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HOA LU. Home to Vietnam’s First Dynasties

I was up early. I’d eaten my breakfast and had packed the backpack before the travel alarm had sounded that morning.

This was going to be a full day out and the first stop was Vietnam’s ancient capital back in the 10th century.

Hoa Lu which is in Northern Vietnam was where the first two dynasties based themselves and was located a couple of hours drive from Hanoi.

Temple dedicated to Vietnam’s first 2 emperors.

Final Backpack Check

I’ve got plenty of water and fruit snacks for the bus trip. Hat? Yes.

Don’t forget the ticket.  Got it.

And of course, the camera.  I’m sure it’s in the bag? Check. 


I’m ready and downstairs a good 15 minutes before the bus’s ETA. Just in case the bus is early. 😊


I don’t know why I was so excited about this particular trip as I’ve already had some exceptional experiences since arriving in Vietnam 10 days earlier.

But this little day tour has really peaked my interest so I waited with anticipation.

Emperors tombs
Gardens were designed around the temples.

Was it because it was a 3 part, day trip where I visited the temples at the site of the old capital, Hoa Lu?

Or was it because I was going in a Sampan and then cycling past rice paddies? 

I’m not sure why but it sounds brilliant so on to the first stop.

Hoa Lu

It was another sweltering October day so I was extremely glad that our bus was air conditioned and so, I made the most of it and bought a coffee to drink as we toured along.

As Hoa Lu is the ancient capital of Vietnam, temples, monuments and gardens have been built in memory and in honour of the first Emperors of the Dinh and Le Dynasties.

I could see countless photo opportunities here as it is extremely pretty.

And not only because of the temples and gardens but the surrounding landscape was so extreme with the monolithic type mountains that were based with shimmering lilly filled waterways. 

If only I could have been here in the very early morning to catch first light.

The ‘Moat’ surrounding the temples and garden for the Emperors.

Strategic Location

The ancient city was built in a strategic location in this valley as it was well protected by the steep limestone mountains and so the people constructed 10m high and 15m wide walls between the mountains.

The ancient city was virtually impenetrable.

Hoa Lu remained the epicentre for the first two Imperial Dynasties for only a short time before the founder of the Ly Dynasty (third), transferred to the capital’s present day site, Hanoi.

Thien Ton Cave

There are so many more interesting sites connected to the history of the Emperors such as the Thiên Tôn Cave but unfortunately time was against us. 

I would’ve loved to have seen it as it has a wonderful story.

Apparently, while Đinh Bộ Lĩnh (Vietnam’s first Emperor) was in the cave, he received an oracle from a diety.

It was foreseen that the Emperor would defeat all of his enemies. And in 968AD the prediction came true! Wow!

Inside the memorial gardens at the ancient capital Hoa Lu.

Also, the tomb of Đinh Tiên Hoàng is in Mã Yên Mountain and involves climbing 150-200 steps so, although the sights would have been fantastic, 200 steps for those who weren’t fit enough would’ve slowed us down.

I bet there would have been some great photo opportunities.

There are dozens of monuments and other tombs to see so it’s a shame that time wasn’t on our side; so it was back on the bus.

The area is well worth a visit for history buffs and photographers as it’s extremely picturesque.


The tour offers value for money and you can enjoy a number of Vietnamese experiences when time is limited. Hoa Lu Tam Coc day tour

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