Ninh Binh is one of the 63 provinces in Vietnam, located just two hours south of the capital, Hanoi. The quintessential limestone scenery and laid back rural vibe makes it a favorite among locals. Foreign visitors are just now beginning to see the allure of this region, so it is still quite free from any major tourist crowds.
If you have the time, Ninh Binh is absolutely worth spending at least a couple of days exploring. There are a myriad of natural and cultural sights to explore here that will be covered in this post.
- Book a Ninh Binh Adventure day trip from Hanoi here
Read on for an up to date travel guide so you can begin planning your trip to Ninh Binh now.
Why Ninh Binh?
Ninh Binh first caught the travelers eye’s when it was declared as the “Halong Bay on land” due to the similar limestone mountain scenery.
That lead to day trips to Ninh Binh from Hanoi becoming popular for the travelers who didn’t have enough time to explore Halong Bay.
- Book a one day adventure to Trang An here
Travelers quickly noticed that there was much more to this area and began to opt to spend a few days here to explore the entire province, which has sparked a development in infrastructure for tourism in recent years.
- Also read the complete guide to Cat Ba here
How to get to Ninh Binh
From Hanoi, you can reach Ninh Binh by either bus or train. There are regular buses from Hanoi’s southern terminal with a ticket costing around 70,000 VND.
Both the train and the bus take two hours and can be booked online or directly through a travel agent in Hanoi.
- Book a full day tour to Ninh Binh from Hanoi here
The train from Hanoi to Ninh Binh, is considered by many to be one of the most scenic train rides you can take in Vietnam.
There are also buses going to Ninh Binh going directly from Halong Bay and Cat Ba.
Be sure to double-check where the bus stops, as there will be buses that stop in Ninh Binh town and others in nearby Tam Coc (7km away).
What are the best things to see and do in Ninh Binh?
There are four areas in Ninh Binh that have all the major attractions. Trang An, Tam Coc, Van Long, and Cuc Phong.
The capital, Ninh Binh City is not particularly interesting, so you shouldn’t plan on spending any significant time there.
- See a complete overview of day tours from Hanoi here
In Trang An, you can go on a boat ride through caves, temples, and lakes. The trip can be a bit tricky at times, and you will have to watch your head.
Rent a motorbike and just drive
Renting a motorbike and driving through the mesmerizing landscapes is also a terrific idea. You can ride through tiny paths through local communities and villages, and truly get to embrace the laid back local culture.
- Also read the complete guide to motorbike tours in Vietnam here
Go “Temple Hoping”
Scattered throughout the province are several spectacular temples that can be visited.
One of them is Huang Ma temple, which sits on top of 500 steps overlooking Tam Coc. People mainly come here to catch the view of the surrounding area rather than visit the temple itself.
- Also read the complete guide to Lan Ha Bay here
The Bai Dinh Pagoda, on the other hand, is a much more impressive structure and is mainly visited by locals.
Then you have the Bich Ding Dong Pagoda, which is a set of three temples magnificently carved into the limestone mountain.
Have an Adventure in Cuc Phuong National Park
Nestled between two spectacular limestone ranges, you find Cuc Phung National Park, the oldest national park in Vietnam. Cuc Phung is famous for having one of the most vibrant ecosystems in all of Vietnam.
It is covered in a dense forest that is home to some of Asia’s rarest plant and animal species, including the Clouded Leopard and Asian Black Bear. The forest is home to over 2300 vascular and non-vascular plants, 122 species of reptiles and amphibians, and 135 species of mammals and 300 species of bird.
The park is one of the best places in Vietnam to go hiking with several excellent hiking trails. You can go by yourself or book a guided tour of the park with a guide.
Van Long Nature Reserve
With landscape also very similar to Tam Coc and Trang An, Van Long is a little further away and barely receives any tourists making the experience visiting it a little more special. If you have some time to spare and want to avoid the crowds head over to Van Long Nature Reserve.
Phat Diem Gothic Church
Constructed in 1892, Phat Diem Church is an intriguing mixture of Vietnamese and European architecture styles. The church was bombed in 1972 during the American-Vietnamese War, but since then has been restored. It is located 40 minutes outside of Ninh Binh town and is worth a visit.
Thung Nam Bird Park
Surprisingly, Thung Nam Bird Garden receives very few visitors despite its enchanting beauty. The park is nestled between the mountains and is where most of the birds from the area make their nest.
You will also find some cool caves that you can explore and a few hiking trails that cover the area.
Ninh Binh Cuisine
The specialty of Ninh Binh is Goat, which can be seen everywhere. As the goats are fed naturally in the limestone mountains, the meat from them is much more firm than in other regions. Dog meat is, unfortunately, another specialty here.
Ninh Binh has been steadily growing as a tourist destination in recent years, so finding accommodation within your budget is very easy. Anything from hotels, backpacker hostels, or home stays can be found. Dorm beds will usually start from 8 USD a night, and private rooms can be as low as 15 USD a night.
When to Go?
Visiting Ninh Binh year-round is perfectly fine, the climate is similar to Hanoi, so expect the temperature to drop in the winter months. The dry season stretches from November to March, with the average temperature being around 19 to 26 degrees. The rainy season lasts from April to October, so expect it to be quite humid during these months. Typhoons are quite frequent here in September, so be sure to check the forecast before you go then.