Must-see Attractions in Ninh Binh - Halong Bay on Land

Date Submitted 26/12/2022
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Ninh Binh is stunning and diverse with many things to see and do. One of them is Trang An Landscape Complex - a UNESCO World Heritage Site from 2014, which helps the destination attract more and more visitors. Read below to get some insight into this charming place.

Why Ninh Binh should be in your bucket list

Looking for a short escape from the bustling Hanoi in our first fam trip in 2019, Ninh Binh won our mind as a very top choice among other attractive destinations. Why is that?

The 1st reason

It is close to Hanoi. The distance from Hanoi to Ninh Binh is around 90 km so transfer to Ninh Binh is very easy. You can choose among options like bus, taxi, minivan, or train; but we think that a private car/minivan will be the best choice as it only takes around 2 hours of driving. 

The 2nd reason

Another reason to visit this place is that Ninh Binh has a bit of everything to attract tourists: rice fields, limestone mountains, green rivers, ancient pagodas, sacred temples and hidden caves. The destination is also known as the Halong Bay on land, so why not take a trip to Ninh Binh?

Time to visit Ninh Binh

You can plan a trip to Ninh Binh at any time of the year as this area enjoys a moderate temperature year-round and the rain is not much. We visited Ninh Binh in early March when the rice paddies were dyed in lively green and we so loved the great mild weather and the peaceful atmosphere of this countryside.

If you more prefer the yellow rice fields as you see most photos on the Internet, May or October should be your choice as it is harvest time. And remember having your camera in hand to capture stunning views of Ninh Binh. 

Must-see Attractions in Ninh Binh

There is so much to discover in Ninh Binh. The attractions below were following our 2 days 1 night itinerary which are popular with must-visit places. Let’s check out!

Hoa Lu Ancient Capital

Hoa Lu, in the heart of Truong Yen commune, Hoa Lu district, was the first capital of the centralized feudal system in Vietnam when Dinh Bo Linh became the first emperor in 968 (reign title Dinh Tien Hoang). This is a spiritual tourist attraction, a place to keep vestiges of the ancient city with two temples of King Dinh Tien Hoang and King Le Dai Hanh. Here, visitors will discover the stories of the kings, the heroic history of the country and admire the ancient architecture of the two temples with ingenious sculptural touches of the ancient artisans.

If you happen to be here on March 08-10 of the lunar calendar, you could join in the traditional festival of the ancient capital Hoa Lu to honour kings and national heroes who established and built up Hoa Lu capital in the 10th century. Hoa Lu Festival includes 2 parts: the ceremony and the festival with traditional games such as boat racing, wrestling, and Cheo singing ... taking place in an extremely jubilant and exciting atmosphere.

Trang An Landscape Complex

About 7 km from Ninh Binh city centre to the west, Trang An Landscape Complex is located in Ninh Xuan commune, Hoa Lu district. Inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2014, this place attracts a lot of domestic and international tourists because the landscape is extremely beautiful with the same ranges of limestone mountains alternating with caves and large-scale temple works. Here, visitors will join in a 2-hour boat tour to explore the natural landscape with 3 different routes that each one will take you to different caves and temples.

We enjoyed Trang An landscape on a Saturday afternoon so there was a steady stream of tourists coming here to take a ride, wait a little bit but not a long time. As we wished to see Kong film set from the blockbuster Hollywood movie, Kong: Skull Island, we followed the route 2 and totally indulged in this fantastic spot. Tell your boat driver the route you want in advance and ENJOY.

Remember to bring a hat, some water and take sunscreen as it can get extremely hot and there is no shade.

Tam Coc Tourist Area

Well-known as “Halong Bay on land”, Tam Coc is one of the most beautiful places you should not miss when visiting Ninh Binh province and the best way to explore its charm is taking a boat tour. Indeed, you can admire tranquil views of mountains, rivers and immense rice paddies altogether here. If you happen to visit Tam Coc in May when the rice fields are turning yellow, the whole stunning landscape will capture your heart right away.

A boat tour in Tam Coc will take you along the winding Ngo Dong river and visit three caves: Hang Ca, Hang Hai and Hang Ba all formed after the long erosive process of the river flow running through limestone mountains. At about the middle of the journey, you will also have the opportunity to see Hang Mua Peak from a different perspective. 

Bich Dong Pagoda Ninh Binh

On the second day, we started with a short cycle on the small paths leading through vast rice paddies of Tam Coc. This journey will give you a chance to enjoy the peaceful beauty of Ninh Binh countryside and in the end leading to Bich Dong Pagoda, one of the famous attractions in this area. 

Bich Dong Pagoda consists of three pagodas: Ha, Trung and Thuong, built on separate layers at the foot of a limestone mountain. The first one you’ll see is Ha pagoda, a Buddha shrine with aged statues and burning incense creating a tranquil haven for tourists. To reach the next spot, Trung pagoda, you need to climb some steep stairs until seeing a special structure, half of the pagoda is outside and half is attached to a cave. Go through the Dark Cave and follow some stairs, you will reach Thuong pagoda, from here you can enjoy the lovely view of the countryside around, take in the fresh air and do not miss to take interesting photos of this unique pagoda complex.

Again don’t forget your hat and sunscreen, and bring some water with you for an around 2-hour excursion.