful nature reserve featuring 3 swimming pools, 2 restaurants, bar, fitness center, sauna, spa and free wifi. The spaciouse, vill-style rooms are fitted with wooden decor, a large balcony with stunning views, flat-screen tv, minibar and private bathroom. Breakfast is also included for all guests. Recommended for couples, families and friends!
Mid Range: King Kong Homestay
King King Homestay is the best value-pick accommodation in Tam Coc, near to Mua Caves. Featuring well-kept gardens, shared lounge, terrace, free wifi and 24 hour front desk. Choose from a double room, king room or deluxe family room, each with air conditioning, wardrobe, seating area, pool views and private bathroom. Guests can also enjoy an à la carte breakfast.
Budget: Zuli Zen Home
I personally stayed at Zuli Zen Home and can’t recommend this place enough as its centrally located and close to Mua Cave! With a great location in Tam Coc just walking distance to shops, cafes, bars and tourist attractions. The property has a shared lounge and kitchen, free wifi and is surrounded by beautiful rice fields and mountains. Choose from either a dorm room or private double room, each of which has air-conditioning. Guests can enjoy continental or Vietnamese breakfast. Perfect place to stay in Tam Coc for solo travelers, couples and friends on a budget.
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HOW TO GET TO TAM COC & NINH BINH
There are buses that operate frequently on a daily basis from Hanoi to Tam Coc in the Ninh Binh region and the journey takes around 2.5 hours.
You can search for all bus connections on 12Go Asia using the search form below:
Alternatively, you can pre-book a shared mini-van transfer between Hanoi and Ninh Binh for only $6 USD.
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AIRBNB NEAR MUA CAVE
Another option for accommodation near Mua Cave is to stay at an Airbnb, which generally has some great deals in Tam Coc and Ninh Binh.
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LONELY PLANET – VIETNAM
One of the best books to take on your trip is the Lonely Planet Vietnam Travel Guide!
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MORE VIETNAM TRAVEL GUIDES
Vietnam Travel Guide: 4 Week Vietnam Itinerary
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Nha Trang Travel Guide: 3 Things To Do In Nha Trang
Hoi An Travel Guide: 4 Things To Do In Hoi An
Ninh Binh Travel Guide: 3 Things To Do In Ninh Binh
Da Nang Travel Guide: Golden Bridge Ba Na Hills
Cam Ranh Travel Guide: Things To Do In Cam Ranh
Ha Giang Travel Guide: 3 Day Ha Giang Loop Adventure
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WHAT TO PACK FOR NINH BINH
Everyday Backpack: One of the best backpacks on the market! The Nomatic 20L Backpack is perfect for on the go adventures. Featuring multiple storage spaces for valuables, drink bottles, chargers, notebooks and more. This sleek backpack was designed for you.
Universal Power Adapter: Don’t leave home without one! I highly recommend getting this Universal Power Adapter so that you are able to charge all of your electronics when you’re on the road. Compatible in Asia, UK, Europe, Africa, USA, SA and Australia.
Hidden Money Belt: I never go on a trip without one! The best thing is they are always out of sight, hidden beneath your clothing. With RFID blocking, they are perfectly designed to keep your credit cards, cash and other valuables safe when you’re out adventuring!
Waterproof Phone Case: A waterproof phone case is a must-have item! This universal case will keep your phone safe from water damage, sand and scratches during your adventures. Suitable for all smartphone models.
Portable Charger: One of the best portable chargers on the market! The Anker Power Bank keeps your phone and accessories charged on those longer adventures. Featuring 2 USB charging ports, rechargeable battery, works with iPhone, iPad, Samsung, Oppo and Android.
Microfibre Travel Towel: To pack a towel or not to pack a towel? A standard bathroom towel can take up a lot of space in your travel bag. Get your hands on a quick-dry Microfibre Travel Towel which is perfect for the beach, backpacking, camping and general traveling.
Rain Jacket: A light-weight rain jacket is an absolute must when traveling! North Face waterproof rain jackets come in both men and women sizes, featuring a breathable mesh lining and adjustable hood that can be tucked away inside the collar.
Kindle: The best alternative for books! Kindle e-readers are perfect for long haul flights, reading on the beach or a quiet evening away from the bars. Kindle’s are waterproof with rechargeable batteries and adjustable light settings to suit indoor/outdoor conditions.
Packing Cubes: My favorite item in my backpack! Perfect for organizing your shirts, pants, jackets, socks, underwear and more. This 5 Set Packing Cubes makes packing easier and more efficient, adding extra space in your bag for your next trip.
Activated Charcoal Tablets: Want to avoid food poisoning? Most of us have been a victim of travelers diarrhea from eating street food. Organic Activated Charcoal Tablets are fast-acting and will rid your system of the bad bacteria that causes stomach upset.
MY CAMERA GEAR
Everyday Camera: The most affordable mirrorless camera on the market! I personally use the Sony A7ii Mirrorless Camera on all of my adventures. It’s compact, lightweight and super easy to use for all levels of photography. A 28-70mm Sony lens is also included.
Drone Camera: Take your photography to new heights! The DJI Mavic Pro 2 Drone is at the top of the game when it comes to high-quality images and video, easy to control functions and traveler-friendly capabilities. I guarantee you won’t regret purchasing one.
GoPro Hero 8: One of the most popular cameras on the planet! I love using the GoPro Hero 8 for all of my underwater shots and fast-paced adventures. The GoPro Hero 8 captures the best moments with its wide range of functions that are very simple to use!
Camera Bag: My favorite camera bag I have ever owned! The Lowepro Protactic 450 AW II Camera Bag features a waterproof rain cover, drink bottle holder, padded compartments for cameras, drones, lenses, accessories and it also has a laptop pocket.
Selfie Stick: Everyone loves a good selfie, right!? The Sandmarc Metal Edition Selfie Stick is sleek, stylish and can extend to 1.2m. I find it much easier to take photos and videos with the GoPro when it is mounted to the Sandmarc Selfie Stick!
Camera Tripod: The Joby GorillaPod is suitable for all cameras. This tripod is easy to use and perfect for setting up a time-lapse video or even using it as a selfie stick. The legs are flexible so you can wrap it around a tree or a pole to get creative with your shot.
GoPro Dome: Have you ever wanted to capture those under/over water shots with the GoPro? This epic underwater GoPro dome housing is the best camera accessory to have to create the perfect 50/50 shot. I use mine every time I am in the ocean!
Memory Card: The best thing about SanDisk Extreme Pro is that it delivers maximum speed for images and videos. Having 64GB of storage means that you can store hundreds of files on this SD card for 2-3 days and not have to worry about running out of space.
External Hard Drive: As a photographer, my images and video files take up a lot of space on my MacBook so I use the WD Elements External Hard Drive to store everything. With 4TB worth of storage space, this is more than enough for 1 years worth of content.
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FINAL THOUGHTS OF HUNG MUA CAVE
I hope you enjoyed reading this article and if you have any questions about Mua Cave please drop me a comment below and I will get back to you as soon as I can.
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