Vacations in Ninh Binh, Vietnam

The Ninh Binh Province, often referred to as 'Halong Bay on Land', is a varied landscape of towering limestone karsts, lush farmlands and paddy fields. While the town itself is unremarkable, the surrounding landscape is home to some classic Vietnamese scenery and intriguing sites, including the pagodas of Dich Long cave and the ancient capital city of Hoa Lu.

Ninh Binh

If you’re wondering is Ninh Binh worth visiting, then you’ve come to the right place. Ninh Binh Province, often hailed as “Halong Bay on Land,” showcases a richly varied landscape featuring towering limestone karsts, verdant farmlands, and picturesque paddy fields. While the town itself might seem relatively quiet, the surrounding Ninh Binh region boasts classic Vietnamese scenery and captivating sites, such as the pagodas within Dich Long Cave and the historic capital city of Hoa Lu. So, when considering how long to spend in Ninh Binh, you could do it as a day trip from Hanoi, but we recommend spending a couple of days to experience some of Vietnam’s off-the-beaten-path highlights.

Things to See and Do in Ninh Binh

Are you planning a visit to Ninh Binh and wondering what to do in Ninh Binh? From natural wonders to cultural treasures, discover the top Ninh Binh things to do to make the most of your visit to this enchanting region of Vietnam.

Bich Dong Pagoda

If you're considering things to do in Ninh Binh, check out Bich Dong Pagoda. It's a hidden gem and a top choice for what to do in Ninh Binh. This ancient pagoda is tucked into a mountainside near three natural caves, and it's a must-visit on your Ninh Binh tour. If you're active, we recommend biking and enjoying a scenic ride from the nearby Tam Coc Garden boutique hotel.

The best part? The temples exude serenity, and the surrounding scenery is simply breathtaking, making it one of the best Ninh Binh things to do. For a more peaceful experience with fewer tourists, consider visiting early in the morning or late in the afternoon. And if you happen to be here in the summer, you'll be treated to the sight of beautiful lotus flowers in bloom.

Tam Coc

One of the best things to do in Ninh Binh is check out Tam Coc, the province's most popular town. Here, you'll find a vibrant scene with plenty of souvenir shops and restaurants offering Western cuisine. What sets Tam Coc apart is its convenient location as the starting point for popular boat tours. During this 1.5-2 hour journey, you'll cruise through picturesque countryside and venture through several caves while enjoying the scenic views. But remember, there are no bathroom stops, and the boats are small, so it's a better activity for couples or travelers with older kids.

Hoa Lu Ancient Capital

If you're wondering what to do in Ninh Binh, a visit to the Hoa Lu Ancient Capital is a fantastic option for your Ninh Binh tour. This place is like stepping back in time to the 10th century when the Dai Co Viet kingdom was thriving. You can explore well-preserved temples like Dinh Tien Hoang Temple and Le Hoan Temple, reachable after a climb of over 200 steps. Depending on the time of your visit, you might even get to join in on traditional cultural festivals, with the Truong Yen Festival being the highlight, honoring those historical kings. While some structures have faced the test of time and weather, Hoa Lu's palaces, pagodas, and pavilions are a fascinating glimpse into its 41-year reign as Vietnam's capital, making it a must for anyone looking for things to do in Ninh Binh.

Trang An

Perched near the southern edge of the Red River Delta, the Trang An Landscape Complex is a natural wonderland. Imagine limestone karst peaks surrounded by valleys, some even partially underwater and surrounded by towering cliffs. But what's really intriguing is what's hidden inside these caves. They've unveiled evidence of human life for over 30,000 years, showing how ancient hunter-gatherers coped with changing climates and sea levels since the last ice age. From the Neolithic and Bronze Ages to the 10th and 11th centuries AD when Hoa Lu, Vietnam's ancient capital, stood here, this place holds layers of history. Plus, you'll find temples, pagodas, lush paddy fields, and charming villages here—making it an absolute must for anyone exploring Ninh Binh things to do.

Cuc Phuong National Park

Cuc Phuong National Park is a must-visit for nature lovers and adventure seekers. It's Vietnam's first and largest national park, established in 1962. Here, you'll find a dense, ancient forest with millennia-old trees, a rich botanical garden, and a vibrant ecozystem filled with birds, mammals, reptiles, and colorful butterflies. The park also houses the Cuc Phuong Museum, packed with exhibits about the park's diverse flora, fauna, and geological wonders.

For those who love hiking and panoramic views, don't miss May Bac Peak, the highest point at 2,125 feet. It offers breathtaking vistas of the forest, lowlands, historic capital Hoa Lu, and Bai Dinh Pagoda. There are also prehistoric caves to explore, holding precious relics like a petrified sea reptile dating back 200-230 million years and remains of prehistoric people who lived here around 7,500 years ago.

When to Go to Ninh Binh

If you're planning a trip to Ninh Binh, consider the Ninh Binh weather for the best experience. The ideal time to visit Ninh Binh is from November to April. During this period, the weather is more comfortable with cooler temperatures and lower humidity levels. This not only makes exploring the region more enjoyable but also reduces the chances of rainfall disrupting your plans. However, if you don't mind a bit of rain and want to witness the stunning, vivid green rice paddies, you can opt for a visit from May to October, but be prepared for the hot and humid conditions that come with it.

Learn more about the best time to visit Vietnam.

Where is Ninh Binh? 

Picturesque Ninh Binh is located in northern Vietnam. Wondering how to get from Halong Bay to Ninh Binh? It's not the most straightforward journey, as Ninh Binh is roughly 120 miles south of Halong Bay. However, the scenic route is well worth the effort.

If you're coming from Hanoi, fortunately, it's much closer, only about a 1.5 to 2-hour drive, making it a popular day trip or weekend getaway from the bustling capital city. You can easily explore Ninh Binh's stunning natural beauty and historical sites.

Where to Stay In Ninh Binh

Deciding where to stay in Ninh Binh? Well, you won't stumble upon any big resorts here, but that's precisely what makes this place so charming and intimate. It's like discovering a cozy hidden gem! Whether you fancy a snug boutique hotel like Tam Coc Gardens, right in the heart of things, or a peaceful countryside escape surrounded by stunning rice fields and iconic karst formations, Ninh Binh has got you covered.

FAQs About Ninh Binh 

  • How far is Ninh Binh from Hanoi?

    Ninh Binh is about 56 miles south of Hanoi, Vietnam's capital city. The distance may vary slightly depending on your specific starting and ending points within Hanoi and Ninh Binh, but the journey typically takes around 2 to 2.5 hours.

  • How do you get from Hanoi to Ninh Binh?

    The best way to get from Hanoi to Ninh Binh is by train or car, both take the same amount of time. The train offers up an authentic Vietnamese experience, in which you can witness life and scenery as you pass through the beautiful landscape, while driving allows for a bit more flexibility and privacy.

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