Ninh Binh – Travel Guide to a Hidden Gem in Vietnam

Ninh Binh – Travel Guide to a Hidden Gem in Vietnam

Ninh Binh Vietnam is a province located in caves northern Vietnam, known for its stunning natural landscapes, pagoda historical sites, and cultural heritage. Ninh Binh pagoda to halong bay caves, about 93 km south of Hanoi, was select as a primary shooting site for Kong: Skull Island – the famous Hollywood movie. It possesses striking limestone karsts, record-breaking temples and pagodas, amazingly vast rice paddies, making the place expose to the foreign travel market as well as international travelers.

Ninh Binh Vietnam to halong bay offers a blend of natural pagoda beauty, history, and culture, making it a fantastic destination for travelers looking to explore the best of Vietnam’s countryside. Whether you’re interested in outdoor adventures, cultural experiences, or simply enjoying the stunning scenery, Ninh Binh caves pagoda Vietnam has something for everyone.

Located in northern Vietnam, 100km south of Hanoi, Ninh Binh pagoda caves is considered one of the best destinations on tourist checklist. From ancient temples to hidden caves and verdant rice paddies, Ninh Binh offers impressive natural landscapes as the most majestic scenery in Southeast Asia. Also with striking limestone outcrops, Ninh Binh caves Vietnam has earned its nickname “Ha Long Bay on land” that featured in the latest Kong movie. This is truly the site cannot be missed. But before getting here, let read our guide on how to travel to Ninh Binh Vietnam for your best experience.

Ninh Binh Vietnam Top Attractions:

Area Main attractions
Trang An Complex Trang An boat ride

Hoa Lu Temple

Bai Dinh Pagoda

Thung Nham Bird Garden

Tam Coc Bich Dong Pagoda

Hang Mua Temple

Van Long Van Long Nature Reserve
Cuc Phuong Cuc Phuong National Park

Things to do at Ninh Binh

  • Boat Tours in Tam Coc and Trang An:

Take a traditional rowboat ride through the stunning karst landscapes of Tam Coc or Trang An. You’ll pass through caves and along serene rivers while surrounded by limestone formations. Tam Coc – Bich Dong, a harmonious architectural ensemble has long attracted numerous tourists. Its beauty is wonderfully harmonious combination between the stunning caves, the charming waterways and the talent of the human, forming an inseparable unity.

Tam Coc – Bich Dong is considered the most appealing tourist attraction in Ninh Binh pagoda, known for famous names such as “South second nicest grotto”. Tam Coc (Three Grotto) includes Hang Ca, Hang Hai and Hang Ba Grottoes. All of 3 caves are formed by Ngo Dong River crashing through mountains… Far about 100km from Hanoi city center along Highway 1A, tourists will meet Tam Coc – Bich Dong, the most famous landscape of Ninh Binh pagoda travel.

Tourists to Tam Coc – Bich Dong will actually feel the charming beauty of the waters and mountains. Ninh Binh pagoda today retains numerous scenic spots, yet Tam Coc – Bich Dong is the oldest one and the only region where the local people still cultivate the wet rice combining with tourism development.

  • Hike or Bike in Cuc Phuong National Park:

Explore the lush forests and diverse wildlife in Cuc Phuong National Park. You can take guided hikes or rent bicycles to explore the park’s trails and enjoy the natural beauty.

About 90 minutes from Tam Coc, Cuc Phuong National Park is well worth a visit if you want to get in some good hiking. Consisting of more than 200 square kilometres of tropical forest and many grottoes, the reserve is rich in wildlife and natural beauty and also possesses historical significance, as prehistoric tools and ancient tombs have been discovered in some of the caves. Take your time to explore the botanical garden, find ancient trees on hidden trails and learn about local primates in the rescue center, you will be fulfilled entirely.

  • Visit Hoa Lu Ancient Capital:

Explore the historic relics and temples in Hoa Lu, the ancient capital of Vietnam. This is an excellent place to learn about the country’s history and enjoy the scenic surroundings.

Hoa Lu ancient capital carries many architectural works of great historical significance, along with traditional festivals that have hand down until now, making many curious visitors want to visit. The following article will be your luggage if you want to visit here.

ninh binh pagoda

  • Bai Dinh Pagoda Complex:

Explore the Bai Dinh Pagoda, which includes the Bai Dinh Temple, one of the largest temple complexes in Vietnam. Marvel at its grand architecture and the massive bronze Buddha statue.

The largest religious complex in Southeast Asia, Bai Dinh Complex consists of an ancient pagoda for Buddhist privileges and a newly built larger pagoda for tourists. The walkways are decorated with Buddha statues. Inside, you can find a huge bronze Buddha statue which weighs 100 tons, along with carved bells and a 13-story watchtower. On the sixth day of the first lunar month, Bai Dinh will be packed with Buddhists gathering for the Bai Dinh Temple Festival.

  • Explore Bich Dong Pagoda:

Climb the stone steps up to Bich Dong Pagoda and enjoy panoramic views of the Ninh Binh countryside. This ancient pagoda is a tranquil spot for meditation and reflection.

Bai Dinh Pagoda is a gigantic cultural complex of Buddha statues and temples that covers 530 hectares of land. The compound consists of the original old temple and a newly created larger temple, which look mighty and impressive. With its recent temple addition, it is now considered the largest pagoda in Southeast Asia. You will find it amazing to see from a contemporary cultural perspective. Interestingly, there are hundreds of statues line all the corridors, and their hands and knees are all perfectly polished from all the people touching them to pray.

  • Van Long Nature Reserve:

Go on a boat tour in Van Long Nature Reserve, which is home to diverse bird species and stunning landscapes. Birdwatching and photography opportunities abound here.

Set amid glorious limestone pinnacles, this tranquil is the perfect stop for nature lovers. Van Long Nature Reserve is also rich in fauna and flora – the biggest wetland in the Northern Vietnam where many local birds, storks, herons live as well as the migratory birds choose for their winter hideaway. Visit Van Long, you can have a complete view of a natural picture of birds flying around, langurs running on mountain slopes – a nature reserve of majestic limestone mountains, caves and wild vegetation.

  • Visit Phat Diem Cathedral:

Explore the unique architectural blend of Vietnamese and European styles at Phat Diem Cathedral. It’s a significant religious site and an architectural marvel.

Phat Diem Church is among the most beautiful churches in Vietnam. Despite worshipping a Western religion, the church resembles Vietnam’s traditional pagodas and temples. Built only with stone and wood, it took 24 years to finish the construction of Phat Diem Church. There is also a lake, a bell house and three artificial grottoes inside the church. On four towers of the bell house, you will find the statues of four saints that feature Vietnamese architecture styles.

  • Thung Nham Bird Garden:

Discover the Thung Nham Bird Garden, where you can see a variety of bird species in their natural habitat. The garden is particularly beautiful during sunset.

Only about 5 kilometers outside of Tam Coc, Thung Nham Bird Garden is a wonderful place to trek to and learn about various bird species. Come here early in the morning, after crossing the bamboo bridges entering the quiet private garden, you can see an epic nesting area where thousands of pretty exotic birds are twittering. The best thing about this park is that not many people visit it, so you have a good chance of getting it all to yourself.

  • Climb Hang Mua (Mua Cave) Peak:

Hike up to the top of Hang Mua, also known as Mua Cave, to enjoy panoramic views of Tam Coc and the surrounding area. The viewpoint is especially popular for sunrise and sunset views. Most Importantly, Mua Cave is a series of grottoes of various sizes set in the bottom of a limestone mountain. The Mua Cave itself is not much different from the others in Ninh Binh, but the viewpoint up above counts.

ninh binh to halong bay

After 20minutes climbing and ascending 500 steps to a mountain peak, from where you can see all of the breathtaking scenery below and take an epic selfie. The panoramic 360-degree views of the countryside, as well as the Tam Coc valley and of course the abundance of limestone mountains, are absolutely magnificent. Atop the mountain is a fantastic dragon sculpture, which is one of the four sacred creatures (Four Holy Beasts) in Vietnam – along with the Phoenix, Turtle & Qilin, the noblest and powerful symbols opposed to evil.

things to do in ninh binh

  • Try Local Cuisine:

Don’t miss the chance to savor local dishes in Ninh Binh. Sample specialties like goat meat, eel, and various rice-based dishes at local restaurants and eateries.

Secondly Goats are raising and fed by locals on the towering mountains of Ninh Binh. Which makes the mouth-watering savoury, juicy flavors of the goat meat. Goat meat is often use to make “de tai chanh”. In which goat meat is cure in lemon juice and serve with chillies and lime leaves. For barbecue-lovers, you can choose to have a smoky grilled goat meat plate served with an assortment of fresh herbs. Other protein choices include eel vermicelli soup and fermented pork rolls.

Most Importantly Fried rice crust is enjoy both as a crispy snack and a side-dish in meals. The rice is fry and top with pork floss, chili sauce and green onions. When served in meals, it will be accompanied by a bowl of mild fish sauce.

  • Stay in Homestays or Eco-Lodges:

Experience the local way of life by staying in homestays or eco-lodges in Ninh Binh to halong bay. This provides an opportunity to immerse yourself in the culture and connect with the local people.

Ninh Binh city is generally not recommend by tourists for accommodation. For Instance, better views and serene atmosphere, find hotels and homestays in either Trang An or Tam Coc. Embraced by sweeping paddy fields and lush sceneries. So, you can also enjoy local cuisines and converse with locals for more inside information.

Ninh Binh is not yet develop as its sister in the north, Halong Bay, but not for long. Because There are plenty of great things to do in Ninh Binh, which are suitable for both locals and tourists alike. Whether you seek a serene experience with nature, or an exotic gastronomic tour in Northern Vietnam. So, Ninh Binh is definitely the destination you must check out.

Ninh Binh weather

After that Ninh Binh has a tropical climate and monsoon. The seasonal weather is divided into four distinct seasons: spring, summer, autumn, and winter. So, you can go to Ninh Binh in any season, and each season has its unique beauty.

Travelling Ninh Binh in the Spring

Spring in Ninh Binh lasts from January to the third lunar month. Ninh Binh to halong bay weather in spring is enjoyable with chilly winds, suitable for sightseeing and immersing in the bustling festive atmosphere. It is the time before the Lunar New Year, so there are many festivals held during the beginning of the year, such as Bai Dinh Pagoda Festival, Hoa Lu ancient capital Festival, Thai Vi temple festival.

Travelling Ninh Binh in the summer

Discovering Ninh Binh in the summer (from April to June) is an exciting experience for many visitors. Ninh Binh Best weather in April is not too hot, even a little chilly in the early morning. At this time, Ninh Binh is no longer crowded, so visitors can freely explore the attractions without having to hustle and wait.

The end of May and June is the time of lotus blossom season and ripe rice season in Tam Coc. Ninh Binh is adorned with the golden color of ripe rice at this time. The scene is extraordinarily poetic.

Travelling Ninh Binh in autumn

Ninh Binh autumn lasts from July to October. When autumn comes, Ninh Binh puts on a gentle, poetic look. The weather was no longer hot. The sky was clear and bright. The early autumn breezes, the yellow rays which are weaving through the cliffs and the thin mist that spread in the early morning create a romantic, poetic beauty for this land.

Coming to Ninh Binh in the autumn, visitors have the opportunity to admire a forest of water lily blooming on the water.

Travelling Ninh Binh in winter

Moreover, going to Ninh Binh in the last days of the year, you should prepare warm clothes because now Ninh Binh has entered the cold winter. If you want to enjoy the cold of the North, travelling to Ninh Binh in December will be an exciting experience.

In the winter, the reed flower fields in Ninh Binh simultaneously bloom, which cover with pure white soft on this land. Visiting Trang An scenic landscape complex, the area near Bai Dinh pagoda or Hoa Lu cave, visitors will admire the endless field of white reed flower.

How to go to Ninh Binh?

Ninh Binh is about 93 km from Hanoi to the South. The way is extremely convenient thanks to National Road 1A and North-South Railway. Therefore, you can Ninh Binh by both road and rail in the following ways.

From Hanoi to Ninh Binh

1. By bus

From Hanoi, you need to move to Giap Bat bus station. Or My Dinh bus station, then you take a bus to Ninh Binh caves to halong bay. There are many bus companies for you to choose from. With fares ranging from 100.000 to 150.000 VND/person/way, travel time is 1,5 hours.

2. By train

Ninh Binh caves is located on the North-South railway so travelling by train will be a perfect choice. Train fares range from VND 90.000 – 200.000 VND depending on the train and seat class. So, The train takes more than 1 hour to reach Ninh Binh station. From there you take a motorbike taxi or taxi to go into the central.

3. By motorcycle

Depending on your speed, it takes from 1 to 2 hours to get to Ninh Binh to halong bay.

If you are from Saigon or Da Nang, then you can go to Hanoi by plane and come to Ninh Binh as directed.

Tip

  • Firstly A favorite travel combo for many travelers is “Hanoi – Ha Long Bay – Ninh Binh “. These are also the three most attractive places in Northern Vietnam.
  • From Hanoi, you can come to Ha Long Bay by bus. With the price of 200.000 VND and the travel time is 3 hours. Some major bus companies such as: Hoang Long Bus, Kumho Viet Thanh and Phuc Xuyen Bus.
  • From Ha Long Bay, you can come by bus for 350.000 VND and the travel time is 4 hours. We recommend the buses Limousine and The Long Travel.
  • With the above Ninh Binh Vietnam detailed travel guide. We hope you will have a wonderful trip to this beautiful land!
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