Ninh Binh Vietnam – Comprehensive Ninh Binh Travel Guide 2018

Ninh Binh is such a fascinating place in which besides the inspiring and stunning scenery, you can easily access to the most laid-back and serenely rural and authentic scenes of Vietnam. This place was even used for filming the famous movie “Kong: Skull island” thanks to its naturally majestic beauty. There are plenty of information in the internet that may confuse you in your preparation for a travel to Ninh Binh. But there’s nothing to worry about! This fascinating Ninh Binh travel guide has everything you need to plan your trip to one of the most wonderful places in Vietnam. Keep reading!

Hoa Lu Ninh Binh

Ninh Binh Vietnam Overview


Ninh Binh is located in the southernmost gateway of the North and Red River Delta Vietnam. Thanks to the prime location in term of transport, terrain, history and culture, this ancient capital of Vietnam retains a rich and diverse tourism potential. It also encompasses plains and the mountains of the Vietnam northwest mountain range with a diverse system of fauna and flora. This fascinating miniature Vietnam embraces as well hundreds of limestone cliffs emerging from the ground scattered across the rice fields. This is the reason for its appropriate nickname “Ha Long Bay in land”. These are the reasons for a Ninh Binh travel that any tourist would love to choose whenever visiting Vietnam.

A beautiful corner of Ninh Binh ancient capital.

A beautiful corner of Ninh Binh ancient capital.

Not only possesses a deeply rooted history and cultural tradition, Ninh Binh also has traditionally industrious, studious, patriotic and particularly hospitable local people.

Fascinating destinations must-visit in Ninh Binh Vietnam | Things to do in Ninh Binh


Comprising three different types of landscapes: wetlands, coastal delta, hills and mountains, Ninh Binh offers tourists many fastinating attractions. In addition, Ninh Binh is endowed with numerous historical relics as well as fascinating places which have been well-known inside and outside Vietnam. Ninh Binh is such a charming land of myth and unique landscapes to travel. The province holds annually a lot of traditional festivals reflecting the cultural identities of Red river delta villages which appeal millions of tourists every year.

Here are top 10 places most beautiful and fascinating to visit when you travel to Ninh Binh. Follow our guide and see which interests you the most!

1. Cuc Phuong National Park

Ninh Binh’s oldest national park of Vietnam, Cuc Phuong offers travellers a very wide range of species, both flora and fauna. Furthermore, it is one of the best places to go hiking, giving guests fresh air and naturally scenic sights that city life can never offer.

Cuc Phuong National Park with its gallery of mystically fascinating plants and animals.

Cuc Phuong National Park with its gallery of mystically fascinating plants and animals.

2. Bai Dinh Pagoda

This area is another treasure of the province that you shouldn’t miss during your travel here. This religious complex includes both the ancient and the newly renovated Bai Dinh Pagoda, parks, car parking and lake system. Thanks to its unique and monumental architecture, the complex deserves one of the most alluring highlights in Ninh Binh tourism.

3. Hoa Lu – The ancient capital

The famous land of Hoa Lu capital was chosen by the 3 periods of early emperors throughout almost a half of a century thanks to its strategic location. It is surrounded by rugged mountains, Hoang Long River and immensely scenic fields once advantageous for defense in the feudal past time. In the past, the relics were magnificient, though they couldn’t survive all over the time, this is still a fascinating stop in Ninh Binh.

Beautiful Dinh - Le temple in Hoa Lu in the sunshine.

Beautiful Dinh – Le temple in Hoa Lu in the sunshine.

4. Tam Coc

Tam Coc (Three Grotto) includes Hang Ca, Hang Hai and Hang Ba Grottoes allowing tourists to travel by boats to admire these beauties. You can have a chance to enjoy picturesque landscapes along Ngo Dong River on boat. Meanwhile, along two sides of the river run the wide paddy fields with majestic stone mountains bringing fascinating experience to travellers.

The scenic view Tam Coc of Ninh Binh.

The scenic view Tam Coc of Ninh Binh.

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5. Bich Dong

About 2 km far from Tam Coc Wharf, Bich Dong Pagoda associates with limestones inspiring Orientally architectural style. Bich Dong (meaning “green cave”) is considered the most appealing tourist attraction in Ninh Binh with the famous name “South second nicest grotto”. Thanks to the magnificent scenery, it can be said that the wonderful landscapes is the harmonious combination between exotic beauty of the cave, the rugged mountains, the romantic waters and the brilliance of the humans forming an inseparable unity.

Peaceful and charming Bich Dong Pagoda.

Peaceful and charming Bich Dong Pagoda.

6. Trang An complex

Close to Bai Dinh Pagoda, Trang An eco-tourism zone possesses a various system of limestone mountains and natural caves following the sea cavitation. With a huge area, Trang An is a biological treasure trove obtaining over 350 species of plants, animals and many other rare species. Taking a boat through 9 caves of Trang An complex and visiting some historical and cultural places on the way are highly recommended.

Green and natural Trang An from a flycam.

Green and natural Trang An from a flycam.

7. Thung Nham Bird Garden

This “Land of bird” is a big house of about 40 species of birds. Thung Nham Bird Garden combines of lushly green space of trees and annual wetland offering the birds an ideal destination to make nest and grow up. Every day, a wonderful scenery is seen here when thousands of birds fly out finding food at aurora and return their nests at sunset.

Thung Nham Bird Garden with a carpet of white bird in the air.

Thung Nham Bird Garden with a carpet of white bird in the air.

8. Phat Diem Cathedral

This famous courtier in Vietnam with the meaning “exposing the beauty” is consider as “the Catholic capital” in Vietnam.  Built in 19th century, despite lacking of modern devices, this church still emerges as a unique stone masterpiece with the high accuracy due to its perfect harmony with nature thanks to skillful artists.

Unique architecture of Phat Diem achievement is a fascinating place to visit.

Unique architecture of Phat Diem achievement is a fascinating place to visit.

9. Van Long Nature Reserve

Known as “The biggest natural picture” with the huge diversity of natural creatures, this home to loads of plants and animals. Specially, this area was recorded for the appearance of rare spieces listed in the Red Book, particularly the fascinating silver langurs. Van Long offers your travel not only the bio-diversity, but also the unmistakably natural landscapes with peaceful atmosphere and thousands of beautiful caves to experience.

Serene and marvelous Van Long Nature Reserve.

Serene and marvelous Van Long Nature Reserve.

10. Mua Cave

Down a sleepy road between green rice paddies, this cave is impressive with are panoramic views from the peak above. A stone staircase beside the cave entrance zigzags through the karst with almost 500 steps to a simple altar to Quan Am is a good choice for a healthy climbing day.

Ninh Binh - Poetic Mua Cave in a panoramic view.

Poetic Mua Cave in a panoramic view.

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Ninh Binh -Mua Cave peak
This amazing sunset view from Mua Cave peak

Fascinating specialities must-try in Ninh Binh


Apart from the valuable historic relics and charming natural landscapes, Ninh Binh also attracts travellers thanks to its unique gastronomy with delicious food characterized Northern rustic area. During your trip to Ninh Binh, this food guide is what you need so as not to miss the most fascinating meals. Let’s note down those below dishes and try ’em when you’ve got the chance!

1. Goat meat

Rock mountains of Ninh Binh is an advantage for goat to be raised and give delicious meat than goat raised on hills in other provinces. Furthermore, Ninh Binh local people have their own secret in processing goat meat into many special dishes. Especially, goat meat is prepared in many attractive ways such as rare goat meat mixed with lemon, stir-fried goat meat, lemongrass and coconut goat. This dish is such a nutritious and fasscinating dish as it is served with many fresh herbs which are very good for the balance of people’s health.

A photo of stir-fried goat meat you can easily find in many restaurants in Ninh Binh.

A photo of stir-fried goat meat you can easily find in many restaurants in Ninh Binh.

2. Crispy burned rice

Made from cooked rice sliced into round shapes, this is one of the most fascinating specialities of Ninh Binh. After being cooled down, they soak the round slices into hot oil pan until they turn yellow. Thin slices of beef and pig’s heart and kidney are mixed with spices and ingredients such as tomato, carrot, onion and mushroom. Everything is well-fried and put into the Com Chay bowl.

Delicious pieces of crispy burned rice (com chay)

Delicious pieces of crispy burned rice (com chay).

3. Eel Vermicelli

Turning eels into good dishes is quite challenging and unique experience. Small eels brown-pink backs and yellow bellies that are fat, strong and fresh are considered high quality. They are washed carefully with vinegar to remove the inside, mixed with spices like red chili, onion pepper, fish sauce and then fried in hot oil until they turn fragrant and yellow. Besides main ingredient, fresh and ripe banana flower and small, pour threads vermicelli are other important elements.

A bowl of eel vermicelli is enough to ignite your engine in the morning.

A bowl of eel vermicelli is enough to ignite your engine in the morning.

4. Mountain snail

This kind of snail only appears from April to August. They are very tough and crunchy because their main food are the natural plants on the limestone mountain where they live. Many dishes are made from this snail but the boiled one is still the most fascinating dish. It can be served with fish sauce and is loved by many travellers.

A hot bowl of boiled snails is served with fish sauce is always attractive.

A hot bowl of boiled snails is served with fish sauce is always attractive.

5. Yen Mac Fermented Pork Roll (Nem Chua Yen Mac)

Yen Mac, a mountainous town to the south of Ninh Binh is the famous place for this fascinating fermented pork roll. Having a light pink color and a sour, sweet, salty and spicy taste, this used to be a favorite high-class food of Vietnamese King. It is made from rustic ingredients such as pork thigh, minced pork skin, chili, garlic, fish sauce, sugar, salt naturally fermented by tender fig or guava leaves. This special dish has a very characteristic sour, acquired sweet, garlicky and salty taste with a nice crunch of pork rinds, particular acrid but at the same time subtle and attractive.

Appealingly pinky plate full of Yen Mac Fermented Pork Roll is a highlight of your meal.

Appealingly pinky plate full of Yen Mac Fermented Pork Roll is a highlight of your meal.

6. Kim Son raw Nhech fish salad

Located in the south pole of Ninh Binh, the seaside town Kim Son offers tourists a special dish called Nhech fish salad. Nhech fish with more meat, less bones and lots of protein has curved shapes of eels but larger and longer. A delicious Nhech fish salad requires a meticulous process by the chef. The very first bite of Nhech salad will bring you the alluring and fascinating aroma of roasted sticky rice, light sour of vinegar interjected to the spicy of ginger, garlic, pepper, chili and lemon grass, which you could hardly forget once you ever taste it in your lifetime.

Attractive Nhech fish salad - a must-not-miss plate recommended by Ninh Binh travel guide.

Attractive Nhech fish salad – a must-not-miss plate recommended by Ninh Binh travel guide.

7. Kim Son sticky wine

Not only popular for Nhech fish salad, Kim Son also offers travellers special sticky wine thanks to the good weather, water, rice and traditional secrets. In order to make good wine, the techniques applied in raising and choosing rice are very special and meticulous. Made from rice under the skilled local people’s hands, combined with natural water and alcoholic ferment, this speciality is called winter- spring wine. Being maintained in different weather and environment conditions, sticky wine keeps always the traditional and fascinating colour and fragrance. Another specifications of Kim Son wine are the length of the maintaining time and the volume in alcohol level of about 29.5- 40 % . It is considered as the vodka of high quality and as well is awarded a honest gold metal “For public health” in 2004. You can drink this wine whilst eating the other dishes or normally drink it alone but be careful as you can easily get drunk!

Kim Son wine is popular not only in the south of Vietnam but also the whole country, even overseas.

Kim Son wine is popular not only in the south of Vietnam but also the whole country, even overseas.

When is the best time to visit Ninh Binh?


Ninh Binh Vietnam weather

Almost any time throughout the year is good to visit Ninh Binh. Like the other part in the north of Vietnam, from May to October in Ninh Binh, it is hot, humid due to the summer and it expects as well high rainfall. From November to April, the weather tends to be cooler and dry. However, the best time to travel Ninh Binh is between March and October. During this time, the landscapes in Ninh Binh are at their best. The rainy season is also when the rice fields are at their best vivid green. By virtue of advantageous position and climate, landscapes in Ninh Binh are diverse and uniquely fascinating, propriate to contemplate and bring different experiences to tourists at different time of the travel.

Average temperatures in Ninh Binh throughout the year.

Average temperatures in Ninh Binh throughout the year.

Typically fascinating time for a travel to Ninh Binh

1. Ninh Binh in February to April

According to lunar calendar, from January to March, which means from February to April, Ninh Binh offers the best temperature of the spring. Ninh Binh is neither too cold nor too hot. This new year time is the most suitable time to visit the historical sites and spiritual spots. There are also many traditional festivals in this time such as Bai Dinh Pagoda festival or Hoa Lu festival. Sounds interesting?

Bai Dinh Pagoda - the most famous pagoda in Ninh Binh.

Bai Dinh Pagoda – the most famous pagoda in Ninh Binh.

2. Ninh Binh in ripened rice season in May and June

Ninh Binh is a rare place where long-standing rice cultivation still maintains. Among best places to visit in Vietnam in May, this is a fascinatingly must-visit place where the bright green paddies turn yellow gradually. Only planted in a fifth-month crop, rice plant here is ripened quickly especially in late May and June.       

The golden paddies twinkling under the sunshine would be the most scenic experience you could have in Vietnam.   

The golden paddies twinkling under the sunshine would be the most scenic experience you could have in Vietnam.

Especially in June, it is the lotus season, which is the national flowers. They are blooming charmingly everywhere in Ninh Binh creating the landscape more primitive and pristine.

Beautiful lotus flowers beside the yellow fields in the summer in Ninh Binh.

Beautiful lotus flowers beside the yellow fields in the summer in Ninh Binh.

3. Ninh Binh in September to November

But most of all, autumn is probably the most beautiful season, when Ninh Binh is deep in turquoise carpet. Sometimes, tourists can catch a few spotted pink lotus flowers luring in the mist. Together with still many golden rice fields in September, they create a very romantic and poetic scene for Ninh Binh travellers to enjoy during the trip.

Peaceful autumn at the Trang An World Natural Heritage site.

Peaceful autumn at the Trang An World Natural Heritage site.

How to get to Ninh Binh?


From Hanoi, you can easily reach Ninh Binh in only two hours. If you fancy the railway transportation, there are at least 3 south-bound trains available (SE5, SE7, SE19). Another more convenient option is the bus which runs regularly and can be found in My Dinh or Giap Bat stations with the price of only around 70,000 vnd to 80,000 vnd. You can also choose the sleeping bus if you want to take a short nap to refresh yourself.

If you’re coming from the other parts of Vietnam, you have as well both of the options. The train to Hanoi from Hue stops also in Ninh Binh so don’t hesitate to jump on one.There are as well many buses going to Ninh Binh directly from Hue, Ha Long Bay or Cat Ba.

Besides, hiring a motorbike to travel on your own to Ninh Binh is such a fascinating idea as well. This is such an opportunity to immerse all the beauty on the road that we highly recommend in this travel guide.

Ninh Binh Vietnam - How to get to Ninh Binh
Riding the motorbike along the green fields to enjoy the fresh scent of rice is such a fascinating experience.

Riding the motorbike along the green fields to enjoy the fresh scent of rice is such a fascinating experience.

Do you find this travel guide detailed enough to warm up a little bit before your Ninh Binh trip? If you are excited and ready, don’t you wait anymore, let Asianwaytravel help you create the most fascinating trip to Ninh Binh you could ever have!

 

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