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The limestone-framed  river at Tam Coc and ancient capital of Hoa Lu – located just out of Ninh Binh – are visited on daytrips from Hanoi by many people. You’ll get more out of the area if you stay in Ninh Binh, where you can catch an ‘open bus’ south the Hue, or a bus to Haiphong. If time doesn’t allow, daytrip prices here include transport, fees, a lunch, and some level of ‘guide.’

HANDSPAN (tel 04-926-0581; www.handspan.com; 80 Ma May St) Private tours including biking, $50 per person if two to five go
WIDE EYED TOURS (tel 04-926-2241; www.wideeyedtours.com; 40 Luong Ngoc Quyen St) Private tours including biking, $47 if two or three go
APT (tel 04-926-2294; www.apttravel.com.vn; 37 Dao Duy Tu St) Regular group tours, $24 per person including biking
SINH CAFÉ (tel 04-926-1568; www.sinhcafevn.com; 52 Luong Ngoc Quyen St) Group tours, $16 per person