Travel Experience in Ninh Binh for Independent Travelers

July 17, 2020 11 mins to read

You have to visit Ninh Binh while we’re still young. Its natural beauty and rich cultural and historical significance make Ninh Binh the most beloved destination.

Did you know that less than 100km from the capital city of Hanoi lies a place of lush greenery and azure waters with breathtaking landscapes? That place is Ninh Binh, with the ancient capital of Hoa Lu boasting a glorious history, a majestic natural tourist complex, and numerous spiritual landmarks.

Ninh Binh entices travelers with its magnificent natural landscapes and architectural wonders steeped in millennia of history. Nowadays, there’s a growing interest among young generations in exploring their roots and delving into ancient cultures. Let’s examine what Ninh Binh has to offer to both domestic and international travelers, with leading the way.

What Makes Ninh Binh Special?

Ninh Binh is a renowned tourist province nationwide, with historical sites dating back to the Dinh, Ly, and Early Le dynasties. Not only that, but Ninh Binh also boasts stunning natural beauty with its meandering river systems amidst towering mountains. This proves that Ninh Binh is a city rich in potential for cultural, entertainment, culinary, conference, and sports tourism. It’s the hub of famous tourist attractions such as the Trang An cave complex, Tam Coc – Bich Dong, Cuc Phuong National Park, Phat Diem Cathedral, the ancient capital of Hoa Lu, the Van Long nature reserve, and Dong Thai Lake.

When is the Best Time to Visit Ninh Binh?

Ninh Binh’s climate is relatively mild compared to other regions in the Red River Delta, between the mountainous Northwest and the coastal Northern areas. Therefore, traveling to Ninh Binh is comfortable and enjoyable year-round, with distinct seasons.

Spring in Ninh Binh is cool and refreshing, perfect for springtime excursions. Every beginning of the year marks festive seasons in Ninh Binh, such as the Bai Dinh Pagoda festival and the Hoa Lu ancient capital festival, making exploring this ancient land convenient.

Summer is the most beautiful season in Ninh Binh, with lotus flowers blooming on rivers or tranquil ponds captivating visitors with their beauty. Moreover, the vibrant yellow of ripening rice fields in Tam Coc is an added charm for travelers.

Autumn in Ninh Binh is gentle and cozy, without the scorching heat. The pale pink of fading lotus flowers gives way to the pure beauty of water lilies. This can be considered the best season to visit Ninh Binh.

Winter in Ninh Binh is chilly, with sparse rainfall and dense air. You can feel the cold breeze as you immerse yourself in the beauty of the lush green grass patches.

How to Travel to Ninh Binh Independently from Hanoi

Ninh Binh is approximately 95km from Hanoi, and it takes about 2 hours to travel there. So, how many ways are there to reach Ninh Binh from Hanoi? Let’s go over some popular methods:

1. Traveling to Ninh Binh by Bus

To travel to Ninh Binh independently from Hanoi: From My Dinh/ Nuoc Ngam/ Giap Bat bus stations, you can board a bus heading to Nho Quan or Kim Son bus stations. The ticket price per person ranges from 80,000 VND to 120,000 VND, depending on the bus class. You can continue renting a motorbike or taking a taxi/Grab to your desired tourist destinations.

2. Traveling to Ninh Binh by Personal Car

A more private and flexible way to travel is by using your car, where you can easily arrange your itinerary and make stops wherever you wish. If you don’t own a car, renting a car with a driver or self-driving is a sensible choice, with costs ranging from 1-2 million VND for a 4-7 seater car, which is often more economical than taking a bus.

3. Traveling by Motorbike

Calling all adventurous travelers from! You can start from Giai Phong Street towards National Highway 1A and then head to Phu Ly-Ha Nam to reach Ninh Binh. Along the way, there will be signposts to guide you, but don’t forget to regularly check Google Maps on your phone to stay on the right track.

Famous Tourist Destinations in Ninh Binh

Ninh Binh is renowned for its many famous landmarks, not only for its natural beauty but also for its historical relics dating back over ten centuries. Some unmissable tourist destinations when visiting this area include:

1. Trang An Ninh Binh

When mentioning tourism in Ninh Binh, one immediately thinks of the Trang An tourist complex. Covering an area of over 2,168 hectares, it is located 7km west of Ninh Binh city center. Trang An captivates visitors with its breathtaking natural wonders, from towering limestone mountains to winding rivers embracing them, dotted with natural caves and vast temple complexes. The ticket price for entry to the Trang An tourist area is 250,000 VND per ticket. You can take a boat ride around the mountains, explore the caves, and visit the valley areas where scenes from the famous movie “Kong: Skull Island” were filmed.

2. Tuyet Tinh Coc Ninh Binh

Tuyet Tinh Coc Ninh Binh, also known as Am Tien Cave, is a scenic spot within the Hoa Lu ancient capital complex. It entices visitors with its picturesque landscapes and romantic atmosphere reminiscent of a fairyland. There are three main points of interest here: Giải Lake, the Cave, and the Am Tien Pagoda. Remember to dress appropriately and bring a power bank when visiting here, as every corner is an Instagram-worthy spot.

3. Tam Coc – Bich Dong Ninh Binh

Known as the “Inland Halong Bay” or the “Second Nicest Grotto in the South,” Tam Coc-Bich Dong stands out with its limestone caves, stunning rural scenery, and the ancient Bich Dong Pagoda. Moreover, it’s a critical national scenic spot, part of the Trang An Landscape Complex, a dual UNESCO World Heritage Site recognized for its cultural and natural values.

4. Van Long Lagoon, Ninh Binh

Van Long Lagoon is a renowned ecological tourism area in Ninh Binh. Its pristine beauty remains intact, attracting tourists to admire the splendor of Van Long Lagoon. This place is home to diverse ecosystems, including fish, birds, and storks, with over 40 species of langurs living here. Drifting along in a small boat, surrounded by vast stretches of water, diverse bird species, langurs, and limestone mountains, the picturesque scenery mesmerizes everyone.

5. Mua Cave, Ninh Binh

Mua Cave is a cave nestled within the Mua Mountain. It’s famous for its panoramic views of nearby areas such as Tam Coc and Trang An from the mountain’s peak. Additionally, the pathway leading to the summit of Mua Mountain resembles the Great Wall of China with nearly 500 stone steps. The climb to the mountain top might be tiring and challenging, but the breathtaking view is worth it. The entrance fee for visiting is 100,000 VND per person.

6. Tam Chuc Pagoda

Tam Chuc Pagoda is located in Ha Nam province, and you can stop by this pagoda on your way to Ninh Binh. It is one of the most significant pagodas in the world, built during the Dinh dynasty about 1000 years ago. Though it has undergone some renovations, the pagoda still retains its characteristic architectural features. It offers a peaceful and tranquil atmosphere for all visitors, situated amidst a picturesque landscape, with a vast lake in the front, surrounded by limestone mountains and natural forests.

7. Bai Dinh Pagoda

Part of the Trang An Landscape Complex, Bai Dinh Pagoda is located at the western gateway to the ancient capital of Hoa Lu. This temple holds numerous records in Asia and Vietnam, such as having the largest bronze gilded Buddha statue in Asia, the longest Arhat corridor in Asia, and the largest bronze Di Lac statue in Southeast Asia. Visiting this temple, you’ll be amazed by its grandeur and vastness.

8. Kim Son, Ninh Binh

Kim Son is a small district in Ninh Binh, home to the pristine Kim Son Beach – an unmissable tourist destination. Here, you can explore the mangrove forest and natural ecosystems and visit shrimp ponds, conservation forests, and coir fields. It’s undoubtedly an unforgettable experience in your Ninh Binh journey.

9. Luon Cave

Luon Cave is a place that preserves the historical memories of Ninh Binh city over many years. According to ancient tales, King Dinh once established large herds of swans at the cave entrance. Subsequently, the king personally carved characters onto the cave entrance. Additionally, many archaeological artifacts have been found at Luon Cave. If you love Vietnamese history and want to witness these traces firsthand, this is your ideal destination. Located in Truong Yen commune, Hoa Lu district, just about 2.6 km south of the city center, you can easily reach here by motorbike.

10. Am Tien Pagoda

As one of the relics of the Hoa Lu ancient capital, Am Tien Pagoda is located 10km from the center of Ninh Binh. Surrounded by mountains and forests, with a serene blue lake in the middle, Am Tien exudes a tranquil and peaceful beauty. When visiting with your group, a small note is to dress appropriately, in line with the solemnity of the pagoda. The entrance fee here is 20,000 VND per person. Additionally, if you want to capture beautiful scenery at the lake, you can use the boat rental service here.

What to Eat in Ninh Binh?

Ninh Binh has never failed to impress travelers from afar! The rich culinary culture of this ancient capital region is so impressive that you might need up to 3 days to savor all the delicious dishes Ninh Binh has to offer. Below are some specialties you definitely shouldn’t miss when visiting Ninh Binh:

1. Ninh Binh Mountain Goat

Raised and grazed on the rocky mountains, Ninh Binh’s goat meat is substantial and flavorful. Locals here prepare various dishes such as steamed goat, grilled goat, goat simmered in ginger sauce, and more, each bursting with unique flavors. If you’re in Ninh Binh, this should be the first delicacy you try.

2. Ant Egg Sticky Rice

This dish is quite familiar for those in the northern mountainous regions, but it might sound unusual for those in the central or southern areas. Ant eggs are harvested from the limestone mountains of Nho Quan, cleaned, marinated, and then stir-fried. This dish is typically served with sticky rice and crispy fried shallots, creating a unique and unforgettable culinary experience.

3. Nhech Fish Salad

This is a beloved dish among Ninh Binh locals for its delightful flavors. The fish is thoroughly cleaned, sliced into bite-sized pieces, and mixed with glutinous rice flakes and fresh herbs. Served with a spicy and fragrant dipping sauce made with lemongrass, this dish will leave a lasting impression.

4. Burnt Rice Ninh Binh

As a popular snack from Ninh Binh, burnt rice is meticulously prepared with great attention to detail. The rice used for burnt rice is carefully selected, cooked, sun-dried, and then fried until it puffs up and becomes crispy. The seasoning sauce is made from delicious goat meat, making burnt rice a specialty often bought as a gift and sold at significant tourist spots in Ninh Binh.

In conclusion, Ninh Binh is a destination that offers a mesmerizing blend of natural beauty, rich history, and exquisite cuisine, making it a must-visit for travelers seeking authentic experiences. Every corner of this province tells a captivating story, from the breathtaking landscapes of Trang An and Van Long Lagoon to the ancient charm of Hoa Lu and Bai Dinh Pagoda. And let’s not forget the culinary delights that await, from savory mountain goat dishes to unique delicacies like ant egg sticky rice. With its diverse offerings, Ninh Binh promises unforgettable memories for all who venture to explore its wonders. For more travel inspiration and tips, visit and embark on your journey of discovery in this enchanting province.

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Discovering Trang An Binh by boat is an unforgettable experience for tourists (photo st)

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Trinh Temple – A thousand-year-old sacred temple in Trang An (photo st)

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Phu Khong is a place of worship of 7 loyal officials of the Dinh dynasty (picture st)

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Ba Giot Cave – a place associated with the legend of a sad love story (picture st)

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There are many delicious Ninh Binh dishes for you to choose when traveling Trang An (picture st)

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