Ultimate Ninh Binh, VietNam Travel Guide for Couchsurfers

Ninh Binh is located 90 km from Ha Noi, the capital of Vietnam. You can reach it by a 3 hours bike trip. The natural scene in this land features by caves and limestone mountain range, thus some might call it “Ha Long Bay in the land”; Bai Dinh temple is considered Vietnam largest temple complex; Cuc Phuong National Park is famous for its largest nature reserve. This province also has many cultural & historical sites likes Hoa Lu old capital, Phat Diem Cathedral,..which are the most popular tourist destinations in Ninh Binh province.

Best time to visit Ninh Binh, Viet Nam

IMHO, you should visit it when it’s not tourist season. Yep, you heard it right. Ninh Binh is most beautiful when it’s at peace. On a crowded day, you might have to wait in line – a terribly long line – for 3 hours just to buy a ticket for a Temple.

Ninh Binh festival season starts at the first month of the Lunar new year, on 1 and 15th monthly.

Best ways to go to Ninh Binh, VietNam

Vietnam has three major low-cost airlines features international flight as well. The price is relatively low if you know how to hunt them.

After arriving in Ha Noi, you have three options to go to Ninh Binh:

  • By train: From Ha Noi train station, book SE7 train (which depart at 6:15), or SE5 (depart at 9:00). Price range from 100,000 VND/seat per serving. You can book a cheaper seat by selecting other seat options: hardcover, softcover or bed.
  • By coach: “The Sinh” tourist is opened with daily tickets every day at 200,000 VND per serving.

Places you should visit in Ninh Binh

River tour

Ninh Binh has two simultaneous tours with different yet charming beauty on its own. Both are started in the entrance of Ninh Binh Tourist Center. Turn left after entrance to go in Tam Coc – Bich Dong tour, and the right is for Trang An ones. If you have only one day to spend, choose only one because the entrance time took at least 2 hours. Two days is preferred for visiting both places.

Tour no.1: Tam Coc – 2 hours approx.

This old tour is opened from the beginning age. Controlled by the government, the trip will take you through different rice field with two distinct colors: green & yellow. The “Tam” word in “Tam Coc” means three. “Tam Coc” means three caves: The large one, the second and the third. From Van Lam ferry, tourist float on Ngo Dong river flow, through 3 caves landscapes for 2 hours.

The real sad truth: In the recent years, people (mostly non-local) doesn’t favorite this tour anymore due to high price rip off and unprofessional operations. Despite this, the government still not take on actions. All in all, Tam Coc still an interesting place to visit.

Tour no.2: Trang An – 2 to 3 hours approx.

Running by private tourism company, this tour meets all standard of a professional and clean service. The only different with the tour no.1 is that the rice fields are replaced by many stunning and unique cave – some like Thuong Cave in Ha Long Bay.

Ferry ticket: 150,000 VND/round-trip/person – 5 maximum capacity.

Land tour

Bich Dong: This tour is on the way to Tam Coc river tour, so people often refer to both places as Tam Coc – Bich Dong. To reach Bich Dong, you will have to trek mountain (another option is rental bike).

Thung Nham: The whole scene welcoming tourist by an astonish landscape with a bright sky and giant mountain that blend seamlessly. Green limestone mountain covers Thung Nham. On autumn, thick fog conceals sunlight bring the valley under ethereal heavenly looks. Before reaching this place, goers need to walk Tam Coc Tourism Area 4 km, over Thung Nang and then to continue by walks (or by ferry if you go to Hang Chua)

Bai Dinh Temple (located on Trang An tour):

It took over 2 hours to visit all tour destinations, including hiking and trekking a lot. Prepare for yourself a good pair of sports shoes, casual wear and lightweight backpack (also a 500 ml water bottle). The area is 530 ha covered by Highland, and almost 85 % is leveled ground. We firmly suggest that you should take an electric car to the old temple, then walk up down to the new temple to save time. The E-car ticket fee: 30,000 VND/person per serving.

The Bai Dinh temple structure has two distinct temples:

  • The old one located uphill and is 27 ha – the highest among structure. The E-car only reach the foot; then there are 300 ladder steps before we get to the summit. The old Temple locates inside mountain cave and has unique features: The facade in the middle – The Buddha altar on the right, and “Cao Son” God altar afterward; on the left was Saint Nguyen altar following by Goddess & Fairly altar in the depth of mountain.
  • After visiting the old one, we have to walk back the mountain foot & go through the connecting trail to new Bai Dinh Temple (E Car is available here)
  • The new one is built in recently. Gaining many records in Vietnam and Asia, it is known as the temple which has the largest golden Buddha sculpture among Asia, the longest Arhat corridor in Asia, the largest bronze Maitreya sculpture in SEA…This temple also is the largest and hold many records in Vietnam. If you follow the route suggests above, you have to take the stair down to reach all of the regions.

Accommodations: You can stay at Van Lam – Tam Coc Home – H2H. This hotel near many visiting places such as Tam Coc, Bich Dong, Bai Dinh, and Phat Diem Temple thus allow tourist to visit all places with ease. Price from 800,000 VND maximum.

Other accommodations can be found here

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