Ninh Binh is one of the most interesting places in northern Vietnam.
- Ninh Binh – this is an important city in northern Vietnam where there are many historical places of interest. And the karst scenery of the Trang An or Tam Coc complex is just a highlight of this beautiful place that every visitor to Vietnam should see. It is very easy to do so, as this place is located just 100 km south of Hanoi and there are plenty of buses, private minivans and train services as well. The city of Ninh Binh itself does not have an airport, so you have to arrive by land and the railway station is in the town center.
Am Tien Pagoda and Cave is located near the historic town of Hoa Lu.
- A very important historical site is also the historical and former capital of Vietnam – Hoa Lu. Before 1010, Hoa Lư served as the capital of Đại Cồ Việt. Now it is, of course, a very popular tourist attraction where you will have the opportunity to see even more ancient excavations, artifacts and other historical items of ancient Vietnam. The historical part of Hoa Lu is located 13 km from the centre of Ninh Binh and if you are already coming here, you should definitely not miss another historical site a short distance away – the Am Tien Pagoda and Cave.
Am Tien Pagoda and Cave is now a well-known tourist favourite site.
- Am Tien Pagoda and Cave (in Vietnamese – Động Am Tiên + Chùa Am Tiên = Tuyệt Tịnh Cốc) used to be quite isolated and hidden, but now it is another well-known tourist spot in Hoa Lu – Ninh Binh. This place was historically used by the emperor and founder of the 2nd Vietnamese Dinh Dynasty – Dinh Bo Linh (Dinh Tien Hoang, born 924 – died 979) from Hoa Lu. At that time Dinh Bo Linh eliminated the social and political anarchy that characterized the divided kingdom. The age of this place is given as a little over about 1000 years.
- Historical legend says – Am Tien Cave was used by the Dinh Dynasty as a dungeon where tigers and panthers were placed to torture prisoners who committed serious crimes. The cave (also called “Dragon Cave”) was also used as an execution ground. A Buddhist shrine was then built here during the Ly Dynasty and later added to by humans. So this is a very but very abbreviated legend of the history of Am Tien Pagoda and Cave.
The whole place with the lake inside the area is very impressive and peaceful.
- The Am Tien Pagoda and Cave (Tuyệt Tịnh Cốc) is located in a rocky area where a tunnel has been dug for visitors to enter. You can park your motorbike/car at the spot in front of the tunnel (for about 10,000 VND), buy a ticket (costs around 40,000 VND, price can change over time) and enter the area. You will immediately find yourself at the lake and then you can continue to the Am Tien Pagoda and cave, or you can go to the southern side of the site and visit the historical gate with a view and walk around the whole place, or you can sit around the lake.
- Various buddhist statues and some artifacts are located in Am Tien Cave. For example, despite the effects of time, the bell of the pagoda and three ancient stone steles are still preserved at the entrance, on which are engraved the names of those who helped build the Am Tien pagoda. It is also possible to take a boat ride on the lake and see the fishes, the water is a beautiful transparent green-blue colour when the weather is nice. As the site is inside a rocky area, it is very quiet and peaceful, unless there are large groups of tourists. There are also refreshments or the possibility to buy flowers just below the pagoda. There is also a restaurant and other refreshments in front of the area by the gate to Hoa Lu. And from Am Tien you can easily walk to Hoa Lu Ancient Capital.
How to get and travel to Am Tien Pagoda + Cave?
- The pagoda and cave of Am Tien (viet. Tuyệt Tịnh Cốc), as already mentioned is 12 km from the center of Ninh Binh. It is immediately opposite the entrance to the historic town of Hoa Lu, there is a parking lot and the entrance. You can park your motorbike at the tunnel for a small fee, there is also a restaurant nearby. It is best to go to Ninh Binh from Hanoi, it takes about 2.5 hours by train and bus. From Ninh Binh city centre you have to take a taxi if you are not going on your motorbike. There are also some private minivans from Hanoi to the Hoa Lu historical site and you can buy tickets online. Read this article about transport options.
When to visit Am Tien Pagoda + Cave at Hoa Lu?
- You can visit Am Tien Pagoda and Cave in Ninh Binh all year round. Personally, I would recommend choosing the period from September to November, when there is no risk of heavy rains in northern Vietnam. In the winter months there can be cold weather and even fog. Ninh Binh is in the lowlands and in the summer months the weather can be very hot. The opening hours of the Am Tien Pagoda and Cave are Monday to Sunday 8am to 6pm. On public holidays of Vietnam these opening hours of Tuyệt Tịnh Cốc may vary.
Where to stay if I want to be close to Am Tien Pagoda?
- The city of Ninh Binh and the surrounding area offers a large variety of accommodation. If you want to stay close to the Am Tien Pagoda and Cave, I recommend strategically choosing some of the capacities in the Trang An Scenic Complex. Trang An complex is a convenient location in the middle of the most interesting places of the area. The centre of Trang An scenic complex is approximately 5 km from Am Tien Pagoda. You will therefore be in the middle of nature in karst sceneries and close to various tourist attractions.
- Don’t look for any large hotel complexes here, but there are very tasteful bungalows, homestays, eco resorts, or various types of cabins and some with pools (a pool can be handy here). Many of these are also very well rated on the internet. I pick out some possible types and recommendations for suitable accommodation, all very well rated: Trang An Eco Homestay, Trang An Farmstay, Hoa Lu Ecohomestay or the awesome Trang An River View Homestay.
Am Tien Pagoda and Cave in Ninh Binh – Information:
Opening hours: 8am-6pm, Monday to Sunday (may vary on holidays)
Where it is located: at the Hoa Lu, immediately opposite the entrance gate
What you can see: lake, cave, historical pagoda and gate, artifacts, statues
Where to ea: you can eat on site or nearby
How to get there: possible to arrive by motorbike, parking at the entrance
Where to stay: in Hoa Lu or Trang An Scenic Complex
Address: Tuyệt Tịnh Cốc, Trường Yên, Hoa Lư District (Ninh Binh)
Map and location of Am Tien Pagoda + Cave in Ninh Binh:
(Am Tien – Tuyệt Tịnh Cốc is located about 12 km from the center of Ninh Binh)