Hiking to the highest peak at Mua Cave 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!
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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 is approximately a 5 to 10 minute ride on a scooter from the town center to Mua Cave. A scooter costs around 100,000 dong per day and a bicycle will likely cost half the price.
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The entrance to Mua Cave
One of the two pagodas on the Mua Cave
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 dong entrance fee.
I arrived in the dark at around 5am 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 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.
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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 Mua Cave, you’ll come to the first incredible 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 of Mua Cave and to the second 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 Mua Cave 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 shoot the pagodas and the surrounding landscapes.
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Ngo Dong River in the south-facing valley at Mua Cave
The dragon at the peak of Mua Cave Ninh Binh
Statue of Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva
Drone shot of Mua Cave
MUA CAVE – THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
The best time to visit Mua Cave is in the early morning around 6am 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 the Ninh Binh region as there are fewer tourists and the landscapes are vividly green!
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WHERE TO STAY IN NINH BINH
Ninh Binh has hundreds of accommodations to choose from, so I have narrowed it down to a few of the best places to stay in Ninh Binh to suit the needs of budget backpackers and luxury travelers. 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. 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! 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.
FOR ALL OTHER PLACES TO STAY IN NINH BINH, SEARCH ON AGODA OR SEARCH ON BOOKING.COM
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HOW TO GET TO NINH BINH
There are buses that operate frequently on a daily basis from Hanoi to Ninh Binh 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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BEST VIETNAM TOURS
Another option for accommodation in Vietnam is to stay at an Airbnb, which generally has some great deals in Vietnam.
MORE VIETNAM TRAVEL GUIDES
Vietnam Travel Guide: 4 Week Vietnam Itinerary
Ho Chi Minh City Guide: 7 Things To Do In Ho Chi Minh
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
MY CAMERA GEAR
• DSLR Mirrorless Camera: Sony A7ii
• Drone Camera: DJI Mavic Pro 2
• GoPro: GoPro Hero 8 Black
• Everyday Lens: Sony F2.8 24/70mm
• Camera Bag: Lowepro Protactic 31L
• Selfie Stick: Sandmarc Metal Edition 1.2m
• Tripod: Joby Flexible GorillaPod
• GoPro Dome: Underwater GoPro Dome
• Power Bank: Anker Powerbank
• External Hardrive: WD Elements 4TB
WHAT TO PACK FOR VIETNAM?
• Waterproof Phone Case: Universal Waterproof Case
• Reusable Water Bottle: Hydro Flask Water Bottle
• Rain Jacket: North Face Rain Jacket
• Water Shoes: Slip-on Water Shoes
• Day Bag: Nomatic 20L Day Bag
• Power Adapter: Universal Power Adapter
• Packing Cubes: 4 Set Packing Cubes
• Microfibre Towel: Quick Dry Travel Towel
• Travel Insurance: World Nomads Travel Insurance
• Money Belt: Hidden Money Belt
I hope you enjoyed reading this article and if you have any questions about Mua Cave please drop me a comment below.
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