VietnamHanoiHanoi Outskirts - What to See and Where to Go

Hanoi Outskirts – What to See and Where to Go

The capital of Vietnam, Hanoi, certainly has a variety of attractions and activities that will take a couple of days to explore. But when you are tired of the hustle and bustle, try venturing past the city’s edge to discover what else awaits you. Take a day trip or two into the countryside of Hanoi to see another side of Vietnam. Below are our recommendations for Hanoi’s outskirts—what to see and where to go.

Hanoi Outskirts – What to See and Where to Go

Ninh Binh Province

Known for its incredible natural beauty, the scenery of Ninh Binh Province is a complete contrast to that of Hanoi. The area is known as the inland Ha Long Bay, with hundreds of high-peaking limestone monoliths forming numerous cave systems.

Located south of Hanoi, Ninh Binh can be reached by car or motorbike in 2-3 hours. An interesting option is to take a train route through the Reunification Express from Hanoi to Ninh Binh. This option is a bit slower, but if time permits, it will add another great experience to your journey! Although a one-day trip is adequate, we recommend spending more than a day here to fully enjoy what Ninh Binh has to offer.

Below are the top attractions to experience in Ninh Binh, our Hanoi outskirts—what to see and where to go.

Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex

Trang An is a complex of mountains and caves that can only be accessible by traveling on the Sao Khe River. With that in mind, expect to be on a rowing boat for 2-5 hours while weaving through the towering limestone formations. The surrounding greenery complements the whole area, giving it a sense of serenity.

Bai Dinh Pagoda, which is known as the largest complex of Buddhist temples in Vietnam can be seen when traveling through Trang An. We recommend you go as early as possible to enjoy the atmosphere before the river becomes busy.

Look for top-rated hotels in Ninh Binh below:

Tam Coc Grottoes

The launch sites between Trang An and Tam Coc are roughly 10 minutes away by car or motorbike. Tam Coc offers a similar experience to that of Trang An. However, the boat trip is only about 2-3 hours long. Some pagodas are also visible on this boat ride.

Tam Coc is generally more popular than Trang An, so we strongly recommend you visit as early as possible to avoid the large crowds.

Phat Diem Cathedral

Roughly about an hour’s drive from the center of Ninh Binh, Phat Diem Cathedral is a unique church built in 1892 with a solid Vietnamese architectural influence. This visual style makes the church very interesting compared to traditional ones. Even more than a century later, the church is still functional as a place of worship.

Hoa Lu Ancient Capital

As the name suggests, Hoa Lu was the capital of ancient Vietnam. It was a prosperous city ruled by Dai Co Viet, a kingdom that extended from the northern tip of Vietnam to the center during the 10th and 11th centuries. Surrounded by mountains, the area was naturally fortified and benefited by the ranges’ cool weather. Microscopic remains of the original architecture of the surrounding area, but there are newer structures, such as temples built in honor of the ruling families of the past.

Mua Caves

Temple on top of Mua Cave

Mua Cave is the best location in Ninh Binh to get an elevated view of the region. To reach the highest peak, you must trek and climb 400-500 steps of stairs. On the way up, you might see wild goats, which made the mountain their home. Once you reach the top, you will be rewarded with a breathtaking panoramic view of Tam Coc Valley and the surrounding rice fields. Be sure to bring water for the climb and avoid the afternoon when the sun is strongest.

View of the fields from on top of the mountain

Ba Vi National Park

To truly immerse yourself in nature, travel about two hours by car or motorbike west of Hanoi towards Ba Vi National Park. Once within the area, the park offers a variety of attractions and activities.

Many waterfalls are the park’s treasure, and a water park tourist area accommodates swimming, fishing, and camping. Locations to sightsee include a variety of gardens, temples, and French ruins from the colonization period. Trekking is another popular activity, and Ba Vi offers three separate peaks to conquer. The highest is King Peak, Tan Vien Peak is the second highest, and Ngoc Hoa Peak is the lowest.

Ha Long Bay

With thousands of beautiful rocky limestone islets spread out all over the bay, this natural formation gives the area a mystical feeling like nowhere else in the world. Ha Long Bay is about 3-4 hours away by car, east of Hanoi. Given the area’s popularity, we recommend that you splurge on a quality tour guide to avoid any hassle.

Even though Ha Long Bay is extremely popular, it is still worth visiting Vietnam’s crown jewel of tourism. For our guide of Hanoi outskirts, Ha Long Bay is our top recommendation if you visit Hanoi for the first time.

Final Words on Hanoi Outskirts – What to See and Where to Go

To wrap up our guide, we want to reiterate that taking a single-day trip to any of the locations mentioned above is excellent. However, we strongly recommend that you take a two-day trip or more to give yourself ample time to experience all that the area has to offer.

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