Most interesting things that you should try in Ninh Binh - Explore Ninh Binh

  • 25/11/2019

With a distance of about 100 kilometers to Hanoi Southward, Ninh Binh has gained considerabe popularity over the recent years as a hidden gem of Northern Vietnam. Ninh Binh has increasingly become well-known for its picturesque natural scenery and beautiful historical and religious sites. This land offers similar landscape views as like Halong Bay with limestone karsts; however it is still untouched by human because the tourist has 

There are not many sights in Ninh Binh itself, but this is a great place to visit if you want to get out and about and spend time immersed in nature, relax your mind and breathe in some fresh air. Whatsup Vietnam is suggesting you some of the best things to do when in Ninh Binh.

1. Visit Hoa Lu Ancient Capital
Once the ancient capital of Vietnam in the 10th century, Hoa Lu today is a national-level cultural center which has a large number of ancient pagodas and citadels. Hoa Lu gives off a mysterious yet nostalgic vibe as it’s surrounded by high arc-shaped rocky mountains, spectacular scenery and numerous peaceful lakes. This charming and tranquil landscape has always leaf a strong appeal for anyone visiting. 


Inside the complex, there is an iconic archway in the entrance on the bridge leading into the capital. Because of wars, there are not many remainings except some temples built on the old sites which are King Dinh and King Le Temples.

This place is for everyone want to know and dig deeper into the culture, history and ancient Viet architecture.

2. Visit Bai Dinh Pagoda - What to do in Ninh Binh Viet Nam
Bai Dinh Complex is the largest pagoda complex in Southeast Asia which covers 530 hectares of land. The whole complex consists of the original old temple for Buddhist privileges and a newly created larger temple for tourists visiting.

As a spiritual complex, Bai Dinh Pagoda offers pleasant sights and gives off a peaceful feeling. Temples, shrines and pagodas are spread out over the hillside with fantastic views over the surrounding countryside.

Bai Dinh Pagoda - one of the most famous pagodas in Vietnam

3. Bich Dong Pagoda

Visiting Bich Dong Pagoda is another fabulous thing to do in Ninh Binh. Bich Dong Pagoda is a beautiful ancient temple which was built in the 15th century. Unlike other usual pagodas, Bich Dong Pagoda consists of 3 separate layered pagodas whose name are Ha, Trung and Thuong Pagoda on different levels and you had better climb up the hillside to completely explore each of them.

Climbing up to each pagoda may be exhausting but once you have reached the top, the views are spectacular and definitely worth your effort.

Bich Dong Pagoda in Ninh Binh province

4. Let your soul relax in Trang An Boat Tour
The Trang An Grottoes consist of a variety of caves, rocks, and temples surrounded by canals, lakes. Take a scenic boat ride through the river networks and you’ll be greeted with amazing sights of the extraordinary natural landforms. It’s simply mesmerizing.

Taking a boat trip is one of the most popular things to do in Ninh Binh for tourists. Trang An boat tour takes around 2 hours and you will be carried around by a skillful lady. They not only peddle by hands but also by their legs. How incredible they are!

Trang An boat tour is an interesting experience


5. Visit Tam Coc

Tam Coc became popular after Indochine movie won the Oscar in 1993, and word spread that some scenes were shot in Tam Coc. Compared to Trang An, Tam Coc is more popular for tourists and has been known long before Trang An is recognized.

Framed by lush green rice fields and limestone karsts, the area is a stunning, yet peaceful.

Tam Coc boat trip is a must-try thing when in Ninh Binh

This 2-hour boat ride which runs through Ngo Dong river will take you through caves, rice fields, and unique karst rocks. You will feel like you’re in a movie scene cruising down a natural kingdom like this.

The single most fascinating thing about the boats in Tam Coc is the women that row the wooden paddles. They use their feet to ride the boats. This is a special technique that takes months to master.

6. Cycle around the rice paddies - Top things to do in Ninh Binh
Cycling around peaceful villages is among top things to do Ninh Binh Vietnam. Ninh Binh is a tranquil, peaceful countryside and tourist-friendly. The roads are mainly flat and not crowded like Hanoi and it’s easy to cycle around.

Many hotels and guesthouses offer free bicycles for tourists or ones to rent for a few dollars. Or there’re some tour operators offer Ninh Binh tour that includes cycling activity in their itinerary.

Cycling around paddy field in Ninh Binh is a good choice for relaxation


7. Cuc Phuong National Park
Cuc Phuong National Park is a preserved tropical rainforest and also the largest nature reserve in the country. This is home to over 300 species of rare birds and 2000 species of plants well-protected to maintain the untouched wildlife of Ninh Binh.

Cuc Phuong National Park in Ninh Binh


If you visit Cuc Phuong from May to July, you will be in time for "Butterfly Season"

For anyone loves nature, this is a suitable place to discover and definitely listed in Ninh Binh things to see. There are many ways to explore Cuc Phuong National Park via the densely rainforested road.

Biking and hiking are the best choices to slowly stroll through the jungle. Other than the fauna and flora, there is a cave of prehistoric man found in the jungle and worth paying a visit.

8. A visit to turtle conservation center

Located inside Cuc Phuong National Park is the Turtle Conservation Center which houses more than 1000 terrestrial, semiaquatic and aquatic turtles representing 20 of Vietnam’s 25 native species. Not one of the famous things to see in Ninh Binh but if you're already in Cuc Phuong National Park, pay a visit to this place. 


Many of the residents here were saved from poachers or smugglers who have been driven by demand from the domestic and Chinese markets – eating turtle is thought to aid longevity.

Visitors can see turtles in tanks and incubators, as well as in ponds in near-wild settings.

9. Explore Mua Cave 
Without a doubt, Mua Cave is one of the most alluring views in Ninh Binh. Mua Cave is located at the foot of the Mua mountain and you have to climb up to the top in order to admire the panoramic view.

To reach the top of Mua Cave, visitors will cross a small bridge over the stream gently flowing, then a paved way covered with green trees and about 500-steps stair up to the top. Standing on the top of Mua Mountain, visitors will admire the most magnificent scenery. In May and June, the entire landscape of paddy fields is minimized in your view.


10. Explore Van Long Nature Reserve
Van Long Wetland Nature Reserve is another spot for nature lovers who want to discover Vietnam wildlife.

Van Long Nature Reserve is actually the biggest wetland reserve in Northern Vietnam which is home to a number of Vietnamese species like monkeys, reptiles, and especially birds. Some of them are the endangered ones.

It is a unique complex and charming landscapes with heaving rock islands standing in immense water. As the transition region between the plain and the mountainous region, the reserve retains the diverse and varied terrain, including a tropical forest ecosystem in karst and the vast system of marshes.

11. Lunch at Cho Bop Market
Having lunch with local cuisine is a thing to consider while you’re in Ninh Binh. If you want to find some cheap local bites, go to Cho Bop market - the central market in town.

Here you will find a number of carts and small cafes serving Vietnamese dishes such as toothsome noodle soups and other fried goodies.

You can also find fresh fruit and vegetables here in Cho Bop Market if you go here in the early morning.


12. Shop at Van Lan - Things to do around Ninh Binh
Van Lan is a small village located near the famous Hoa Lu Tam Coc tourist site. In addition to its rich cultural and historical tradition, the village is famous for its traditional embroidery craft.

Wandering around the village, you can find many handicraft products including napkins, pillowcases, tablecloths and even t-shirts.

Go to Van Lan Village and you will find some souvenirs. However, you need bargaining skill to shop at the best price.


13. Try goat meat
If snail dishes are not your thing, then you can try goat meat - another special cuisine of Ninh Binh.

Ninh Binh’s goat meat tastes better than other regions because the goats are raised by the local here as this area is very suitable to raise goats. And the locals know how to cook the goat meat to produce the best goat meat dishes.

Trying goat meat - delicious food in Ninh Binh

The meat has a gamey flavor and it is usually barbecued to produce a smoky and delicious dish that is a must-try while you are in Ninh Binh.


14. Enjoy a beer on the waterfront
Finding a place to enjoy some fresh beer in Ninh Binh?

The main "bia hoi" part of Ninh Binh is located along the riverside and you can look out over the water and enjoy the sunset at the same time.

As such, if you want to relax with a cool drink at the end of a long day of sightseeing then this is the place to do it.

Ninh Binh beer - thing you must try when in Ninh Binh


15. Try local food
Since you’re here, why not trying some local food?

Ninh Binh has many specialties and one of these is called “com chay”. Com chay is burnt rice then scraped off the bottom of a cooking pot. This may not sound like the most appetizing dish, but it produces a nutty and crunchy result.

Com chay is sold everywhere in Ninh Binh especially near a popular tourist site. Look for the big stalls that sell “com chay” so that you won’t be scammed for a higher price than normal.


16. Kenh Ga Floating Village
If you want a glimpse of an authentic fishing village in Vietnam then head to Kenh Ga Floating Village.

Quite similar to Van Long Nature Reserve, Kenh Ga Village is year-round covered with flooded water. Farmers here can only have one rice harvest in a year and they live on fishing in the rest of the year. Visit Kenh Ga Village, you will catch a scene of locals rowing their boats with their feet.

Travel to Kenh Ga, you will take an engine boat tour along the river, viewing the local villages, churches, scenic limestone formations & local farming or fishing activities.

Kenh Ga Village is also the place famous for its hot springs which are very good for health. If you have time, you can have a mineral bath on those hot springs.


17. Immerse your self in the natural atmosphere of Thung Nham Bird Garden

Thung Nham Bird Garden is an ecotourism resort with accommodations, restaurants, and activities that you can spend a whole day or an overnight trip.

This place is as picturesque as other places in Ninh Binh that is worth a visit. Thung Nham Bird Garden is located in the mountains and is known as a place where a huge number of indigenous species of birds make their nests.

Top attractions in the area include some caves like But Cave, Vai Gioi Cave, bird sanctuary which you can visit by boat ride or walking nearby to view hundreds of birds, storks & herons flying around.

 Written by: Quynh Nhi

You might like