Located in the South of the Red River Delta region in northern Vietnam, Ninh Binh is blessed with beautiful lakes, spectacular mountains and diverse system of fauna and flora. Coming to Ninh Binh, you will have a great opportunity to explore not only spectacular scenery in Trang An Grottoes, Cuc Phuong National Park, and Van Long Natural Reserves but also many historical relics like Hoa Lu Ancient Capital, Bich Dong pagoda, etc. Let follow us to discover 10 best things to do in Ninh Binh.
1. Explore Trang An eco-tourism site
Being a part of Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex, Trang An eco-tourism site attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors per years. It covers an area of 2000 ha surrounded by limestone mountains, rice fields, and valleys. Taking a bamboo boat is a great way to explore the magnificent beauty of this place. It will take about 2 – 3 hours to sail along the river of Trang An eco-tourism site. You can have a great time to enjoy the wonderful passing scenery such as breathtaking caves, ancient temples, and beautiful lakes.
2. Cycle around the rice paddies
Instead of taking a boat, you can also ride a bike to discover the beauty of Ninh Binh. The great thing about this experience is you can stop at any sites to admire the beauty of “Inland Ha Long”. When you take a ride on a bicycle around the rice fields, you will not only see the stunning scenery with ancient pagoda, rice fields, grandiose mountain but also interact with the friendly locals and explore the nearby villages.
3. Take a boat trip in Tam Coc
Tam Coc means Three Caves including Hang Ca, Hang Hai and Hang Ba. A boat trip in Tam Coc offers authentic farming activities along the river banks like fish catching, rice planting, etc. Your excursion on the boat will be rowed by skillful middle-aged women with incredible youthful strength. Each boat was designed to fit 3-4 people. The tour will start at the river banks of Van Lam Village passing all three caves and back with the scenery of rice paddies, lush green, and limestone mountains.
4. Visiting Bich Dong Pagoda
Located in Ninh Hai Commune, Bich Dong Pagoda was built on the mountainside of Bich Dong Mountain by 2 monks. The architecture of Bich Dong Pagoda is the harmonious combination of the Le Dynasty and Nguyen Dynasty. It was placed according to Chinese letter "Tam" including Ha Pagoda (Lower Pagoda), Pagoda (Middle Pagoda), Thuong pagoda (Upper Pagoda). Visiting the Pagoda, you will have a great chance to explore the character of Buddhism in Vietnam.
5. Climb Mua Cave
Mua Cave is one of the most attractive destinations offering the stunning panoramic view over the picturesque countryside and wonderful Ngo Dong River. Climb about 500 steps to the top of the mountain, you can admire the architecture of Quan Am (Goddess of Mercy) 's altar or choose a great spot to enjoy the fascinating view – the endless rice paddies between two limestone mountain ranges.
6. Explore the Biodiversity of Cuc Phuong National Park
For those who love nature and adventure, Cuc Phuong National Park is the best place for you to explore the beauty of nature. Being the oldest national park in Vietnam, Cuc Phuong is famous for its magnificent limestone landscape and the diversity of Flora and fauna. There are 300 species of birds, 11 species of fish, 2000 species of vascular plants, etc. A number of these species are listed on Vietnam Red Book. To explore the natural beauty of Cuc Phuong, you should trek to see wild animals, imposing waterfalls, and experience the ethnic minority’s life.
7. Contemplate Van Long Nature Reserve
Along with the Hoa Lu Ancient Capital, Tam Coc - Bich Dong, Van Long Nature Reserve is also an ideal eco-tourism attraction for visitors. Here, you will have an opportunity to see rich flora and fauna within the most biodiversity in Vietnam's wetlands. There are many ways to explore the beauty of Van Long Nature Reserve but taking a bamboo boat is the best. Floating in the small boat, you can immerse yourself in gentle water and colorful species of fish. Furthermore, you can contemplate Fish Cave – one of 100 breathtaking caves in Van Long with its stalactites in various shapes.
8. Visiting Thung Nham Bird Garden
Thung Nham is a heaven for nature lovers and bird enthusiasts. It is home to 46 species of birds containing popularly storks, White-rumped shamas, silver teals, herons, etc. The best time to visit bird garden is 5-6pm because you can have a great chance to witness flocks of birds flying for foraging. Besides watching birds, you can also explore the submerged caves and visit orchard of tropical fruits in the mountains.
In addition, visit some caves in the limestone mountains such as Thuy Cung( Water Palace), Tien ca ( Mermaid) and Hang But( Buddhist Cave) are a great idea. You can listen to the legends of the caves as well as admire diversified- shape stalactites.
9. Enjoy the Specialty of Ninh Binh - Mountain Goat Meat
If you have a chance to visit Ninh Binh, don’t miss out on chances to taste Ninh Binh goat meat. Different from goats in other regions, goats in Ninh Binh are raised on limestone mountains which make goat meat shrunk, little fat, and herbal flavor. The delicious dish is prepared in many attractive ways such as goat meat mixed with lemon, steam goat meat, grilled goat brisket, etc.
10. Discover Ancient Capital of Hoa Lu
Located in Truong Yen Commune, Hoa Lu is the ancient capital that once stood a glorious Imperial Capital in the middle of endless rice paddies hemmed by hundred limestone hills. It was the seat of power as well as the economic, political and cultural center of Dai Co Viet (Great Viet). The ancient capital covered an area of 300 ha including the Inner Citadel and the Outer Citadel.
In the past, Hoa Lu Royal citadel was adorned with splendid palaces, magnificent temples, and shrines. When King Ly Cong Uan moved the capital to Thang Long (Hanoi), it became the ancient capital. The glory of Hoa Lu as the Imperial Capital may have been lost in the midst of time but the splendid beauty that it has remained until now.