VietnamNorth Vietnam TravelFirst Time in Ninh Binh

First Time in Ninh Binh

Ninh Binh Province has been favored by nature with the harmonious mingling of the plains, sea, rivers, and mountains. They all come together to create strangely attractive landscapes.

view of ninh binh from hang mua

Population of Ninh Binh Province (2019): 1 million, Ninh Binh City: 200,000

Ethnic groups: Viet (Kinh), Hoa, Tay, Muong

Highlights: Trang An Landscape Complex, Bai Dinh Pagoda, Cuc Phuong National Park, Tam Coc Caves, Bich Dong Cave, Fairy Cave (Dong Tien), Dich Long Cave, Van Trinh Cave, Van Long Wetland Nature Reserve, Hoa Lu Ancient Capital Relic, Phat Diem Cathedral, Kenh Ga Hot Water Stream

Climate

The average annual temperature is 24.3oC (75.8oF)

Transport

Ninh Binh is 90km from Hanoi. Most people will travel from Hanoi to Ninh Binh. Travelers can book a tour to Ninh Binh, take a public bus, transfer by taxi, take the train, or drive the motorbike.

Check bus and train prices from Hanoi to Ninh Binh

Car

Most travel agents or hotels can arrange car-with-driver rental services.

Alternatively, there are many tours from Hanoi to Ninh Binh daily. 

Taxi

Mai Linh, Minh Long, Xuan Thanh, etc. Grab car is also available via the app.

Ninh Binh Bus Station

207 Le Dai Hanh Street, Ninh Binh City

Motorbikes

Most people will travel from Hanoi to Ninh Binh. Rentals are available at hotels, at Hanoi’s Old Quarter, and along the backpacker streets: Ta Hien, Hang Bac, Ngo Huyen, Hang Be, Cau Go, Luong Ngoc Quyen, etc. Motorbike taxis are also available via the Grab or Go Viet app.

Rental prices are around VND 150,000 per motorbike per day. You might be asked to leave your passport or a deposit as collateral for the motorbike, depending on the rental agency.

Train

Ninh Binh Railway Station is on the North-South Express train route.

Address: 1 Hoang Hoa Tham Street, Ninh Binh City

Travel Guides:

Ninh Binh Travel Guide – a trip to Kong: Skull Island

Packing list for Vietnam

Accommodations in Ninh Binh:

Homestay, Bungalow, or Hotel options:

(View on Agoda)

Attractions in Ninh Binh Province:

Hoa Lu Ancient Captial Relic

(view map)

Hoa Lu is 13 km from Ninh Binh City, close to the village of Truong Yen.

In Ninh Binh Province, Hoa Lu was chosen as the capital of Dai Viet in the 10th century. When Dinh Bo Linh ascended the throne in 968 and took the name of King Dinh Tien Hoang, the country was then called Dai Co Viet with Hoa Lu being its capital from 968 – 1009. In 1010, King Ly Thai To moved the capital from Hoa Lu to Thang Long. There are 2 temples 500 m apart from each other at the ancient palace dedicated to King Le Dai Hanh and King Dinh Tien Hoang. King Dinh Temple and King Le Temple were both designed in the shape of a Han character.

Trang An Landscape Complex 

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This scenic watery area covering 2,168 hectares is located 90 km south of Hanoi. Geologists said that the sea waters overwhelmed and the geological evolution created a subsurface system of interconnected caverns, streams, and caves in the limestone mountains. According to incomplete data, Trang An Landscape Complex amazes with 12 historic relics, springs, streams, rivers, a system of 48 aquatic caves and caverns with a total length of 12,226 m.

Boat trips are available (see our Ninh Binh travel guide in the link above) offering visitors a breathtaking view of the beauty of Vietnam. The boat trip will total about 3 hours, all rowed by 1 person but visitors will be given a paddle each if they would like to paddle.

Ticket costs VND 200,000 per person.

Tran An Landscape Complex includes the Hoa Lu Ancient Citadel Cultural-Historical Area, Trang An – Tam Coc – Bich Dong Scenic Area, and Hoa Hu Primitive Forest, a UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage Site recognized since 2014.

ninh binh boat hop on

ninh binh boat ride 3

ninh binh boat ride

ninh binh boat ride 2

Bai Dinh Pagoda 

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Bai Dinh Pagoda is in the Trang An Complex covering an area of 107 hectares. According to Vietnamese story passed from one generation to the next, Bai Dinh Pagoda is regarded as a sacred land given it is the birthplace of important figures of the nation, including kings. There is a temple dedicated to Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, Tam The Temple dedicated to Buddha, and Phap Chu Temple devoted to the Shakyamuni Buddha, just to name a few in the area.

Tam Coc Caves

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Tam Coc means 3 tunnels caves. Visitors will travel by rowboats (part of the boat tour purchased at Trang An Complex entrance) on the Ngo Dong River for 3 km admiring the scenic views of mountains, rice fields, and rivers to visit all 3 caves with beautiful stalactites and stalagmites of different colors and shapes. The 1st cave measures 127 m long and 20 m wide, the 2nd cave is 60 m long and 18 m wide, and the 3rd cave is 50 m long and 18 m wide.

ninh binh boat through cave 3

ninh binh boat through cave 5

ninh binh boat through cave 4

Bich Dong Cave

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Bich Dong Cave, which literally means Green Pearl Cave, is in the Ngu Nhac Son Mountains at Hoa Lu District. Bich Dong is said to be the 2nd most beautiful cave in Vietnam. The name of the cave was given by Nguyen Nghiem, the father of the great writer Nguyen Du, in 1773 after he visited the cave and saw scenic waterways, fields, mountains, and sky covered in green mist. Bich Dong Pagoda (view map) near the cave was built during the Le Dynasty.

Fairy Cave (Dong Tien)

The Fairy Cave, also known as Moc Cave, is located 1 km away from Bich Dong Cave. It can be reached by foot or by boat.

Dich Long Cave

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Dich Long Cave was founded in 1739 and subsequently, a Buddhist altar was built in 1740 within the cave. It has 3 sub-caves linked together with the names: Buddha, Darkness, and Brightness. The colors of the stalactites change with the brightness of the sun. They are pink early in the morning and turn to red at sunset. This work of art created by time and nature has been complimented in many poems, and King Minh Mang called it the 3rd most beautiful cave in Vietnam.

Van Trinh Cave

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Van Trinh Cave is one of the dozen caves in the wetland of Van Long in Nho Quan District. A narrow path leads to the cave is located 40 m deep inside a 100 m high mountain.

Hang Mua View Point

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Be sure to wear comfortable shoes to climb 500 steps for this rewarding scenic view:

hang mua 3

Phat Diem Cathedral

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Phat Dien Cathedral is 130 km south of Hanoi and 29 km from Ninh Binh City. This Oriental architectural style cathedral was built between 1875 and 1899. At the entrance, there is a rectangular lake with a statue of Christ. The main cathedral was built with 5 carved entrances and 3 high curvy-roof towers with 74 m long, 21 m wide, and 15 m high. This interesting architectural complex reflex the skillful stone carving art of the Vietnamese.

Cuc Phuong National Park

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This national park is 120 km southwest of Hanoi and borders 3 provinces: Ninh Binh, Hoa Binh, and Thanh Hoa. It covers an area of 22,000 hectares with 3/4 of which are limestone mountains roughly 300 – 600 m above sea level. 

The best time to visit the park is from October to March.

The highest peak is called May Bac (Silver Cloud) at 648 m high.

The park’s unique landscape is not easy for trekking through the forest, but it boasts wonderful caves: Chua, Thuy tien, Trang Khuyet, Nguoi Xua, San Ho, Con Moong, etc., and there is a hot spring at 38oC for relaxation.

Restaurants in Ninh Binh:

Ninh Binh is famous for goat meal and burnt scorched rice (com chay). This tender goat meat can be found at various places in Ninh Binh like Chinh Thu Restaurant (view map).

ninh binh be chao

Shopping in Ninh Binh:

Big C: Tran Nhan Tong Street

Festivals in Ninh Binh Province

Truong Yen Festival happens on the 10th day of the 3rd lunar month. This important festival is taken place at Kings Dinh and Le Temples at Hoa Lu to commemorate the two kings: Dinh Tien Hoang, who reunited the country, and Le Dai Hanh, who defeated foreign invaders.

Yen Cu Festival happens on the 20th day of the 8th lunar month at Yen Cu Village. It is devoted to Tran Hung Dao, his wife, and other princes. The festival includes a palanquin (litter) being carried across the Day River to Phu Hao Village. For some baffling reasons, there is an abundance of fish here on this day.

Tourism Division: 6 Trang An Street, Ninh Binh City

Tourism Promotion Center: Dinh Tien Hoang Street, Ninh Binh City

Post Office: 1 Tran Hung Dao Street

Have questions or comments? Please feel free to leave us a comment below.

Get your travel insurance plan to visit Ninh Binh:

 
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