100 kilometers away from Hanoi, Ninh Binh is emerging as one of the most exciting destinations during your Vietnam tour. For a long time, it is known as a choice of short getaway from Hanoi. But in fact, many things to do in Ninh Binh to offer for everyone.
1. Admiring the Terrestrial Halong Bay
When driving along the National Route 1A, after passing Ninh Binh City, you will encounter one of the most spectacular sights in Vietnam – Tam Coc (means Three Grottos). Hiring a boat and it will take your through an extensive network of waterways between imposing limestone cliffs erecting from the flat rice paddies. Although the scene still cannot match Halong Bay in terms of size and the number of limestone mountains, Tam Coc is more accessible and less touristy. As the name might suggest, you will undergo three low and dark caves, another reminiscence to Halong Bay. During the trip, you can also have the chance to visit Bich Dong Temple (free entrance) which provides incredible views of the surroundings.
TrangAn is another nearby attractions that is quite similar to Tam Coc. Although TrangAn has more caves to pass through, it is more crowded, especially in high season.
2.Hoa Lu Ancient Capital
As Vietnam’s capital city, Hoa Lu in Ninh Binh is the predecessor of Thang Long (the former name of Hanoi). The royal city is a short bike ride from Ninh Binh City. It is surrounded by high limestone mountains which is believed to protect Hoa Lu from invasion. Inside the complex, there is an iconic archway in the entrance and several temples including the temple of Dinh Tien Hoang, who liberated the country from the Southern Han in the 10th century.
3.Cuc Phuong National Park
It will take you more than one hour drive to get to Cuc Phuong National Park from Tam Coc. Cuc Phuong is generally a well-preserved rainforest. There is an Endangered Primates Rescue Center near the entrance that you should pay a visit with a guide. This is house of about 150 primates being prepared to be released back to the wild. There are many ways to explore Cuc Phuong via the densely rainforested road, but biking is the best choice to slowly stroll through the jungle, the prehistoric trees and the caves. The park is also the home to many faunas, most notably butterflies and birds. The best way to watch the animals here is at night, but be sure to have a guide accompanied with you.
4. Van Long Nature Reserve
Not far away from Cuc Phuong National park is Van Long Nature Reserve. Although the scene is somewhat similar to that in Tam Coc, taking a one hour boat trip in Van Long is a great way to relax and discover numerous species of exotic birds in their natural habitat. You could also witness the endangered monkey living here. Watching the sunset while meandering along the river at Van Long is a great way to end an exciting day in Ninh Binh.