Just an hour or two south of Hanoi, this beautiful rural part of northern Vietnam has been described as ‘Halong Bay On Land’. The scenery here is breathtaking; the land is streaked with vivid green fields and flowing rivers beneath limestone mountains and caves. During your stay, you can spend time exploring the paddy fields by either walking or cycling or taking gentle boat rides through the timeless Trang An ecosystem. There are some interesting off-the-beaten-track temples here and on the flip side, it's worth visiting the largest pagoda in Vietnam, Bai Dinh Pagoda, a pilgrimage site for Vietnamese Buddhists.
The town of Ninh Binh itself is rather uninspiring, however, to the south, the nearby village of Tam Coc has some of the best countryside scenery in the region. In the opposite direction sits one of Vietnam's ancient capitals, Hoa Lu. Not much remains of this 10th-century royal city apart from some intricate archways and the atmospheric dynastic temples of Dinh Tien Hoang, Nhat Tru Temple and Le Dai Hanh.
Home to the Unesco World Heritage Site known as the Trang An Grottoes, the caves, rock formations and canals here are some of the most popular attractions in Ninh Binh. The best way to experience its beauty is to meander down the canals and rivers on a relaxing boat ride with a local as they row you through caves and past temples. If you’re seeking some of the best views in the region, get up high and walk the 500 steps up the Hang Mua Caves to take in the scenery from above, looking out over the mountains, fields and river. For wildlife lovers, Van Long Nature Reserve provides a tranquil and alluring wetland setting ideal for bird watching.
An exciting way to get to and from Ninh Binh is by train as it sits on the main north to south train line. Just a two-hour journey south of Hanoi, you can also continue down south to Hue. Take the 11-hour overnight sleeper train ride and wake up to the tropical scenery before you arrive in Hue.
Vietnam Holidays With A Difference:
Northern Loops of Thailand and Vietnam
Discover the most beautiful parts of both Thailand and Vietnam. Lovely hotels, authentic local experiences, overland travel.
Vietnam Train Odyssey
Traverse Vietnam along the North-South Railway. Take in the scenery from the train and stop to explore the highlights with a guide.
Countryside, Caves & Beach
Take a train through Vietnam's countryside to discover some of the countries lesser-explored natural highlights. Soak up the culture and relax at the beach too.
Northern Adventure & Classic Vietnam
Combine a journey through the remote hills and national parks of the North with a full tour of Vietnam's highlights.