Ninh Binh is a charming destination in northern Vietnam, known for its stunning natural beauty, ancient temples, and historical sites. It is often referred to as the “Ha Long Bay on land” due to its dramatic limestone mountains and winding rivers.
This article will provide a brief overview of the best things to do in Ninh Binh. Our article aims to be your trusty guide on this enchanting voyage through Ninh Binh, offering a sneak peek into the breathtaking landscapes, ancient relics, and one-of-a-kind experiences that make this region a must-visit for those in pursuit of a genuine Vietnamese adventure.
Curious about the perfect time to experience Vietnam’s beauty? Our guide has all the insights on the best time to visit Vietnam!
- 1 Plan your hassle-free trip to Vietnam with e-Visa!
- 2 Contents
- 3 Why You Should Visit Ninh Binh?
- 4 Top 10 Things To Do In Ninh Binh
- 4.1 1. Explore The Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex
- 4.2 2. Visit Tam Coc
- 4.3 3. Discover The Ancient Hoa Lu Temples
- 4.4 4. Hike Or Bike Through Cuc Phuong National Park
- 4.5 5. Climb The Mua Caves Lookout Point
- 4.6 6. Immerse Yourself In Bich Dong Pagoda
- 4.7 7. Taste Local Cuisine
- 4.8 8. Visit Van Long Nature Reserve
- 4.9 9. Explore Thung Nham Bird Garden
- 4.10 10. Experience The Daily Life In Rural Ninh Binh
- 5 Ready For Best Things To Do In Ninh Binh?
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Why You Should Visit Ninh Binh?
Ninh Binh province is in northern Vietnam, nestled in a picturesque landscape of breathtaking karst landscapes, serene waterways, and lush greenery. Just a short drive from the capital city of Hanoi, Ninh Binh is a convenient day trip or weekend getaway destination.
Ninh Binh is located in the Red River Delta region of northern Vietnam, about 90 kilometers south of Hanoi. The province is bordered by Hoa Binh and Ha Nam provinces to the north, Nam Dinh province to the northeast, and Thanh Hoa province to the south and west. It also has a short coastline abutting the Gulf of Tonkin.
The province’s topography is divided into three main parts: the mountainous area in the west and northwest, the delta and coastal area in the east and south, and the central plain area.
Ninh Binh offers a variety of accommodation options to suit every budget, from budget-friendly hostels to luxurious resorts.
There are a number of hotels here, ranging from budget-friendly options to luxury chains. Some popular hotels there include:
- Emeralda Resort Ninh Binh
- Ninh Binh Hidden Charm Hotel & Resort
Ninh Binh is also home to a number of resorts, offering visitors a more luxurious experience. Some popular resorts include:
- Emeralda Resort Ninh Binh
- Ninh Binh Legend Hotel
For a more authentic Vietnamese experience, many visitors choose a homestay as a place to stay. Homestays are typically family-run businesses that offer visitors a chance to experience Vietnamese culture and cuisine firsthand. Some popular homestays include:
- Diep’s House – Eco Homestay
- Hang Mua Homestay
- Ninh Binh Family Homestay
One of the most important customs in Ninh Binh cuisine is to share food. Meals are typically served family-style, with everyone sharing dishes from a common platter. This is a way to promote bonding and fellowship.
Another important custom cuisine is to use fresh, seasonal ingredients. The province is known for its fertile land and abundant seafood, which are used to create delicious and nutritious dishes. Here are some must-try foods in Ninh Binh:
Goat meat: Ninh Binh’s goat meat is known for its tenderness and flavor. It is typically cooked in a variety of ways, including grilled, roasted, and stewed.
Burnt rice: Burnt rice is a popular snack in Ninh Binh province. It is made by frying rice flakes until they are crispy. Burnt rice is often served with a dipping sauce made from fish sauce, sugar, and vinegar.
Ninh Binh fish salad: The fish salad is made with fresh fish, vegetables, and herbs. It is typically served with a dipping sauce made from fish sauce, sugar, and vinegar.
Climate & Weather In Ninh Binh
Ninh Binh has a humid subtropical climate with four distinct seasons. The best times to visit Ninh Binh are during the spring and autumn.
Spring (February to April)
The weather is mild and pleasant during the spring, with average temperatures ranging from 20 to 25 degrees Celsius. This is a great time to have a trip to Ninh Binh to enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Summer (May to August)
Summer in Ninh Binh is hot and humid, with average temperatures ranging from 28 to 35 degrees Celsius. There is also a significant amount of rainfall during this season.
Autumn (September to November)
The weather is mild and pleasant during the autumn. There is also less rainfall during this season. This is another great time to have a trip to Ninh Binh to enjoy the beautiful scenery and participate in outdoor activities.
Winter (December to January)
Winter in Ninh Binh is cool and dry, with average temperatures ranging from 15 to 20 degrees Celsius. There is also very little rainfall during this season.
Top 10 Things To Do In Ninh Binh
No matter what time of the year you like visiting Ninh Binh, you are sure to have a wonderful time. The province has something to offer everyone, from stunning scenery and ancient temples to delicious Ninh Binh food and friendly people. Now, let’s discover the top 10 things to do in Ninh Binh.
Looking for more incredible experiences in Vietnam? Check out our guide on the best things to do in Vietnam for a wider exploration of this captivating country.
1. Explore The Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex
The Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Ninh Binh Vietnam. It is known for its unique karst landscapes, which consist of a limestone mountain, winding rivers, and green rice paddies.
The karst landscapes at Trang An were formed over millions of years by the erosion of limestone by rain and rivers. The result is a truly spectacular landscape that is unlike anything else in the world.
Significance Of Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex
The Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex is significant for a number of reasons.
First, it is a unique and spectacular example of karst landscapes. Second, it is home to a number of historical and cultural sites. Third, it is a biodiverse ecosystem that is home to a variety of plants and animals.
Boat Tours At Trang An
Among things to do in Ninh Binh, the best way to experience the tourist attractions in Ninh Binh is to take a boat ride. There are a number of different boat tours available, ranging from short tours to full-day tours. Some of the highlights of the boat tours at Trang An include:
Visiting the Trang An Grottoes: The grottoes are a series of limestone caves that can only be accessed by boat. The boat ride takes visitors through the caves, where they can see stunning stalagmites and stalactites.
Visiting the Bai Dinh Pagoda Complex: The Bai Dinh Pagoda Complex is one of the largest Buddhist pagoda complexes in Vietnam. The boat ride takes visitors to the complex, where they can see the giant bronze Buddha statue and other religious monuments.
2. Visit Tam Coc
Tam Coc is a scenic area in Ninh Binh. It is known for its stunning scenery and is often called “Ha Long Bay on Land”.
Why Is Tam Coc Called “Halong Bay on Land”?
It is often called “Halong Bay on Land” because of its similar scenery. Both Tam Coc and Halong Bay feature limestone mountains and winding rivers. However, Tam Coc is located inland, while Halong Bay is located on the coast. This means that it is easier to access and less crowded than Halong Bay.
Iconic Sampan Boat Rides
One of the most popular things to do there is to take a sampan boat ride through the rice paddies and limestone mountains. The sampan boats are traditional Vietnamese boats that are rowed by hand. The boat rides typically last for about two hours and take visitors through some of the most beautiful scenery in the tourist attractions.
3. Discover The Ancient Hoa Lu Temples
Located in Ninh Binh Province, about 100 kilometers south of Hanoi, Hoa Lu is a popular tourist destination due to its historical significance and beautiful scenery.
Hoa Lu was founded in the 10th century by King Dinh Tien Hoang, the first emperor of a unified Vietnam. The King chose it as the capital because of its strategic location in the Red River Delta. Hoa Lu was surrounded by mountains and rivers, which made it difficult for enemies to attack.
Hoa Lu remained the capital of Vietnam for about 40 years until it was abandoned in the 11th century by King Ly Thai To, who moved the capital to Hanoi.
Key Temples To Visit
- King Dinh Tien Hoang Temple: This temple is dedicated to King Dinh Tien Hoang, the founder of the Dinh Dynasty and the first emperor of a unified Vietnam.
- King Le Dai Hanh Temple: This temple is dedicated to King Le Dai Hanh, the second emperor of the Le Dynasty and the son-in-law of King Dinh Tien Hoang.
4. Hike Or Bike Through Cuc Phuong National Park
Cuc Phuong National Park is one of the oldest and largest national parks in Vietnam, around 60 kilometers away from Ninh Binh City, and about 120 kilometers away from Hanoi.
Lush Greenery And Wildlife
The National Park is covered in dense forests, which are home to a variety of trees, including the 1000-year-old tree. The park is also home to a variety of rare animals, including monkeys, langurs, snakes, and birds.
Hiking And Biking Trails
There are a number of hiking and biking trails in Cuc Phuong National Park. The trails range in difficulty from easy to challenging. Some of the most popular hiking trails include:
- The 1000-Year-Old Tree Trail: This trail leads to the park’s most famous attraction in Ninh Binh, the 1000-year-old tree. The trail is about 6 kilometers long and takes about 2 hours to complete.
- The Nguoi Xua Cave Trail: This trail leads to the Nguoi Xua Cave, which is an ancient cave with prehistoric paintings. The trail is about 5 kilometers long and takes about 2 hours to complete.
Among the best things to do in Ninh Binh, there are a number of other must-see spots in Cuc Phuong National Park, including:
- The Cuc Phuong Museum: This museum is located at the park headquarters and provides visitors with information about the park’s history, wildlife, and culture.
- The Van Long Nature Reserve: This nature reserve is located within the park and is home to a large population of endangered Delacour’s langurs.
5. Climb The Mua Caves Lookout Point
The Mua Caves Lookout Point is located at the top of Hang Mua Mountain and offers stunning panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.
Stunning Panoramic Views
From the Mua Caves Lookout Point, visitors can see the following:
- The Ninh Binh Rice Paddies:The paddies are one of the most iconic sights in the province. The rice paddies are located in a valley surrounded by limestone mountains.
- The Ngo Dong River: The Ngo Dong River winds through the Ninh Binh Rice Paddies and through the Tam Coc Caves.
How To Reach The Viewpoint
The Mua Caves Lookout Point can be reached by climbing a series of 500 steps. The steps are steep, but the view from the top is worth the effort.
The best times to visit the Mua Caves Lookout Point are during the spring or autumn when the weather is mild and pleasant. It is best to visit in the morning or late afternoon to avoid the heat of the midday sun.
6. Immerse Yourself In Bich Dong Pagoda
Bich Dong Pagoda is a Buddhist pagoda. It is known for its serene atmosphere, unique architecture, and scenic location amidst limestone caves.
Bich Dong Pagoda is located in a secluded valley surrounded by limestone karsts. The pagoda is surrounded by lush greenery and the sound of running water. The atmosphere at the pagoda is serene and peaceful.
Bich Dong Pagoda is built into a limestone cliff. The pagoda consists of three temples: the Ha Pagoda, the Trung Pagoda, and the Thuong Pagoda. Each temple is located on a different level of the cliff. Visitors must climb a series of steps to reach each level.
Bich Dong Pagoda is located in a scenic location amidst limestone caves. The pagoda is surrounded by towering limestone karsts and lush greenery. The sound of running water can be heard from the nearby river.
7. Taste Local Cuisine
Ninh Binh Vietnam is known for its delicious and unique cuisine, which is influenced by the province’s rich history and culture. Visitors should not forget to try the traditional Vietnamese dishes of all the things to do in Ninh Binh province.
Com chay (rice crust): This dish is made with crispy rice crusts that are served with a variety of toppings, such as grilled pork, minced meat, and vegetables.
Nem yen mac (fermented pork roll): Made with fermented pork meat that is wrapped in banana leaves and grilled, nem yen mac is a popular snack or appetizer in Ninh Binh, and it is often served with a dipping sauce made from fish sauce, vinegar, and garlic.
Xoi trung kien (sticky rice with ant’s eggs): This dish is made with sticky rice that is cooked with ants’ eggs. Xoi trung kien is one of the unique Ninh Binh things that is known for its rich flavor and nutritional value.
Here are some local restaurants or street food stalls where visitors can try authentic Ninh Binh cuisine:
- Com chay Ninh Binh Co Do: This restaurant is located in the city of Ninh Binh and is known for its delicious Com chay dishes.
- Nem chua Yen Mac: This restaurant is located in the Yen Mac district and is known for its authentic nem yen mac dishes.
- Xoi Trung Kien Kim Son: This restaurant is located in the Kim Son district and is known for its delicious Xoi Trung Kien dishes.
8. Visit Van Long Nature Reserve
Van Long Reserve is a tranquil wetland, and known for its diverse ecosystem. The reserve is also a popular destination for bird watchers, as it is home to over 200 species of birds.
The Reserve is a beautiful and serene place. The wetlands are covered in lush vegetation and are home to a variety of wildlife, including birds, fish, and reptiles. The reserve is a great place to relax and enjoy the natural beauty of Vietnam.
Among best things to do in Ninh Binh, this reserve is a popular destination for bird watchers. It is home to over 200 species of birds. Some of the birds that can be seen at the reserve include the black-faced spoonbill, the cotton pygmy goose, and the white-browed crake.
Eco-Friendly Tourism Practices
This reserve is a fragile ecosystem, and it is important to practice eco-friendly tourism when visiting the reserve. Here are some tips for practicing eco-friendly tourism here:
- Stay on marked trails and avoid trampling on the vegetation.
- Do not litter.
- Do not disturb the wildlife.
9. Explore Thung Nham Bird Garden
Thung Nham Bird Garden is a natural reserve with over 100 species of birds, including many rare and endangered species.
Significance For Bird Enthusiasts
This garden is a significant natural reserve for bird enthusiasts for a number of reasons. First, it is home to a diverse bird population, which includes many rare and endangered bird species. Second, the reserve is located in a beautiful and serene setting. Third, the reserve is well-managed and provides visitors with opportunities to see birds in their natural habitat.
Best Times For Bird Watching
The best times for bird watching are during the spring and autumn when the weather is mild and pleasant. During these seasons, the birds are most active and can be seen more easily.
Guided tours are available in the garden. The tours are led by knowledgeable guides who can help visitors identify the different species of birds and learn more about their behavior.
10. Experience The Daily Life In Rural Ninh Binh
To experience daily life in rural Ninh Binh, visitors are encouraged to engage with local communities. This can be done through homestay experiences, cultural tours, or simply by chatting with locals.
Homestay experiences are a great way to learn about the daily life of local people in Ninh Binh. Visitors can stay with a local family and experience their way of life firsthand. This includes learning about their culture, traditions, and food.
Cultural tours are another great way to learn about the daily life of local people in Ninh Binh. These tours are typically led by local guides who can provide insights into the local culture and traditions. Some ways to witness authentic village life in rural Ninh Binh are to visit a local market, visit a local temple, and talk to locals.
By engaging with local communities, visitors can get a deeper understanding of the daily life in rural Ninh Binh. Here are some specific homestay experiences or cultural tours that visitors can consider: Ninh Binh Rustic Homestay, Trang An Cultural Tour, and Hoa Lu Ancient Capital Tour.
Ready For Best Things To Do In Ninh Binh?
In a nutshell, Ninh Binh is an incredible place to explore, offering a mix of natural beauty and cultural richness that will make your trip to Vietnam truly memorable. From the breathtaking landscapes of Trang An and Tam Coc to the historical significance of Hoa Lu, Ninh Binh has it all. But remember, it’s not just about the sights; it’s the people, the food, and the peaceful vibe that make this region special.
So, when you plan your Ninh Binh adventure, take your time to soak in these best things to do in Ninh Binh. Hop on a bicycle, chat with the friendly locals, and enjoy moments of calm by the river. Ninh Binh is your chance to escape the daily grind, connect with nature, and uncover history in a way that’s both inspiring and down-to-earth. So go ahead, embrace Ninh Binh’s magic, and let it whisk you away to a place of serenity and wonder.