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Ninh Binh information
Located in northern Vietnam, about 100 km from the capital city of Hanoi, Ninh Binh is widely known as a tourism hub featuring stunning natural landscapes as well as historical and cultural richness.
In a nutshell:
- Ninh Binh province is a popular tourist destination for locals and foreigners in the north of Vietnam.
- The easiest way to get there is by taking a bus or a train from Hanoi. The train journey takes about two hours, while the bus journey takes about 2.5-3 hours.
- The province not only comprises spectacular limestone cliffs, caves, rivers, and rice paddies but also a wealth of ancient temples, pagodas, and palaces to explore.
- It is best to visit Ninh Binh province during the harvest seasons from May to June and from September to October.
- Goat meat is a not-to-miss delicacy in Ninh Binh.
Location and geography
Ninh Binh is a province located in the northern region of Vietnam, approximately 100 km (62 miles) south of Hanoi. The province is bordered by Ha Nam provice to the north, Nam Dinh province to the northeast, Thanh Hoa province to the west and southwest, and Hoa Binh to the northwest.
The total area of Ninh Binh province is about 1,387 square kilometers (535 square miles). Its topography is mainly dominated by limestone mountains, rivers, and rice paddies, making it a perfect attraction for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.
Best time to visit
The best time to visit Ninh Binh is from February to May and from September to November if you expect mild and dry weather and want to take part in outdoor activities. Meanwhile, late May to early June and September to October are the best time to admire gorgeous golden paddy fields.
Best attractions to visit in Ninh Binh province
Among numerous tourist sites in Ninh Binh, Trang An Landscape Complex, Hang Mua, Bai Dinh Pagoda, and the Hoa Lu Ancient Capital appeal to visitors the most.
Trang An Landscape Complex
Covering an area of 12,000 hectares, Trang An Landscape Complex is a UNESCO World Heritage Site offering tourists scenic boat tours through stunning landscapes. As the locals row along winding waterways, you have the opportunity to marvel at majestic limestone karsts, cliffs, and caves.
Tam Coc is dubbed as “Halong Bay on land" for its staggering untouched natural beauty. The best way to experience the beauty of Tam Coc is on a boat tour, which takes visitors through a series of caves and along the Ngo Dong River. During the trip, you can see many towering limestone karsts, winding rivers, and silky rice paddies. Besides, a handful of temples, and pagodas, such as the Thai Vi Temple, which was built in the 13th century become a great source of interest for you to discover.
The name Hang Mua or Mua Cave is believed to derive from its appearance resembling a dancer’s skirt. By climbing a round 500 stone steps to the top of the mountain, you are provided with breathtaking views of the city and the paddy fields from a distance. Additionally, Mua Cave is also famous for its intricate cave system with large chambers with impressive stalactites and stalagmites, as well as a large stone statue of a dragon. Hang Mua is best to be visited during sunrise or sunset.
Bai Dinh Pagoda
A primary religious site in Ninh Binh province is Bai Dinh Pagoda which is worldly known as one of the largest Buddhist temples in Vietnam. The pagoda complex covers an area of 700 hectares. It features impressive architecture, with a mix of traditional and modern elements. The most significant highlight of Bai Dinh Pagoda is the Phap Chu Temple, which is home to a 10-meter-tall bronze statue of the Buddha, making it the largest bronze Buddha statue in Southeast Asia.
Visiting the pagoda, you are also impressed by its spacious gardens and the surrounding countryside covered by lush forests and scenic mountains.
Hoa Lu Ancient Capital
Formerly the capital of Vietnam during the 10th and 11th centuries, Hoa Lu Ancient Capital is a renowned historic site of the country. Visitors to Hoa Lu can get a glimpse of the ruins of the ancient capital, including the temples and palaces that have been preserved over the centuries. The main attractions are the Dinh Temple and Le Temple, which are dedicated to the Dinh and Le dynasties respectively. Both temples feature beautiful architecture, intricate carvings, and stunning scenery. Apart from that, you are also able to ride a bike or motorbike to see the nearby forests, past picturesque villages, and over rolling hills.
How to get there
The distance from Hanoi to Ninh Binh is about 100 kilometers (62 miles) and there are several ways to transfer including taking a bus, train, private car/taxi, and riding a motorbike.
The most common way to travel from Hanoi to Ninh Binh is by bus. Buses depart regularly from Nuoc Ngam Bus Station and Giap Bat Bus Station and travel directly to Ninh Binh City. Buses depart every 30 minutes from the station. The journey takes around 2-3 hours, and the ticket price is approximately 100,000 VND ($4.5 USD) per person. Besides, you can also arrange a bus through local tourism agencies in Hanoi's Old Quarter.
- Nuoc Ngam Bus Station: No 1 Ngoc Hoi Street, Hoang Liet Ward, Hoang Mai District
- Giap Bat Bus Station: Giai Phong Street, Giat Bat Ward, Hoang Mai District
To get to Ninh Binh from Hanoi, you can take a train from Hanoi Railway Station to Ninh Binh Train Station. The journey takes around 2 hours and the train fare is from 60,000 VND ($2.5 USD) to 100,000 VND ($4.5 USD) depending on the type of seat.
By private car or taxi
The most convenient way to transfer from Hanoi to Ninh is to hire a private car or taxi. The whole journey takes 2-3 hours and the cost is around 2,000,000 VND ($43).
If you seek a more challenging experience, it is recommended to rent a motorbike and drive on your own so that you enjoy many beautiful scenic routes along the way. This is also the cheapest way to transfer between the two destinations.
Where to stay
There are plenty of accommodation options in Ninh Binh, ranging from homestays, budget-friendly hostels to luxury resorts. Here are some suggestions for you to consider:
- Tam Coc Rice Fields Resort: Situated in the scenic Tam Coc area and surrounded by beautiful rice fields and limestone mountains, Tam Coc Rice Fields Resort is a great option for a peaceful retreat. It is also close to popular attractions such as Tam Coc, Bich Dong Pagoda, and Hoa Lu Ancient Capital. The resort offers a range of accommodations, including deluxe rooms and bungalows with traditional Vietnamese architecture and modern amenities.
- Emeralda Resort Ninh Binh: This is a luxurious and relaxing retreat set amidst a peaceful and picturesque area surrounded by mountains, rice paddies, and lotus ponds. Some villas in the resorts are appointed with private swimming pools and outdoor bathtubs. There are two outdoor swimming pools, a spa offering a variety of treatments, and several restaurants serving Vietnamese and international cuisine.
- Ninh Binh Hidden Charm Hotel & Resort: Ninh Binh Hidden Charm Resort & Hotel is a boutique hotel with views of lush gardens and rice fields. Accommodation options in the hotel include rooms and bungalows fitted with private balconies or terraces overlooking the garden or pool.
Tips for visiting Ninh Binh
- Wear comfortable shoes and clothing if you get involved in outdoor activities such as climbing mountains, cycling, or trekking through forests.
- Bring insect repellent and sunscreen, especially during the summer months.
- Be respectful and wear proper clothing when visiting temples and historical sites.
- Bargain when shopping at local markets or street vendors.
- Consider booking a guided tour to get an insight into the culture and history of the area.
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