Ninh Binh is one of the best destinations for your Vietnam Tours. About 2 hour-drive far from Hanoi, there is a beautiful “Halong Bay on land”. Favoured by nature, Ninh Binh also has amazing limestone mountain on rice paddies. For a long time, Ninh Binh has been an attractive destination for both Vietnam and foreign travellers.
WHAT TO SEE AND WHAT TO DO IN NINH BINH?
Along the road from Hanoi to Ninh Binh, travellers might be overwhelmed by the beautiful scenery of green rice paddies, limestone islands on land and mowed grass on the field.
There are a lot of tourist attractions in Ninh Binh such as:
Kong: Skull Island filming location
The studio where parts of the film “Kong: Skull Island” was shot is now a highlight of tourist route No.2 in the Trang An Landscape Complex in the northern province of Ninh Binh. With the world heritage site of Trang An, Van Long Wetland Reserve and Esmeralda Resort Ninh Binh has become a more fascinating place for both domestic and foreign visitor.
After showing for more than one month, the film “Kong: Skull Island” broke all previous records at the local box offices. To promote tourism, on April 15, 2017, the Trang An Landscape Management Board announced the restoration of the original backlot of the film on a total area of 10ha that consists of the tribal village with about 40 rattan tents set up with decorative items and models of a ship and airplane.
To help visitors feel the magnificence of the film, more than 50 locals who played indigenous people are invited to reproduce the scenes in the film.
Mua Cave is located in the foot of Mua Mountain, Hang Mua (Mua Cave) is a newly must-visit destination in Tam Coc, Ninh Binh. Coming here, you will be leisurely hiking with 486 stone stair-steps. From the peak, you will admire the majestic panoramic views of Tam Coc with rice fields on Ngo Dong River. That would be the moment you never forget in your Vietnam trip.
Van Long Wetland Reserve
Van Long Wetland Reserve is 2km East of Tran Me, 23km from Ninh Binh along the road to Cuc Phuong National Park. Set amid glorious limestone pinnacles, this tranquil reserve comprises a reedy wetland that’s popular with bird-watchers.
Among the bird species that have been spotted here are the rare black-faced spoonbill, cotton pygmy goose, and White-browed Crake. Van Long is also one of the last wild refuges of the endangered Delacour’s langur, partly because the wetlands keep predators and poachers at bay.
Row-boat rides (90 minutes, maximum of two people per boat) around the reserve are a more relaxed alternative to occasional hawker hassles at Tam Coc.
Am Tien Cave
Am Tien Cave is located in the ancient relic of Hoa Lu, in Truong Yen commune, Hoa Lu district, Ninh Binh province, about 10 km from the center of the city. Am Tiem Cave in the ancient capital of Hoa Lu is the national historic where formerly incarcerated King Dinh Tien Hoang.
The scenery here is majestic, so poetry is hugged by mountains and green trees but still carry a sad, mysterious as still remembered the time of the past remedies law school.
The road to the cave is quite dangerous because most Amanda caves are surrounded by high mountain ridges, a flooded valley in the middle of the mountain.
In order to enter the cave, after passing the gate you descend down a passage on the left-hand side and continue climbing through 205 stone steps. The cave is shaped like the Dragon’s mouth so it is also known as the Dragon Cave.
Standing down from Am Tien Temple, you will see the enormous expanse of this majestic landscape with the high mountains and the lush green lake that stretches your eyes.
In particular, you will feel the holy air, a spirit of a historic time.
Located in Ninh Hai Commune, Hoa Lu District, Ninh Binh, Tam Coc is famed as " Halong Bay on the land”.
With limestone outcrops amid serene rice paddies, Tam Coc is best appreciated on a languorous rowing-boat ride, with the soundtrack of the river lapping against the oars. This is a definite highlight, meandering through dumpling-shaped karst hills in a flooded landscape where a river and rice paddy merge serenely into one; keep an eye open for mountain goats high on the cliffs, and bright, darting kingfishers. Journey’s end is Tam Coc, three long, dark tunnel-caves (Hang Ca, Hang Giua and Hang Cuoi) eroded through the limestone hills with barely sufficient clearance for the sampan after heavy rains. On the way back, you can ask to stop at Thai Vi Temple, a short walk from the river. Dating from the thirteenth century and dedicated to the founder of the Tran Dynasty, it’s a peaceful, atmospheric spot.
Bich Dong Pagoda
If you have time after the boat trip, follow the road leading southwest from the boat dock for about 2 km to visit the cave-pagoda of Bich Dong, or “Jade Grotto”. Stone-cut steps, entangled by the thick roots of banyan trees, lead up a cliff face peppered with shrines to the cave entrance, believed to have been discovered by two monks in the early fifteenth century. On the rock face above, two giant characters declare “Bich Dong”.
The story goes that they were engraved in the eighteenth century by the father of Nguyen Du (author of the classic Tale of Kieu), who was entrusted with the construction of the complex. The cave walls are now scrawled with graffiti but the three Buddhas sit unperturbed on their lotus thrones beside a head-shaped rock which purportedly bestows longevity if touched. Walk through the cave to emerge higher up the cliff, from where steps continue to the third and final temple and viewpoint over the waterlogged scene.
Nang Valley ( Sunshine Valley)
Located nearby Bich Dong pagoda, Thung Nang or Sunshine Valley is a complex of historical relics and natural beauty which can make easy to get the combination of religious tourism with mountain climbing and ecological tourism.
Nang valley is the in the middle of the Limestone Mountains covered by trees that seem to have some hidden charms that need to be discovered. On the way to Thung Nang Valley, we have to go by boat about 3,5 kilometers to visit the holy Voi temple that was built hundreds of years ago. The temple was built of stone with the stone altar, stone incense throne, stone flower vase, and stone a tray.
Bai Dinh Pagoda
This is one of the largest pagodas in Viet Nam. Covering a large area of 700ha, Bai Dinh Pagoda is a cluster of Buddhist architectural structures, consisting of new, giant and imposing temples of the newly-built Bai Dinh Pagoda area which playoff ancient and respected shrines of the ancient Bai Dinh Pagoda area.
Trang An Grottoes
About 150 kilometers from the famous Vietnamese bay where hundreds of islands form a natural wonder is another equally as impressive landscape. This one, known as Trang An, is nowhere near the coast, though. The mountains are connected by rice paddies, not water. You can cycle to them, not sail. And – best of all – they are not full of foreign tourists. Such is the joy of a Trang An boat tour.
Trang An at Ninh Binh is easy to get to from Hanoi. It’s dominated by the large limestone karst peaks which create steep vertical cliffs covered in plants. Unlike a traditional mountain range where the slopes connect to each other in a long undulating stretch, most of these peaks stand in isolation – making them even more dramatic in appearance.
Cuc Phuong National Park
Cuc Phuong National Park is Vietnam’s largest national park and one of the most important sites for biodiversity in the country. It is homes to hundreds of species of flora and fauna. The park can be visited from Hanoi as a day trip or visitors can stay at the park’s lodging for a longer stay.
Visiting the park is a terrific opportunity to get a close look at Vietnam’s nature and fees generated from tourism help protect the park's wildlife and improve the local economy. The best time of the year to visit the park is during the dry season, from November to February.
Phat Diem Cathedral
The architecture of Phat Diem Church, built in stone in 1892 is a blend of Vietnamese and European architectural styles called the “eclectic architectural style”. The Cathedral was bombed in 1972 when its west wall, the convents and two of the schools were damaged; after restoration, there are no tell-tale marks of this bombing.
Although a church, it was built with pagoda type roofs in traditional Vietnamese temple architecture. Phat Diem Cathedral is considered to be one of the most beautiful churches in Vietnam.
Thung Nham Bird Garden
For those who love nature and adventurous bird watching trips, visiting Thung Nham (Birds valley) would be wonderful things to do in Ninh Binh.
Besides watching birds, you can also explore the caves in the mountains as well as visit orchard of tropical fruits, including star fruit, mangoes, guavas, and lychees.
Thien Ha Cave ( Galaxy Cave)
Thien Ha Cave is located in Son Ha commune (Nho Quan district), in the heart of General mountain (also called General mountain cavern) at the height of 200m. It is 700m long with two areas: 200m dry cave a 500m water cave. They are connected by a large corridor.
The dry cave is 2,5 – 3m large, 3 – 6 m high with plenty of beautiful stalactites, leading to the southern side of the mountain. The foundation of the cave is 40m large. The natural light from the top, which opens the eyes of people with stalactites colors. Under the natural hand, there are many shapes and figures of stalactites which inspire the curiosity of the visitors.
Visiting the water grotto, travelers would float on the underneath river which is named Galaxy which appears with curling line under thousands of sparkling stalactites which suddenly on the right above curl of the cave ceiling. There are also many stalactites under various shapes, which need to be named. In the peaceful place, visitors would feel the sound of the oar striking clearly, the sound of the water drop and thousands of bats inside the grotto.
Hoa Lu Ancient Capital
Hoa Lu was the capital of Vietnam in the 10th and 11th centuries. Hoa Lu Ancient Capital is a special cultural-historical relic complex, attracting the great number of both domestic and foreign tourists. They will have a chance to admire charming natural landscapes, along with precious monuments in the ancient land.
WHAT TO EAT AND DRINK IN NINH BINH?
The special dishes in Ninh Binh include dishes of goat meat, Kim Son wine, Ninh Binh eel vermicelli and burned rice. The most famous and unique dishes in Ninh Binh is goat meat.
Goat meat is a nutritious and delicious dish since it is served with many precious fine herbs which are very good for people’s health. Goat meat is often eaten with fried rice (com chay). The combination of goat meat and fried rice will surely fascinate your taste.
The locals usually take goat meat while tasting some fresh beer (Bia Hoi). After burning calories on activities, drinking some beer will make you feel refreshed.
WHEN TO VISIT NINH BINH?
The greatest probability of sunny weather in Ninh Binh is from October to April. If you would like to visit only this place, then you can go in any of these months.