Ninh Binh

Hidden gems of Ninh Binh – a full guideline for foreign backpackers

Ninh Binh 1

Photo by Mộc Cadie

Binh Ninh – as known as the hidden gem of Vietnam – is famous for its majestic landscapes and jaw-dropping sceneries, containing hundreds of limestone cliffs emerging from the ground across rice fields. As a place which is still not yet commercially exploited, maybe you need a very first guideline of every details to get to this wonderful place. If there’s a yes in your head, then check out our tips for traveling Ninh Binh below:

 

BEST TIME TO VISIT NINH BINH

 

I have to say this, almost any time of the year is suitable time to visit Ninh Binh. Having a mild temperature between 15oC – 25oC in the spring-winter and 25oC – 33oC in the hot summer, Ninh Binh is not too cold or hot throughout the year. Like in other northern Vietnam provinces, May to Oct in Ninh Binh is hot, humid, and high rainfall. From Nov to Apr maybe a little cooler and dry. However, if you get there in the rainy season, it’s also the best vivid green time of rice fields, taking a picture of this figure scenery seems not to be a bad choice, right?

 

WHERE TO GO IN NINH BINH

The urban city of Ninh Binh itself has nothing for you to do, actually. All the gemstones are in the rural side of this destination. When it comes to Ninh Binh, I can speak out 4 most visited places, include:

  1. Trang An: Trang An Grottoes, Hoa Lu Temple, Bai Dinh Pagoda (that’s excellent!), Thung Nha Bird garden
  2. Tam Coc: Tam Coc rice fields, Tam Coc boat ride, Bich Dong Pagoda, Hang Mua Temple
  3. Van Long: Van Long nature reserve, Dich Long cave, Dich Long pagoda
  4. Cuc Phuong National park

All of these places are awesome with photogenic views. I think going with couples of friends or going in groups are best so you can take photos for each other. 

 

GET TO NINH BINH

If you are in Hanoi and want to arrive Ninh Binh, train is a good choice for you. There’re 3 southbound trains available. Personally i prefer travel by bus, as it’s more convenient. You can easily buy a bus ticket to Ninh Binh with the price range from 130 000 VND (~$5,6). However maybe it’ll be a little uncomfortable if you buy at the cheapest price, so remember to pay a little more to have a more pleasant journey. 

Both train and bus take 2 hour to drive, and you can book the trip with any travel agent you believe!

 

If you’re in the south Vietnam, bus and train are both available. The trains departing from Hue to Hanoi stops at Ninh Binh, so it shouldn’t be so hard to get on one. Besides, there’re direct buses to Ninh Binh from Cat Ba or Ha Long Bay. In case you want to travel by bus, make sure you know exactly where’s the bus stop is as there’re many different bus agents, and don’t get on the wrong bus! 

Check out 10-day journey around incredible northern Vietnam

WHAT TO DO IN NINH BINH?

Whether you’re still wondering Ninh Binh has what, i must say Ninh Binh has lots of things for you to go crazy with. Next I will go through some typical destinations of Ninh Binh for your reference

Trang An boat ride

Yes, I most like this activity over all the things. You will hop on a rowing boat and a lady rower like this takes you about 2 hours going through caves, lakes, and temples. A rower usually waits for 4 positions until begin the journey. 

During the whole trip, the scenery is mesmerizing. In Trang An also have fewer visitors experiencing boat ride than Tam Coc, so you will not wait long. The price for each person is VND 200 000. Having no duty to pay more for the rower but you can bonus them a tip because tourism is a major source of income for the area, especially ferryman. 

Go pagoding and worshiping

Ninh Binh has a lot of pagodas and temples for worshipers. Perhaps the most dramatic and photogenic is Hang Mua temple. Lying on top of hills, this destination is both a challenge and a delight for your journey. The view from high place over scenery is awesome. If you’re looking for something less challenging but still beautiful, i recommend the Bai Dinh pagoda. This recently rebuilt Buddhist pagoda is huge and attracts lots of visitors every time through the year. Although the fact that it’s heavily destroyed by time and war, Hoa Lu ancient capital is also a worthy place to visit. 

Visit Thung Nham bird garden

Tucked away of the mountains, this natural park is where most of the bird in the region make their nest. The park has several caves and hiking trails which is perfect for taking a fresh air and go on a relaxing walk. 

 

Go wild in Cuc Phuong national park 

 

Cuc Phuong is well-known as a rare well-preserved natural park. It’s a great place for hiking, biking or observing rare kinds of birds and wide range of wild animals. The national park sits 45km away from Ninh Binh city and there is a mandatory 20000 VND fee for a guide agent. 

 

ENTRANCE FEE AND CONTACT

I lay below entrance fee of these destinations for you (as per 2018):

  1. Hoa Lu ancient capital: 20.000 VND/adult. 10.000 VND/children
  2. Tam Coc – Bich Dong
  • Address: Ninh Hai, Hoa Lu district, Ninh Binh
  • Entrance fee: – Sightseeing ticket: 120.000 VND/person. With children’s height is below 140cm: 60.000 VND/person
  • Boat ticket: 150.000/boat (4 vietnamese person or 2 foreigners ). Free for children who are under 3 years old.
  1. Vuon Chim – Thung Nham
  • Address: Ninh Hai, Hoa Lu district, Ninh Binh
  • Entrance fee: 100.000 VND/adult. – Free for children who are below 0.8m in height. – Children’s height is from 0.8m to 1.3m: 50.000 VND/person. – Children’s height is above 1.3m: Same price as adult.
  • Boat ticket to visit bird field: 20.000 VND/person
  • Entrance ticket for visiting But cave: 20.000 VND/person
  1. Van Long natural reserve 
  • Address: Gia Van, Gia Vien district, Ninh Binh
  • Entrance fee: – Sightseeing ticket: 20.000 VND/person. Boat ticket: 60.000/boat (2 person)
  1. Ancient Trang An: 
  • Entrance fee: 45.000 VND/person
  1. Bai Dinh Pagoda
  • Address: Gia Sinh, Gia Vien district, Ninh Binh
  • Ticket Price: 

Electrical car: 30.000 VND/person for 1 way ticket

Visiting Bao Thap: 50.000 VND/person 

  1. Cuc Phuong National Park
  • Address: Cuc Phuong, Nho Quan district, Ninh Binh
  • Entrance fee: 60.000 VND/person, 20.000 VND/student, 10.000 VND/children
  1. Am Tien Cave
  • Address: Hoa Lu district, Ninh Binh
  • Entrance fee: 20.000 VND/person
  1. Mua Cave
  • Address: Ninh Xuan, Hoa Lu district, Ninh Binh
  • Entrance fee: 100.000 VND/person
  1. Non Nuoc Mountain 
  • Entrance fee: 5000 VND/person

 

  

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