Set at the south of the Red River Delta, Ninh Binh is brimming over with inspiring scenes. Spring heralds the festival season in this ancient land as the red silk cotton flowers light up the rustic villages. When the ripe rice season comes, it immerses in a shiny golden shade of immense paddy fields. At any time of the year, nature blesses this charming land with mesmerizing landscapes.
Owing to striking limestone karsts, shimmering rivers, vast rice fields, and record-breaking Buddhism pagodas, Ninh Binh holds the sheer beauty beyond what you have ever imagined. Being the ancient capital of the country, it also retains unique historical and cultural values for hundreds of years.
Best time to visit
Under the affection of the tropical monsoon climate, Ninh Binh has a hot, humid summer lasting from May to August with high rainfall and a typical chilly, dry winter lasting from November to January with low humidity.
Thanks to its geographical location, Ninh Binh is endowed with milder weather than most other parts of Northeast Vietnam. In fact, you can travel to Ninh Binh all year round. However, the best time to set foot on this beautiful land is spring (from February to April), when it enters the festival season with countless cultural and recreational activities.
From the end of May to the beginning of June, Ninh Binh changes its appearance as the golden ripen rice paddies cover every corner of the land, making up the painting-like scenery. Thousands of travelers visit Ninh Binh during this time to capture the speechless beauty of nature through their lens.
How to get to Ninh Binh
As Ninh Binh is a tourism hub in the North, transportation to the imperial land is relatively convenient and diverse. About 90 km south away from Hanoi, Ninh Binh can be easily reached by shuttle bus, motorbike or train.
By shuttle bus
If you decide to take a shuttle bus, the most popular choice for both locals and expats, the ride is supposed to take about 2 to 3 hours, varying to your drop-off location. There are numerous bus companies providing daily routes from Hanoi to Ninh Binh. You can go straight to Hanoi bus stations (Gia Lam, Giap Bat, and My Dinh Station), grab a seat and enjoy your journey or book a ticket well in advance on local booking websites.
From main metropolises such as Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City or Hue, you can easily access Ninh Binh by train.
Departing from Hanoi, it takes 2,5 hours to get to the Ninh Binh train station by rail. As Ninh Binh train station is set right in the centre of the city, you can quickly hop on a taxi to get to other attractions. Vietnam Railway offers a list of daily trains featuring the Hanoi-Ninh Binh route, consisting of SE1, SE3, SE5, SE7, and SE19. You can hop on 3 trains from Hue, including SE5, SE7, and SE19, to get to Ninh Binh. For anyone to travel from Ho Chi Minh City, feel free to take SE2, SE6, and SE8 trains. The travelling time will take more than 20 hours due to the remote location.
As Ninh Binh is not far from Hanoi, traveling by motorbike has become a trending option among young locals and foreigners in recent years. Saving about 30-60 minutes of transferring compared to the shuttle bus, travelling by motorbike also makes it more convenient to discover the local attractions around.
Getting around Ninh Binh
The roads in Ninh Binh are flat and smooth, so it’s relatively easy to ride a motorbike around. Most hotels and homestays in Ninh Binh offer motorbikes/bike renting service. You can also grab a taxi to Tam Coc as an alternative. Once arriving there, those fond of walking can get to Bich Dong Cave and even Hang Mua on foot.
Beyond the nearby destinations, to visit Trang An, Hoa Lu and Bai Dinh Pagoda, you’ll need to either go by motorbike or grab a taxi/motorbike taxi for transfer between spots. Otherwise, booking on an all-in-one tour or taking the hotel’s car renting service is also a great choice.
Things to see
Trang An Complex
Possessing one of the most spectacular karst mountainscape in the world, Trang An is a complex of fascinating landscapes, mysterious caverns, and historical and cultural relics. With the stunning beauty of nature and long-standing festivals, Trang An deserves its title as a UNESCO cultural heritage.
Taking a boat trip on the shimmering rivers to admire endless paddy fields, dense forests, mysterious caves and limestone peaks of all shapes and sizes, you will get lost in the divine land of scenic beauty.
Bai Dinh Pagoda
Well regarded as the largest Buddism temple complex in Southeast Asia, Bai Dinh has a thousand things to offer travelers. This spiritual hot spot combines several sacred Buddism temples and over 500 elaborately carved statues of Buddha. The imposing scenes of surrounding karst peaks and divine ambience make Bai Dinh the most sacred destination in North Vietnam. During springtime, also the festival season, thousands of people flock to the site to worship and pray for peace and fortune.
Tam Coc – Bich Dong
Praised as “a terrestrial Ha Long Bay”, the charming destination includes Bich Dong pagoda and Tam Coc grotto. Possessing rice fields and karst mountain ranges, this complex offers a beautiful painting of nature that captivates people’s hearts. Sparkling like a jewel, Tam Coc Grotto is endowed with fascinating stalactites and stalagmites in all shapes and colours. Meanwhile, Bich Dong is covered in the green mist of Ngu Nhac Mountain, boasting the stunning scenery of mountains and fields in the surroundings.
Humbly set on the foot of a karst mountain, Mua Cave has recently earned fame as a trending destination in Ninh Binh travel guides. As the legend reveals, the Emperors of Tran Dynasty used to come to this beautiful cave to enjoy the dancing and singing performance. Therefore, this destination gets its name as Mua Cave, which literally means “dancing cave” in Vietnamese. Climbing nearly 500 stone steps up to the top of the mountain, you will be overwhelmed by a painting-like panoramic view of beautiful mountain ranges dotted on endless lush paddy fields.
Cuc Phuong National Park
What sets Cuc Phuong apart from numerous national parks across the country is its butterfly season lasting from April to late May. Coming to Cuc Phuong at this time, visitors are enchanted by the breath-taking view of thousands of white butterflies flocking to the ground, just waving your hands, the flock of butterflies will flap their wings, making up the magnificent scenery that is only found in fairy tales. Tuyet Tinh Coc
Situated on the east of Hoa Lu Cidental, Tuyet Tinh Coc is a perfect bend of jade-coloured lakes, majestic mountains and Buddhism pagodas. The heavenly corner has astonished thousands of travellers with its unspoiled beauty. Once being an off-the-beaten-track destination until a tunnel was constructed to make the transferring easier, it is a little paradise when people can leave all the outside world’s daily chaos behind and purify themselves in nature.
Where to stay in Ninh Binh
A top-rated destination in Vietnam, Ninh Binh offers various hostels, homestays, hotels, and resorts sprinkled through the city and its suburbs to meet the growing accommodation demands of tourists.
Besides budget-friendly hostels for backpackers, it also features unique close-to-nature homestays, luxury hotels and resorts. Whether backpackers or high budget travellers, Ninh Binh is in no shortage of accommodation for any kind of travellers.
Tam Coc Bungalow
Nestled in the middle of beautifully overgrown gardens, Tam Coc Bungalow is surrounded by steep mountains and Tam Coc river where humble fisherman row on the emerald waters. The panoramic view of surroundings creates a beautiful picture straight out of a fairytale. Unwind and relax in rustic bungalows with comfy accommodation, wake up in the morning with the soft chirping sound of birds singing; this homestay has everything to indulge even the fastidious guests.
Being a newcomer in this bustling tourism hub, Camellia is set right in the heart of Trang An ecotourism area. The convenient location set it a great base to visit and travel renowned attractions around. Apart from marvelous mountainscape, this hotel also wins people’s hearts for its superb services and utilities.
Emeralda Ninh Binh Resort & Spa
A little bit far away from downtown, Emeralda is a boutique resort with luxury 5-star villas set on the edge of a national reserve. Featuring elegant architecture with a traditional design concept, it allures guests with luxury accommodation and various modern facilities, including a private pool, spa and fitness centre. You can feast your mouth on Ninh Binh specialities at intimate restaurants, then stroll on the paths surrounding the gardens, which are lit up by yellow lanterns at night.
Traveling and having personally touched experiences of luxurious services; exploring new, attractive and unique products at each destination is my great passion during the last two decades of working in traveling industry. For me, traveling is all about memories and experiences.