5 Best Things to Do in Ninh Binh

Vietnam’s tourism industry is setting its sights firmly on Ninh Binh for the coming years. The region has seen a quick development in recent times and will soon see a lot more as the sometimes-oversaturated regions of Halong Bay and Sapa are turning tourists into alternative destinations in Northern Vietnam.

Ninh Binh claims a huge amount of activities to do throughout the entire province and tourists visiting now will be able to boast of going to Ninh Binh ‘before it was cool’. For anyone with a few spare days free in Hanoi, follow us in this Ninh Binh guide as we will list the top 5 best things to do in Ninh Binh.

The Beauty of Ninh Binh

1. Boating in Ninh Binh

The quintessential Ninh Binh activity; sitting on a sampan boat rowed by a local villager using their feet. The tranquillity factor is high with this serene activity, enjoyable in several locations around Ninh Binh Province.

1.1. Where To Take Ninh Binh Boat Tour

its magnificent limestone complex and beautiful landscape. Thus, taking a boat tour to witness the natural beauty is a must-do activity. Tam Coc is easily the most popular place to relax on a boat. The magic of floating down the Ngo Dong River between its rice paddies and under its dark caves remains long in the memories of visitors to Ninh Binh. As beautiful as it is, Tam Coc can sometimes get a little crowded, making other destinations a little more preferable.

Trang An is also a fairly well-known boating destination for its wide river and undulating scenery, but the risk of crowding during good weather is also quite high. The best alternatives are the untouched wetlands at the Van Long Scenic Reserve, as well as Kenh Ga, a beautiful floating village translating to 'Chicken Canal' for the chickens plucked in the local hot springs. 

Then, if you wonder boat tour in Tam Coc or Trang An, which one this better? Contact Incredible Asia Journeys to help you plan your Ninh Binh tours from Hanoi with personalized interests!

1.2. When To Take Ninh Binh Boat Tour

High and low seasons in Tam Coc are completely dictated by the rice harvest. For the best scenery, head there between May and July when the rice is a beautiful shade of gold. The main draws of the other locations are not based on rice, so as long as you can avoid the wet season between July and September and maybe the cold season between December and February, then Trang An, Van Long Scenic Reserve and Kenh Ga are all attractive options.

Boating in Ninh Binh

2. Climbing in Ninh Binh

Of all the things to do in Ninh Binh that afford the best views, climbing to the top of one of the gorgeous limestone mountains and surveying the golden rice from below will be one of the most memorable.

2.1. Where to Climb in Ninh Binh

The 450 winding stone steps of Lying Dragon Mountain pose a small challenge for anyone looking to get that perfect photo of Ninh Binh. The mountain stairs are very accessible; just 6km out of Ninh Binh City; also featuring Mua Cave at the bottom and a huge dragon statue at the top.

Climbing in the Lying Dragon Mountain

Bich Dong Pagoda at Tam Coc Village, one of Ninh Binh tourist attractions also offers great views from its peak and features many interesting religious highlights along the way. Part of the climb heads through a temple built into a cave and just beyond the pagoda’s inner walls lies a small lake to which you can descend past wild mountain goats.

2.2. When to Climb in Ninh Binh

Again, the rice-harvesting season provides those most remarkable views, but any time after Vietnamese New Year will do nicely because of the fresh abundance of sprouting green rice. Try to avoid the July to September wet season if possible as the rain can make the steps of both Lying Dragon Mountain and Bich Dong Pagoda very slippery.

3. Cycling in Ninh Binh

There are so many things to see in Ninh Binh that sometimes walking around just isn’t fast enough. Motorbikes are one alternative, but nothing beats the slow serenity of a bicycle ride.

3.1. Where To Cycle in Ninh Binh

Many of Tam Coc’s cyclists are amazed at the landscape when the view from the village road opens up for miles around them. Naturally, Tam Coc is the busiest place for bicycles and motorbikes sharing the road, but there is a large, beautiful area around nearby Thung Nham Bird Park, which sees very little traffic.

Vietnam’s first-ever national park, Cuc Phuong, provides a bit more of a challenge than the flatness of Tam Coc. Hilly in parts but definitely manageable, Cuc Phuong boasts 40km of road that circles around the inside of the park, flanked by jungle on both sides with stops for checking out prehistoric caves and attractive segments of wetland throughout.

3.2. When To Cycle in Ninh Binh

Along with all the rest of the top things to do in Ninh Binh, avoiding the rainy season is your best bet. Locally rented bicycles in Tam Coc that are fine during the dry season can sometimes skid during the wet (that’s why they cost $1 for a full-day rental). More substantial bikes can be rented at the entrance to Cuc Phuong and much of the path is shaded, meaning that the small hills can be traversed during the summer with little sweaty backlash.

Cycling in Ninh Binh

4. Ninh Binh Sightseeing

Aside from Ninh Binh’s many sites of natural splendor, the province features a great amount of remarkable and very surprising architecture from the many stretching roots of its history.

4.1. Where To Go Sightseeing in Ninh Binh

Home to a plethora of religious buildings of different faiths, Ninh Binh’s remarkable Christian and Buddhist architecture is some of the most fascinating in the country. None more so than Phat Diem Cathedral, an amazing blend of European and Sino-Vietnamese construction that demonstrates the region’s devotion to God.

Hoa Lu is the more expected Vietnamese scene, but not one that lacks anything in comparison to Phat Diem Cathedral. Hoa Lu was the capital of Vietnam for 44 years; the two kings that ruled during this time have been immortalized in two magnificent temples here; visiting both on a day trip from Hanoi is a very popular activity in Ninh Binh.

There is no shortage of Buddhist and Christian buildings in Ninh Binh. Chau Son Monastery, Non Nuoc Pagoda, and Thai Vi Temple are just a few that add a religious element to the diverse province. Therefore, there are many places to visit in Ninh Binh in your sightseeing tour!

4.2. When To Go Sightseeing in Ninh Binh

These religious buildings are available to view at any time, but naturally, they get busy around the holidays. Hoa Lu gets a bit full for its festival around April (depending on the lunar calendar) and Phat Diem gets busy during Easter and Christmas. If you’re into religious culture then this might be a great time to check out these stunning sites, but more casual tourists might want to steer clear.

Trang An Complex Heritage

5. Go Trekking in Ninh Binh

If cycling the shared road with motorbikes is too dangerous for you, then you can’t get safer than your own two feet.

5.1. Where To Go Trekking in Ninh Binh

It’s harder to find a more wholesome thing to do in Ninh Binh than trekking through Cuc Phuong National Park. Towards the northern end of the park, there are various treks available of different lengths. A 3-hour return trek to a thousand-year-old tree is one of Cuc Phuong’s big draws, whereas the longer treks require a bit more planning – a 6-hour return trek to the Khanh Village where the Muong hill tribe live, or a 2-day trek to a further away Muong Village with cave stops in between.

Around the rest of Ninh Binh, there are no well-known trekking routes established yet. The road between Tam Coc and the Mua Cave is a very scenic one and worth a look for anyone into trekking, but Cuc Phuong is the only recognized trekking route.

5.2. When To Go Trekking in Ninh Binh

Trekking in Cuc Phuong National Park in Ninh Binh

The oppressive heat and insistent rain of summer make doing the Cuc Phuong treks quite the task. March is known for its humidity in Northern Vietnam, so try to avoid this too. Most other times will do nicely.

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