Things to do in Ninh Binh?
Just be careful when you are scrambling around the jagged peaks at the top especially during the rainy season as it can get extremely slippery. Many organized tours inclNinh Binh as a city may not turn heads like Hoi An or Hue but the nature surrounding the city and the fact that it is only an hour’s drive away from Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam makes it a great place for travelers who are looking to escape the bustling Hanoi and be among nature.
Within this guide, you will find all the information you need to visit Ninh Binh and a complete list of the best things to do in and around the city. Without further ado, here are the best 8 things to do in Ninh Binh.ude a visit to Mua Cave and if you are short on time, I highly recommend you join one for the trip.
Climb Up The Mua Cave Viewpoint
Mua Cave Viewpoint is hands down, my favorite tourist attraction in Ninh Binh. Although the temple and the cave itself are pretty average, the stairway with elaborated dragon sculptures straddled on 2 sides that goes up the limestone mountain to a viewpoint is another story.
The Mua Cave Viewpoint will require you to hike up the 486 steps along a stone stairway that zig-zags its way up to the top of a limestone mountain giving you an incredible vantage point and a sweeping view of Tam Coc where you will see why they called it the on land Halong Bay.
At the top, you will also find all kinds of concrete sculptures ornating the limestone peaks from a dragon sculpture to a tiered pagoda. It is one of the most popular places to take photos and definitely offers an incredible vantage point during sunset.
Just be careful when you are scrambling around the jagged peaks at the top especially during the rainy season as it can get extremely slippery. Many organized tours include a visit to Mua Cave and if you are short on time, I highly recommend you join one for the trip.
Go On A Trang An Boat Ride
One of the most famous things to do in Ninh Binh is to go on a boat ride along the beautiful river nestled between the stunning limestone mountains and there is no better place to do it than in Trang An.
In Trang An, you will find many limestone mountains perching up from green rice paddies, and you can go on a boat ride along the river that zig-zag its way around these limestone mountains and into a 1-km long cave, the longest cave out of the many cave networks in the area.
There are several routes you can take but only the third route will take you through a cave. Before you book anything, make sure with the boat operator that the route you are taking goes through Dot Cave.
You can visit Trang An independently and get a ticket right at the pier or you can go as part of an organized tour which should handle all the logistics as well as take you to other beautiful places in Ninh Binh.
Visit Bich Dong Pagoda
Bich Dong Pagoda is an ancient tiered pagoda nestled in between the limestone mountains in Ninh Binh and it is one of the most scenic places in the area.
Bich Dong Pagoda’s ornate gate with a stone bridge spanning across a beautiful lotus pond is probably one of the most iconic sights in Ninh Binh.
There are several levels you can hike to once you are at the temple. There is a stairway going up the mountain that will take you to the middle-tiered pagoda and another to the top-tiered pagoda although the last part was more of a scramble than a hike.
These pagodas and temples are dated all the way back to the 18th Century and like most Buddhist sites in Vietnam, make sure that your dress code is correct and your shoulders and knees are well-covered before visiting.
Many cycling tours also include a visit to Bich Dong Pagoda and so if you are looking to learn a little bit more about the history of Bich Dong Pagoda, I highly recommend you go on an organized tour instead of doing it independently.
Stroll Around Hoa Lu Ancient Capital
Hoa Lu is an ancient capital city of the Dinh and Le dynasties that reigned over this area for many centuries and it is considered to be the first capital city of Vietnam, being established in the 10th Century.
Hoa Lu is home to many old temples and antique structures that will give you a glimpse of what it must have been like in the first capital city of Vietnam during its peak.
Walking through Hoa Lu is as close to a time machine as it gets and the surrounding nature, layered banyan trees, and the idyllic atmosphere makes the temple a great place to stroll around in the morning.
You can visit Hoa Lu independently or you can go on a full-day cycling tour which will often include a visit to other parts of Ninh Binh as well making it much more convenient to see all the tourist attractions in a short period of time.
Bai Dinh Pagoda
Bai Dinh Pagoda is a massive temple complex in Ninh Binh that spans more than 700 hectares, making it the largest temple complex in Vietnam and one of the largest in Southeast Asia.
The temple complex consists of several temples both old and new all of which are adorned with complex Vietnamese-Chinese-style designs and intricate details that will remind you of the Forbidden City in Beijing.
Since the temple complex is spread out in a large area, you can either walk or pay a bit more to get on one of those buggy cars and vroom around the temple complex.
There is also a nice viewpoint up the top of a 13-story watchtower that offers a sweeping panoramic view of the temple complex and all its surroundings but you will have to pay a little extra to get on an elevator to go up to the top.
Go On A Bike Tour Around The Countryside Of Ninh Binh
Ninh Binh’s beauty lies not in its bustling city but in the surrounding nature in the countryside and there is no better way to explore all the green rice paddies, limestones mountains, and temples in Ninh Binh than to go on a cycling tour.
Most cycling tours in Ninh Binh often include visiting other tourist attractions like Hoa Lu and Tam Coc and if you are already planning to visit these places but are not sure how to get there, the cycling tour is a great option for you.
You will also be able to enjoy the sceneries of Ninh Binh’s countryside at your own leisure if you choose to explore the area with a bike and trust me, there are a ton of amazing sights and photo spots along the way.
Explore Cuc Phuong National Park
Cuc Phuong National Park is considered to be the first established national park in the country and the country’s largest nature reserve spanning more than 200 km.
The national park is also home to many rare floras and faunas as well as critically endangered species like Delacour’s langur, golden-headed langur, and black-crested gibbon.
Although you can explore parts of Cuc Phuong National Park on a bike, the national park is best done on foot, and to really do the place justice, I highly recommend you go on an organized tour that will help guide you through these lush valleys and charming forests.
You can probably find a local tour in Ninh Binh when you are there but most Cuc Phuong National Park tours that you can reserve online are often part of a larger tour and they leave from Hanoi so if you are looking to visit Ninh Binh and Cuc Phuong National Park as a day trip from Hanoi, you can book the tour here.
Visit Van Long Nature Reserve
Standing amid the stunning limestone mountains in Ninh Binh, Van Long Nature Reserve is one of the few wetlands in the area that is known for its abundance of bird species and other rare animals like the endangered Delacour’s langurs.
The nature reserve is another prime place to go on a boat ride but this time, with way fewer people than the Trang An boat ride and you will get to experience the nature of the wetlands in all its glory.
There is also a cave you can ride through but only when the water level is high enough so if you want to visit the cave, so be sure to visit during the rainy season.