Ninh Binh, often referred to as “Ha Long Bay on land,” is a breathtaking destination located in Northern Vietnam. Known for its stunning landscapes, rich history, and cultural significance, Ninh Binh has emerged as a must-visit spot for travelers seeking both adventure and tranquility.
This article aims to provide a comprehensive guide on what to do in Ninh Binh, highlighting the natural beauty, historical sites, outdoor activities, local cuisine, and practical tips for an unforgettable trip.

1. Exploring the Natural Beauty

1.1. Tam Coc – Bich Dong

Tam Coc, meaning “three caves,” is a series of limestone caves and karst formations that are best explored by boat. The journey through Tam Coc is often likened to a trip to Ha Long Bay, but with the added charm of lush rice paddies and serene rivers.
  • Description of Tam Coc and Bich Dong: The area comprises three natural caves – Hang Ca, Hang Hai, and Hang Ba – which are navigated by traditional sampan boats. Bich Dong, known as the “Green Pearl Grotto,” is a beautiful pagoda complex nestled in the mountains.
  • Activities: Visitors can enjoy a scenic boat ride along the Ngo Dong River, passing through the caves and taking in the picturesque landscapes. Exploring the ancient Bich Dong Pagoda and capturing stunning photography spots along the way adds to the experience.
Tam Coc Bich Dong
Tam Coc Bich Dong

1.2. Trang An Landscape Complex

Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Trang An Landscape Complex is a spectacular area featuring karst mountains, valleys, and numerous rivers and caves.
  • UNESCO World Heritage Site: Trang An is celebrated for its geological significance and stunning natural beauty. It offers a unique combination of cultural and natural attractions.
  • Scenic boat tours, historical temples, and pagodas: The boat tours in Trang An take you through a series of caves and temples, each with its own historical and cultural stories. The landscape is dotted with ancient pagodas, making it a spiritual journey as well as a scenic one.
Trang An landscape complex
Trang An landscape complex

1.3. Cuc Phuong National Park

Established in 1962, Cuc Phuong National Park is Vietnam’s oldest national park and a prime destination for nature enthusiasts.
  • Oldest national park in Vietnam: Cuc Phuong is home to a rich diversity of flora and fauna, including endangered species and ancient trees.
  • Wildlife spotting, hiking trails, botanical garden: The park offers numerous hiking trails where visitors can spot wildlife such as langurs, pangolins, and birds. The botanical garden showcases a variety of plant species, adding to the park’s ecological importance.
Cuc Phuong National Park
Cuc Phuong National Park

2. Historical and Cultural Sites

2.1. Hoa Lu Ancient Capital

Hoa Lu was the capital of Vietnam in the 10th and 11th centuries, making it a site of immense historical significance.
  • History of Hoa Lu: As the ancient capital, Hoa Lu was the political, economic, and cultural center of Vietnam during the Dinh and Le dynasties.
  • Visiting temples and ancient structures: Key attractions include the Dinh Tien Hoang Temple and the Le Dai Hanh Temple, both of which offer a glimpse into Vietnam’s rich history through their architecture and artifacts.
Hoa Lu Ancient Capital
Hoa Lu Ancient Capital

2.2. Bai Dinh Pagoda

Bai Dinh Pagoda is renowned as the largest pagoda complex in Vietnam, attracting both pilgrims and tourists.
  • Largest pagoda complex in Vietnam: The complex covers a vast area with numerous temples, towers, and statues.
  • Unique architecture, spiritual experience: Visitors can marvel at the unique architecture, including the giant Buddha statues and the 500 Arhat statues. The serene atmosphere provides a spiritual retreat for many.
Bai Dinh Pagoda
Bai Dinh Pagoda

3. Adventure and Outdoor Activities

3.1. Mua Cave (Hang Múa)

Mua Cave offers one of the most stunning panoramic views in Ninh Binh, making it a popular spot for hikers and photographers.
  • Climbing to the top for panoramic views: The climb to the top involves 500 stone steps, but the effort is rewarded with breathtaking views of Tam Coc and the surrounding countryside.
  • Tips for the hike and what to expect: It’s best to visit in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the midday heat. Comfortable shoes and plenty of water are essential.
Mua Cave
Mua Cave

3.2. Van Long Nature Reserve

Van Long Nature Reserve is a tranquil area perfect for those seeking a peaceful escape.
  • Boat trips, bird watching, and wildlife exploration: The reserve is known for its calm waters, making it ideal for boat trips. It is also a haven for bird watchers and wildlife enthusiasts, with a variety of species to observe.
Van Long Nature Reserve
Van Long Nature Reserve

4. What To Do In Ninh Bình Local Cuisine and Dining

4.1. Must-Try Dishes

Ninh Binh is famous for its unique and delicious local cuisine.
  • Goat meat dishes: Goat meat, or “de,” is a specialty in Ninh Binh, often prepared in various ways such as grilled, steamed, or stir-fried.
Ninh Binh goat meat specialty
Ninh Binh goat meat specialty
  • Burnt rice (com chay): Another local delicacy is “com chay,” crispy burnt rice served with savory toppings.
Cơm Cháy Ninh Bình
Cơm Chay Ninh Binh
  • Local specialties: Other must-try dishes include eel vermicelli, mountain snails, and various fresh river fish dishes.
what to do ninh binh  - Mien luon Ninh Binh
Mien luon Ninh Binh

4.2. Recommended Restaurants

  • Popular local eateries and dining spots: Some recommended restaurants include Thuy Linh Restaurant, Duc De Ninh Binh, and Tam Coc Garden Resort Restaurant, offering authentic local flavors and a cozy dining experience.

5. Accommodation Options

5.1. Luxury Hotels and Resorts

For those seeking comfort and luxury, Ninh Binh offers several top-rated hotels and resorts.
  • Top-rated places to stay for comfort and luxury: Some notable options include Emeralda Resort Ninh Binh, Tam Coc Garden Resort, and Ninh Binh Hidden Charm Hotel & Resort.

5.2. Budget-Friendly Accommodations

Travelers on a budget can find numerous affordable options without compromising on comfort.
  • Affordable guesthouses and homestays: Budget-friendly accommodations such as Chez Loan, Ngoc Anh Hotel, and Tam Coc Bungalow provide a comfortable and welcoming stay.

6. Practical Tips for Travelers

6.1. Best Time to Visit

  • Weather considerations and peak seasons: The best time to visit Ninh Binh is from late May to early July or from September to October, when the weather is pleasant, and the landscapes are at their most beautiful.

6.2. Getting Around

  • Transportation options: motorbikes, bicycles, taxis: Renting a motorbike or bicycle is a popular way to explore Ninh Binh at your own pace. Taxis and local buses are also available for longer distances.

6.3. Safety and Health Tips

  • Staying safe and healthy while exploring: Always stay hydrated, wear sunscreen, and carry insect repellent. It’s also advisable to have travel insurance and be aware of your surroundings to ensure a safe trip.
Ninh Binh is a destination that offers a perfect blend of natural beauty, historical richness, and cultural depth. Whether you are an adventure seeker, a history enthusiast, or a food lover, Ninh Binh has something for everyone. Plan your trip today and discover the many wonders of this enchanting region.