Hang Múa

Hang Múa (also known as Mua Cave) is an unremarkable cave that winds under the bell-shaped Mua mountain. However, the climb to the top of the mountain promises one of the most impressive views in Ninh Binh and possibly even the whole of Vietnam.

Situated only 3-km away from the centre of Tam Coc, Hang Múa is easily accessible on foot or by bicycle. As our hotel provided free bike rentals, we jumped at the opportunity to explore the countryside on wheels.

At the crack of dawn, we skipped out of our hotel, hopped onto a couple of bicycles and wobbled our way along the bumpy rural trails that wind through scenic rice paddy fields.

Before the humans were awake, the birds were already up and about, partaking in their morning meal in the water-logged fields.

After a very bumpy ride, we finally arrived at the Hang Múa entrance. If only we had read reviews beforehand, we would have known that parking is free in front of the gate.

However, a few hundred metres before the entrance, we were stopped and directed to park our bikes at a parking shed for a fee of 15,000 VND per bike. Not knowing any better, we happily surrendered our bicycles and cheerfully handed over the parking fee to a friendly lady and thanked her in Vietnamese for taking care of our bikes.

At the Hang Múa gate, we paid for our entrance ticket (100,000 VND per person) and were immediately greeted by a tribe of goats, who were idling on the mountain cliffs.

A friendly Long-tailed Shrike was also hanging around nearby, all ready to give us a warm welcome.

An enthusiastic dog ushered us in and led us through a network of paths…

…to get to the mountain trail-head.

Along the way, we bumped into Sun Wukong and gang who seemed to be heading in the same direction, so we followed.

We soon arrived at the foot of the mountain, and were immediately faced with a seemingly endless flight of stairs…

…that kept going up and up…

..and up and up…

…before it eventually deposited us at the pagoda at the peak.

Even on a hazy day, the view at the peak was beautiful.

We took our time to catch our breaths…

…and enjoy the fantastic views all around us…

…before we realised that we were not actually at the highest peak yet!

The highest peak is aptly known as ‘dragon mountain’, where there is an ornate stone dragon sprawled across the ridge of the peak.

To get to the dragon’s back, we had to make our way back down…

…and then climb up again.

Dauntlessly, we climbed and we climbed…

…until we finally reached the peak, where a spectacular 360-degree view of the Ngo Dong River winding around the towering mountains awaited us.

If we wanted, we could also scale the back of the mighty dragon – negotiating the perilously rocky and uneven path – to get to its tail.

However, a big buffet breakfast awaited us back at our hotel. We beat a hasty retreat and cycled at top speed along the main roads back to our hotel, so that we could get ourselves well and truly stuffed.