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How To Visit Mua Cave Viewpoint In Ninh Binh

How To Visit Mua Cave Viewpoint In Ninh Binh

Known as Hang Mua in Vietnamese, the Mua Cave Viewpoint is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Ninh Binh, Vietnam. After climbing 500 stairs, you will reach a beautiful 360 degree panoramic vista at the summit which is a great spot for watching sunset.

In this guide, we are going to show you everything you need to know about the Mua Cave Viewpoint.

Our Mua Caves Experience

Woman stood on swing in front of the sign for Mua Cave viewpoint or Khu Du Lich Hang Mua Peak
Kristen on the swings at Hang Mua

We spent 27 days traveling through Vietnam in October 2018 as part of our 18 month trip around the world. During this trip, we hiked up to the Mua Cave Viewpoint in Ninh Binh on an incredibly hot and humid day. Read more about us.

To make planning easy for you, we’re going to walk you through how to get to Mua Caves, where to purchase tickets and how to avoid the parking scam based on our own personal experiences.

Travel Tip: It’s important to note that while the area is commonly referred to as Mua Cave Viewpoint, it’s also known as Hang Mua Peak. These terms are used interchangeably, but refer to the same point of interest.

How To Get To Mua Caves Viewpoint

Use the map below to see directions from Tam Coc and Ninh Binh to Mua Caves.

  • Address: Ninh Xuân, Hoa Lư District, Ninh Bình 430000, Vietnam
  • Location: Google Maps

The Mua Caves Viewpoint is located within the Ninh Binh Province of Vietnam. It’s just 3 miles from the popular tourist destination of Tam Coc and 4 miles from Ninh Binh train station. You can reach the parking area by motorcycle or bicycle from Tam Coc or Ninh Binh. We hired a motorbike for the day from our hotel in Tam Coc and drove it to Mua Cave.

You can rent a motorbike for 100,000-150,000 VND ($4-6) per day. Fuel for a full day will set you back no more than $3. Alternatively, you can rent a bicycle for 50,000 VND ($2) per day. Many hotels even offer free use of bicycles in Tam Coc.

It should take about 10 minutes to ride your scooter from Tam Coc town to Mua Caves viewpoint. But one thing we learned is you might have a delay. For us, it was a herd of water buffalo walking down the narrow one lane road causing a backup of traffic.

We like the Mua Cave viewpoint because it’s easy to access, reasonably priced, provides a great workout and offers spectacular scenes worthy of Hollywood. You should also check out the Bich Dong Pagoda and Trang An boat tour after reading this guide.

Travel Tip: Because Ninh Binh is quieter compared to other cities in Vietnam, we used this region to learn how to ride our motorbikes in Vietnam so we could drive over the Hai Van Pass.

Getting To Ninh Binh Independently

Man on a hire bicycle next to an empty bike in Tam Coc
Mark sitting on our rented bikes in Tam Coc

Are you planning to travel independently to Ninh Binh? Once you arrive at Ninh Binh train station, hire a motorbike right outside for roughly 150,000 VND ($6) and follow our map to Hang Mua.

There are no airports close by so travel by plane isn’t an option. But you can take a bus from Hanoi and many other popular spots on the typical Vietnam tourist trail. We took a bus directly from Halong Bay to Tam Coc, Ninh Binh.

Use 12Go Asia to check the best available options for travel. You’ll find the cheapest and quickest options are typically by bus or train.

Further Reading: How to survive the Vietnam sleeper bus

Buffalo causing a backup of traffic in Tam Coc
Water buffalo jam on our way to Hang Mua Peak

Best Tours From Hanoi

Side shot of man and woman on a motorbike with rice paddies in the background
Mark and Kristen en route to the Mua Cave Viewpoint

Another option would be to travel from Hanoi to Ninh Binh with Tam Coc and Trang An included as part of a full day organized tour with transport completely covered.

Most tours include entrances fees to Mua Cave Viewpoint, Hoa Lu ancient capital, Bich Dong Pagoda and the Trang An Boat Tour.

Here are top rated tours from Hanoi to Mua Caves:

  • Tam Coc and Mua Cave – This full day tour takes you to Tam Coc, Hoa Lu as well as Mua Caves in an air-conditioned bus with hotel pick up and drop off in Hanoi’s Old Quarter.
  • Trang An and Mua Cave – Another full day tour option to Trang An, Hoa Lu and Mua Caves with a buffet lunch included.
  • Ninh Binh + Hoa Lu 2 day tour – If you have more time, consider this two day tour of Ninh Binh featuring Tam Coc, Hoa Lu, Mua Cave and the chance to ride a bike along rural roads next to rice paddies.

Travel Tip: Be sure to read the full descriptions and reviews of each tour to make sure it includes everything you want to see.

How To Avoid The Parking Scam

Motorbike parked next to the entrance to Mua Cave Viewpoint in Tam Coc
Our bike parked safely at the Mua Caves Ecolodge

When you travel to Vietnam, you are going to be on the receiving end of some attempted scams. Unfortunately, as the country grows with tourism, the scams also become more common.

One of the most common scams is coercing tourists to pay over the odds for parking a bicycle or motorbike when visiting the Mua Cave viewpoint.

Line of bicycles with a few mopeds parked at the entrance to Mua Cave viewpoint
The correct parking area at the Mua Cave Viewpoint

The best place to park when visiting Hang Mua peak is at the Mua Caves Ecolodge. But as you begin your approach up the dusty road towards the main entrance, locals will swarm out into the road in front of you.

They will demand that you dismount and park immediately for a hefty charge. Some of them might even be in police officer uniforms blowing whistles at you.

But just ignore them all.

However, that’s easier said than done when they grab a hold of your motorbike. Or stand right in front of you as you try to drive on ahead.

This can be incredibly nerve racking, but what you need to do is stay firm, don’t get flustered and don’t get off. Continue driving until you reach the end of the road, which is the entrance to the viewpoint trail.

You can park your motorbike or bicycle for 10,000 VND ($0.41) inside the Hang Mua Ecolodge hotel at the entrance. We parked our motorbike outside the entrance right next to a small white shrine as you can see above.

When we visited Mua Caves in 2018, you could park in this lot for free, but you now have to pay a small fee. However, this is still the best option for parking because it’s the cheapest price and your bike will be safe in this lot.

Mua Caves Entrance Fee

Two entry tickets to Mua Cave viewpoint and Hang Mua Peak showing the entrance fee
Our two entrance tickets for the Mua Caves

After getting through the chaos leading up to the Hang Mua Econolodge, you will notice a small ticketing area when you arrive at the main entrance. Tickets for hiking to the Mua Caves viewpoint cost 100,000 VND (about $4.12) per person. Mua Cave is open everyday from 6:00am-7:00pm so you have plenty of time to visit.

You do not need to book in advance to visit the Mua Cave Viewpoint. You can purchase a ticket right on site when you visit. If you are booking a tour, your entry ticket may already be included.

Many people suggest staying at Mua Caves Ecolodge because the entrance to the Mua Cave viewpoint is directly on site.

>> Book Mua Caves Ecolodge here

Here are a few pros and cons for staying close by at the Mua Caves Ecolodge:


  • Located directly within the Mua Caves complex
  • You can access the viewpoint anytime during opening hours
  • Free entrance to the Mua Cave
  • They provide pick up from train station if you need transport


  • You will have to deal with the scammers every time you leave
  • Can be expensive and busy depending on the time of year
  • Not many restaurant options nearby

Best Things To Do At Mua Cave Viewpoint

Once you enter the Hang Mua site, there’s a strange but fascinating mixture of things to see before you reach Mua Cave and the steps up to its viewpoint. You will see a sign for Khu Du Lich Hang Mua Peak. When translated into english, this means Mua Peak Cave Tourist Area.

There is a lot to see which is why we wanted to break down the main highlights for you. This way you won’t miss anything during your visit.

1. Entrance Grounds

You will find immaculately clean, curated and attractive water features with bamboo houses and horse statues. Then you will cross a wooden bridge surrounded by trees and overhanging branches with swings hanging off them overlooking an emerald green lake.

Here are a few photos to show you what we mean:

Bamboo hut and pond with stone Lillies near the entrance to Mua Cave or Khu Du Lich Hang Mua Peak
A small pond and water lilies leading to bamboo houses
Wooden horses on display in a water feature at Khu Du Lich Hang Mua Peak near Ninh Binh Vietnam
Multiple horse statues at Mua Cave entrance

The area is lovely and neatly finished, but it’s certainly not what we were expecting, especially for somewhere this rural. The contrast between artificial and real on either side of the entrance was a double take.

A white wooden bridge crossing over a deep green river at Mua Cave viewpoint or Khu Du Lich Hang Mua Peak
A white wooden bridge arching over a small lake
A wooden swing next to an interesting tree and green pool
A wooden swing for visitors to use

There are many spots to take great photos for those who want to get a different Instagram shot. Be sure to take some time exploring this area before or after you climb to Mua Cave Viewpoint.

2. Mua Cave

Entrance to the Mua Cave in Ninh Binh Vietnam
Entrance to the Mua Cave

Most blogs don’t even mention this, but there is a Mua Cave onsite. It was flooded when we visited so we could not enter. But you will see the entrance when you visit.

We found it extremely difficult to find information regarding this cave because it often gets overshadowed by the viewpoints. However, it does exist.

3. Tiger Cave

Small entrance to tiger cave in Ninh Binh Vietnam
Entrance to the smaller Tiger Cave

Located near the beginning of the stone steps, you’ll find a small entrance to Tiger Cave. From looking at our photo, you can see the entrance was pretty tight.

A statue inside tiger cave at Mua Cave viewpoint
A shrine inside Tiger Cave

Tiger cave only contains a few paths that lead to a small body of water. You’ll also find a rough and ready restaurant with vending machines.

But we’d recommend you bring your own snacks and water. If you have been to the caves in Phong Nha, this is very small in comparison and it will only take a few minutes to explore.

Further Reading: Best things to do in Phong Nha

4. Lying Dragon Mountain

A mysterious stone staircase leading up to a stunning viewpoint Ninh Binh
A section of the Mua Caves staircase

In order to reach the two viewpoints at Mua Caves, you will have to walk up about 500 stairs. It may seem a little daunting especially in the humidity, but we can tell you it’s worth it.

According to AllTrails, it takes about 25 minutes to climb one way up the Mua Cave viewpoint. We agree with this time frame and you should allow about 1.5 hours for your visit. Plan on more time if you want to take a lot of photos.

We found it interesting to learn the staircase was built with the Great Wall of China as a reference. As soon as you start climbing, it won’t be long until the views begin to wow you.

A colorful stone dragon at the start of stone staircase leading to the Mua Cave viewpoints
A colorful stone dragon at the bottom of the mountain

The very bottom section of the staircase is adorned with a colorful stone dragon snaking its way down as a beautifully designed handrail. The dragon’s head marks the beginning of your climb, and there’s another dragon at the top to mark the summit.

In Vietnamese culture, the dragon brings rain which is important for agriculture in the region.

Looking up at the steep stone steps gives you the feeling that you’ve been transported to Middle Earth and you’re following Gollum up the staircase to Mordor. Luckily, there are no orcs here, only tourists.

View of the main entrance from a few steps up towards the viewpoint at Mua Cave in Ninh Binh Vietnam
Aerial view of the entrance to Hang Mua Peak as you climb up the stone staircase

The climb can be tiring for any fitness level, especially in the heat and humidity. So just be careful you don’t overdo it, take as many breaks as you need and remember it’s only 500 steps.

Travel Tip: Visit early in the morning to avoid climbing to Mua Cave Viewpoint at the hottest part of the day.

5. Small Pagoda Viewpoint

Narrow staircase slalom to pagoda atop rock
Small pagoda featured on the first viewpoint

Around 15 minutes into your climb, you will reach a fork in the path. Take the right first if you wish to summit both peaks individually, saving the more epic views for the second peak. The path on the right will lead you to more steps and eventually a tall stone pagoda perched atop a narrow pyramid like peak.

When we visited, this smaller peak was much quieter than the higher peak. You may need to adjust your plans depending on the crowds. As you stand at the top, the best place to see Ninh Binh city is behind you.

Views over waterlogged paddy fields in Tam Coc vietnam
Ninh Binh views from Mua Cave Viewpoint

From this vantage point, you will be rewarded with views over endless flat rice fields with sporadic limestone karsts towering out of the grounds like gigantic shark fins piercing out of perfectly still water.

If it is much quieter up on this summit than the next, this is a good opportunity to get the photos you want without having to queue for camera space.

Looking back at viewpoint 1 from the summit of Mua Cave
The stunning views at Hang Mua Peak in Ninh Binh

As you can see, the views become even better. It’s definitely more than worth the effort to get here. Continue on and take the left path next. You are only minutes away from one of the best vistas in all of Vietnam.

6. Big Pagoda Viewpoint

Gorgeous deep green trees on mountains with a river running through
The best viewpoint at Hang Mua Peak

Not long after taking the left path, you will come across the first viewpoint facing towards the Ngo Dong River. And what a sight you’ll see.

Once you’ve taken in the incredible scene for the first time, collect yourself and look around. If there’s no one else at the same viewpoint, now is the time to snap some photos while you have chance.

Woman looking out across the beautiful scenery as a river cuts through massive limestone karsts
Kristen taking in the views of the Ngo Dong River from the top of Mua Hang Mua Peak

Flanked on either side by rice paddies and locals wading out to tend to their crops, the Ngo Dong River carves its way through towering limestone mountains. The very first time we saw this marks one of our favorite memories from Vietnam.

Continue to make your way up the remainder of the stone stairs towards the top. Stop off any time you get a chance to snap a quick photo with that unbelievable view behind you.

A stone wall in the foreground showcasing a river surrounded by limestone karsts in the background

Once you arrive at the summit, you will be welcomed by a statue of Quan Am, the Goddess of Mercy. The Goddess overlooks the rice fields and represents prosperity in the region.

In addition to the amazing views, be sure to admire the architecture and details of the surrounding area. The statue is covered by a typical Asian tiled roof atop 4 stone pillars.

Woman posing for a photo on top of the stone dragon at Mua Cave viewpoint
Kristen getting a photo with the Hang Mua Peak Dragon

7. Dragon Summit

The higher you get, the more impressive the vista becomes.

By the time you reach the Goddess of Mercy at the summit, you will have unobstructed 360 degree panoramic views of Tam Coc, Ngo Dong River and a huge amount of the Ninh Binh province.

Look for boats slowly gliding along the river, steered by men and women who use their feet to control the oars. This will be a section of the Tam Coc boat ride. However, we recommend taking the Trang An boat ride instead as it’s an official UNESCO Heritage Site.

Look past Quan Am and you will finally spot the large stone Mua Cave dragon with a long slinking tail that meanders like a curving river.

Stone dragon at the summit of Mua Cave viewpoint
The famous dragon on top of Hang Mua Peak

The mountain you are standing on top of is called Nui Ngoa Long by the locals which translates to Lying Dragon Mountain. Once you see the statue, you will understand how this mountain got its name.

After 9:00am, the dragon statue will be packed with people and your best bet is to arrive for the tranquility of sunrise. We submitted Mua Cave Viewpoint at the worst time of day around 3:00pm. It was extremely busy.

Fortunately, a wave of people left all at once and we were able to quickly, but very carefully navigate our way up the sharp jagged rocks to get our photos with the dragon. Please use extreme caution when climbing over the rocks.

Further Reading: Tips you should know about Vietnam before visiting

Best Time To Visit

Man and women posing for a photo with the river and mountains in background
Mark and Kristen at the top of Mua Cave Viewpoint in Ninh Binh

There are two considerations when visiting Hang Mua Peak, time of day and time of year.

The best time of day to visit Mua Cave is early in the morning around 6:00am. By arriving early, you beat the tour bus crowds and intolerable heat. It will be much quieter and cooler around sunrise.

Alternatively, you can visit for sunset like we did because the sun sets over the mountains directly in line down the river to the west. But although we expected it to be busy for sunset, we couldn’t believe how busy it actually got.

You should avoid the middle of the day if possible when the sun is at it’s strongest.

Man enjoying the view at the summit of Mua Cave with rice paddies in the background
Mark taking in the views at Mua Caves

The best time of year to visit Mua Caves depends on what you want to see and how it fits in with the rest of your schedule. Vietnam has an interesting and often baffling climate.

There are 7 different climatic regions in Vietnam. Therefore, if you plan to visit Sapa, Ninh Binh, Phong Nha, Ho Chi Minh, it’s almost impossible to plan by weather.

Late May is an ideal time if you are planning your trip solely around Ninh Binh. However, anywhere between May to June or September to October will be a good time of the year to visit.

The months of May to June will be the perfect time to see the famous golden rice paddies surrounding the river. While September to October is a bit cooler but offers the harvest season.

Further Reading: Best things to do in Ninh Binh

Tips For Visiting

Woman sitting on a stone wall with Tam Coc river in background
Kristen enjoying the views at the Mua Caves stunning viewpoint

Here are a few important tips you should consider during your visit to the Hang Mua Peak in Ninh Binh, Vietnam:

  • The Mua Cave Viewpoint trail is open from 6:00am-7:00pm. If you arrive earlier than 6:00am, there may be a guard on duty to let you in. If you stay later than 7:00pm, no one will come to check for stranglers so make sure you don’t get locked in.
  • Don’t let the locals scam you into parking on the entrance road. Be sure to continue down the dirt road and pay 10,000 VND to park at the Mua Caves Ecolodge.
  • Sunset is the most popular time to visit. Try to arrive at sunrise for the best experience and smaller crowds.
  • Avoid visiting Mua Cave Viewpoint in the rain. Visibility may be limited and it will be extremely slippery. If you have some flexibility, wait for a clear day.
  • Wear sturdy footwear to climb the stairs. The ground is uneven and you want to have the best grip possible.
  • Be sure to bring extra water. It’s an uncomfortable climb up to the top in the humidity.
  • You can find shops selling dresses nearby if you need an outfit change. This costs about 100,000 and 150,000 VND ($4-6) per day depending on what you pick.

Looking for a place to stay nearby? We stayed at Tam Coc Dream Homestay and here are a few top rated hotel options for the region:

Tam Coc is a gorgeous rural town perfectly located among all the best things to do in Ninh Binh.

In Conclusion

So is the Mua Cave Viewpoint worth visiting?

Yes! According to TripAdvisor, the Mua Caves are the second best thing to do in Ninh Binh after the Trang An Grottoes. We think both are great activities that should definitely be included on your Vietnam itinerary. What we enjoyed the most about Mua Cave was the far reaching views over limestone karts shrouded in mist.

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Want more Vietnam content? Head over to our Vietnam Travel Guides to see example itineraries, tips about Vietnam and popular city guides.

We hope our guide to the Mua Cave Viewpoint helps you plan your visit to Ninh Binh in Vietnam!

Please let us know if you have any questions about Mua Cave Viewpoint or Hang Mua Peak in the comments below.

Happy Travels,

Mark and Kristen

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