Ninh Binh is a hidden gem located in the northern region of Vietnam. It is a destination that offers a perfect combination of natural beauty and cultural heritage, making it an ideal place to explore for anyone visiting Vietnam. Let’s take a look through our blog to answer the question “What to do in Ninh Binh?” and note some travel tips to plan your trip full of happiness.
Located in the Red River Delta region of northern Vietnam, Ninh Binh is a province that spans an area of approximately 1,400 square kilometers. It is situated about 90 kilometers south of Hanoi, the country’s capital, making it easily accessible for travelers seeking a serene escape from the bustling city.
Ninh Binh’s location offers a diverse landscape, including coastal areas along the Gulf of Tonkin and stunning karst formations rising from flat plains. It is known for its picturesque rice paddies, beautiful beaches, and historical sites, such as the ancient capital of Hoa Lu.
Its convenient location near Hanoi makes it easily accessible for travelers seeking a blend of natural beauty and cultural heritage. Hence, a route from Hanoi to Ninh Binh always is one of the highest recommendations for your travel.
How to get to Ninh Binh from Hanoi
To fully explore the wonders of Ninh Binh, it is recommended to first travel to Hanoi, which is located nearby. From Hanoi, reaching Ninh Binh is a breeze, with various transportation options available. Whether you prefer to take a bus, or a train, or opt for a private car, you have a range of choices to suit your preferences.
- Bus: Affordable and convenient option with regular routes from Hanoi to Ninh Binh.
- Train: Scenic and comfortable journey from Hanoi’s main railway station to Ninh Binh.
- Private car: Flexible and convenient option for a personalized journey.
The journey typically takes approximately 2-3 hours, but travel time may vary depending on traffic conditions. With the convenient proximity and accessible transportation options, embarking on a memorable adventure to Ninh Binh from Hanoi is a straightforward and enjoyable experience.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Ninh Binh is from October to April, when the weather is mild and comfortable. The temperature ranges from 15°C to 25°C, making it perfect for outdoor activities like hiking and exploring the stunning landscape, which includes lush green rice fields, tranquil rivers, and magnificent limestone karst.
You should keep in mind that the rainy season starts from May to September, and it may affect some outdoor activities. During this time, the temperature ranges from 25°C to 35°C, accompanied by high humidity levels. However, despite the rain, sightseeing in Ninh Binh can still be a delightful experience, especially for those who appreciate a touch of romance in the air. Embracing the small rain showers can add a unique charm to your exploration of this captivating destination.
Things to do
If you are looking for Ninh Binh travel things to see, you don’t need to worry because this area is home to a variety of attractions, from ancient temples and pagodas to sprawling rice fields and limestone karsts. Here are the Top 8 must things to do:
- Take a boat tour at Tam Coc – Bich Dong.
- Explore Trang An Landscape Complex
- Visit Bai Dinh Pagoda
- Bird-watching at The Van Long Nature Reserve
- Cycle in Cuc Phuong National Park
- Dancing Cave (Mua Cave viewpoint)
- Learn the history of Hoa Lu temples of the Dinh & Le Dynasties
- Enjoy the tranquility of Tuyet Tinh Coc
Take a boat tour at Tam Coc – Bich Dong
Tam Coc is one of the top tourist destinations that never fails to mesmerize visitors. The main attraction is a leisurely boat ride down the Ngo Dong River, where you’ll be greeted with awe-inspiring natural vistas. Don’t hesitate to wander off the beaten path and explore the surrounding countryside, as you’ll discover numerous surprises amidst the fields, mountains, and waterways. This is a true place for serendipity.
Nestled within the mountains, the Bich Dong Pagoda is a stunning architectural marvel that shows an atmosphere of serenity and tranquility. For a more peaceful experience, we highly recommend you visit during off-peak hours. Take a stroll around the right-hand side of the lake, where you’ll find a flight of steps that lead up to a valley with a charming small body of water and a cave
Visit Trang An Landscape Complex
The Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to a network of limestone caves, rivers, and valleys. You can take a boat ride through the complex and admire the stunning natural scenery.
Recommendation: If you’re planning a trip to Trang An, consider visiting during off-peak hours. The early morning or late evening can be a great time to explore without the crowds. Just make sure not to arrive too late if you want to take a boat ride or not you will finish your trip in the dark.
Bai Dinh Pagoda
Bai Dinh Pagoda is truly a sight to behold and one of the largest Buddhist temples in Southeast Asia. The temple complex is vast, housing several temples, but the highlight of the visit has to be the stunning 100-ton bronze Buddha statue. The atmosphere inside is incredibly serene, radiating positive vibes that can be felt throughout. It’s definitely a must-visit when in Ninh Binh, Vietnam.
Recommendation: To make the most out of your visit, you should reach the temple complex by 4 pm. At that time, you can witness the beauty of it both in daylight and at night as well. The temples are truly stunning when lit up at night, but the natural beauty that surrounds them is best admired during the daytime.
Bird-watching at The Van Long Nature Reserve
Van Long Nature Reserve is a nature lover’s paradise since it’s home to a variety of flora and fauna. If you’re planning to visit a place that is not much touristy, you can spend time here and take a peaceful boat ride to admire the beautiful scenery.
The reserve is also home to the endangered Delacour’s langur. If you are lucky, you can even see a monkey climbing to one of the sheer cliffs & then a real treat, a kingfisher.
Cycle in Cuc Phuong National Park
Cuc Phuong National Park is such an amazing natural area in northern Vietnam! Its vast size and rich ecological diversity make it a popular destination for nature lovers from around the world. Taking a bike ride to enjoy the fresh air and be amazed by the wide range of plant and animal species, including many rare and endangered ones, is a good choice.
Upon reaching this place, take a leisurely hike along the park’s picturesque paths to take in the breathtaking sights. If you love animals, you’ll be thrilled to observe rare species like langurs in their native habitat.
Moreover, take the opportunity of visiting the Endangered Primate Rescue Center. The staffs work hard to protect and rehabilitate wounded or orphaned monkeys, and you may learn about their conservation activities while you’re there.
Dancing Cave (Mua Cave viewpoint)
Dancing Cave (Hang Mua) is a popular destination in Ninh Binh, offering a panoramic view of the surrounding landscape from the top of a hill.
There are two viewpoints to take in, one showcasing the pagoda and the other featuring a dragon overlooking the river. Although the ascent to the top is quite steep and uneven, it is manageable with good footwear and water and should not take too long for those. The vistas are truly stunning, with breathtaking views of the mountains and a clear look at the passing boats on the river.
Tip: Arrive early to beat the crowds and catch the sunrise. This will provide a more relaxed and enjoyable experience. So, if you’re up for a rewarding climb, don’t miss out on the Dancing Cave!
Learn the history of Hoa Lu temples of the Dinh & Le Dynasties
The Hoa Lu temples of the Dinh and Le dynasty are a beautiful and well-maintained historical site located in Ninh Binh, Vietnam. It served as the ancient capital city of Vietnam during the 10th and 11th centuries, honoring Emperor Ding Tien Hoang, Queen Xuong Ban Nga, and their sons.
The temples are situated in a picturesque location surrounded by high limestone mountains, which helped to conceal them from potential invaders. You can have a deeper understanding of the history of this royal palace by taking a guided tour. The guides are knowledgeable and provide insights into the stories of the Dinh and Le dynasties that once ruled here. It would be an interesting and informative historical site that will leave you awestruck with its beauty and significance.
Enjoy the tranquility of Tuyet Tinh Coc
Inside the Trang An Landscape Complex, you can discover the most ancient place called Tuyet Tinh Coc. From Trang An, you drive about 15′ and will reach this awesome place. You will be very pleasantly surprised by this place. It is very quiet and isolated from road noise. The place was clean and had no crowd as other Ninh Binh attractions, which might be because it did not coincide with a large tour group visiting the place.
Follow a tunnel, and the amazing scene that appears in front of your eyes will definitely be worth visiting. There is a lake between the valley of limestone hills. The old pagoda with around 250 stone stairs to climb will give you an amazing view of the place. Walk a little bit further inside. You will find an old gate of an ancient palace. May be worthwhile to drop by if traveling around the area.
Where to stay?
As known as “Halong Bay on land” and truly stands out as a captivating destination within Vietnam for travelers around the World, Ninh Binh offers various accommodations for you to choose from, such as:
- Emerald Ninh Bình Resort & Spa
This is a luxurious retreat nestled in the picturesque Gia Vien district of Ninh Binh. The resort boasts elegant accommodations, world-class dining options, and a range of rejuvenating spa treatments set amidst a serene natural landscape.
- Ninh Binh Hidden Charm Hotel & Resort
It is a cozy and charming accommodation option located in the heart of Ninh Binh. The hotel offers comfortable rooms, friendly service, and easy access to the area’s top attractions.
- Tam Coc Garden
A boutique resort situated in Hoa Lu district, which is surrounded by lush greenery and stunning karst mountains. The resort offers a tranquil and serene atmosphere, with luxurious accommodations, traditional Vietnamese architecture, and exceptional dining options.
- Aravinda Resort
It is surrounded by a natural landscape and idyllic rural life. The harmony of Ninh Binh’s outstanding features and truly Vietnamese grace. Each of the facilities together with services here is meticulously taken care of in the hope of providing you with unforgettable memories
- Ninh Binh Legend
A luxury hotel offering exceptional accommodations, world-class dining options, and stunning views of the surrounding karst mountains and rice paddies. The hotel features a range of facilities and amenities, including a spa, swimming pool, and conference rooms, making it an ideal choice for both leisure and business travelers.
How to savor like a local?
- Rice crust Ninh Binh
- Goat meat
- Mountainous edible snails
Mountainous edible snails are also a specialty of the region and can be found in many local restaurants. Even though there are several meals made with this snail, cooked snails remain the most popular one. Fish sauce is typically used when serving boiling snails.
- Eel vermicelli
Eel vermicelli is another local favorite that can be found at most street stalls and markets throughout the city. When eating, you can taste the rich flavor of the broth. The opaque hue is due to the meticulous stewing of eel bones. Therefore there is also eel meat in it. Eel meat is cooked according to its own recipe, so when eating it, the eel is fragrant, sweet, and free of any fishy odor.
Ha Noi – Ninh Binh Itinerary
- Morning: Arrive in Ninh Binh and start to visit Bich Dong Pagoda, which is a beautiful temple built into a cave.
- Late morning/Early afternoon: Take a boat ride in Van Long Nature Reserve to see the beautiful scenery and wildlife.
- Late afternoon: Visit Mua Caves and climb up to the top of the mountain to enjoy the stunning view at sunset.
- Morning: Visit Trang An and Bai Dinh Pagoda (You should go early to minimize crowds)
- Late morning/Early afternoon: Visit Cuc Phuong National Park to see the diverse flora and fauna of Vietnam.
- Late afternoon: Visit Hoa Lu Ancient Capital, to learn about Vietnam’s history and culture.
Above just a Hanoi – Ninh Binh journey, you also can tailor-make your journey more with Indochina Voyages to explore many different fascinating destinations beside Ninh Binh and Hanoi.
Where to go next?
Because of the convenience in the same location in the north, you can also explore the mountainous Northwest of Vietnam.
The mountainous Northwest of Vietnam
Exploring the Northwest Mountains of Vietnam is a captivating adventure that unveils breathtaking landscapes and rich cultural encounters. Trekking through towering mountains, terraced rice fields, and remote villages offers a glimpse into the vibrant traditions of ethnic tribes. From the majestic Fansipan Peak to the enchanting Mu Cang Chai terraced fields, this region is a haven for nature lovers and cultural enthusiasts alike. Whether seeking thrilling activities or serene moments in nature, the Northwest Mountains promise an unforgettable experience of raw beauty and cultural immersion.
High recommend destinations: Sapa, Ha Giang, Mu Cang Chai, Dien Bien Phu
Central of Vietnam
Or else, you can consider exploring deeper in Central Vietnam. This offers a captivating experience filled with rich history, stunning landscapes, and vibrant culture. From the ancient town of Hoi An to the imperial city of Hue and the natural wonders of Marble Mountains and Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, the region is a treasure trove of historical and natural delights. With its culinary delights and pristine beaches, Central Vietnam promises an unforgettable journey immersed in its unique charm.
Here are our suggested tours:
- Is Ninh Binh crowded on weekends?
Ninh Binh can get crowded on weekends, especially during the peak months (February and March). We suggest visiting on weekdays if possible.
- What is there to do in Ninh Binh with kids?
There are plenty of family-friendly activities in Ninh Binh, including boat rides, hiking, and bike tours.
- Can Ninh Binh be done as a day trip from Hanoi?
Yes, Ninh Binh can be done as a day trip from Hanoi, but we suggest staying overnight to fully experience the area.
- How far is Ninh Binh from Hanoi?
Ninh Binh is located 90 kilometers south of Hanoi, and the journey takes around 2-3 hours by car.
Ninh Binh offers a diverse range of activities for visitors to enjoy, making it an ideal destination for anyone looking to explore the natural beauty and cultural richness of Vietnam. Don’t miss out on discovering what to do in Ninh Binh on your next trip.
Ready to explore Ninh Binh and Vietnam on a private trip with the highest level of flexibility? Let Indochina Voyages take you there!
IV Travel Specialist