Discover The Hidden Gem of Vietnam's Ninh Binh: Where Natural Beauty Meets Ancient Wonders

Photo of Discover The Hidden Gem of Vietnam's Ninh Binh: Where Natural Beauty Meets Ancient Wonders by Pamela Mukherjee

Ninh Binh, located in northern Vietnam, is a captivating destination that offers a perfect blend of stunning natural landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and historical sites. Ninh Binh is often referred to as "Halong Bay on land" due to its breathtaking limestone karsts, lush green rice fields, and winding waterways. The region is dotted with ancient temples, pagodas, and caves, making it a unique and picturesque destination.

Here's a detailed description, places to visit, weather information, accommodation options, food highlights, and a suggested itinerary for your trip to Ninh Binh.

Photo of Discover The Hidden Gem of Vietnam's Ninh Binh: Where Natural Beauty Meets Ancient Wonders by Pamela Mukherjee


Ninh Binh has a rich history that dates back thousands of years. The region has been inhabited since prehistoric times, and various ancient civilizations have left their marks on its landscape and culture.

During the early years of Vietnam's history, Ninh Binh was an important political and cultural center. In the 10th century, it became the capital of the Dinh Dynasty and later the early Le Dynasty. The area was strategically chosen for its natural defenses, surrounded by limestone mountains and rivers.

The Bai Dinh Pagoda, located in Ninh Binh, is said to have been founded during the Tran Dynasty and has since become one of the largest Buddhist complexes in Southeast Asia. In the more recent history of Vietnam, Ninh Binh played a role during the French colonial period and the Vietnam War. The region was heavily bombed by the United States during the war, and remnants of that era can still be seen in certain areas.

Ninh Binh's history has shaped its identity as a place of historical significance and natural beauty, making it an intriguing destination for travelers interested in exploring Vietnam's cultural heritage.

Places To Visit

Embark on a scenic boat ride along the Ngo Dong River, passing through magnificent limestone caves and surrounded by mesmerizing rice paddies.


The cost of visiting Tam Cốc - Bích Động includes several components:

Entrance Fee: As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, the entrance fee for Tam Cốc - Bích Động was around 150,000 VND (approximately $6.50 USD). Please note that prices may have changed, so it's best to check the latest information.

Boat Ride: The main attraction at Tam Cốc - Bích Động is the boat ride along the Ngo Dong River, which takes you through caves and breathtaking scenery. The cost for a boat ride is typically around 150,000 to 200,000 VND per person (approximately $6.50 to $8.50 USD). The boats can accommodate around two to four people.

Trang An Landscape Complex: Explore the UNESCO World Heritage site by taking a boat tour, navigating through caves, limestone karsts, and tranquil waterways.


The cost of visiting Trang An includes several components:

Entrance Fee: As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, the entrance fee for Trang An was around 200,000 VND (approximately $8.50 USD) for adults and 100,000 VND (approximately $4.25 USD) for children. These fees are for access to the Trang An complex.

Boat Ride: The main attraction at Trang An is the boat tour that takes you through the river caves and scenic landscapes. The cost for a boat ride is typically around 200,000 VND per person (approximately $8.50 USD). The boats can accommodate around two to four people.

Hoa Lu Ancient Capital: Discover the remnants of the ancient capital of Vietnam, including temples and royal palaces, which showcase the country's rich history.

Photo of Bai Dinh Pagoda, Gia Viễn by Pamela Mukherjee

Visit the largest Buddhist complex in Southeast Asia, featuring impressive architecture, numerous statues, and serene surroundings.


The temple complex is generally open from around 6:00 am to 6:00 pm.


There are no official entrance fees for visiting Bai Dinh Pagoda itself. However, there may be fees for specific attractions or services within the complex. Here are some possible costs to consider:

Electric Car/Shuttle Bus: Bai Dinh Pagoda is quite large, and to reach the main pagoda area, you may need to take an electric car or shuttle bus. The cost for the electric car or shuttle bus ride is typically around 30,000 VND to 50,000 VND (approximately $1.30 to $2.20 USD) per person.

Cable Car (optional): If you wish to take the cable car to the top of Bai Dinh Mountain, which offers a panoramic view of the area, there will be an additional cost. The cable car ticket price is usually around 120,000 VND to 200,000 VND (approximately $5.20 to $8.70 USD) per person for a round trip.

Venture into the lush greenery of this national park, home to diverse flora and fauna, and enjoy hiking trails and wildlife spotting.


The park is open for visitors from 7:00 am to 5:00 pm daily. It is advisable to arrive early in the morning to make the most of your visit and to avoid the midday heat.


The cost of visiting Cuc Phuong National Park includes several components:

Entrance Fee: As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, the entrance fee for Cuc Phuong National Park was approximately 60,000 VND (around $2.50 USD) per person. Please note that prices may have changed, so it's best to check the latest information.


Ninh Binh experiences a tropical climate with four distinct seasons. The best time to visit is during the dry season, from November to April, when the weather is mild and pleasant. The wet season, from May to October, brings occasional rainfall and higher temperatures.

Photo of Discover The Hidden Gem of Vietnam's Ninh Binh: Where Natural Beauty Meets Ancient Wonders by Pamela Mukherjee


Ninh Binh offers a range of accommodation options to suit various budgets and preferences. You can find luxurious resorts, boutique hotels, guesthouses, and homestays in the city center or near popular tourist attractions. Some recommended places to stay include

Ninh Binh Hidden Charm Hotel

Cost @INR 8.5K /per night/ for two persons

Ninh Binh Legend Hotel

Cost @INR 5.3K /per night/ for two persons

Emeralda Resort Ninh Binh

Cost @INR 14K /per night/ for two persons

How to Reach Ninh Binh

To reach Ninh Binh, you have several transportation options available:

By Train: The most convenient and popular way to travel to Ninh Binh is by train. Ninh Binh has its own train station called Ninh Binh Railway Station, which is well connected to major cities in Vietnam, including Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. You can check the train schedules and book tickets through the official website of Vietnam Railways or through reputable travel agencies.

By Bus: Ninh Binh is also accessible by bus from various cities in Vietnam. There are both public and private bus companies operating routes to Ninh Binh. The bus journey and comfort level can vary depending on the departure point.

By Car: If you prefer the flexibility of driving, you can rent a car or hire a private driver to reach Ninh Binh. The journey from Hanoi to Ninh Binh takes approximately 2–3 hours, depending on traffic conditions. The route is well-maintained and straightforward, with options to take either National Highway 1 or the expressway.

By Motorbike: For those who enjoy riding motorbikes, you can rent one in Hanoi and take a scenic ride to Ninh Binh. It offers a more adventurous and immersive experience, allowing you to enjoy the picturesque countryside along the way. However, be cautious of traffic and ensure you have proper licenses and safety gear.


Ninh Binh is known for its delectable local cuisine. Some must-try dishes include:

Com Chay (Burned Rice): Crispy rice crust served with various toppings and dipping sauces.

Goat Meat: Ninh Binh is famous for its savory and tender goat meat dishes.

Eel Rice Vermicelli: A local specialty featuring grilled eel served over rice noodles with herbs and fish sauce.

Mountain Snail Rice Noodles: A flavorful dish with snails, pork, and herbs served in a tasty broth.

Why should you visit Ninh Binh?

There are several reasons why you should consider visiting Ninh Binh:

Photo of Discover The Hidden Gem of Vietnam's Ninh Binh: Where Natural Beauty Meets Ancient Wonders by Pamela Mukherjee

Natural Beauty: Ninh Binh is blessed with breathtaking natural landscapes. The towering limestone karsts, picturesque rice fields, and winding waterways create a mesmerizing and serene atmosphere that will leave you in awe.

Cultural Heritage: The region is steeped in a rich cultural heritage and history. Explore ancient temples, pagodas, and historical sites that offer insights into Vietnam's past. Hoa Lu Ancient Capital, in particular, is a significant historical site worth visiting.

Unique Boat Tours: Ninh Binh is famous for its boat tours along the Ngo Dong River and through caves and waterways. Tam Coc and Trang An offer enchanting experiences as you glide through stunning scenery and limestone formations.

Authentic Local Experience: Ninh Binh provides a more authentic and less crowded experience compared to other popular destinations in Vietnam. It allows you to immerse yourself in the local culture, interact with friendly locals, and experience the laid-back countryside atmosphere.

Outdoor Activities: Nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts will find plenty to do in Ninh Binh. From hiking in Cuc Phuong National Park to cycling through the countryside, there are various outdoor activities that cater to different interests.

Culinary Delights: Ninh Binh is known for its delicious local cuisine. Sample unique dishes such as burned rice, goat meat, and eel rice vermicelli, offering a delightful culinary experience that showcases the region's flavors and specialties.

Easy Access from Hanoi: Ninh Binh is conveniently located just a few hours' drive from Hanoi, making it easily accessible for a day trip or a short getaway from the bustling city.

Overall, Ninh Binh offers a perfect combination of natural beauty, cultural heritage, and local experiences, making it a worthwhile destination to explore in Vietnam.

Ninh Binh Itinerary (3 days):

Day 1:

Morning: Visit Hoa Lu Ancient Capital and explore the historical sites.

Afternoon: Take a boat tour in Tam Coc and enjoy the stunning scenery.

Evening: Indulge in local cuisine at a traditional restaurant in Ninh Binh.

Day 2:

Morning: Discover the Trang An Landscape Complex on a boat tour and marvel at its natural beauty.

Afternoon: Explore Bai Dinh Pagoda and admire its grandeur and spiritual ambiance.

Evening: Relax at your accommodation and enjoy a peaceful evening.

Day 3:

Morning: Embark on a hiking adventure in Cuc Phuong National Park and immerse yourself in nature.

Afternoon: Visit local villages, interact with locals, and experience their traditional way of life.

Evening: Enjoy a farewell dinner and reflect on your memorable journey in Ninh Binh.

Is Ninh Binh safe for solo female travelers?

Ninh Binh is generally considered a safe destination for solo female travelers. Vietnam, in general, is a safe country for travelers, and Ninh Binh is no exception. However, it's always important to take certain precautions to ensure your safety and well-being while traveling solo:

Research and Plan: Before your trip, research the local customs, culture, and any specific safety considerations for the area. Familiarize yourself with the local emergency numbers and have a basic understanding of the transportation options.

Stay Connected: Inform someone you trust about your travel plans, including your itinerary, accommodation details, and any changes to your plans. Regularly check in with them and let them know if you encounter any issues or change your plans.

Accommodation: Choose reputable and secure accommodation options. Read reviews and consider staying in well-reviewed hotels, guesthouses, or homestays that cater to solo travelers. Check the safety features of your accommodation, such as good lighting, secure locks, and 24-hour front desk service.

Dress appropriately: Respect the local culture and dress modestly, particularly when visiting religious sites or rural areas. It's a good idea to carry a scarf or shawl to cover your shoulders when needed.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings: Stay vigilant and aware of your surroundings, especially in crowded areas or at night. Avoid displaying valuable items and keep your belongings secure. Trust your instincts and be cautious when interacting with strangers.

Transportation: Use reputable transportation services and consider pre-arranged transfers or taxis recommended by your accommodation. If you're renting a motorcycle, ensure you have proper licenses and take the necessary precautions for road safety.

Solo Activities: Consider joining organized tours or group activities when exploring Ninh Binh. This not only enhances your safety but also allows you to meet other travelers and share experiences.

As with any travel destination, it's important to exercise common sense and take the necessary precautions to ensure your safety. By staying informed, using good judgment, and being aware of your surroundings, you can have a safe and enjoyable solo trip to Ninh Binh.

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