A great addition to your Vietnam tour package is Ninh Binh. Located approximately 100 kilometers from Hanoi, Ninh Binh is a perfect option for travelers who may not have much time but want to explore magnificent natural landscapes.
This captivating region is often considered as ‘Ha Long Bay on Land’ thanks to its enchanting riverine landscape, where towering limestone mountains loom over verdant paddies. To truly appreciate this UNESCO-protected site, taking a paddleboat tour along the glistening rivers and scaling the legendary peaks is highly recommended.
Ninh Binh Weather
The best time to visit Ninh Binh is during the months of March to May and September to November, with harvest season in October providing the finest views. However, if visiting during the hotter months of July and August, be prepared for unpredictable downpours and stormy weather.
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How to get to Ninh Binh from India
Regular buses depart from Hanoi to Ninh Binh daily. Luxury vans are also available, providing transportation to Tam Coc, where a variety of charming accommodations can be found. Private cars offer the quickest option for travel. For those with more time, trains also depart from Hanoi to Ninh Binh daily.
From Hanoi, travelers can book a Limousine to Ninh Binh. The ticket price ranges from 100,000 – 150,000 VND, and the travel time is about 2 hours.
If departing from Ho Chi Minh City, tourists can fly to Hanoi and take a coach to Ninh Binh with the above options. Vietnamese airlines such as Vietnam Airlines, Vietjet Air, and Jetstar all operate flights from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi. Currently, ticket prices range from 900,000 – 1.3 million VND/ one-way.
Getting around Ninh Binh
To get around Ninh Binh, motorcycle tours or taxis are recommended, while cycling is a great option for those staying in Tam Coc.
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Travelers visiting Ninh Binh, whether as couples, groups or solo, can choose to stay at homestays located near popular tourist spots with serene and green surroundings, friendly service, and a peaceful atmosphere. Some popular homestays with convenient locations are Ninh Binh Friendly Homestay, Hang Múa Ecolodge, Diep’s House, Ninh Binh Palm Homestay, ChezBeo Homestay, with prices ranging from around 200,000 VND per person per night.
For those seeking more luxurious amenities such as swimming pools, spas, gyms, and bars, there are several 4-5 star resorts to choose from, including Emeralda Resort Ninh Binh, Tam Coc Garden Resort, Ninh Binh Hidden Charm Hotel And Resort, An’s Eco Garden Resort, Aravinda Resort Ninh Binh. Room rates range from 1.7 to 6 million VND per night.
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Top things to do in Ninh Binh
- See the view from Hang Mua: Get a bird’s-eye view of Ninh Binh by climbing the 500 steps carved into the steep face of the Hang Mua mountain. The lookout point offers a surreal vista of the winding river, paddies, and limestone outcrops.
- Take a sampan tour: Guided by a boat person who rows with their feet, not hands, the sampan tours at Tam Coc and Trang An provide an expertly guided journey along gentle waterways, towering karsts, and into dripping grottoes.
- Visit the ancient capital: Hoa Lu, the capital of Vietnam during the 10th and 11th centuries, is a small ancient city naturally protected from invasions by karsts and rivers. It’s an ideal place for history enthusiasts to visit.
- Go in search of wildlife: At the Van Long Nature Reserve, a rowboat ride is a must-do experience. Be on the lookout for exotic wildlife, such as the black-faced spoonbill and Delacour’s Langur, one of the world’s most endangered primates.
- Pay a visit to the Bai Dinh Temple: This complex of Buddhist temples, covering an area of 500 hectares, is the largest in the country. Ancient temples can be found in caves only reachable after climbing 300 steps, while the new temple area features a mix of old and new
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What dish to try
When in Ninh Binh, don’t miss out on local specialties such as crispy rice, raw goat meat with lime, stir-fried goat meat, grilled goat meat, crab stir-fried with betel leaf, and Vietnamese herring salad.
Goat meat is a favorite dish among many visitors to Ninh Binh. The goats are raised on the rocky mountains, resulting in firm and chewy meat. To find reputable restaurants with quality mountain goats, diners should head to mountainous areas such as Hoa Lu, around Trang An Ecotourism Area, and Tam Coc. Each serving of goat meat costs around 100,000 to 250,000 VND, depending on the preparation method.
Here are some recommended restaurants in Ninh Binh:
- Chinh Thu goat meat restaurant (Khe Thuong, Hoa Lu, Ninh Binh)
- Duc De restaurant (446 Nguyen Hue, Ninh Binh City)
- Dung Pho Nui restaurant (Ninh Xuan commune, Hoa Lu, Ninh Binh)
- Mrs. Phan’s eel vermicelli soup (999 Tran Hung Dao, Ninh Binh city)
- To Nhu’s meatball vermicelli soup (National Highway 10, Kim Son, Ninh Binh)
- Thanh Hang sticky rice ice cream (Luong Van Tuy Street, Ninh Binh City)
Ninh Binh Travel Guides & Recommendations
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FAQs about Ninh Binh
You can take a flight from India to Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, and then take a bus or train to Ninh Binh. The distance between Hanoi/Ho Chi Minh City and Ninh Binh is about 90km and 1100km respectively.
The best time to visit Ninh Binh is during the dry season, which is from November to April. During this time, the weather is pleasant, and you can enjoy outdoor activities and sightseeing.
There are several holy places to visit in Ninh Binh, such as Bai Dinh Pagoda, Hoa Lu Ancient Capital, and Phat Diem Cathedral. These places have significant cultural and historical value and offer beautiful architectural designs and stunning scenery.
You should pack comfortable clothing and footwear suitable for outdoor activities, such as hiking or biking. Don’t forget to bring sunscreen, insect repellent, and a hat to protect yourself from the sun. It’s also recommended to bring a raincoat or umbrella during the rainy season.
While Ninh Binh is not as well-known for its vegan/vegetarian cuisine as Hanoi, there are still some options available. You can try Chay Ninh Binh restaurant, Hoa Lu vegan restaurant, Aroma Indian restaurants… which serve Vietnamese vegetarian food, or ask your hotel for recommendations.
It’s recommended to spend at least 2-3 days in Ninh Binh to explore the main attractions, such as Tam Coc, Trang An, and Van Long Nature Reserve. However, you can also extend your stay to enjoy the peaceful countryside and immerse yourself in the local culture.
Some popular souvenirs to buy in Ninh Binh include embroidered items, bamboo products, and handmade pottery. You can find these items at local markets or souvenir shops.