Hanoi To Ninh Binh: A Mind-Blowing Day Tour
Ninh Binh, which is located in Northern Vietnam, has long been famous to the locals for its UNESCO-listed Heritage Trang An Complex and stunning karst spread all over the province. Foreigners often find their way from Hanoi to Ninh Binh to seek adventure on wheels, picturesque landscapes viewed from spiritual mountain pagodas or breath-taking sceneries captured on peaceful boat rides.
Should you wish to experience it all, you will find that exploring Ninh Binh on a self-guided trip by train is cheaper, more relaxed and flexible than going on an organized tour. Here’s a highly recommended one-day itinerary for visiting Ninh Binh from Hanoi on your own.
Start your journey in Ninh Binh with Tam Coc or 'Three Caves'
One of the top experiences to start your journey would be to explore the famous Tam Coc, in English 'Three Caves', on water. Some of the most spectacular and typical landscapes of Ninh Binh province can be found here in Tam Coc, dominated by limestone cliffs ascending towards the sky surrounded by rice paddies. The best way to enjoy the karst area is take a boat ride along the Ngo Dong river. During approximately one hour, a local sailor will take you through three dazzling grottoes, named Hang Ca, Hang Giua and Hang Cuoi. Bare in mind to avoid taking the boat tour during mid-day or early afternoon, as the sunlight tends to be highly intense during these hours. Or make sure you bring an umbrella, sunglasses and a hat just in case Ninh Binh's weather is too aggressive.
Entrance fee: 150.000 VND (7.5 USD). Boat fee: 120.000 VND (6 USD)/boat for 4 locals or 2 foreigners.
Bich Dong or 'Gem Cave'offers fantastic countryside views of Ninh Binh
Lying only about 3 kilometers away from Tam Coc, Bich Dong is a spiritual spot you must not miss. Climbing up through the mysterious cave temples, including Lower Temple, Middle Temple, and Upper Temple, it offers fantastic countryside views of Ninh Binh. Plus, you can visit nice caves and karsts along the way. It is also possible to take boat tours and explore the area further, this would take an extra three-hour time.
Entrance fee: free for the pagodas.
Thung Nang or 'Sunlight Valley'the best sights to photograph rice paddies in Ninh Binh
Thung Nang is one of the best sights to photograph rice paddies in Ninh Binh. The best time to travel here is between May and June when the rice paddies blossom. If you happen to visit Ninh Binh outside this time, take a motorbike ride instead of going for the boat ride and find a safe spot to climb up the mountain for photography.
Entrance fee: 60.000 VND (3 USD)/boat for 4 locals or 3 foreigners.
Hang Mua or 'Dancing Cave'
Hidden in Khe Ha village, only a few kilometers away from Tam Coc and Bich Dong, Hang Mua is a less touristic site known for the panoramic it offers of Ninh Binh from above. After walking up 500 steps to visit the female Buddha, you would enjoy the majestic view from the mountain top, whilst tiny wooden boats flow through the peaceful river. Mid-afternoon is the ideal time to climb.
Entrance fee: 100.000 VND (5 USD)/adult
The ancient capital of Hoa Lu to experience the festival activities
More than one thousand years ago Ninh Binh was chosen as the capital of Vietnam, the range of limestone mountains created a natural protection for the city. Hoa Lu was home to the Dinh, the Le and the Ly Dynasties. In the present, tourists can visit the remaining of the temples, graves, and pagodas surrounding the old capital. A special time of the year is April, during Hoa Lu festival where ceremonies, games and fair take place. Traveling from Tam Coc to Hoa Lu, you would be passing by Trang An Landscape Complex, which would take fairly another day to explore as a whole.
Entrance fee: 20.000 VND (1 USD)/adult
How to get from Hanoi to Ninh Binh
The best way to go from Hanoi to Ninh Binh is by train, as you get to enjoy the scenic landscapes on the way. There are several trains running from the early morning until the night. You can find schedules and fares, and book your tickets online using Baolau.
If you want to visit Ninh Binh in one day, take the first train in the morning departing from Hanoi Central Station. After 2 hours you will arrive at Ninh Binh Railway Station. Rent a bike from the closest travel agency opposite to the station and explore the city by yourself, visit the points of interest that we recommend. The last train from Ninh Binh to Hanoi will depart late in the evening, so you can spend all day around the city.
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