After spending three nights in Cát Bà Island, it was time to move on. We didn't have fixed plans where to go next, so we investigated our options upon arriving in Cát Bà. We learned that there are good bus connections to Ninh Bình, which was actually a place we didn't think we were going to (the original plan was to stay in Northern Vietnam, and Ninh Bình is categorised as being in Central Vietnam in the guidebook, so we didn't read the chapter beforehand), but actually it was a wise choice. Ninh Bình would be our base for the next three nights, and it was one of the most memorable places we have been to in this trip.
We were staying in a nice guesthouse, with a very hospitable landlord. We arranged our day trips with him, and so for the first day, we headed to Tam Cốc, which is a flooded karst cave system in Ninh Bình Province. People visit typically by riding these small boats that are pedalled by boat drivers, using their feet.
The boat trip takes about an hour, and passes through fantastic water-based scenery, including caves and rocks. It feels like one of the quintessential Vietnam landscapes. So yeah, we definitely did not regret heading to Ninh Bình.