Van Long wetland – the Natural Reserve
Not far away from Cuc Phuong National park is Van Long Nature Reserve. Although the scene is somewhat similar to that in Tam Coc, taking a one hour boat trip in Van Long is a great way to relax and discover numerous species of exotic birds in their natural habitat. You could also witness the endangered monkey living here. Watching the sunset while meandering along the river at Van Long is a great way to end an exciting day in Ninh Binh.
Also located in Ninh Binh province (about 100 km far away from Hanoi city) like other famous destinations such as Tam Coc, Trang An etc, the Van Long natural reserve (or familiar name as the charming wetland) is proudly to be listed in top attractions of Vietnam for its beautiful landscape and the largest natural reserve of wetlands. Van Long is also known as “the bay without wave” due to its flat surface like a big mirror on the river. Moreover, when siting on a sampan and travel along the river, you will be astonished at a large space with spectacular mountain ranges erecting up surrounding a vast expanse of water. Thanks to the diversified ecosystem there, Van Long owns 457 species of plants, eight of which are listed in Vietnam’s Red Book; 39 species of animals, including nine precious species such as langur, Tibetan bear, chamois, Loris, and red-face monkey. Moreover, nine reptiles listed in Vietnam’s Red Book such as grass-snake, varan, slow and harmless boas, and gecko also found here.
With an area of 3000 hectares, Van Long natural reserve has 32 beautiful caves named as: Hang Ca, Hang Bong, Hang Rua, Hang Chanh in which each grotto has its own unique beauty. The most beautiful cave is Hang Ca in the Hoang Quyen Mountain. Half of the cave is sunk in the river, so the feeling of sailing through this cave would be very interesting and stunning because you can see the shadow of the stalactites from the cave’s ceiling silhouetted into the dark blue water in many strange shapes like animals, fish, etc. In fact, you may encounter many “big fishes” like Ca tre (catfish), Ca ro (anabas), Ca qua (blackfish) here. Long time ago, it is said that a fisherman once caught a huge blackfish up to 45 kg there, hence the Cave named “Hang Ca”.
Among other caves in Van Long, Thung Doi is ranked at the top list with the height of 210 meters calculated from the earth while the largest cave is Hang Bong with 16 meter wide. If you have plenty time there, the local people here will welcome and introduce you to other fantastic mountains like: Nui Nghien, Nui Hom Sach, Nui Ba Ban, Nui Meo Cao, Nui Co Tien, Nui Voi Dung, Nui Canh Cong, Nui Mo Coi.
Every year, when the winter comes, thousands of birds from the North would fly to Van Long to shelter. You would see dozens of pheasants, grey heron, teal and hundreds of white stork, night herons in Van Long natural reserve. If you are a bird-watcher, let’s come here and you will have many opportunities to watch the birds there. Besides, you should not miss the following interesting things: the “Thi tree”- 600 years old, Chi Le Temple, Mai Trung Temple, Dich Long cave, historic relic of Dinh Tien Hoang, Thanh Ngo temple, Thanh Mau temple, Thanh Son Tu pagoda on the halfway of the mountain, Tap Ninh pagoda, and stone picture at the Meo Cao wall mountain.