The Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex received UNESCO World Heritage Listing in 2011. It is a stunning geologic region dominated by steep limestone hills known as karsts, flooded inland waterways and nine large grottoes. For two glorious hours we took a leisurely sampan tour through this beautiful natural place. Sinh accompanied us and chatted away in the local language to the slightly built woman who rowed our boat. There are over 2000 sampans here, so it’s lucky that we didn’t come on a weekend when the waterways appear to almost be wall-to-wall people on boats. For a short while we had other sampans alongside us for company, but for much of the time we were on our own floating silently down the waterway, marvelling at the beauty of the forests and the hills and the water plants that we passed.
Passing through the grottoes was very peaceful, and each seemed to have its own character. They were illuminated with just enough light to see the shapes of the rock formations above our heads and the crystal salt formations that had taken shape over many decades. One grotto is famed for being the perfect temperature for the storage of rice wine, and there were several hundred clay jars of the wine neatly stowed there. The Trang An grotto complex has been a highlight of our trip to date.