Combined with the Tam Coc – Ninh Binh boat tour, of which more in another post, is the tour to Hoa Lu. As soon as you have finished the boat tour, you will be brought by bus to Hoa Lu, the first capital of Vietnam. To be more precise, during the 10th and 11th century. The distance from Hanoi to Hoa Lu is around 90 km to the south. The Temples are located in a small village between rice fields and limestone hills in the Ninh Binh district.
At the end of the 10th century Hoa Lu was the capital and the economic, cultural and political centre. The total area in that time was 300 ha and existed of two citadels, defensive walls, shrines, temples and palaces. The location was good because it was protected by the limestone hills. The ancient citadel is no longer there. Only a few things are left from the 10th century. It was the place of two of the dynasties of Vietnam, Dinh and Le.
The place was founded by the first Dinh emperor: Dinh Tien Hoang in 968 A.D. The Le temple was founded by Le Dai Hanh. The Le dynasty came to an end in 1010 A.D. and the Ly dynasty took over by Ly Cong Uan. It was this Ly who moved the capital to what is now known as Hanoi. Hoa Lu is now known as the ancient capital. The temples are build in honor of the Dinh and Le emperors, their sons and a queen who was married to both the emperors at a different time. Both the tombs of the emperors are located at a nearby mountain.
When you enter from the road, where you got out of the bus, you walk over the lane to the gate with the three entrances. The guide tells you the story that only the highest people could enter through the middle and biggest entrance of the three. Behind this gate is a ticket office. I don’t know the price of a ticket because the guide buys them, as he says, but you never get to see the ticket. You paid everything in your daytour price already, so you don’t need to pay for an extra ticket. The temples itself are quite simple, although a lot of people visit, both Vietnamese and tourists. The place is hardly worth a visit if you go only for Hoa Lu, but in combination with the Tam Coc boat tour it makes it worth to see. For more info, look here: https://www.vietnamonline.com/attraction/hoa-lu-ancient-capital.html