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Ninh Binh Travel Guide


Located in Northern Vietnam and within reach of Hanoi (about 100km/62 miles from Hanoi), Ninh Binh is an unassuming but impressive city that is characterized by stunning karst landscape, inspiring natural scenery, diverse and rustic Vietnamese culture, laid-back atmosphere, time-honored temples and pagodas, enormous rice fields. For being swathed in hundreds of limestone cliffs, Ninh Binh is nicknamed “inland Halong Bay”, and was used as the shooting site for the famous Hollywood movie “Kong: Skull Island”. A boat tour is popular in Ninh Binh which will allow you to leisurely marvel at some of the city’s best natural scenery, such as Tam Coc, Trang An, Thung Nang, Mua Cave, Van Long, Ga canal, etc.

Can’t wait to embark on a Ninh Binh discovery? Scroll down to read the Ninh Binh travel guide for all the information you need to visit this city.

Ninh Binh
Idyllic Ninh Binh

Top Things to Do in Ninh Binh

Take a Boat to Explore Tam Coc and Trang An

With some of the most beautiful scenery of karst mountains and caves scattering along shimmering rivers, Ninh Binh is best to be explored on a rowing boat. Tam Coc and Trang An are the two most beautiful and popular sites in the city.

A boat trip in Tam Coc will take about 1.5 hours and will take you through the beautifully lined limestone mountains, 3 natural caves, and vast rice fields. What makes the trip different is the rice field view and the rare chance to admire authentic agricultural activities along the river. The Trang An Complex boat ride often lasts about 2-2.5 hours, offering you more majestic mountain views and stops in some ancient temples and pagodas. 

Tam Coc in Ninh Binh
Tam Coc in Ninh Binh

During the boat trip in Trang An, you can explore 9-10 caves of different sizes and walk around to admire the surrounding views.

Enjoy the View from Mua Cave Viewpoint

The Mua Cave in itself is not so outstanding, and the real highlight here is the enthralling views from the mountaintop viewpoints. From the viewpoint of Mua Cave, you can admire the panoramic view of Trang An and Tam Coc, the shimmering river snaking its way among limestone mountains and rice paddies, and the stunning plain landscape of this area. You have to overcome about 500 steep stairs to get to the viewpoint, but the view is so worth it.

Cycle around Ninh Binh Countryside

Ninh Binh countryside with little traffic and flat roads is a cycling paradise in Vietnam. Most hotels in Ninh Binh offer bike renting services. By cycling, you’ll encounter more hidden gems of the city, sightsee the local architecture and stunning scenery more closely and with more flexibility, pass several villages and meet local people working in the paddy fields. It’s an ideal activity to see the real Vietnam countryside and get close to local daily life.

Visit Hoa Lu Ancient Capital

Once the capital of ancient Dai Co Viet Kingdom in the 10th century, Hoa Lu is widely considered as the first capital of Vietnam. It is left with a wide range of historical and cultural landmarks that are backgrounded by charming karst mountains and landscapes. For people who want to learn more about Vietnamese history and architecture, Hoa Lu is the ideal destination with many well-preserved fortresses, palaces, temples, and tombs from different dynasties of ancient Vietnam.

Trek to the Bich Dong Pagoda

A sacred ancient temple nestled at the foot of limestone mountains, Bich Dong Pagoda is one of the most popular attractions in Ninh Binh. Its entrance stone bridge with the beautifully decorated gate is an iconic picture of Ninh Binh. If you prefer trekking among scenic landscapes with weird caves and rugged mountains, Bich Dong is the place to go. If you want to learn ancient spiritual beliefs in Vietnam or seek inner peace in a quiet, sacred space, Bich Dong will be your bonus. The pagoda consists of three separate layered temples from the 15th to 18th century which were built along the mountain slope, from low to high. After reaching some stone steps and passing several karst caves, you will be rewarded with the picturesque vista of serene villages and soaring mountains.

Bich Dong Pagoda in Ninh Binh

Ninh Binh Weather: Best Time to Visit Ninh Binh

Generally, Ninh Binh is good to be visited all year round. Like most Northern Vietnam cities, Ninh Binh has a humid subtropical climate, with hot and rainy summer, and cool and dry winter. Spring and Fall are the transition periods.

Late May to early July and September to October are Ninh Binh’s harvest season, making it the best time to enjoy golden rice field views. Temperature ranges from 23°C to 34°C (73°F – 93°F) in these periods, and vegetation is at its greenest thanks to the high rainfall. November to April is the best time to travel weather-wise when Ninh Binh is rainless and cool.

Ninh Binh Transportation: How to Get to and Get around

How to Get to Ninh Binh

How to Get to Ninh Binh from Hanoi

There is no airport in Ninh Binh, most international travelers to visit the city can fly to Noi Bai international airport in Hanoi at first, then take the direct buses or minivans for about 2 hours to get to the Ninh Binh. Between Ninh Binh and the Hanoi city area, there are also plenty of buses which will take about 1.5-2 hours and cost about 70,000VND (3 USD), and at least 4 trains per day which will take about 2-3 hours.

How to Get to Ninh Binh from other Cities

There are direct buses to Ninh Binh from Halong City (about 4 hours), Hue (about 10 hours), and Phong Nha (about 8 hours). And if traveling to Ninh Binh from the south, it’s also convenient to hop on a train from Hue to Hanoi which will stop at Ninh Binh Station.

How to Travel around Ninh Binh

The most popular options to get around Ninh Binh include renting a bike or a motorbike, taking a rowing boat, or taking a taxi.

Ninh Binh has little traffic and decent roads, and most attractions in Ninh Binh are near each other, making it convenient and fun to tour most attractions by bike or motorbike. The good news is that some hotels and homestays offer free bike rentals to their guests. You can also rent a bike from a rental company on the street, which will cost you about 2-5 USD per day, the price varies according to the bike type and quality. To rent a motorbike, the cost is about 4.5-9 USD per day.

Some scenic areas like Tam Coc, Trang An, Thung Nang, and Mua Cave, are scattered along the river, meaning they are better explored by boat. If you don’t want to walk or bike too much, you can also hail a taxi to get to your destination.

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