There are direct transports from Halong Bay to Tam Coc, so we can keep on our trip without coming back to Hanoi. It is a 200 km trip, takes us about 3 to 4 hours. Trang An, Mua Cave, Van Long, Hoa Lu are around Tam Coc so we can get there the same way.
Halong Bay to Tam Coc by bus or by van
The hassle-free and tourist-friendly way is to travel by bus or mini van. After you finish your cruise trip (around 12 PM) at the harbor, the bus agent would come to the lounge to pick you up. After gathering all travelers, the bus/van departs around 1 PM. There are other buses/vans at other time also, you can check out the Where to buy ticket section below.
Picking up in Halong Bay
Most of bus companies would pick you up from Hon Gai harbor, Tuan Chau island or Bai Chay station. If you stay in Halong city, it is better to come to those pickup places in time. Some vans offer pickup at your place, you could ask them if it is possible.
Dropping off in Ninh Binh
There are multiple places to visit in Ninh Binh like Hoa Lu, Tam Coc, Bai Dinh, Trang An, Van Long, Tuyet Tinh Coc. Tam Coc is the most visited one and the center point to visit other places. Most of buses would drop you in Tam Coc or Trang An. If you have an accommodation somewhere else, you should contact them for a convenient drop-off. You might need a taxi if it is too far from the bus route.
Tam Coc is 197 km from Tuan Chau harbor by the highway. It takes around 4 hours on a bus trip. Plus with the pick-up and drop-off time, it would be 4.5 to 5 hours for the whole trip. Buses from Halong Bay would pick up guests from 12:00 pm and depart around 1:00 pm. It also depends on the pick-up point. Hon Gai harbor would be picked up earlier, then Bai Chay, then Tuan Chau. There are some buses and vans departure later at about 5 PM, check the ticket section below.
Price/Where to buy ticket
The price of a bus ticket is from $10 to $12, a van ticket is about $16. You can buy directly on these two below websites or at a travel agency for better price. (Note: I might receive commission if you buy ticket in those websites without additional cost to you. I prefer you book through the agency, you will get better price, Tweely is my friend and I’m happier helping her instead of a small commission. Don’t forget to tell her you are from Tony’s blog for a better deal 🙂
Halong Bay to Tam Coc by motorcycle
From Ha Long to Tam Coc is 179 km by motorbike, shorter than by bus. You could follow the map below. Please be noticed, the map is for car, you must check the “Avoid Highways” option because motorbike in Vietnam is not allowed in highway. Or you can use your smartphone, Google Maps has an option for motorbike on smartphone. The speed limit is 50 or 60 or 70 km/h depending on the road. For more detailed tips on riding motorbike in Vietnam, check this article. The trip would take you about 4 to 5 hours, so depart early to avoid riding at night.
There is no airport in Ninh Binh, there are train stations in Ninh Binh but it is not directly connected with Halong station. You will need to come back to Hanoi first, then from Hanoi to Tam Coc. Check out my article on how to get from Halong to Hanoi.
After visiting Tam Coc and around, you could come back to Hanoi or continue your trip to the South from there. Check this article about transportation from the North to the South. Buy me a beer by purchasing a sim card in my shop if you need it. Wish you a safe trip in Vietnam.