Only 100 km south of the capital Hanoi is the lesser-known pearl of North Vietnam. Ninh Binh is a picturesque region known for its beautiful nature and historical and religious sites. Also known as the “Halong Bay on Land”, it offers similar landscape images, but with the advantage that it is much less touristy. Here are the best 10 things to do in Ninh Binh.
1. Tam Coc
Take a break from the busy city life and get on a boat trip on the Tam Coc river. As you sail across the river, you will be rewarded with a fantastic natural landscape and you will have the opportunity to see the rural religious sites that are out of sight. The journey is the perfect break from the busy city life and offers you the chance to truly appreciate the natural beauty of Ninh Binh.
2. Trang An
One of the most popular sights in Ninh Binh are the caves of Trang An. This is a beautiful complex of valleys and overhanging caves. The best thing to do is a nice boat ride through the river network where you will be greeted with amazing sights of the extraordinary natural landforms, hidden caves and beautiful hidden temples.
3. Mua Cave
The highlight of the Mua Cave is the panoramic view from the top, over the river, mountains and rice fields. It is only a short 15-minute walk of 500 steps, so it is definitely one of the most valuable things to do in Ninh Binh.
4. Cuc Phuong National Park
Cuc Phuong National Park is one of the most important places of biodiversity in Vietnam. As the largest nature reserve in the country, the preserved rainforest houses more than 300 species of rare birds and 2000 species of plants that are well protected to preserve the unspoilt nature of Ninh Binh. You can even stay a night or two in the park grounds with local Muong people, an ethnic group living in the mountainous regions of northern Vietnam.
The best way to see Ninh Binh is from the saddle of a bicycle. Many hotels rent bicycles for free or rent bicycles for a euro. If your accommodation doesn’t do that, check out the nearby hotels and shops. The most important sights in Ninh Binh can easily be explored by bicycle. The paths between the rice fields are especially beautiful.
6. Van Long Nature Reserve
The Van Long nature reserve is the largest swamp area in North Vietnam. With peaks of limestone mountains and rice fields reaching the horizon, it is certainly a memorable place to visit. The nature reserve is also home to many species of primates, including the endangered Langur. Rehabilitation of animals takes place here and they are released into the wild after treatment.
7. Hoa Lu
Nestled between two towering limestone mountains you will find Hoa Lu. The city was the capital of Vietnam in the 10th and 11th centuries. Today, Hoa Lu is a cultural center full of ancient pagodas and citadels. Most of these were built in honor of the royal family of the Dinh dynasty. It is a must-see when traveling through Ninh Binh!
8. Bai Dinh Pagoda
The Bai Dinh temple complex is the largest complex of temples in Vietnam. It is an important destination for religious pilgrimages and one of the best things to do in Ninh Binh for tourists interested in spirituality and Buddhist art.
9. Bich Dong Pagoda
Bich Dong Pagoda is a cluster of majestic mountain cave temples that stand elegantly in the area. These ancient shrines and historic pagodas are scattered along the hillside, some dating back to the 15th century. You have to walk and climb to get to every monument, but the route along the way is completely worth it.
10. Kenh Go Floating Village
Have you ever wondered what it is like to live like a resident of Ninh Binh? Visit the wetlands of Kenh Go for a direct view of the local life of the village people! Also known as the Chicken Channel, you can even catch a number of wild chickens running around the area while experiencing the simple but charming village life.