Ninh Binh Travel Guide for Your Best Vietnam Tour

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Only 2 hours of driving south of Hanoi, Ninh Binh is the perfect alternative for those seeking an amazing escape from the bustling capital city and being among nature. From picturesque rice fields to ancient temples, hidden caves to incredible nature reserves, Ninh Binh is definitely worth a visit when you are travelling across Vietnam. Read on to see how to get there, how to go around, and the best things to do in this peaceful town.

I. How to get to Ninh Binh

Located in northern Vietnam, Ninh Binh is about 90 kilometers from Hanoi. You can easily travel to this city by bus running regularly between Hanoi and Ninh Binh, or comfortable minivans that include both pick up and drop off at your address. The journey is around 2 hours.

Tourists can also take a train ride to Ninh Binh from Hanoi (around 3 hours) or from southern cities, such as Hue, Danang, and Dong Hoi. There are daily 4 train rides from both directions.


II. Best way to explore around Ninh Binh

There is no better way to explore around Ninh Binh than to join a cycling tour. As most attractions there are not far from each other, visitors can smoothly cycle between these sights, through green rice fields and alongside the rivers. Most of the homestays and hotels offer free bicycles during your stay, so you can make use of this.

For some further places, you can rent a motorbike/scooter to discover on your own with the help from your homestay/hotel, just be careful with the local traffic for a safe travel. Taking a private car or a local taxi is also a convenient way to travel among the spots.


III. Must-visit attractions in Ninh Binh

Bai Dinh Pagoda

Spreading out a large area of over 700 hectares, Bai Dinh Pagoda is an impressive colossal temple complex in Vietnam and one of the largest Buddhist site in Southeast Asia. The place has a massive collection of over 500 Buddha sculptures in various sizes and materials and many other temples, such as the Tam The Temple representing past, present and future, a statue of the Bodhisattva Kwan Yin, Dharma Temple, Three-Entrance Temple Gate, Bell Tower, etc. Another highlight is the wonderful panoramic view of the temple complex and all around it from the top of a 13-story watchtower, but you'll have to pay a little more to use the elevator that gets you there.

Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex

Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Trang An Scenic Complex is no doubt a feast to your eyes with a lovely river tucked between the magnificent limestone mountains. The best way to explore this attraction is to go on a boat ride down the river that zigzags its way around green rice fields and into the many cave networks. You will sail for 2-3 hours and there are 3 different routes, but overall, you will visit caves, temples, and King Kong village – a special film set from the famous Kong Skull Island movie.

Tam Coc - Bich Dong

Another popular attraction in Ninh Binh with boat tours is Tam Coc. Well-known as the Halong Bay on land, the boat trip in Tam Coc will take you through little waterways, large limestone mountains, wide rice fields and several small caves. Local people will row the boats, frequently by their feet and legs. They developed this method on their own since they spend a lot of time rowing and need a means to rest their arms. After the 2-hour sail, you may visit Bich Dong Pagoda, a tiered Buddhist pagoda 2km away. Nestled in the middle of the mountains, this site is surrounded by stunning and peaceful nature with the bridge through the ancient gate, a unique photogenic spot for travelers, and three small pagodas situated on different levels.

Thung Nham Bird Park

Thung Nham is not a new place in Ninh Binh travel map, but it is a pleasant excursion without a lot of tourists. The highlight of the location is of course the bird park, a large wetland area with more than 50,000 birds from 40 various species. To visit around, you can take a boat tour either at sunrise or sunset when thousands of birds flying over. It’s surely an awe-inspiring spectacle to witness. Visitors can also enjoy a hike through a couple of walking trails with bamboo and wooden bridges. You will find many orchards of fruits and lush green jungle.

Hang Mua (Mua Cave)

Located in between Tam Coc and Trang An, Hang Mua (Mua Cave) is now a new favorite tourist place in Ninh Binh due to its incredible panoramic views from the top. You will need to climb over 500 stairs to get to the viewpoint, however, the vista you have is totally worth the effort. From the mountain top, you will get the sights over the Tam Coc river, the karst mountains in the valley, and the vast rice fields alongside the river. There you will also find a graceful stone dragon scattered on the ridge and a small tower for the most photogenic photos you see on the internet.

Hoa Lu Ancient Capital

Surrounded by rivers and towering limstone mountains, Hoa Lu was the ancient capital of Vietnam during the 10th-11th century period. Nowadays, it’s a renowned cultural centre of age-old pagodas and temples where visitors can learn more about the history of Vietnam and bygone imperial dynasties in the past. Crossing the bridge and the majestic entrance gate of Hoa Lu, visitors will see two main structures: The Temple of Dinh Tien Hoang (reigning 968–980) and the Temple of Le Dai Hanh (reigning 980–1009). Both complexes have a large asquare in a walled section with a small pagoda, beautiful gardens, and some water features.

Van Long Nature Reserve

Around 20km away from Ninh Binh city, Van Long Nature Reserve is not a popular tourist sight but an ideal paradise for nature lovers and bird watchers. This tranquil reserve is the largest inland wetland in the North and also home to 722 species of plants and 39 animal species, some of which are rare animals or on the Vietnam’s red book like the Bengali plump lori, tibetan bear, Asiatic black bear, Eastern Rat snake, chamois, etc. With a boat ride sailing through the shallow water along the tall grass, reed, and steep cliffs, you may have a precious chance to witness the endangered Delacour Langur or admire various bird species such as herons, kingfishers, and storks.

With a lot of natural wonders and record-breaking cultural sites, Ninh Binh is one of the top destinations for an unforgettable trip in Vietnam. We hope this guide is useful for planning your trip in Ninh Binh and across Vietnam. If you need more information, please feel free to contact our Vietnam Tour Consultants.

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