No tour of Vietnam should be complete without a visit to this fertile region. Located just 95 kilometres from Hanoi, Ninh Binh is easily reachable by car and offers an unmissable stop en route for those making their way from the capital down to Ho Chi Minh.
Famed for its dramatic limestone karsts that jut out of the fertile paddies below, the region has aptly become known as the country’s inland ‘Halong Bay’. Far from a hyperbolic comparison, it truly is difficult not to be inspired by the breathtaking landscapes that Ninh Binh has to offer; whether you are admiring them from the weaving waterways below or from the many rice paddies that provide the region with their commerce. We recommend a visit in the wet season (May to October) to experience Ninh Binh at her most lush and verdant.
Aside from beautiful scenery, this region is also a brilliant place to gain a deeper understanding of Vietnamese culture as its small town gives visitors the chance to witness everyday life outside of the country’s big metropolises.
The area surrounding Ninh Binh town is brimming with heritage sites, from centuries-old temples to Hoa Lu, the first Royal Vietnamese Capital, and some of the region’s finest pagodas - sure to leave culture enthusiasts impressed. For a particularly special temple visit, hike up to Hang Mua to enjoy spectacular views across a horizon of towering karsts (that make the five hundred steps up well worth it!). Also not to be missed is Bai Dinh, celebrated as the largest pagoda in Southeast Asia.
For nature enthusiasts, we recommend gliding through the cavernous Trang An Grottos by boat to admire the dense network of mountain tunnels, as well as the impressive way the locals steer the boats through the shallow waterways.
An often-overlooked destination in Vietnam, Ninh Binh is a local treasure and is sure to enrich any regional tour.
- Leslie Siben, India
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