Northern Vietnam's Thac Bo Cave holds wonders for the admirers of Vietnam's patriotic defenders as well as limestone marvels of all shapes and sizes.
The stalactite cave rests on Chua mountain range along the mighty Da River -- a 15 minutes boat ride from Hoa Binh town and 110 kilometers from Hanoi along National Highway 6.
People describe the cave as Ha Long Bay on land as it is formed by hundreds of stone towers, according to news website VnExpress.
During spring, the cave welcomes pilgrims who gather to pay tribute to those who thwarted Chinese invaders and Vietnam's traditional gods and deities, the report said.
Among the worshiped are Emperor and General Tran Hung Dao who led the defeat of three major Mongol invasions in the 13th century in what was considered one of the world’s greatest military victories.
Pilgrims also pay tribute to the local women who provided King Le Loi’s forces with provisions and boats to clear Chinese invaders from the area. After defeating the Ming invaders, Le Loi started the Hau Le in the 15th century, the longest-lasting dynasty in Vietnam’s history.
The cave also protected traders along the Da River seeking refuge from troubled waters.
A bronze bell cast during King Thanh Thai’s reign of the Nguyen Dynasty in the late 19th century still hangs in the cave’s temple.
During the dry season, visitors must climb nearly 100 stone stairs from the foot of the mountain to enter the cave.
During the flood season, boats carry visitors straight to a floating bamboo dock that runs roughly 50 meters to the cave entrance, which is only wide enough to allow one person to enter at a time.
Grilled milkfish from the Da River are a renown delicacy in Hoa Binh Province.
Once inside, tourists can let their imagination run wild among stalactites and stalagmites, that variously resemble trees, fish, dragons and musical instruments.
The cave was recognized as a national heritage in 2008.
There’s a long list of nearby attractions that visitors can add to their trip, such as the Trach stream, stilt guest houses, a Sunday morning market, floating fish farms, and local ethnic villages.
If you care for some specialties, milkfish caught in the Da River grilled on bamboo spits come highly recommended.
Other local delicacies include with wild chicken steamed with lemon leaves, pork grilled with honey and served on banana leaves, boiled bamboo shoots, wild leaves eaten with fermented fish guts and wine from fermented tao meo, a small tart apple.
Visitors can stay at local guest houses, but homestay services are also available.