Sampan rowing at Tam Coc

We’re up early and out in order to take a sampan trip along the meandering canals throughout the three tunnel grottoes that give the area its name -Tam Coc.

We’re all set to enjoy the stunning landscape of mountains, canals, rice paddies and rural villages that makes up the National Natural Reserve zone known as Ha long Bay on the ground.

The mainly female rowers make it look easy with most of them using their feet to propel the oars through the water!

Tam Coc is a watery paradise with looming karst stacks smothered with greenery.

During the trip you pass through Tam Coc – three long, dark tunnel-caves -Hang Ca, Hang Giua and Hang Cuoi.

It barely feels like there’s enough head room to squeeze through so it must be harder still when the water is higher.

But the payoff is emerging back into the bright sunshine to gaze at the stunning scenery again.

The area is getting more and more commercialised however and we’re warned by our guide not to fall for the high pressure sales tactics, especially at the half way point where your rower will try and get you to buy them a drink from waiting sellers, only to sell it straight back to them for half the price!

However, hard sell tactics aside, this really is an incredible place to visit and the landscape is hard to beat.

Of course the hubby wants to give it a go! And our rower is only too happy to take a back seat for a while.

I love this peaceful snap that I managed to get of one of the rowers just paddling lazily as she waits to snap pics of tourists.

Meanwhile everyday life continues along the river banks with people washing, cooking and occasionally waving at the endless procession of boats that float past them.

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