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When it comes to Vietnam tourism, famous places like Hanoi, Saigon or Da Nang are always the prior choices of tourists. However, Ninh Binh province - the beautiful land that once appeared in the 2017 blockbuster "Kong: Skull Island", directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts - is one of the three most famous sightseeing sites in Northern Vietnam, along with Ha Long and Sa Pa.
Ninh Binh has long been a famous sightseeing place in Northern Vietnam. Besides its stretches of rivers, diverse cave systems, and majestic mountains, Ninh Binh also holds many historical marks of Vietnam. This place was the capital of Vietnam under the Dinh Dynasty and Tien Le Dynasty. Coming to Ninh Binh, you will have a wonderful cultural - historical experience.
The natural beauty of Ninh Binh
Ninh Binh boasts great historical and cultural values
Ninh Binh is a place with a fairly temperate climate, so it is possible to travel on many occasions during the year. The most enjoyable time to visit Ninh Binh is around April - June, which the period of the early harvest season, and on both sides of the rivers are gorgeous yellowish ripen rice fields. In particular, in June, brilliant blooming flowers such as lotus, water-lily will inspire photographers.
You should avoid traveling during the period from December - February every year when the North in the middle of winter and the weather becomes cold, and there's even cold drizzle.
Ninh Binh is about 93km away from Hanoi where many major roads are passing through, especially National Highway 1A and North-South railway line. Visitors can come to Ninh Binh in many different ways.
If you travel from Hanoi, choosing a private car or coach is a good idea. There are many coaches to Ninh Binh such as Sao Viet, Cuong Hung, and Hoang Long...running daily that you can easily catch at bus stations in Hanoi.
Duration from Hanoi: 2 hours
Bus ticket price: VND 100,000 - VND 150,000
You can also rent a motorbike in Hanoi to experience the journey to Ninh Binh:
Duration: 2.5 - 3 hours
Motorbike rental price: VND 120,000-200,000/bike/day
Read more on Can Tourists Drive in Vietnam
In addition, you can take a train to Ninh Binh from Hanoi Station.
Duration: 2 hours
Train ticket price: VND 100,000 - VND 250,000
Find your tickets to Ninh Binh:
In Ninh Binh, there are many hotels and homestays. Airbnb can help you find some good homestays at reasonable prices here. In addition, hotels in Ninh Binh can satisfy everyone's needs, from standard basic services to luxury accommodations.
Emeralda Resort Ninh Binh
(See more on Agoda.com)
Ninh Binh Hidden Charm Hotel and Resort
(See more on Agoda.com)
Find your accommodation in Ninh Binh:
On your way to Ninh Binh from Hanoi, you should first get to Mua Cave (Hang Mua) - an architectural relic from the Tran dynasty. It is not a massive cave, but the rewarding panoramic view of Trang An that earns Mua Cave its international reputation. All it takes are VND 100,000 for an entrance fee, and 486 stone steps to the peak to enjoy the natural wonder from above.
The rewarding view at the top of Hang Mua
Trang An Grottoes is considered as the most famous tourist destination of Ninh Binh. Trang An Grottoes has a system of limestone mountains with the geological age of about 250 million years, and hundreds of valleys and caves. This landscape is a place to preserve submerged forest ecosystems, limestone forests, archaeological sites, cultural and historical relics.
Boat tour ticket price: VND 200,000/adult; VND 100,000/kid
The most popular way to explore Trang An Grottoes is boat tours. Tourists will begin their journey on Sao Khe river from Trang An wharf. This journey will go through 12 caves and 3 temples. Among them, the most famous ones are Trinh Temple, Sang cave, Toi cave, Nau Ruou cave, Sinh cave, Si cave, Ba Giot cave.
Boat tours through caves
Tam Coc - Bich Dong is honored as a "Ha Long Bay on land" for its undeniable charm. The area includes a system of limestone caves and historical relics related to Vu Lam Palace under the Tran dynasty. The three caves of Tam Coc including Ca Trong, Hai and Ba caves are all formed by the Ngo Dong river that flows through the mountain. On your experience in Tam Coc - Bich Dong, set your souls free as you travel along the Ngo Dong river.
Am Tien Cave under the Dinh Dynasty was used as a place to confine wild animals to punish criminals. This place has a quiet beauty, peaceful, and romantic atmosphere but full of mystery and wildness at the same time. With a stone staircase of 205 steps and a beautiful lake surrounded by the forest, Am Tien Cave is a relaxing tourist destination worth paying a visit on your trip to Ninh Binh.
Trang An Grottoes is one of Kong: Skull Island's main filming locations. However, the beauty of nature here was previously introduced to the world through the famous Korean reality show Running Man.
The film set of Skull: Kong Island
Bai Dinh Pagoda is a spiritual tourist site which holds many Asian and Vietnamese records as the temple with the most giant bronze Buddha statue in Asia, the pagoda that has the longest Arhat corridor in Asia... The new pagoda architecture stands out with large and monumental shapes bearing Vietnamese architecture made from local materials (Ninh Binh bluestone, ironwood)... When coming to a country with half of its population following Buddhism like Vietnam, Bai Dinh Pagoda is a destination that you should visit once.
See more Must-see Temples and Pagodas in Hanoi
Cuc Phuong National Park is in the three provinces including Ninh Binh, Thanh Hoa, and Hoa Binh. The first national park in Vietnam provides visitors with the opportunity to discover the extremely unique flora and fauna system, and also rare, highly endangered animals preserved in this place. Cuc Phuong National Park is also an ideal place that keeps precious relics of prehistoric people for those who love archeology and historical research, The ideal time to go to Cuc Phuong National Park is around June - July every year.
Ticket price: VND 60,000/adult; VND 20,000/student; VND 10,000/kid
Opening hours: 8 AM - 6 PM
Ninh Binh not only has a unique nature but also has specialties that you cannot find anywhere else, and even if you do, it certainly does not have the same great taste as here.
Ninh Binh cuisine is famous for mountain goat dishes. The goats are raised on the cliffs and eat leaves to live, so the meat is firm and nutritious. This famous dish is served at almost every restaurant in Ninh Binh.
De Nui Ninh Binh is a must-try specialty here
Locals Recommendations: Thang Long Restaurant, Duc De Restaurant, Kim Da Restaurant, Hoang Giang Restaurant
Price: VND 150,000 - VND 250,000/serving
Along with De Nui Ninh Binh, Com Chay Ninh Binh is one of the incredibly famous dishes here. Each piece of rice is fried to the point it gets crunchy, served with chili sauce and pemmican.
Price: VND 30,000/serving
Ninh Binh may sound a bit unfamiliar to tourists coming to Vietnam, but this beautiful land is something you shouldn't miss if you want some brand new experience. No matter how impressive it is on the big screen of Kong: Skull Island, you have to come to Ninh Binh yourself to truly enjoy the beauty of this place.
© Written by Kim Hoang & Emily Le for itourvn.com
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It is such a beautiful place, but the Mua Cave is especially crowded, simply because everyone wants an iconic Instagram shot. It is incredibly difficult to take one picture without anyone photobombing though
I agree. Ever since Ninh Binh gained international interested, more and more tourists would come to visit this place. It really is a downer when you truly want to enjoy the serene beauty here.