Home Travel Guide Ninh Binh City 10 BEST Attractions for Ninh Binh tours

10 BEST Attractions for Ninh Binh tours

10 BEST Attractions for Ninh Binh tours

If you plan to visit the whole of Vietnam, Ninh Binh is absolutely in your list even you travel from the North to the South or in contrast to that. The province is only 2 hours driving away from Hanoi to the South, you can go by bus, train or driving motorbike by yourself. Ninh Binh is rich in history, culture and rural lifestyle. You can learn more about Vietnam history when you visit Hoa Lu ancient capital, go for a boat ride in Tam Coc or Trang An river to enjoy the breathtaking beauty of limestone mountains and caves or visit Cuc Phuong national park to be closer with nature. However, the best things could ride a bike through the rice fields, between villages to enjoy the slower pace of life. Hereunder, we would love to introduce some attractions in Ninh Binh for your Ninh Binh tours

  1. Hoa Lu Ancient Capital

Hoa Lu ancient capital was the first capital of Vietnam in the 10th and 11th century. At that time, the country was divided into 12 feudal warlords and they were fighting with each other to rule the country. It made a big internal war in Vietnam at that time. As one of the warlords, Dinh Bo Linh took his troops to defeat others, unified country and declared himself king in 938. People called him King Dinh and the country named Dai Co Viet.

Under Dinh dynasty, the country was very wealthy, local people were happy with a peaceful life. Unfortunately, Dinh dynasty was only last in 12 years from 968-980 as the King and the first son were assassinated. 

After the death of King Dinh, the dynasty was continued by his 6-year-old son – Dinh Toan, it turned the country into the turmoil until Le Hoan – the top general under Dinh dynasty re-establish it. 

Later, he married Duong Van Nga – Dinh Tien Hoang’s widow, mother of Dinh Toan and got the throne from Dinh Toan. Dinh Dynasty ended in 980, and changed into Le dynasty – Le Hoan declared himself king under the name Le Dai Hanh. Le Dai Hanh passed away in 1005, then his son succeeded his throne until 1009 Ly Thai To (birth name: Ly Cong Uan) took over the country and Ly Dynasty was established 

The reason that Dinh Tien Hoang and Le Dai Hanh chose Hoa Lu was the capital as its strategic location. The capital was surrounded by hundreds of limestone mountains to protect the capital from invaders. However, Hoa Lu was a small area, it was difficult to develop commerce and agriculture. In 1010, Ly Thai To decided to move the capital from Hoa Lu to Thang Long (old name of Hanoi) which near Red River – the biggest river in north Vietnam with fertile land.

  1. Tam Coc

After the movie “Indochine” won the Oscar in 1993, it put Tam Coc on the tourist map as the must-see destination in Ninh Binh where you can join the boat ride to immerse yourself into the magnificent beauty of crystal clear water reflects the rice fields and limestone mountains along Ngo Dong river.

The traditional sampan is rowed by local people is the highlight activity in Tam Coc, they will take you through three tunnels and you should be careful and do not bump your head into the ceiling when you pass through it.

You can see the local people rowing the boat by hands and legs while they telling you some stories about the rural lifestyle or their family. It will be a good chance for you to interact with local people.

  1. Bai Dinh pagoda

Bai Dinh pagoda is well-known for its massive scale and impressive scenery which belongs to Tran An tourism area. The pagoda is the religious complex with old Bai Dinh pagoda (27 ha) on the top of the mountain, the newer one (80 ha) which is 800 meters away from the old one, Bao Thap (Stupa) 12 levels and beautiful lake and park system around.

All visitors will be impressed by the majestic scenery when they visit the pagoda. With 500 Arhat stone statues stand higher than human’s head, Great Buddha Sakyamuni statue with 16m high and weighs 100 tons, which are cast by the pure bronze bought from Russian, statues in Tam The temple weighs 50 tons, 12m high bring the record for Bai Dinh pagoda is one of the biggest pagodas in Southeast Asia.

If you visit Bai Dinh pagoda in the springtime from January to March, you can immerse yourself in the festival atmosphere. However, this time is the peak season for festival traveling tourism, it leads to the overcrowded. In case, you visit the pagoda in other times, you can have the whole place for yourself to feel the impressive scenery and Buddhism spirit.

  1. Trang An heritage site

Trang An is the first destination is recognized as a mixed heritage site in Vietnam – the World’s heritage of both culture and nature by UNESCO in 2014. People always said that Ninh Binh in general or Tam Coc, Trang An, in particular, is Halong bay on land but we do not think that. In here, you cannot see luxury cruises, kayaking, you only see the traditional sampan boats ride slowly and quietly to carry tourists, who cannot take their eyes out the magnificent scenery.

The area consists of majestic limestone cliffs covered by lush rain-forest between the golden rice fields and winding rivers full of lilies. Throughout thousands of years, rivers eroded the bottom of limestone mountains into the underwater caves or tunnels. There are three boat trip routes that you can choose when you visit Trang An, the best one is route 1 – the longest one takes you through 9 caves and 3 temples.

  1. Bich Dong Pagoda

After the boat trip in Tam Coc, there is a perfect cycling route to Bich Dong pagoda which is only 2 kilometer from Tam Coc pier. Bich Dong Pagoda was built in the 15th century on Ngu Nhac mountain, it was considered as the 2nd beautiful cave-pagoda after Perfume Pagoda.

You will be attracted by the picturesque pagoda from the first sign with the magnificent beauty of mother nature. Bich Dong pagoda is a complex with 3 separated layers of pagodas: Lower, Middle and Upper. The complex is surrounded by a small river full of lotus and water lilies, connected by a small stone bridge where it is an impressive photogenic spot.

The Lower pagoda lies at the foot of the mountain with 5 compartments built by ironwood with “Dinh” architecture. Follow the 21 stone steps, you will see Middle pagoda with half inside and half outside the mountain. Walking behind the Middle pagoda through the Dark cave, keep climbing up to the top of the mountain, you will reach the Upper pagoda. From here you will enjoy the stunning view of the rice fields and limestone mountains.

  1. Thai Vi temple

Well hidden between majestic limestone mountains and stretching rice fields, Thai Vi Temple is a beautiful jade in this valley. The temple was built by King Tran Nhan Tong after a victory of invading force in 1258. The main part of the temple was built from stone as stone carving art is a traditional handicraft in Ninh Binh. The temple is a place to worship King and generals under Tran Dynasty – one of the most wealthy and powerful dynasties of Vietnam feudalism.

It is very easy to find the way to Thai Vi Temple from Tam Coc pier or if you take the boat trip in Tam Coc, on the way back, you can ask the rider drop you off at Thanh pier, from there you can walk to Thai Vi temple in 10 minutes.

  1. Mua Cave

There is no doubt that Ninh Binh must be on your traveling list in Vietnam, however, if you want to have an impressive photo to post on Facebook or Instagram or just to send to your friends or family, where could be the best place?

Joining the boat trip at Tam Coc, you will feel curious about the Lying Dragon Statue on the top of a mountain on Ngo Dong river. That is Mua cave (Hang Mua) – a truly impressive landscape in Ninh Binh.

Hang Mua (Mua in Vietnamese means dancing) was the place the King enjoyed the dancing performances. Look up from the foot of Mua mountain, the long stone staircase zigzags to the top of the peak look similar to “Great Wall of China”. Climb up almost 500 steps, you can reach to the simple altar of Quan Am (the Goddess of Mercy) and the Lying Dragon Statue. All of the tiring will be disappear when you see the panorama view of Tam Coc which would be exceptional gorgeous in rice season.

The hiking is not suitable for people who have heart or high blood pressure diseases, hiking in the summertime is also a challenge for you. Hence, you should bring enough water, allow an hour on the way back and especially make sure that your health is matched.

  1. Cuc Phuong national park

Cuc Phuong national park was established in 1962 which is the oldest and biggest national park in Vietnam. The park expresses a great value of historical significance with prehistoric tools, ancient tombs were discovered in some of the caves. Furthermore, the park is the home of the huge diversity of fauna and flora, 97 species of mammals, most notable are the endangered langurs; 300 species of birds; 36 reptilian species; 17 species of amphibians; 11 species of fish; 2,000 species of vascular plants, and thousands of species of insects.

You can choose to visit the park in one day or stay one night here. The popular route is trekking to visit Thousand-year-old tree, Endangered Primate Rescue Centre, and Turtle Conservation program. If you want to join a challenge and adventure trekking route you can trek around 17 kilometers through the park and visit Muong people’s village and stay at the homestay one night. 

  1. Van Long nature reserve

If you travel to Ninh Binh and try to find a beaten track and look for a unique experience, Van Long is a great place to visit. Van Long is the largest wetland nature reserve in Northern delta, which is home of Delacour’s langur and various precious flora and fauna. Here is also a perfect place for bird watching.

Although open for such early tourism and compare to Tam Coc and Trang An, Van Long is a less touristic area and a perfect place for you to enjoy the peaceful and undamaged beauty. Taking a boat trip between limestone mountain, explore the caves system, the time seems to be frozen in front of fabulous scenery. The best time to do the boat trip is in the afternoon when you can enjoy the tranquil and gorgeous sunset.

  1. Phat Diem stone cathedral

There is no doubt to say that Ninh Binh is the homeland of many picturesque natural landscapes, ancient pagodas, and temples. The province is also well known as the center of Catholicism in Northern Vietnam, especially in Phat Diem town, Kim Son district.

Phat Diem Stone Cathedral is a unique church that you can find nowhere else. The cathedral is a brilliant combination of Oriental royal architecture and Western religion. 

Phat Diem Cathedral is a great construction that was built in 24 years from 1874 to 1899 from stone, ironwood and the gorgeous decoration from red lacquer painting with gold plated.

The complex includes a square lake, a Phuong Dinh (bell house), a cathedral, a stone church, three artificial caves.

Phat Diem Stone Cathedral is 28 kilometers from Ninh Binh city and 120 kilometers from Hanoi. You can get there by motorbike from Ninh Binh city in 1 hour or take a local bus from Ninh Binh Station.

 

 

 

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