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10 Best Things To Do In Ninh Binh, Vietnam + 2 Day Itinerary

10 Best Things To Do In Ninh Binh, Vietnam + 2 Day Itinerary

The Ninh Binh Province is without a doubt one of the most memorable stops on the South East Asia travelers route. This guide will tell you everything you need to know including the best things to do in Ninh Binh as well as show you a 2 day itinerary.

Ninh Binh was once widely regarded as Vietnam’s hidden gem. However, pandora’s box has opened and the secret is officially out.

Our goal is to help you make the most of your time in this stunning rural paradise as well as help you decide how to spend your days in this authentic slice of Vietnam.

In this guide, we will show you:

  • Where is Ninh Binh in Vietnam
  • How to get to Ninh Binh with transport options
  • The 10 best things to do in Ninh Binh
  • An example 2 day itinerary
  • Popular tours options for the area
  • Where to stay in Ninh Binh and interactive map

Let’s explore the best things to do in Ninh Binh, Vietnam!

Where Is Ninh Binh, Vietnam?

Ninh Binh is a small town located in Northern Vietnam’s Red River Delta, around 93km (58 miles) directly South of Hanoi.

Walk roughly 40km (25 miles) to the East and you’ll find the Gulf of Tonkin, the Northern part of the South China Sea. Head west for approximately 150km (93 miles) and you would cross into Laos.

Did you know that Ninh Binh, Vietnam has been dubbed ‘The Halong Bay On Land?’ You are truly in for a treat when you visit this gorgeous paradise.

Imagine towering limestone karsts enveloped in emerald green vegetation erupt out of waterlogged rice paddies and rivers carve through valleys of karsts as local farmers grow crops at their banks.

Many tourists base themselves in the town of Ninh Binh or nearby Tam Coc in order to explore the surrounding rural regions of Vietnam which are still relatively unspoiled.

But the nomenclature around this area can be quite confusing because the town of Ninh Binh also acts as the capital city of the entire Ninh Binh province.

There is not much to do in the immediate town of Ninh Binh and this quaint town is often used as a springboard to visit popular areas of Tam Coc, Hoa Lu and Van Long.

So when people are talking about Ninh Binh, they are usually referring to the entire Ninh Binh district.

Over the past several years, Tam Coc in Ninh Binh Province began welcoming an increased numbers of tourists and almost everyone traveling Vietnam will say Ninh Binh was one of their favorite places.

Personally, we thought Ninh Binh was substantially more beautiful and far less like tourist conveyor belt than Halong Bay. Not to mention, you can visit at a fraction of the price.

Sleeper bus interior leather reclining chairs
Two seats on a sleeper bus in Vietnam

How To Get To Ninh Binh Province In Vietnam

Unfortunately, Ninh Binh does not have its own regional airport. However, Hanoi international airport is only 127km (79 miles) away.

There are a few different ways you can get to Ninh Binh. Most travelers will spend a few days in Hanoi before jumping on a train or bus to Ninh Binh.

The easiest and most popular way to get to Ninh Binh is by bus, but we will go over all of your options.

Alternatively, you could book a round-trip Hanoi to Ninh Binh private vehicle if you want to travel in comfort.

Flights To Ninh Binh

Fly into Hanoi if you are traveling to Vietnam internationally. Moreover, even if you are in Southern Vietnam, there are no closer regional airports than Hanoi so Hanoi is still your best bet.

Once you are in Hanoi, you can easily make your way to the Ninh Binh province.

We always use Skyscanner to find great deals on flights.

Trains To Ninh Binh

Trains are a cost effective and extremely efficient way to travel in Vietnam. Why? Because there is one train at a time, running on one track and in one direction.

If you have ever traveled by bus, moped or car in Vietnam, you will completely understand wanting to avoid the carnage we are talking about.

Although, there aren’t always direct trains running to tourist hotspots such as adventure cave town Phong Nha and trekking haven Sapa.

However, Ninh Binh is incredibly easy to access by train, either from Hanoi in the North or from any of the big cities in the the center and southern portions of the country.

>> Book a Train to Ninh Binh here <<

Sleeper Bus To Ninh Binh

Ahh the joys of the Vietnam sleeper bus. It’s a rite of passage as a traveler in Vietnam. If you haven’t experienced one, we recommend you try at least one during your time in Vietnam.

Traveling down from Hanoi or even Halong Bay as we did?

You won’t need a sleeper bus, just a normal day time bus that will take a few hours. Our bus Halong Bay to Ninh Binh was 2 hours late setting off and took around 4 (hair raising) hours to arrive in Tam Coc directly.

Heading up from Hue, Hoi An or Phong Nha?

Check 12Go Asia below to see availability, times and prices for sleeper buses or sleeper trains. If you plump for the bus, we would strongly advise booking a sleeper bus online before you travel. They are much better than locally organized buses on the day, trust us.

>> Book a bus to Ninh Binh here <<

Want to know what a Vietnam Sleeper Bus is actually like? Don’t miss our in depth guide to traveling by sleeper bus in Vietnam.

10 Best Things To Do In Ninh Binh, Vietnam

Ninh Binh Province is jam packed full of beautiful scenery. You can visit 300 year old pagodas built into caves, summit a viewpoint with a breathtaking 360 degree panoramic view and glide by boat among limestone mountains.

But there is so much more to see than just the typical ‘touristy’ attractions.

Simply cycling on a narrow lane cutting through a rice paddy field with a river to your left and a limestone mountain randomly sprouting up to your right is enough to fall in love with nature in Ninh Binh Province.

Let’s take a look at the best things to do on your Ninh Binh itinerary:

wooden boats leaving dock heading upriver
Several boats at the start of the Trang An boat tour

1. Trang An Boat Tour

  • Trang An Boat Departure Boat Address: 7W39+7G5, Ninh Xuân, Hoa Lư, Ninh Bình, Vietnam
  • Google Maps Location For The Trang An Boat tour.
  • Opening Hours: 7:00am-4:00pm daily
  • Price: 250,000 VND / person (about $10)
  • Time Required: Tours last around 3 hours plus go through 7–9 caves
  • Recent Reviews: Tripadvisor

We begin with the most popular and top rated ‘thing to do’ on this Ninh Binh itinerary. Throughout the Trang An Boat tour, you will float through a series of dark caves with low hanging ceilings and intriguing geological features.

At the end of each cave, you slowly glide out into a new scene filled with impressive limestone rocks dominating the terrain.

Remember we mentioned pandora’s box being opened in Ninh Binh? Imagine 2 hands opening the box. In the left hand, we have UNESCO declaring the Trang An Complex a World Heritage Site in the year 2014.

And in the right hand is Hollywood filming blockbuster, Kong: Skull Island, among the limestone karsts and waterways of the complex.

The Trang An Complex has some serious accolades just by merit alone.

As the tour continues, your helmsman will steer the boat expertly around beautiful landscapes that are the reason Ninh Binh has been dubbed as ‘Halong Bay On Land’.

You will be amazed by unrivaled serenity and tranquility as you sit back and simply enjoy Mother Nature at her finest.

There are a number of stop off points where you can leave the boat to explore small islands with Buddhist temples and shrines to discover.

Due to Trang An’s UNESCO status, the complex is regulated, therefore you will find no scams, even when it comes to parking which is a relief.

Considering a Trang An Boat tour? Don’t miss our Ultimate Guide to the Serene Trang An Boat Tour to learn everything you need to know prior to visiting.

View back over Ninh Binh city and rice paddies 2 day itinerary
Stunning view over the Ninh Binh province from the Mua Cave Viewpoint

2. Mua Cave Viewpoint

  • Mua Cave Viewpoint Address: Thôn Khê Đầu Hạ, Hoa Lư, Ninh Bình, Vietnam
  • Mua Cave Viewpoint Google Maps Location.
  • Opening Hours: 6:00am-7:00pm daily
  • Price: 100,000 VND / person (about $4)
  • Time Required: Between 2-3 hours
  • Recent Reviews: Tripadvisor

Although the Trang An Boat tour is the most popular attraction, that doesn’t mean it’s the best one.

For us, the incredible 360 degree panoramic vista from the Mua Cave Viewpoint was the peak of our Ninh Binh adventure.

You will have to walk 500 steps up an ancient looking stone staircase to reach the summit, but the majestic views are worth your effort.

However, this viewpoint is certainly not for the faint hearted. When you combine the heat and the humidity, the 500 steps can seem endless.

But once you reach the top, you will forget about the unbearable humidity and your own exhaustion once you feast your eyes on the valleys around you.

Look West and you will see the Ngo Dong River flowing through a range of limestone mountains wrapped in deep green vegetation. The river will be dotted with wooden boats and farmers tending to their rice crops on the river banks.

To the East, you have views over a lower viewpoint at Mua Cave, plus in the distance you can see industrial Ninh Binh city.

Don’t forget to snap a photo with the stone dragon statue at the summit, with its long meandering tail. Be careful on the sharp rocks and you should know there will probably be a line to get a photo with this guy.

A Word Of Advice For Parking

Scammers are at work as you arrive at the Mua Cave trailhead. They will try to make you park your bicycle or motorbike in their paid parking lots, but do not stop for any of them.

Unfortunately, we experienced one man who was quite aggressive and almost pushed us off our moped. Some might even be dressed in police uniforms blowing whistles at you, but don’t be alarmed.

The trick is to ignore all the commotion and continue on to the end of the road. You can park for 10,000 VND at the Mua Cave Ecolodge, right at the entrance to the Mua Caves Viewpoint.

Planning to visit Mua Cave Viewpoint? Read our popular guide to the visiting the Mua Cave Viewpoint to make the most of your trip.

lotus flowers on lake entrance to Bich don't Ninh Binh itinerary
The stunning Bich Dong Pagoda surrounded by limestone karsts and lotus flowers

3. Bich Dong Pagoda

The Bich Dong Pagoda is a three-tiered temple half built inside a cave. But the name does not do the entire complex justice.

As you arrive, you will be welcomed by a lake filled with lotus flowers and if you time it right for Summer, the flowers will be in bloom.

Splitting the lake into two is a narrow stone path with a gorgeous arch, leading to a beautiful triple arched stone entrance gate.

Don’t forget to check out the grounds to discover plants, statues and even butterflies before you begin climbing the stairs.

The pagoda is built into a cave that is recessed into a huge looming limestone rock. On the second level, there is a also temple built into the rock.

You will need to take a narrow passage to the left and enter the cave. Follow the cave to a staircase and on the third tier you will leave the cave to overlook views of entrance lake. 

Please note you will have to pay a small fee to park your bicycle or motorbike. Don’t pay any more than 10,000 VND. The locals might try to be cheeky and get 20,000 VND or more from you.

Do you think you have seen this whole area? You haven’t! There is a BONUS area that not many people know about.

Let’s say there were around 100 tourists exploring Bich Dong Pagoda and only 4 others (6 including us) found the secret area.

Planning to visit Bich Dong? Don’t miss our detailed walkthrough to the stunning Bich Dong Pagoda including a secret cave tour.

 

4. Hoa Lu Ancient Capital

One of the major tourism draws to the Ninh Binh province is Vietnam’s first capital, Hoa Lu.

Three miles to the North of Trang An is where you will find the remnants of 1,000 year old Vietnamese history. Hoa Lu was the ancient capital of Vietnam in the 10th and 11th centuries, before the capitol was moved to Hanoi.

You will need to cross a modern looking bridge and enter through a triple arched entrance gate to access the grounds. Not much remains from the ancient dynasties, but there are several temples and pagodas.

It won’t take long to walk around and grab a few photos.

Heading to Hanoi? You might like our guide featuring the best things to do in Hanoi as well as a 2 day Hanoi itinerary.

Tam Coc boat tour on Ninh Binh itinerary boats leaving dock
Several boats preparing for the Tam Coc Boat Tour

5. Tam Coc Boat Tour

  • Tam Coc Boat Tour Address:
  • Opening Hours: 8:00am-6:00pm
  • Price: 270,000+ VND ($11 and up)
  • Time Required: 2.5 hours plus 3 caves
  • Recent Reviews: Tripadvisor

We must start by mentioning that we didn’t go on the Tam Coc boat tour ourselves. Although, reading about certain incidents on the Tam Coc boat tour added a little hesitation.

Some of the guides have been known to stop the tour in the middle of the river and demand a tip before they continue.

You will also have to pay separately for the boat as well as for actual entry:

  • Tam Coc Boat ticket: 150,000 VND / boat (max 2 persons)
  • Adult Entry: 120,000 VND / person
  • Child Entry: 60,000 VND / person

In addition, the lack of a UNESCO designation means the guides don’t have to abide by any regulations. So after careful consideration, we decided to go for the Trang An Boat tour.

However, we did run into many people during our time in Vietnam who experienced a lovely Tam Coc boat tour.

There is one particular section of the Tam Coc boat trip that looks stunning. It is the same segment you can see from the summit of Mua Cave Viewpoint, where the boats pass through the limestone valley. 

The major benefit is this tour begins and ends bang smack in the center of Tam Coc, making it oh so convenient. No effort is required to get on this boat ride.

Perfect for those running low on time, waiting for a bus or don’t fancy cycling or driving out to Trang An. But this tour will still have amazing views because you are in Ninh Binh after all.

Before picking a boat tour, we would highly recommend you read recent reviews and go with your gut feeling.

Pizza at chookies beer garden Tam Coc Ninh Binh itinerary
A delicious pizza at Chookie’s

6. Hang Out At Chookie’s

While Chookie’s Beer Garden isn’t your typical Vietnamese food option, this restaurant has a wonderful atmosphere. You can also find Wifi here if needed which is how we originally stumbled on the place.

Serving American, Australian, European as well as Vegetarian friendly and pizza options, there is something for everyone here at this beer garden.

Out of all the restaurants we experienced in Vietnam, Chookie’s always remained high on our list just because of the wonderful vibe and the great service.

Not to mention they make a sublime pizza, in a bona fide pizza oven. Try the pepperoni or bolognese pizza for lunch! The only downside? It’s not exactly budget friendly compared to other options.

dinner in Ninh Binh Vietnamese noodles
Local Vietnamese dishes in Ninh Binh

7. Try The Local Vietnamese Food

If you are a foodie, we suggest you skip Chookie’s and head for some of the local options. In addition to the stunning landscapes, Ninh Binh is known for a few specialty food dishes you might want to try.

Mountain Snail

This mountain snail is native to the limestone mountains of Ninh Binh and only comes out for food during the rainy season from April to August.

You can expect the mountain snail to be hard with a sweet taste and it can be cooked in many different ways.

Mountain Snail Price Range: 80,000 VND – 100,000 VND

Fresh Goat Meat With Lemon

Expect to find the best goat meat in Hoa Lu, Ninh Binh because the limestone mountains and the weather are the perfect combination for raising goats.

The goat meat from this area is prepared in a special way with this tradition passing from generation to generation.

Fresh Goat Meat Price Range: 100,000 VND – 300,000 VND

Burned Rice (Cơm Cháy)

This crispy dish is made by cooking the rice and then slicing into many round shaped pieces. Once cooled, these pieces are placed in a pan of hot oil until yellow.

Cơm Cháy has a crispy texture and is often served with onion leaves, chilly and pork meat.

Burned Rice Price Range: 35,000 VND – 45,000 VND

Eel Vermicelli Noodle

The main ingredient in this dish is eel and the chef carefully selects an eel which has a pinkish-brown back with a dark yellow belly. It’s important to find high quality eel and selection requires experience.

A plate of fresh vegetables always accompanies this popular Ninh Binh dish.

Eel Vermicelli Noodle Price Range: 30,000 VND – 35,000 VND

Popular Ninh Binh Restaurants Serving Local Dishes

View from dream hotel balcony in Tam Coc
The view from our balcony from our stay in Tam Coc

8. Relax At A Local Homestay

If you are looking for the ultimate relaxation, we would recommend you consider a homestay during your time in the Ninh Binh province.

These homestays consistently have insanely high guest satisfaction ratings and the best part is you can find an option for every price range.

  • Ninh Binh Greenland Homestay – Exceptionally rated with restaurant, free bikes, an outdoor swimming pool and a bar.
  • Tam Coc Friendly Homestay – Restaurant, a 24-hour front desk, bar, garden, year-round outdoor pool and children’s playground. 
  • Lys Homestay – Restaurant, a 24-hour front desk, bar, garden, year-round outdoor pool, terrace and some units feature mountain views.
  • Tam Coc Melody Homestay – Shared lounge area, rivers views, year-round outdoor pool as well as Continental and buffet breakfast options.

9. Cuc Phuong National Park

Cuc Phuong is the largest and oldest national park in Vietnam spanning three provinces of Ninh Binh, Hoa Binh and Thanh Hoa.

In 1960, this area was classified as a forest reserve and then officially designated Cuc Phuong National Park in 1962 by President Ho Chi Minh.

This park features limestones mountains rising from lush green rice-terraces as well as traditional stilt houses of the Muong hill-tribe.

The tropical forest landscape is home to almost 2,000 species of trees as well as some of Asia’s rarest animals including the clouded leopard, Delacour’s langur, Owston’s civet and Asian black bears.

Visitors can explore the park almost any time of year, but it is best to avoid the rainy season from July to September. April and early-May are an extremely popular time to visit due to the thousands of vibrant butterflies.

There are many things to do at Cuc Phuong National Park including:

  • The Visitor Center
  • Cuc Phuong Botanical Garden
  • Endangered Primate Rescue Center
  • Turtle Conservation Center

Depending on how much time you plan to spend in the area, you can adjust your time here as needed.

10. Explore More Temples And Pagodas

Numbers 1 through 9 on this list are the main attractions for the Ninh Binh Province, but if you find you have more time, there is so much more to explore in this beautiful area.

  • Bai Dinh Pagoda – This pagoda features a complex of Buddhist temples on Bai Dinh Mountain with both an old temple as well as a large newer temple.
  • Van Long Wetland Nature Reserve – Limestone karsts are surrounded by a freshwater lake, marsh and swamps in one of the few lowland inland wetlands remaining in the Hong River Delta.
  • Phat Diem Cathedral – Built in stone and wood during 1891, this cathedral is the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phát Diệm.
  • Thai Vi Temple – A beautiful temple surrounded by mountains dating back to the 13th century.

Heading to Vietnam? Be sure to read our top 30 key things to know about Vietnam before you visit.


2 Day Ninh Binh Itinerary

We think an action packed 2 day itinerary is the perfect way to explore Ninh Binh. No doubt you have a lot more of Vietnam to see and an approaching expiration date on your visa.

Having visited ourselves, we are going to recommend the itinerary for Ninh Binh the way we would have done it had we been given this information first.

Geographically, this itinerary will seem illogical, but this is the best way to see the best parts of the Ninh Binh province.

However, for the best experience possible, this is the most efficient and effective way to see the best sights in Ninh Binh. We will assume that Tam Coc will be your base for the 2 days.

This itinerary is easily completed as a DIY option, but consider a tour if you want someone else to take care of the transportation aspect for you. We will list popular Ninh Binh tour options after the itinerary.

wooden boats going inside cave tunnel Ninh Binh
A narrow section of the Trang An Boat tour

Day 1 Ninh Binh Itinerary – Morning

Hopefully you don’t mind early starts because this is the best way to beat the crowds at the Trang An Boat tour. You want to arrive as easily as possible.

Be the first person there at 7am. Why on earth would we ask you to do that? Because you will feel like you have been transported to another world, completely alone.

Imagine floating around giant limestone rocks as the deep violet sky begins to glow with orange hues in the early hours of dawn. A misty morning would enhance the eeriness.

There would be minimal boats out with you, giving a feeling of solitary isolation in a fascinating environment. If you wait until later in the day, you will join the hundreds of other tourists with the same idea.

We arrived at 9am and it was less busy than expected, but it fills up fast so we recommend to start your day early. In hindsight, we would have arrived at 7am.

Once you leave the boat tour, head further North to Hoa Lu Ancient Capital and pay to park just where the bridge begins. This is a good time to spend an hour walking around the temples and Outer Citadel area.

Head Back to Tam Coc passing by the entrance to Mua Cave Viewpoint. You want to save this for next morning, trust us.

Stop by Chookies and enjoy a delicious lunch.

Mark at Bich Dong pagoda entrance Ninh Binh
Mark exploring Bich Dong Pagoda

Day 1 Ninh Binh Itinerary – Afternoon

You could continue on the motorbike, but we would suggest you ditch the engine and use your legs instead.

Grab a bicycle from your hotel and cycle the 3km (2 miles) from Tam Coc to Bich Dong Pagoda. It’s a lovely scenic ride and you’re doing your tiny bit for the environment.

Hopefully, the tour buses will have thinned out by the afternoon. You’ll need around 2-3 hours to explore the three tiers, grounds and include that fantastic BONUS area that you can find out about in our Bich Dong Pagoda article. This is a lovely place so take your time.

Once back in town, pick a restaurant that we mentioned earlier on this guide, order some local food and relax with a beer.


Mark at summit of Mua Cave overlooking Ninh Binh
Mrk looking out over the Ninh Binh province

Day 2 Ninh Binh Itinerary – Morning

Sorry to do this to you, but it’s another early start.

This one is definitely worth making that extra effort to get out of bed for. Jump back on your motorbike and try to arrive at Mua Cave trailhead for 6am (or as close as possible).

Three reasons why you should consider an early start:

  • There won’t be as many scammers on the entrance road this early
  • You may have the entire mountain to yourself at sunrise
  • The heat and humidity will be much better at this time of day

As you can see, there are some pretty serious pros to getting up early, particularly 2 and 3. When we go back to Vietnam, we will without question be arriving to Mua Cave at 6am.

We arrived at 2:30pm thinking we’d take our time and summit just before sunset. A good idea in principle, right? Well it didn’t exactly turn out how we had planned.

Firstly, the climb was horrendous because of Vietnam’s inescapably high relative humidity and our poor decision to climb at the hottest part of the day. Secondly, it was extremely crowded at the top for sunset.

That’s why we suggest giving it a miss the evening before and making the effort to come back up on the second morning of the 2 day itinerary for Ninh Binh.

Tam Coc boat tour boats tied together in flower shape
Colorful boats ready for the Tam Coc Boat tour

Day 2 Ninh Binh Itinerary – Afternoon

Choose somewhere local or head back to Chookie’s for lunch. Then you have a decision to make.

You could take an easy stroll over to the Tam Coc boat dock. A late afternoon of gliding through golden or green rice paddies will be the perfect way to end your second day.

You’ve already done an early morning boat ride just after sunrise, this time head out for a sunset.

Or you could visit one of the other temples we mentioned above as well as Cuc Phuong National Park during this time in the afternoon.

Day 2 Ninh Binh Itinerary – Optional Tour

Most of the places listed on this Ninh Binh itinerary will require you to either bike or drive a moped. If you aren’t comfortable with this type of transport, you could consider a tour to help check off the top sights in Ninh Binh.

There is no right or wrong way to experience this part of Vietnam. If you are interested in booking a tour, check out some of the top rated tours below.

On another note, Ninh Binh is a great place to learn to ride a moped. During our trip, this is where Kristen learned to drive a moped so we could each complete the Hai Van Pass on our own bikes.

If you are thinking about taking a motorcycle tour during your time in Vietnam, use your time in Ninh Binh to get comfortable with driving a moped.

Top Rated Tours In Ninh Binh

Are you staying in Hanoi and want to see the highlights of Ninh Binh, but don’t want to have to deal with logistics and staying over?

Many visitors prefer to take a day tour from Hanoi to Ninh Binh and hundreds do each day. It’s the perfect solution for those short on time or who are on holiday in Hanoi.

Day tours will include transport and entrance fees to the likes of Bich Dong Pagoda, Mua Cave viewpoint, Hoa Lu ancient capital, Bai Dinh Pagoda and Trang An Boat Tour.

Bich Dong pagoda in reeds on lake
Bich Dong Pagoda from a distance

Where To Stay In Ninh Binh Province

So, do you think you want to spend a few days around Ninh Binh? If you do, be sure to stay in Tam Coc and forget the underwhelming big industrial city Ninh Binh.

Tam Coc is a gorgeous rural town perfectly located among all the best things to do in Ninh Binh Province. The best thing about staying in Tam Coc is the abundance of properties with exceptional ratings above 9.5 / 10.

We’ve scoured the area for amazing properties across budget, mid-range and luxury options and listed the best of each for you to check out. You could also consider one of the homestays listed above.

Tam Coc Sunrise Homestay (Budget)

Located downtown close to restaurants and Tam Coc boat tour pier, this budget hotel has a swimming pool, breakfast included and an exceptional 9.6 on booking.com.

>> Book Tam Coc Sunrise here <<

Tam Coc Wonderland Bungalow (Mid-Range)

Views over rice paddies to the front and limestone karsts directly behind from the swimming pool at Tam Coc Wonderland Bungalow make it worth staying alone.

This bungalow is located perfectly just a few minutes walk out of Tam Coc town. Meaning you get a rural setting with amenities close by.

Each bungalow faces in towards a brick courtyard and the pool as its centerpiece.

>> Book Tam Coc Wonderland Bungalow here <<

Tam Coc Garden Resort (Luxury)

Perfectly located for a luxurious and peaceful stay in Ninh Binh, close to Bich Dong Pagoda and Tam Coc. Tam Coc Garden Resort was voted 2019 travelers choice on TripAdvisor and has a 9.4 on booking.com.

The hotel is surrounded by paddy fields and looks wonderfully serene.

>> Book Tam Coc Garden Resort <<

Where Did We Stay In Ninh Binh?

We stayed at a small budget place called Tam Coc Dream Homestay. It’s centrally located in Tam Coc just a few minutes walk from the strip of restaurants and Tam Coc boat dock.

>> Book Tam Coc Dream Homestay <<

The owners were lovely and the hotel price included a buffet breakfast each morning.

We were able to hire bicycles and a motorbike directly at the hotel for a better price than it cost in town, which was a nice touch.

Plus, there are fantastic views from the upper balcony over nearby limestone karsts. We paid $US 10 per night when we stayed which was perfect for our budget at the time.

Interactive Map For Things To Do In Ninh Binh

Use the interactive map below to help orientate yourself when you visit the Ninh Binh province. Follow the itinerary as outlined above and plot your route using the map.

Red = Food Options

Green = Day 1 and 2 Points of Interest

Maroon = Extra Attractions

Black = Transport Hubs

Blue = Hotel Recommendations

Ninh Binh, Vietnam Photos

This next section is dedicated to images from the Ninh Binh province so you can get a feel for what you want to experience when visiting this beautiful area.

Trang An Boat Tour

still water with limestone rock and cave at its bottom
The first of many stunning limestone karsts jutting out of the water on a Trang An Boat Tour
boat exiting cave to sunshine and beautiful landscapes
Boating through a cave on the Trang An Boat tour
River view and limestone karsts on Ninh Binh itinerary
The landscape gets even better as the Trang An Boat tour continues
boat floating through dark cave with light for navigation
Exploring more caves during the Tang An Boat tour
Mark and Kristen on boat at Trang An Ninh Binh
Mark and Kristen during a Trang An Boat tour

Mua Cave Viewpoint

colorful dragon staircase rail along side of stone steps
Don’t miss the dragon at the bottom of the stairs at the Mua Cave Viewpoint
old stone staircase leading up to Mua Cave viewpoint Ninh Binh
The steep staircase at the Mua Cave Viewpoint
Kristen stood leaning against stone wall overlooking viewpoint on Ninh Binh itinerary
Kristen at the top of the Mua Cave Viewpoint
Ninh Binh itinerary view of nog dong river from Mua Cave
Gorgeous view from the summit of the Mua Cave Viewpoint
Stone dragon at the summit of Mua Cave Ninh Binh itinerary
Another dragon at the top of the Mua Cave Viewpoint
Mark and Kristen at mua cave viewpoint Ninh Binh itinerary
Mark and Kristen at the Mua Cave Viewpoint

Bich Dong Padoga

buddhist temple Bich Dong pagoda Ninh Binh itinerary
Exterior View of the Bich Dong Pagoda
Kristen sat on narrow stone path leading to pagoda entrance Ninh Binh
Kristen in front of the Bich Dong Pagoda
gorgeous black butterfly on a red flower at Bich Dong pagoda ninh Binh
Blue butterfly sitting on a tree branch in Ninh Binh
Kristen sat on a square shaped wooden dock overlooking a lake
Kristen enjoying the view at Bich Dong Pagoda

FAQ’s For Ninh Binh, Vietnam

Let’s take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions about Ninh Binh.

Is Ninh Binh Worth It?

Yes, visiting Ninh Binh is worth it. This area is called the ‘Halong Bay on land’ and known for its stunning limestone karsts in a setting of natural beauty.

Is One Day Enough In Ninh Binh?

While you can easily see a few of the popular sights in one day, we would recommend staying at least two days in Ninh Binh to fully the appreciate the beauty of the area.

Can You Swim In Ninh Binh?

Yes, you can swim in Ninh Binh because there are many homestays with year-round swimming pools.

What Is Ninh Binh Known For?

Ninh Binh is known for its beauty and the area is extremely popular with nature lovers due to its rural location. Vietnam’s first capital was located in Ninh Binh and today, the area is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Is It Better To Stay In Trang An Or Tam Coc?

We would recommend you stay in Tam Coc if staying for one or two nights because Tam Coc is a more centralized location. But if you plan to stay longer, you should stay in Trang An to enjoy the beautiful rural surroundings.

More From Vietnam

Want more Vietnam content? Head over to our Vietnam Travel Guides to see example itineraries, tips about Vietnam and popular city guides.


We hope this guide featuring things to in Ninh Binh helps you plan the perfect rural Vietnam itinerary!

Please let us know if you have any questions about Ninh Binh or Vietnam in the comments below.

Happy Travels,

Mark and Kristen

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Krishna

Tuesday 13th of June 2023

Xin Chao, Thank you so much for providing all these details. I will try to follow the 2 day itinerary mentioned by you. Cheers, Krishna

Mark and Kristen Morgan

Friday 16th of June 2023

Xin Chao Krishna, Thanks so much for reading and have an amazing time in Ninh Bình

Saif

Sunday 7th of May 2023

Hi there, Thanks for putting all this effort to write this blog , I following it on this trip Just wanted you to let you know mua cave parking is no more free , even if we park inside they charge 10k for bike . If possible please update your blog. Thanks

Mark and Kristen Morgan

Monday 8th of May 2023

Hi Saif, Thanks so much for letting us know parking is no longer free at the Mua Cave Ecolodge. We have updated our guide to reflect this change and hope you have a fantastic time in Vietnam!