Ninh Binh

Ninh Binh

 Area:                 483

 Population:     130,000 million

 Language:       Vietnamese

 Currency:         VND

Ninh Binh is not only famous for its history and culture but also natural beauty. One of the most famous attractions in this area is Trang An Natural and Cultural complex, recognized by UNESCO World Heritage in 2015. This is a perfect combination of mountains, rivers, and people; all draw a lively picture of life.
Ninh Binh Overview
Situated in the Red River Delta, Ninh Binh separates the North and the Central Vietnam by Tam Diep Mountain Range. It is surrounded by Hoa Binh, Ha Nam provinces on the north, Nam Dinh Province on the east and Thanh Hoa on the west and the south.

Ninh Binh province is around 100 Km from Hanoi city which stretches from Cuc Phuong National Park in the west to a sliver of land facing out to the Gulf of Tonkin. The province is filled with half of lime-stone Mountain and half of plain area, forming a stunning landscape of fascinating grottos, striking limestone outcrop and lush rice fields.
Ninh Binh History

Hoa Lu, Ninh Binh was the capital of  Vietnam until Ly Thai To moved to Hanoi in 1010. It is the hometown of great talents, such Dinh Tien Hoang, Queen Duong Van Nga, Nguyen Minh Khong, Truong Han Sieu and Nguyen Cong Tru.

Located 4km southwest of the Hoa Lu old capital in Truong Yen Commune, the destination is made more alluring by the route there. Tourists can begin their visit at King Dinh Tien Hoang and King Le Dai Hanh temples before boarding a row boat down the Sao Khe river to Xuyen Thuy grotto, past rice fields and villages. Upon reaching the complex, one encounters a system of caves, some of the more noteworthy being Ba Giot (Three Drops), Dia Linh (Holy Land) and May (Cloud).

But for those with different interests, there are numerous historical relics related to architecture, economics and social and military history from the Dinh, Le, and Ly dynasties. The 200m-high Bai Dinh Pagoda Mountain, with its many caves and areas of worship, is part of the larger Trang An Grottoes eco-tourist complex and is slotted for serious improvements. Ecologically and historically rich, much like the rest of the province, in 1997, the Bai Dinh Pagoda Mountain area was recognized as a cultural and historical heritage site.

Ninh Binh climate and best time to visit
Ninh Binh's topography is divided clearly into 3 parts, such as the mountainous area in the west and northwest; the delta and coastal area in the east and south. Ninh Binh has Day, Van Sang rivers, and Non Nuoc, Canh Dieu mountains. Annual average temperature is 23.4ºC.

The best time to travel to Ninh Binh in Vietnam. The months January, February, October, November and December have nice weather with a good average temperature.
Things to do and see in Ninh Binh

Best attractions in Ninh Binh

1. Bai Dinh pagoda

Bai Dinh Pagoda is Southeast Asia’s largest Buddhist complex. It consists of several temples and over 500 intricately carved statues of Buddha, including one that’s made of bronze and is 10 metres in height. Set within the Gia Sinh Commune, it attracts a huge crowd of local devotees and travellers looking to pay their respects and have their fortunes told by the resident monks.

2. Trang An Complex
Trang An Eco-tourism Complex is very near from Tam Coc but it is less touristic. The system consists of numerous caves, trees, and mountains that are very beautiful. It is estimated that there are over 310 species of higher plants, many algae, and fungi, in which, many of them are rare woods, valuable trees used for food and medicine. Besides that, there are about 50 species of birds, 30 species of mammals and many other species of reptiles and rare animals.

3. Tam Coc 
Or Three Caves are so beautiful that they are even praised as “Halong Bay on land”. The caves are emerging out from Ngo Dong River and you will ride the boat though both 3 caves to admire their spectacular stalactites. The most beautiful time to visit Tam Coc is during Mar when cotton trees having red flowers or the end of May and early June when green rice fields go together and form an endless yellow silk.

4. King Dinh Temple
The temple built in the 17th century with special architecture leaning against a mountain and facing a lake was a sacred place to worship Dinh Tien Hoang King
5. King Le Temple
Just in walking distance from King Dinh Temple, King Le Temple where worships an excellent general under King Dinh Tien Hoang. He got a big support from the king's wife and other mandarins to take the throne and to lead the fight against China and to begin the southward expansion process. Inside the temple, there are statues of the King, his wife and his elder son who succeeded himself in power.
6. Phat Diem Cathedral
Phat Diem Cathedral is a beautiful church with special architecture combined elegant features of Western churches and Vietnamese Pagodas, and it took 24 years from 1875 to 1898 to finish building
7. Bich Dong Pagoda
Just around 3Km driving to the East from Tam Coc pier, Bich Dong Pagoda is a nice stop that offers a wonderful panoramic view and quiet ambiance.
8. Van Long Nature Reserve
Situated in Gia Vien District, around 90Km from Hanoi to the South, Van Long Nature Reserve is considered as a legendary land with beautiful landscape, spectacular mountain ranges creating a natural wall of lush trees. Especially, there are 32 amazing grottos within an area of 3000 hectares and each one has its own beauty. Flora and fauna system in Van Long Nature Reserve is diversified with 457 species of higher plants, in particular, 8 species was recorded in Vietnam Red List. Van Long Wetland is even called "the bay without wave" as visitors will see a flat surface like a big mirror while going on a boat.
9. Thung Nang – Valley of the sun
Thung Nang is an untouched and pristine site with less human activities. The boat trip to Thung Nang lasts for 3,5 kilometers, about 2 hours and 15 minutes passing mountains, rice fields and gardens to visit the holy Voi temple that was built hundreds of years ago. Especially, there are many activities in Thang Nang that you can try like religious tours, mountain climbing, and eco-tourism.
10. Thung Nham Bird Sanctuary
Thung Nham is becoming an appealing destination thanks to its iconic beauty, the harmony between the creativity of the locals and the natural landscapes. While cruising around Thung Nham, you can see many types of birds from normal ones like storks, herons, warblers, starlings to rare ones like flamingoes and phoenix.
11. Cuc Phuong National Park
The primary rainforest is filled with diversified fauna and flora, hot springs and caves. Besides trekking, Cuc Phuong National Park is also a good option for bird watching. If you want to have longer trek inside Cuc Phuong National Park, you can go there for 2 days 1 night and stay overnight at a homestay of Muong Ethnic people.

Best activities in Binh Binh

Sampan riding
It is a must-do activity while traveling to Ninh Binh as you can’t enjoy the full beauty of this wetland area without a boat trip.  

Religious visiting: 
Phat Diem Stone Cathedral and Bai Dinh Pagoda are the two most important and outstanding religious buildings in Ninh Binh that should be added to your trip if you are planning to go there for 2-days 1-night.
Biking tour:
Biking is a must-do activity while traveling to Ninh Binh as it is one of the best ways to enjoy the quiet and peaceful ambiance as well as to enjoy pristine landscapes. It is so easy to hire a bike at your hotel or nearby shops and it costs only around 5 – 7 USD per day.
Trekking is not obliged but it is a good option for those who love nature and Cuc Phuong National Park is a great place for trekking.

Ninh Binh Travel Tips
Traveling to Ninh Binh, a traveler has many choices, either a cultural tour package or a natural tour package. If you love learning cultural, you should visit temples and Hoa Lu citadel and listen to hidden stories. If you love nature, Trang An and Tam Coc Bich Dong are similar with many mountains, caves, and water, so it is better to make a decision before coming.

If you like eco-tourism or forest, there is a nice idea to enjoy Van Long Natural Reserve and Cuc Phuong National Park where you can trek through hill valleys.

The tip for boat riders is of course not obliged but you can see the hard working of your boat rider as well as the small money that they get from the local management. Then small tips like 2 or 3 USD per person are highly recommended as they encourage them a lot and make them very happy.

Ninh Binh is famous for Com Chay and Goat meat. They are two local specialties you should try once coming.
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