Ninh Binh is located in the southernmost point of the Red River Delta, far from Ha Noi about 100 km to the south. This place has recently become a famous destination among travelers making trips to Northern and Vietnam. Ninh Binh attracts a loads of visitors due to not only the beautiful natural landscapes but also many national cultural relics. With the prime location in term of transport, terrain, history and culture, Ninh Binh retains a rich and diverse potential of tourism. It is considered as a miniature Vietnam.
8 reasons to visit Ninh Binh
- Take a sampan trip on the river at Tam Coc and Trang An.
- Enjoy a stunning overview at Mua Cave.
- Biking tour around indigenous villages
- Farming work with native people
- Learn about historic era in history of Vietnam.
- Explore native religions such as Buddism and Catholicism
- Admire the beautiful landscape of Ninh Binh in one of the National Parks.
- Go wildlife and bird watching
When is the best time to visit
- Spring is a perfect reason to travel to Ninh Binh. At this time, the weather in Ninh Binh is not too hot or too cold, perfect for getting lost in nature. Also, the locals celebrate Tet holidays and other traditional holidays during this time, so you can combine sightseeing and joining the festivals. Apart from scenic spots like Trang An and Tam Coc – Bich Dong, Ninh Binh is also famous for its historical sites and spiritual tourist spots. In spring, you should visit green paddy field beside Ngo River and some famous temples, such as Bich Dong Pagoda, Bai Dinh Pagoda, and Duyen Ninh Pagoda.
- Summer (Late May to the beginning of June) is the best time to travel to Ninh Binh and explore the beautiful golden paddy fields. Moreover, when traveling to Ninh Binh at this time, you can avoid the hot and humid heat of the city. In Tam Coc, the rice fields are painted bright yellow with a green color from the mountains, creating a beautifully natural picture. An ideal place to enjoy the golden rice season of Tam Coc is the Mua Cave (Hang Mua).
If you are enough lucky that you visit in these two reasons, you can admire the most unique and stunning scenery with picturesque paddy field. However, when you come to Ninh Binh in other reasons, you would still love it because each one bring it own gorgeous attraction. For example, you completely get back the nature and unwide as standing at the peak of Mua Cave or treking on Cuc Phuong natioanl park regardless of any reason in year. Beside, going boating on the Ngo River wil be absolutly a good choice for someone to see the unspoiled nature of Tam Coc complex under a new sight. If you are seek those experiences, do not hesitate to explore the ancient city like Ninh Binh as soon as possible!
How to get Ninh Binh
With its location close to Hanoi and rail and highway connections, it is not hard to get to Ninh Binh.
Motorbike to Ninh Binh
Ninh Binh is not too far from Hanoi ( 90km) so its not hard to travel by scooters . Many tourist are interested in driving themself or with local drivers to heading to this province. On the way moving, you are free to see a lot of lansscapes of countryside in North Vietnam. Remember to equip some neccessary items like helmets and drive with safe speed on the road. If not, Vietnmese polices are likely to stop and punish you.
Busses to Ninh Binh
There are plenty of buses to and from Ninh Binh: Hanoi (2 hours), Halong City (4 hours), Hue (10 hours), Phong Nha (8 hours). Ninh Binh is also a stop for open tour buses between Hanoi and Hue.
By the way, Hanoi is the closest major city and a popular place people visit when in Vietnam, situated around a 2 hour drive away. Between Hanoi and Ninh Binh are also comfortable minivans including pick up and drop off at your hotel. Let check in #TamCocTravel which many commuters chose for their trip to Ninh Binh from Hanoi at every early morning at 7:30 am.
Trains to Ninh Binh
There is also a train station in Ninh Binh. You can reach from both Hanoi in the north and Hue, Dong Hoi and Da Nang in the south. There are at least 4 trains a day for both directions. To Hanoi takes around 3 hours.
How to get around
The best way to get around Ninh Binh is by bicycle. Cycling is fun and easy and most sights in Ninh Binh are not too far from each other. The roads in the area are flat so it’s not exhausting and there is almost no traffic. Bicycles are often free at the accommodation.
You can also use motorbikes/scooters instead of bikes. You can rent them almost anywhere, including directly at your accommodation. The prices for renting a motorbike in Ninh Binh start from 100,000 VND.
As an alternative you can rent a car with driver to drive yo to the sights. It is very comfortable and makes it easier to go to the more further sights, such as Cuc Phuong National Park and the wetlands of Van Long.
For short distances between your accommodation and the train station you can take a taxi.
11 best things to do
This province has many sights and things to do, including boat rides, cycling between the rice fields, visiting ancient temples, bird watching or exploring a national park. To help you out we made a list of 11 best things to do in Ninh Binh.
- See panoramic view on peak of Mua cave
Due to its unique beauty and mysterious stories, Mua Cave Tour soon became the must-try adventure activity when traveling to Ninh Binh. The Mua Cave is an attractive limestone cave situated under the foot of Mua Mountain. When coming here, tourists will see a big stone dragon on the mountain peak. Hence, Mua Mountain is also called with the name: “Ngoa Long” which means “a lying dragon”. Besides, the cave also has a interesting legendary story about the land of King Kong and appeared in a well-known film with the name: “King Kong”. Let’s visit Mua Cave Ninh Binh to admire the beauty of heaven in Tam Coc that you cannot find anywhere else!
- Boat ride on Tam Coc river
Tam Coc is also considered as the Halong Bay of the Vietnamese in land. Sometime many tourists prefer boating over here to Ha Long Bay due to different it’s beauty. The mountains are not surrounded by ocean, but by enormous rice fields and wild nature. By far the best activity you can undertake in Tam Coc is taking a boat trip. Board a rowboat and let the locals paddle you through the green area. Karst mountains, caves and beautiful views pass you by, and in roughly 2 hours you will close this region to your heart.
As it can get quite busy on the water with tour groups, it is best to go boating in the early morning or afternoon. The light is then at its best and you also have the water to yourself.
- 2 hour boat trip in Trang An
The landscape of Trang An has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is certainly no exaggeration. The detached mountains are formed from slate that is richly overgrown and the steep cliffs in relation to the mirror-smooth clear water give it an extra dramatic effect. You get on a small rowboat with which you sail for 2 hours through and along caves, temples and lakes.
- Kayaking and boating on Van Long Nature Reserve
The Van Long Nature Reserve is the largest wetland area in North Vietnam. With peaks of limestone mountains and paddy fields reaching the horizon, it is certainly a memorable place to visit. The nature reserve is also home to many primate species, including the endangered Langur. Rehabilitation of animals takes place here and they are released back into the wild after treatment.
- Learn more about Phat Diem church
Phat Diem Cathedral (also known as Phat Diem Stone Church) is located in Phat Diem town, Kim Son district in Ninh Binh. If you visit Phat Diem church, you can easily notice that the church complex is a combination between the architecture of the temple, pagoda of the orient design and Western Gotopic architecture that created a complex consisting of: lake, communal house and cathedral. Among them, the architecture of the Chapel of Our Lady is most prominent.
- Trekking and Biking in Cuc Phuong National Park
Cuc Phuong National Park is one of the most important places of biodiversity in Vietnam. As the largest nature reserve in the country, the preserved rainforest is home more than 300 species of rare birds and 2000 species of plants that are well protected to preserve the unspoilt nature of Ninh Binh. You can even over a night or two in the park grounds with local Muong people, an ethnic group living in the mountainous regions of northern Vietnam.
You can also visit the Endangered Primate Rescue Center. This sanctuary is dedicated to the rescue and conservation of the most endangered primate species in Vietnam.
- Cycling through countryside of Ninh Binh
The best way to see Ninh Binh is from the saddle of a bicycle. Many hotels lent bicycles for free or rent bicycles for just a dollar. If your accommodation doesn’t do that, check out the nearby hotels and shops. The most important sights in Ninh Binh can easily be explored by bicycle.
Cycling around the area is rewarding. The roads along the rice fields are especially beautiful. There are also some lotus lakes and small villages where you can stop of a drink. On the way you might have to evade a a stray goat or water buffalo.
- Hoa Lu
Nestled between two towering limestone mountains you will find Hoa Lu. The city was the capital of Vietnam in the 10th and 11th centuries. Today Hoa Lu is a cultural center full of ancient pagodas and citadels. Most of these were built in honor of the Dinh dynasty royalty. A visit to this place is one of the best things to do in Ninh Binh.
- Bai Dinh Pagoda
The Bai Dinh temple complex is the largest complex of temples in Vietnam. It is a major destination for religious pilgrimages and an even more popular Ninh Binh landmark for tourists interested in spirituality and Buddhist art.
- Bich Dong Pagoda
Bich Dong Pagoda is a cluster of majestic mountain cave temples that gracefully line the area. These ancient shrines and historic pagodas are scattered along the hill, some dating back to the 15th century. You have to walk and climb to get to every monument, but the route along the way is totally worth it. The bridge entrance is a well known spot for instagrammers.
- Sightseeing Thung Nham Bird Garden
Thung Nham Park is a relatively new attraction in Ninh Binh, but it is a nice place to visit without too many tourists. The park is particularly known for the many birds that live here. The best time to go is late afternoon or early morning before the birds leave. The birds return home from about 4pm, but the park is large so there is plenty to do before you look at the birds. Boat trips are available to take you to the forest where the birds return every evening.
- Thien Thanh Cave and Thien Ha Cave
Thien Ha Cave and Thien Thanh Cave are two natural heritages in the world heritage complex of Trang An. Thien Ha is a beautiful cave, including both dry and wet caves, with a diverse range of stalactites and stalagmites. Galaxy cave is also known as the Milky Way in the mountains.
Thien Ha Cave is not only beautiful but also contains great historical value when people have discovered many fossils that prove the development of mankind hundreds of thousands of years ago. The cave is a focal point of the cave tourism for visitors to explore and experience. At present time, Galaxy cave has been invested and exploited and become a famous tourist destination of Ninh Binh tourism industry.
Plan for 1 day trip in Ninh Binh
There wil be many attractions to visit in the whole ancient city. If you have so much time to discovery, you can take some bike tour to see all of corners of this land. However, if you have 1 day to explore, let plan wisely and reasonably to not only have great trip but also learn more indigenous culture, history, and religion here.
The best tour program suggestions for discovery Ninh Binh’s beauty:
Hoa Lu – Tam Coc 1 day
Hoa Lu – Tam Coc – Mua Cave 1 day
Hoa Lu – Trang An 1 day
Hoa Lu – Trang An – Mua Cave 1 day
Tam Coc – Hoa Lu – Mua Cave 1 day
Bai Dinh – Trang An 1 day
Bai Dinh – Trang An – Mua Cave 1 day
Van Long Reserve – Cuc Phuong national park 1 day
Tam Coc - Cuc Phuong national Park 1 day
Trang An - Cuc Phuong National Park 1 day
Full day Boat trip Tam Coc - Trang An- Mua Cave 1 day
Phat Diem church – Tam Coc – Mua Cave 1 day
Bich Dong pagoda – Thung Nham – Cuc Phuong national park 1 day
Bai Dinh – Thien Thanh – Thien Ha Cave 1 day
Thien Thanh – Thien Ha – Cuc Phuong 1 day
Ninh Binh Farm Trip 1 Day
Bai Dinh - Trang An - Hoa Lu - Tam Coc – Mua Cave 2 Days 1 Night
Bai Dinh - Trang An - Hoa Lu - Tam Coc – Mua Cave – Cuc Phuong National Park 3 Days 2 Nights
Ninh Binh Farm Trip - Hoa Lu - Tam Coc – Mua Cave 2 Days 1 Night
Ninh Binh Farm Trip - Bai Dinh - Trang An - Hoa Lu - Tam Coc – Mua Cave 3 Days 2 Nights
Ninh Binh Farm Trip - Bai Dinh - Trang An - Hoa Lu - Tam Coc – Mua Cave – Cuc Phuong National Park 4 Days 3 Nights
The most excellent organizer tour operator daily trip to Ninh Binh with good quality and best local price you can choose to join tour packages such as Tam Coc Travel, Asian Discovery Travel , Vietnam Travel......
More tips for traveling in Ninh Binh
Read some of the usefull Ninh Binh tips below.
How to dress
Some of the attractions in Ninh Binh are pagoda’s and temples. Please keep in mind that you dress appropriate when entering this areas; such as no short skirts and tank tops. You can also bring a sarong to cover yourself when you visit these areas.
Where to go next?
If you are heading from north to south, your next stop after Ninh Binh will Phong Nha or Hue in central Vietnam. In Phong Nha you can visit the strking national park with some of the biggest caves in the world. There is a train going from Ninh Binh to Dong Hoi and from here you can take a bus or taxi to Phong Nha.
You can also skip this national park and continue to Hue or Hoi An. These are ancient towns and two of the most beautiful cities in Vietnam.
If you are traveling to the north you can easily combine Ninh Binh with a cruise through Halong Bay, Cat Ba more rice fields in Mai Chau, Puluong or exploring the Old Quarter of Hanoi.
Ninh Binh with kids
Ninh Binh is one of the best attractive destinations to travel to in Vietnam with kids. The area is safe and quite enough to bike around with childeren. Many accommodations in Ninh Binh have pools. In addition they can enjoy beautiful nature and learn more about the culture and history.
The area has been developed in such a way that it is not difficult to pass by in English. Most of the people working in the accommodation can speak English. You have less change at the local restaurant, but they always have an English menu.