Ninh Binh is a highly sought-after tourist destination in Vietnam that allures both domestic and international tourists. With its stunning natural landscapes, unique cultural sites, rich history, and vibrant cuisine, it is a paradise for any traveler. To help you get started with your exploration, here is a guide to the top 12 things to do in Ninh Binh that should not be missed out on.
1. Paddle a kayak along the absolutely stunning waters in Trang An
Trang An is a natural wonderland that boasts breathtaking landscapes of towering karst mountains, lush forests, and pristine waterways. Paddling a kayak along the waters of Trang An allows you to immerse yourself in the beauty of this destination.
As you navigate through the maze of limestone formations and tranquil waterways, you will feel a sense of peace and serenity that is hard to find elsewhere. The stillness of the surroundings is only interrupted by the occasional sounds of wildlife and the gentle lapping of the water against your kayak.
In addition to the stunning scenery, kayaking in Trang An provides a unique opportunity to explore hidden caves and grottos that are only accessible by water. These natural wonders will leave you in awe.
Visitors to Trang An can enjoy kayaking along these two main routes:
- Route 1: Trang An Wharf - Trinh Temple - Tam Quan Gate - Dark Cave’s mouth - Quy Hau Cave’s mouth - Ngoc Mountain
- Route 2: Trang An Wharf - Kong Island Wharf - Thuy Dinh (the Pavilion on Water) - Vu Lam Palace
2. Take a boat ride on Ngo Dong River in Tam Coc
Located in Hoa Lu, Ninh Binh, Tam Coc is a hidden gem waiting to be explored. Among the top things to do in Ninh Binh is taking a boat ride on Ngo Dong River, which offers a peaceful and scenic way to explore the area.
The boat ride takes you through the magnificent Tam Coc, known as "Ha Long Bay on land". This area is a network of caves and grottos formed by the erosion of limestone rocks, including Hang Ca, Hang Hai, and Hang Ba caves, where you can marvel at impressive stalactites and stalagmites. As you drift along the river, you can also witness the locals fishing and tending to their crops.
A boat ride on Ngo Dong River is an opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and immerse yourself in the tranquility of the countryside. The fresh air, clear water, and natural surroundings offer a sense of relaxation and peace. Whether you are a nature lover, photographer, or simply seeking a unique experience, this activity is a must-try in Ninh Binh.
3. Marvel at the impressive ancient villages in Co Vien Lau
Co Vien Lau is a unique attraction in Ninh Binh that offers visitors a glimpse into the traditional village life of Northern Vietnam during the 17th and 20th centuries. With an area of about 20,000 square meters, Co Vien Lau showcases over 20 ancient houses from various rural villages in the Northern Delta region. Each house has been restored to its original state, along with a communal house, village gate, local market, village roads, and other typical structures found in traditional Vietnamese villages.
Visiting Co Vien Lau allows you to immerse yourself in the peaceful countryside and experience the authentic Vietnamese culture of the past. You can walk around the village, admire the beautiful architecture, and capture authentic Vietnamese sights through photography. Additionally, the village is located next to Ngo Dong River, offering stunning views and a serene atmosphere for visitors to relax and enjoy.
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4. Enjoy terrific trekking trails in Bich Dong Pagoda
Bich Dong Pagoda is a must-visit destination for any traveler exploring Ninh Binh. The pagoda is located at the base of a limestone mountain and consists of three temples: Ha, Trung, and Thuong Pagoda. The unique aspect of Bich Dong Pagoda is that it is built into the mountain, with each temple located on a different level, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.
One of the top things to do at Bich Dong Pagoda is to trek up to the top of the mountain to get a panoramic view of the entire region. The trek offers a great opportunity to explore the surrounding forests, and the trail is lined with beautiful flowers and trees. Visitors will also pass through a series of caves, including the Dark Cave, which is adorned with stalactites and stalagmites.
5. Soothe your soul at Bai Dinh Pagoda
Bai Dinh Pagoda is the largest Buddhist complex in Southeast Asia, offering a serene atmosphere perfect for calming the mind and soothing the soul. The sprawling complex is nestled on the western slope of Dinh Mountain. It features numerous temples, shrines, and pagodas spread across a vast area of stunning natural beauty.
As you explore the complex, you will be surrounded by beautiful gardens, tranquil ponds, and magnificent statues of Buddha and other religious figures. The sound of bells and the aroma of incense fills the air, creating a peaceful and meditative ambiance.
A highlight of Bai Dinh Pagoda is Bao Thap Tower, which has a towering height of 100 meters, adorned with intricate carvings and exquisite architecture. You can climb up the stairs to the top of the tower, where you can get a breathtaking view of the surrounding countryside and a sense of spiritual enlightenment.
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6. Explore sacred temples that worship feudal kings in Hoa Lu Ancient Capital
Hoa Lu Ancient Capital is a culturally rich and historically significant site in Vietnam that is definitely worth exploring. Established over a thousand years ago, it served as the political and cultural center of Vietnam during the Dinh and Le dynasties.
One of the main attractions of Hoa Lu is its sacred temples that worship feudal kings, including the Dinh and Le dynasties' founding fathers. These temples are significant not only for their historical values, but also for their stunning architecture, intricate designs, and beautiful surroundings. They offer visitors a unique opportunity to learn about Vietnam's rich history and culture.
Exploring Hoa Lu's temples also provides you with a sense of spiritual connection. The temples are revered by the local people, who come to say their prayers and make offerings to the gods. As a result, the temples are considered sacred spaces that evoke a peaceful and contemplative mood.
7. Take amazing photos in the “fairyland on Earth” - Tuyet Tinh Coc
Tuyet Tinh Coc is a popular attraction in Ninh Binh that should not be missed. This stunning natural wonder is often called the "fairyland on Earth" due to its breathtaking scenery and tranquil atmosphere.
Tuyet Tinh Coc features crystal-clear water surrounded by towering limestone cliffs and lush greenery, creating a picturesque landscape that is perfect for photography enthusiasts. Visitors can take a leisurely boat ride on the lake, soak up the serene surroundings, and capture unforgettable photos of the natural beauty.
Visiting Tuyet Tinh Coc also allows you to breathe in the fresh air, savor the fragrances of nature, and listen to the soothing sounds of life. It rouses all of your senses to the enchanting beauty of this place. Tuyet Tinh Coc is like a landscape straight out of a fairy tale.
8. Enjoy breathtaking vistas from Mua Mountain
Mua Mountain is a must-visit destination for nature and adventure enthusiasts in Ninh Binh. This mountain is famous for its panoramic view of the surroundings and the stunning sunset.
To reach the top of the mountain, you will need to climb about 500 steps, but the reward is well worth the effort. From the summit, you can enjoy a breathtaking vista of Tam Coc, Ngo Dong River, and the towering limestone karsts that define the region.
The view is especially captivating during sunset, as the sky turns orange and pink, casting a warm glow over the entire landscape.
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9. Watch the sunset at Van Long Wetland Nature Reserve
Van Long Wetland Nature Reserve is a unique destination in Ninh Binh that offers visitors a chance to connect with nature and witness the stunning beauty of a wetland ecosystem. However, the real magic comes at sunset.
Watching the sunset in Van Long Wetland Nature Reserve is among the must-try things to do in Ninh Binh. The golden hues of the sun setting behind the limestone mountains create a romantic atmosphere. The stillness of the water and the sound of nature will take you to a different world. You have a perfect setting here to unwind, relax, and recharge.
Van Long Wetland Nature Reserve is also home to an abundance of flora and fauna. You can take a boat ride through the reserve to fully appreciate the beauty of the landscape and wildlife here. It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that should not be missed out on.
10. Discover exotic bird species in Thung Nham Bird Park
Exploring Thung Nham Bird Park is on the list of top things to do in Ninh Binh for bird lovers and nature enthusiasts. The park is home to a diverse range of exotic bird species, many of which cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Witnessing the beauty of nature and observing the fascinating behaviors of these stunning creatures will be an unforgettable experience.
As you explore Thung Nham, you can immerse yourself in a natural wonderland of various bird species, including storks, herons, mallards, forktails, and flamingos, among others. The highlight of the park is seeing thousands of white birds returning to their nests at sunset, creating a breathtaking spectacle that you will never forget.
The experience of being surrounded by such an incredible natural environment and the diversity of birds is both calming and awe-inspiring. It brings a wonderful opportunity to disconnect from the stresses of everyday life and reconnect with nature.
11. Traverse through the primeval forests in Cuc Phuong National Park
Traversing through the primeval forest in Cuc Phuong National Park is among the exceptional things to do in Ninh Binh for nature lovers and adventure seekers. Cuc Phuong National Park is the first national park in Vietnam and has been preserved for over 50 years. It boasts an incredible diversity of flora and fauna, including over 2,000 species of plants, 133 species of mammals, and 307 species of birds.
Trekking through the forest, you will have a chance to immerse yourself in the serene surroundings, breathe in the fresh air, and witness the beauty of ancient trees that have stood for thousands of years. The park also features unique caves and limestone formations, which are home to rare animals such as the critically endangered Delacour's Langur.
With its diverse ecosystems and stunning natural beauty, Cuc Phuong National Park is a perfect place to escape from the city and immerse oneself in the beauty of nature.
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12. Satisfy your inner foodie with scrumptious local specialties
Ninh Binh is a foodie's paradise, where specialties made from fresh, locally-sourced ingredients burst with flavor. From the famous rice crust to goat meat dishes, the region's cuisine offers a unique blend of traditional Vietnamese flavors and local twists. Whether you are dining in a restaurant or savoring street food from a vendor, the experience is sure to leave your taste buds and soul fully satisfied.
Other must-try dishes in Ninh Binh include steamed mountain snails, grilled field crabs wrapped in betel leaves, sour fish soup, Nho Quan sticky rice with ant eggs, Gia Vien shrimp paste, Nho Quan rice wine, and "banh troi" (glutinous rice ball with mung bean fillings), to name a few.
After discovering the stunning sights of Ninh Binh, it is highly recommended that you explore other captivating destinations that Vietnam has to offer. Whether you want to relax in the tropical paradise of Phu Quoc, enjoy the beaches of Nha Trang, experience the heritage-rich town of Hoi An, explore the vibrant city of Da Nang, or marvel at the picturesque bay of Ha Long, there are countless places to visit and discover.
To ensure that you have the best experience possible, you should plan ahead and choose a perfect place to stay. With a wide variety of options available, ranging from luxurious resorts to budget-friendly homestays, you are sure to find something that suits your needs. One of the most popular choices for many travelers is Vinpearl, a leading hospitality brand in Vietnam.
Vinpearl offers luxurious rooms and an extensive range of amenities, including swimming pools, kids' playgrounds, babysitting services, dining options, bars, gyms, and more, providing guests with the utmost comfort while enjoying Vietnam's natural beauty. Vinpearl is present in most tourist hotspots throughout the S-shaped country, with some notable ones below:
- Vinpearl Phu Quoc
- Vinpearl Nha Trang
- Vinpearl Hoi An
- Vinpearl Resort & Spa Da Nang
- Vinpearl Resort & Spa Ha Long
With stunning natural landscapes, unique cultural sites, and irresistible food, Ninh Binh is an alluring destination for both domestic and foreign tourists. Hopefully, the above suggestions of things to do in Ninh Binh will help you better plan for your upcoming trip. We wish you a journey filled with fun and satisfaction as you explore this amazing land!