If you visit Ninh Binh, you will see impressive limestone mountains. And although you can see this very well with a boat trip in Trang An or Tam Coc, it is best to see this from the Mua Cave viewpoint.
How to get there?
The Mua Cave (or Hang Mua) is 5 km from Ninh Binh, right next to Tam Coc. Traveling around in this region is very simple, because you can easily rent a bike or a scooter at one of the dozens of rental shops and hotels in the city. It is about a 20 minute ride on a scooter from the city to the Mua Cave and just over half an hour by bike. From Tam Coc it is just 5 minutes.
When you arrive by bicycle or motorbike drive all the way to the end for parking, on the way you will see other people trying to point you to their private parking spot. When you arrive at Hang Mua there is a ticket office next to the parking lot and you have to pay 100,000 dong ($ 4) entrance.
As the name suggests you can visit a cave at the Mua Cave, but this is actually not the reason to come here. If you want to enter the cave, take a left at the stairs that go up the mountain. For spectacular caves there are better destinations in Vietnam such as Phong Nha and you can also see more beautiful caves during a boat trip through nearby Trang An. The main reason to visit Mua Cave is the fantastic Viewpoint on top of the mountain. So go straight up the stairs and climb to the top for your reward.
Follow the path all the way to the end and you will reach the foot of Mua Cave mountain. You can go left to the Mua cave or you continue to follow the path up the mountain to the viewpoint. The walk up takes only about 15 minutes, depending on how fit you are. There are 500 steps in total.
Halfway through the Hang Mua Cave you reach a junction in the path, the path to the right leads to one of the pagodas on a narrow rocky point and the path to the left leads to a statue on the dragon mountain. Both point have an amazing viewpoint of the surroundings.
Viewpoint of Mua Cave
When you take the way up left to the top, you come to the first incredible viewpoint with a spectacular view of the Ngo Dong river below that makes its way around the towering mountains in the valley.
Walk a little further until you reach the top of the Hang Mua Cave, to the second lookout point. The locals call this place “dragon mountain”, you can see a graceful dragon standing here that is built of stone scattered on the ridge at the top. There is also a statue under a sheltered pagoda that is surrounded by incense and food.
If you have taking the stairs to the right at the junction you get to another viewpoint, with great views over the rice fields.
Best time to visit Mua Cave
The best time to visit Mua Cave is around 6:00 AM in the early morning before the crowds strike or you can visit in the late afternoon as it is a great location to watch the sunset over the valley.
Just like the rest in North Vietnam, the months of May to October are hot with a lot of rain. Tropical storms sometimes occur in the region around September. November to April are cooler and dry. The rice fields are the most beautiful during the rainy season; October is harvest season. If you have time, skip going there on misty, foggy or rainy weather; the stairs will be wet and visibility poor.
Visiting information Mua Cave
Ticket price: 100,000 VND
Parking motorbike: 10,000 VND
Parking bike: 5,000 VND
Location: Google maps
Opening times: 6:00 AM – 7:00 PM
There is parking available right next to the entrance for cars, buses, motorbikes and bicycles for a small fee. Make sure you drive all the way to the end, to the entrance, because on the way locals try to let you park on their terrain.
Food & drinks
There are a couple of restaurants and small food stalls around Mua Cave, even half way on the viewpoint there is a small place to buy some drinks. Though, it is smart, especially on hot days, to bring some water with you.
There are some accommodations close to Mua Cave, most of them you will find in Tam Cac. But there is even a place to stay right at Mua Cave called Mua Cave Ecolodge.
Other things to do in the area of Mua Cave
Around Mua Cave you can find many of the other best things to do in Ninh Binh. The most famous spot is of course the Tam Coc boat tour, where you can enjoy a boat ride over the river, with stunning rice fields or both of your sides. You even row through some caves.
Not too far from here you will find the Bich Dong pagoda. Here you can take stunning photos on the bridge at the entrance of the pagoda, including a liliepond in frond of it.
If you are a nature lover, you can visit Thung Nham Bird Garden. This is a great place to walk around and there are options to do a boat trip. Here you can spot some rare birds.