COMPREHENSIVE NINH BINH EXPERIENCE
Only 100 km away from Ha Noi, Ninh Binh has become one of the must-see places in North Vietnam for visitors. Also known as “Ha Long Bay on land”, Ninh Binh is on the bucket list of many explorers. The place is well known for its incredibly beautiful national parks such as Trang An and Tam Coc. In this comprehensive Ninh Binh guide you will learn everything there is to know about the experiences you can enjoy here and the best advice on conducting your trip.
The best time to travel in Ninh Binh
In general, Ninh Binh is beautiful all year round but here are the optimum seasons to visit in Ninh Binh
February – April:
In terms of comfortable weather this is the best time to travel in Ninh Binh. The air is pleasant and cool enough to enjoy out door activities at any time of day in the perfectly moderate climate. At this time you can explore the island at your own leisure by motorcycle enjoying breathtaking landscape.
May – June
At this time the rice fields will be at peak growth in Ninh Binh, creating uniquely beautiful terraced landscapes far and wide. The average temperature during this period is about 25 -30 degrees celsius; a very appropriate temperature for exploring Ninh Binh.
July to September:
This is Vietnam’s “summertime,” and a lot cheaper for foreigners and you can enjoy everything as usual for a reasonable price. The average temperature in Ninh Binh in summer is usually higher than in other parts of Vietnam. You should make sure to pack necessary items such as sunscreen, water and long sleeves to protect your skin while traveling in Ninh Binh.
November – January
This is a great time for westerners to visit the city. This is the late autumn and winter time in Vietnam. The weather is a little cold but will be a great opportunity for you to explore the city. The temperature is usually around 15 – 20 degrees Celsius, which is very suitable for exploring Ninh Binh by motorcycle. At this time, everything in the city of Ninh Binh is very cheap from the price of rooms to the services of tours.
Must see places in Ninh Binh
There are many places in Ninh Binh to explore. At present, local authorities in Ninh Binh are building and developing many new tourist sites, improving Ninh Binh as a prime destination. Here is a list of must-see places in Ninh Binh.
Kong skull island movie scene – Aboriginal village
Reconstructed in the ecological complex of Trang An, the aboriginal village has a unique entrance,as visitors have to travel by boat through the cave arch famously seen in the skull island movie, in order to reach the village. Once they step on to the island they cross a wooden bridge that leads to the aboriginal village.
The Aboriginal village consists of 40 huts made of bamboo, covering a large amount of ground. The locals that live here are dressed up exactly as the aborigines in the movie, so visitors truly feel like they are living in the movie when they see this place!
Trang An is one of the most popular destinations in Ninh Binh, and is also recognized by UNESCO as a natural and cultural heritage of the world. The scenery here is made up of rivers flowing through the limestone mountains, including numerous natural mysterious caves.
Read more : Trang An – heaven on Earth
Take on the challenge of scaling the mountain top by taking 486 steep steps, making your way up through the cave and surfacing at the top of the mountain, admiring the beauty of Tam Coc and its rice fields stretching endlessly.
Positioned majestically at the top of the mountain is placed a statue of the embodiment of Buddha, gazing over the ancient land.
Tam Coc is located in “Ninh Hai” Commune. Tam Coc means “three caves” in Vietnamese, including “Ca” cave, “Hai” cave and “Ba” cave. All three caves are formed by “Wu Dong” River that pierces the mountains.
To go sightseeing in Tam Coc, tourists have to go by boat down the romantic river “Ngo Dong”, in order to admire the three caves. The scenery of Tam Coc is characterized by the harmonious combination of rock and water. The mountains here carry varied shapes, sloping diagonally one after the other.
Thung Nang is located in Hoa Lu District, Ninh Binh Province. This is a place full of historical relics and stunning hiking trails. It is also a pristine, untouched area of natural beauty in Vietnam.
The winding route through Thung Nang, also down as sunlight valley is about 3km and taken by boat, connecting Bich Dong with “Voi Dai” temple.
Bai Dinh pagoda
Bai Dinh Pagoda is located in the famous Trang An Complex, about 15 km from Ninh Binh City, and is the largest temple in Vietnam. It also contains the largest bronze Buddha in Southeast Asia.
There are hundreds of ancient relic statues dotted around the entrance of the temple. When walking past each statue, many people often touch their hands in hopes of receiving good fortune in life.
The main attractions here are “Tam Quan” Gate and bell tower. To get to these attractive spots you must travel a long way uphill, most of which are steps. This is a way of expressing patience and devotion to the pure places of holiness.
Bai Dinh pagoda is open from 6am on all days of the week and usually closes at 9pm
Bai Dinh pagoda – the destination you should not miss in Ninh Binh .
Bich Dong is located 2 km from Tam Coc , and its name translates to “green.” This name was given by the Deputy Minister Nguyen Nghiem, the father of the great poet Nguyen Du for the cave in 1773. In front of the cave runs the majestic Ngo Dong River and on the other side of the river lies rice fields. It would be interesting experience for you while visiting here.
Cuc phuong national park
Cuc Phuong National Park is a famous tourist destination for ecology and environment. Cuc Phuong attracts several hundred thousand visitors a year as they come to explore the beautiful landscape rich in nature and adventure. There are also opportunities to take part in special ecotourism programs, stay in resorts, go camping, and many other adventurous activities that research cultural history of the area. Cuc Phuong national park – butterfly garden.
There are multiple cave systems in the national park open for tourists to visit including Con Moong, Khong Trang, Son Cung, Pho ma and Thuy Tien.
Phat Diem stone cathedral
Phat Diem cathedral is a Catholic church covering 22 hectares of land, located in Phat Diem town, Kim Son district, Ninh Binh province. Phat Diem cathedral is regarded by many as one of the most beautiful churches in Vietnam, and has been branded the “Catholic capital” of Vietnam.
Thung Nham Bird Park
“Thuy Nham” bird park is located in Ninh Hai Commune, Hoa Lu District, and is full of both cultural and spiritual attractions, combined with the bio-diversified landscape. Not only can visitors enjoy the relaxation and tranquility whilst sitting on the boat but also have a chance to see some of nearly 40 species of wild and rare birds. About 50,000 of them inhabit the surrounding area.
Kenh Ga hot spring
Kenh Ga hot spring is generally one of the most prominent tourist destinations of Ninh Binh. This famous hot spring is recorded in the top 5 hot spring tourist attractions in Vietnam. Kenh Ga hot spring is a promising place of interest for travelers of all ages.
Galaxy cave is located in the Nho Quan district of Ninh Binh province. The cave lies hidden in the mountain range of Trang An. In ancient history this was a position considered effective in protecting the Kings Hoa Lu, Dinh Tien Hoang and Le Dai Hanh. In order to explore Galaxy cave, visitors will have to travel through Muong Tho Ha village and Son Ha commune to a small canal connecting the Ben river system, then continue 500m up a long stone road to reach the gate at the foot of the mountain.
Hoa Lu ancient capital
Hoa Lu Ancient Capital is an important national relic complex and one of the four core areas of the World Heritage Complex of Trang An.
Containing relics stored over a thousand years in this capital you will have the opportunity to explore many amazing places.
Rhizome of Kim Son coastal
Bai Ngang is recognized by UNESCO as one of the world’s biosphere reserves. The area has about 200 species of birds, including 60 migratory birds. Many species are listed in the world’s rare species’ book such as the white stork of north Vietnam. Currently, few visitors know about this place.
Dong Chuong lake
Dong Chuong lake is a natural freshwater reserve located in Nho Quan district, Ninh Binh province. The lake is submerged in thick forest and has a perimeter of nearly 8 km. The reflection of the forest in the water creates a mysterious illusion for all who visits here.
HOW TO GET NINH BINH
Located on the main route connecting the north and south of Vietnam, you can travel to Ninh Binh quite easily. Here are the ways you can get to Ninh Binh from northern, central, and southern Vietnam.
How to get Ninh Binh from the north of Vietnam by public buses
From Hanoi, you can easily get to almost anywhere in Vietnam.. The easiest way to get to Ninh Binh from the north is by going to Hanoi first and then from Hanoi take the bus to Ninh Binh
There are now many bus companies operating the Hanoi – Ninh Binh route, so you can easily get bus tickets either online or at travel agencies.
How to get Ninh Binh by bike
For those who want to travel to Ninh Binh by motorcycle, this is a guide for you (guide to Ninh Binh by motorbike from Hanoi)The easiest way is to use google maps to mark your route to Ninh Binh from your location. Roads in Ninh Binh are very easy and big so you will not encounter any problems or get lost.
RIDE A BIKE IN NINH BINH EXPERIENCE
The best way to discover Ninh Binh in all its glory is to drive a motorbike. Surrounded by dense limestone karst and hailed as “Ha Long Bay on land”, Ninh Binh is a motorcyclist’s heaven. For those who come to Ninh Binh on a motorbike, you can find places using the google map I marked above. For those travelling to Ninh Binh by public bus; this is the guide for you
Bike rental price
Currently, you can rent motorbikes in Ninh Binh with prices ranging from 150,000 VND (without petrol) and 200.000 VND (with petrol). You can easily find nearby bike rental locations in the area you are traveling to in Ninh Binh
Check your bike before the trip !!!
It is important to check your vehicle before the trip. You should ask about the location of the petrol stations in the neighboring area to fill up your bike prior to departing on your trip. You should not fill up your petrol at private petrol places as the petrol rate of the places will be much higher than the official petrol stations. The proper petrol station will have staff wearing uniform and use petrol station signs. The private petrol places don’t have staff as it is run by individuals.
Check the status of your bike’s lights; mirrors; paintwork and tires. Some roads in Ninh Binh in the evening will not have street lights and if your bike’s lights don’t work; it would be extremely dangerous and difficult to ride in the evening.
You should ask the rental bike dealer clearly about your bike breakdown terms and conditions. You should clarify this matter before leaving to avoid a rental companies tricking/scamming you.
You should always ask for the bike provider’s phone number just in case of requiring support. Most of the local people in Ninh Binh are not able to speak English so be aware that communication will be limited.
Is It easy to ride a bike in Ninh Binh?
Yes! The good news is that you can easily ride in Ninh Binh without previous riding experience. All the roads are very wide and smooth with no pot holes. If you are new to driving; you should drive slowly to practice and at the same time ave the chance to discover the most beautiful spots here.
Where to stay in Ninh Binh
At present, there are many accommodations in Ninh Binh you can stay in. These range from motels; hotels; resorts; home stays or Eco-accommodations. Depending on your travel budget and your preference; you can choose one just right for you. You can easily book your reservation on booking; agoda or airbnb.
There are many places to explore in Ninh Binh; so you should plan your schedule and time effectively to reach the places you want to go the most. Once your route has been clearly planned then book the the appropriate accommodation based on the location along your route.
Try Ninh Binh cuisine
If you like trying new and exotic dishes; Ninh Binh is has a lot to offer for you. Let’s check the list of Ninh Binh’s special cuisine below.
Fried crab with vegetables
This is a popular food in Ninh Binh that visitors should try when visiting the ancient capital. The crabs are carefully hand-picked; the vegetables washed and then the two main ingredients are roasted together in a secret recipe. It is the crunch of crabs combined with the fresh aroma of vegetables that makes this dish best enjoyed with rice.
Boiled mountain snail
Mountain snails are a famous specialty in Ninh Binh because of its natural sweetness. Snails eat grass leaves and some natural precious medicines. The mountain snail is prepared in various different ways such as grilled; fried or sautéed with garlic; … but the most favorite is the mountain snail boiled. For this culinary method; the snail is washed and boiled with lemongrass. It’s really just that simple; but this savory dish is attractive to many people. Diners can drizzle the snails with lemon or chili oil.
Goat meat is very popular in Ninh Binh as locals grow goats in mountain farms. Goats are often released to find food. With dense limestone terrain; the goats have to move a lot in the mountains to find grass. This increases the taste of the goat meat as it becomes really soft and tender.
Some notes to keep in mind when traveling in Ninh Binh
Ninh Binh is a very large place. If you are intending to explore all the sites in Ninh Binh; you should stay here for at least 5 days to explore.
You should have your schedule ready in order to book at the right places. At present, there are many tours around Ninh Binh. If you do not have time; you can book tours to discover Ninh Binh; but it is best to prepare yourself as it allows more freedom on the trip.
If you travel in Ninh Binh in summer; you should bring sun-cream, sun-glasses and long sleeved clothes to protect yourself from the heat.
Ask your receptionist for the necessary information prior to leaving because locals rarely speak English.
Always ask for your hotel address and phone number if you should need help in case of a problem.
Ninh Binh is very crowded at the beginning of the year (from January to April). If you travel at this time; the price of the services will be higher.
Hope that my advice will be helpful for you. Have a good trip and be safe.