Thung Nham-a green oasis

Ninh Binh Province is famous as the home of top tourist destinations Trang An and Bai Dinh pagoda. However, in recent years, the province has also become known for another attraction-Thung Nham-an area abundant in natural beauty.

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Open as a tourist destination since March 2013, Thung Nham remains a relatively new and little-known attraction, welcoming just 30 visitors a day on average.

On the plus side, the small number of visitors means Thung Nham retains a peaceful, untouched atmosphere and tourists can relax and enjoy the place, without suffering the crowds and noise that blight many popular tourist destinations.

Lying among the mountains of Hoa Lu, Vietnam’s ancient capital, Thung Nham is blessed with all of the striking natural landscapes found in Ninh Binh. Visitors have the chance to experience ecotourism with numerous beautiful lakes, ancient primary forests and mysterious caves.

The area is becoming popular as a destination for honeymooners and as a romantic getaway, with charming individual bungalows and newly-established resorts attracting couples.

Discovery tours on offer in the area include forest treks, cave visits and camping activities, with campfires and fishing on the menu. The area manages to combine man-made and natural charms in harmony.

Thung Nham is wonderful in all four seasons, but its beauty really comes into its own in autumn, when temperatures cool and a thin layer of mist embraces the whole area, lending a fragile beauty to this poetic land.

In autumn, the birds return to their nests for the night somewhat earlier. Bird spotting trips take visitors gliding through shrubs on a wooden boat on the lake around 5pm to the bird valley, where they are afforded arresting views of the birds roosting.

The spectacle of birds returning home whitens the primary forests. The area is home to various species of birds, including two very rare species, flamingo and phoenix, both listed as endangered.

Tourists can take one hour guided tours to explore the bird park in Thung Nham, where photography is permitted and the boats sail close to the birds, but visitors are requested to remain quiet to avoid scaring the birds.

As well as bird watching, trips on the river take in the intense red water lilies surrounding two wet caves deep inside a limestone mountain range that feature the typical cave characteristics of Ninh Binh, with stalactites growing in various unique forms. Visitors to these caves will find the experience similar to exploring Trang An or Tam Coc but on a smaller scale.

Thung Nham also offers plentiful worthwhile experiences on land. Cycling through the countryside is popular in the area as are walks that take in bridges crossing crystal lakes where the freshness of nature can be enjoyed.

The local fruit gardens are also worth a visit, where visitors are free to indulge in picking and devouring the ripe fruits.

Night time entertainment in Thung Nham tends to be traditional and focused on the outdoors, such as campfires and community performances by local artists.

Thung Nham is ideal for a weekend break for enjoying the peace of nature and sampling delicious regional cuisine and Ninh Binh specialities such as goat meat and burnt rice.

Time Out

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