Tête-à-tête · The Wander List

#IfIWereHanoi: Adventure Day Trip to Ninh Binh

We survived this whole day without breakfast and lunch. We just brought snack crackers and Nagaraya peanuts to sustain the three of us. The water we brought with us was a refill from last night but this day is one of the best ones I’ve had in a long time. The bus ride going to Ninh Binh in Vietnam was definitely one for the books.

First, I’ve never seen an overloaded bus swerve like a boss using the rightmost shoulder, leaping to the leftmost fast lane.

Second, I was squatting on the stairs of the bus on the floor during the whole two hour-ride.

Third, my seat mates weren’t exactly the tidiest: long pinky fingernail, dirty hands, dirty bare feet, I stopped looking. They don’t smell in fairness. But I try so hard not to lose balance so as not to invade their personal bubble.

Fourth, we went past 16kms from where we were supposed to get off, but the nice “Emoy” of the bus paid for our return ticket and arranged a bus going back to make sure that the three tourist from the PH will get a ride back.

But the best one of all is the fifth reason: Our personalities were interchanged during the death-defying ride:

The usually misadventure and comedy fan, Eisen, suddenly was me as I was really thanking God real-time for the experience, in the middle of the horn sounds and swerving. I thought the almost flying bus was a norm in Vietnam, while Eisen was the usual me, panicking and having anxiety attacks, planning how the ambassador in Vietnam will recognise our thrown out bodies. The usually moody Aya was smiling and giggling during the bumpy ride, offering us snacks when the usual her was rolling her eyeballs out, staring down at fellow pesky passengers who irritates her.

It was a first for all of us and I’m glad I decided to whip my phone and camera out to document it.


Ninh Binh is 2 hours away from Hanoi. It was the weekend before the Tet holiday so just like the Philippines, it was packed with travelers and those leaving Hanoi for the province to visit their relatives.

We went to Trang An Ecotourism and planned a 2 hour boat ride on the calm rivers. We chose the trail that takes us to the movie set of Kong: Skull Island.


I heard that they (production) destroyed the original set, so the ones you see here are replicas of the original ones used in the movie.


We decided to ditch one trip to 1000 temples (or was it buddha) because this is the priority in our itinerary for the day, and it was so worth it. It was as 2-3 hour calm boat ride that we get to even gossip inside the caves and relax.

We left at 5pm (the cafeteria was closed) and took the 2hour ride back to get a proper meal. The nice cab driver even hailed and drived so fast for us to catch the bus. There were only 4 of us initially in the bus ride going to Hanoi because people were travelling our of Hanoi for the holidays.



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