The landscapes just south of Hanoi around Ninh Binh are some of the most beautiful in Vietnam. Limestone peaks tower from rice paddies and mellow streams meander through ancient caves.
Ninh Binh is also one of the best places in Vietnam for casual cycling. It’s possible to visit the best historical and natural sights of the area by bicycle on relatively safe picturesque paths.
Further afield, a visit to Phat Diem, home to Vietnam’s most interesting Catholic Cathedral and a centuries old flourishing Catholic enclave is also worthwhile.
Day trips from Hanoi to Ninh Binh are popular but are a very poor second to a couple of nights here. Exploring Ninh Binh in your own time and out of sync with the daytripping masses will do far more justice to this spectacular region.
Ninh Binh – Getting there and away
Ninh Binh is easily reached from Hanoi (93kms away) either by bus or train. Buses run regularly by day from Hanoi Giap Bat bus station. Open buses from the backpacker area of Hanoi also service Ninh Binh. Bus tickets to Ninh Binh sell for around US$5 and less.
We prefer the train service. It’s far more pleasant than the chaotic roads and it’s cheaper too. There are two services a day from Hanoi’s main railway station.
It’s also possible to rent a private car or van for the 90 minute journey. If you’re travelling in a group, this may be an inexpensive and flexible way to get around. Check car hire rates from your hotel. You may even keep the car and driver for a few days.
Those undertaking overland travel will usually head further south towards Hue or North to Hanoi from Ninh Binh. Trains and buses operate in both directions.