a body of water with boats and mountains in the background

Is Ninh Binh Worth Visiting? One-Day Tour to Ninh Binh from Hanoi (2024)

If you seek a serene escape from the bustling cities of Vietnam, such as Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, Ninh Binh emerges as a peaceful heaven. Amidst the myriad destinations dotting the Vietnamese map, one may ponder: Is Ninh Binh worth visiting? Let us delve into the facets of this enchanting locale to unravel its allure.

Nestled amidst lush greenery and majestic limestone formations, Ninh Binh invites you to experience its natural splendour and cultural glamour. From ancient pagodas to meandering rivers and captivating landscapes, this province promises a journey imbued with tranquillity and discovery.

I have had the opportunity to explore Ninh Binh on two occasions – once several years ago during a week-long journey through Vietnam with a friend, and more recently. One of my visits was a one-day tour to Ninh Binh from Hanoi. On both visits, I was captivated by the imposing mountains and rich culture that define this region.

View from the pagoda at The Lying Dragon Mountain

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About Ninh Binh

Ninh Binh, nestled in the northern reaches of Vietnam, captivates visitors with its breathtaking natural landscapes and profound cultural heritage. Known as the “Halong Bay on land,” this province boasts dramatic limestone karsts that rise from verdant rice paddies, creating a picturesque tableau reminiscent of a postcard scene.

The centrepiece of Ninh Binh’s allure is its karst topography, adorned with lush vegetation and crisscrossed by winding rivers. Visitors can embark on scenic boat rides along the Trang An or Tam Coc River, meandering through limestone caves and past emerald rice fields. The region’s karst formations also house ancient caves and caverns, such as the famed Hang Mua Cave, offering intrepid explorers a glimpse into Vietnam’s geological history.

Beyond its natural splendour, Ninh Binh is steeped in cultural heritage. The province is home to numerous historic sites, including the ancient capital of Hoa Lu, where the legacy of Vietnam’s dynasties is etched into the landscape. You can explore ancient temples and pagodas, such as the Dinh and Le Temples, which pay homage to the nation’s storied past.

Lotus Garden at Ninh Binh. You can walk around these pathways.

Additionally, Ninh Binh boasts a vibrant local culture characterised by its warm hospitality and traditional cuisine. Visitors can savour local delicacies like “com chay” (burnt rice) and “goi ca” (fish salad) while immersing themselves in the rhythms of rural life.

Best Time to Visit Ninh Binh

The optimal time to visit Ninh Binh is during the dry season, from November to March. This period typically offers pleasant weather with clear skies and comfortable temperatures, making it ideal for outdoor activities and sightseeing.

During these months, visitors can explore Ninh Binh’s stunning landscapes, embark on boat tours along the serene rivers, and hike through the picturesque countryside without the interruption of heavy rainfall.

However, it’s important to note that Ninh Binh experiences peak tourist activity during December and January, particularly around the holiday season. Therefore, if you wish for a quieter experience, consider visiting during the shoulder months of November, February, or March.

Conversely, the wet season in Ninh Binh, which occurs from May to October, brings heavy rainfall and occasional storms. While the countryside becomes lush and vibrant during this time, outdoor activities may be limited due to the unpredictable weather conditions. You must be prepared for sudden downpours and plan your activities accordingly.

I have travelled to Vietnam twice, once in December and again in April. During my visit in April, I experienced sweltering heat, with temperatures soaring between 35 and 40 degrees Celsius.

Is Ninh Binh Worth Visiting? This view must be enough to convince you to visit Ninh Binh

How to Get to Ninh Binh from Hanoi?

You can travel from Hanoi to Ninh Binh, where several transportation options offer convenience and experience.

  1. Train: Trains departing from Hanoi’s railway station provide a comfortable and scenic route to Ninh Binh. The journey typically takes 2 to 3 hours, depending on the type of train chosen. Enjoy picturesque countryside views as they wind through the landscape to reach Ninh Binh’s railway station.
  2. Bus: An economical and straightforward option, buses regularly ply between Hanoi and Ninh Binh throughout the day. Travel time can vary between 2 to 3 hours, depending on traffic conditions and the type of bus service selected. Buses depart from various points in Hanoi, including the Giap Bat or My Dinh bus stations, and arrive at Ninh Binh’s bus terminal.
  3. Private Car or Taxi: If you are seeking flexibility and convenience, hiring a private car or taxi offers a direct and personalised means of transportation. The journey typically takes around 2 to 3 hours, depending on traffic, allowing you to enjoy the comfort of a private vehicle while admiring the scenic vistas.

Also Read – Where to Stay in Hanoi?

One-Day Tour to Ninh Binh from Hanoi

Embarking on a one-day tour from Hanoi to Ninh Binh offers a glimpse into this enchanting region’s natural beauty and cultural heritage, especially for those with limited time to spare. Recently, I opted for a one-day bus tour departing from the Hanoi Opera House, which proved to be an efficient way to experience Ninh Binh’s highlights within a constrained timeframe.

Commencing promptly at 8 AM, the tour provided a seamless itinerary, ensuring a comprehensive exploration of the countryside before returning to Hanoi by approximately 8 PM, making it a 12-hour excursion.

Accompanied by fellow travellers, the tour facilitated hassle-free transportation and featured predetermined stops at key attractions, allowing us to maximise our time in Ninh Binh. This curated approach proved invaluable for making the most of a short-lived adventure while immersing ourselves in the region’s rural charm and historical significance.

Group Tour Bus vs. Limousine

When considering day tours in Vietnam, you are presented with two options:

  • Group tour bus and
  • Luxury limousine.

The group tour bus, priced at a modest US$38 per person, caters to backpackers and budget-conscious travellers, offering an affordable means of exploration. Conversely, the luxury limousine, at US$75 per person, represents a more upscale choice, providing enhanced comfort and amenities for those willing to indulge.

The luxury limousine boasts wider seats and better air-conditioning, ideal for extended journeys such as the Ha Long Bay tour. Its spacious layout ensures a comfortable ride, which is particularly beneficial for travellers seeking relaxation during longer travel. On the other hand, for destinations like Ninh Binh, where travel time is shorter and outdoor activities take precedence, the group tour bus is a practical and economical option.

During my recent 10-day sojourn through Vietnam, I had the opportunity to experience both modes of transportation. Each offered its merits, with the group tour bus providing affordability and a lively atmosphere while the luxury limousine delivered comfort and personalised service.

If budget permits, the luxury limousine bus is advisable, especially for travellers seeking a more exclusive and refined experience. With fewer passengers and superior guidance, the luxury option ensures heightened comfort and satisfaction for discerning travellers.


Here’s a suggested itinerary to make the most of your day trip:

  1. Early Morning Departure: Start your day bright and early with a departure from Hanoi, allowing ample time to explore the wonders of Ninh Binh.
  2. Arrival in Ninh Binh: Upon arrival in Ninh Binh, begin your exploration with a visit to Hoa Lu Ancient Capital, the 10-century historic heart of the region. Explore the ancient temples, such as the temples of King Dinh and King Le, and pagodas that dot the landscape, immersing yourself in the rich history and architectural splendour of Vietnam’s past. You can opt for bicycle riding to explore the sceneries and route.
  3. Lunch: Take a break from your adventures to enjoy a delicious Vietnamese lunch at a local restaurant, savouring the flavours of traditional cuisine.
  4. Boat Tour of Trang An or Tam Coc: Afterward, indulge in a picturesque Sampan boat tour of either Trang An or Tam Coc, celebrated for their breathtaking limestone karsts and serene waterways. Glide along the meandering rivers, weaving through limestone caves and verdant rice fields while immersing yourself in the tranquil beauty of the surrounding landscape. This 1.5-hour boat ride promises an unforgettable experience worth the time invested. Bring an umbrella to shield yourself from the intense sun and ensure a comfortable journey.
  5. Hike the Lying Dragon Mountain: Gear up for the pinnacle of adventure as you ascend 500 steps to behold the majestic Lying Dragon. This exhilarating activity promises to be the highlight of your day, offering unparalleled views and a sense of achievement. However, be prepared for a challenging ascent, as the steep steps demand considerable fitness. Only those with endurance and strength will conquer this feat, but the reward of witnessing the Lying Dragon in all its glory makes the effort truly worthwhile.
  6. Return to Hanoi: As the day draws to a close, depart from Ninh Binh and journey back to Hanoi, reflecting on the memories and experiences shared during your day trip to this remarkable destination.

With its ancient history, stunning landscapes, and serene waterways, a one-day tour to Ninh Binh from Hanoi promises a journey of discovery and wonder, offering a glimpse into the timeless beauty of Vietnam’s northern countryside.

The lanterns

Where to Stay in Ninh Binh?

When considering where to stay in Ninh Binh, there are several options to suit different preferences and budgets:

  1. Tam Coc: For those seeking proximity to the iconic limestone karsts and scenic boat tours, Tam Coc offers a range of guesthouses and hotels overlooking the picturesque countryside. Accommodations here often boast stunning views and easy access to outdoor activities. If I revisit Vietnam, I will surely consider staying at one of the resorts near Tam Coc.
  2. Ninh Binh City: As the provincial capital, Ninh Binh City provides a central location with various accommodation options, ranging from budget-friendly hostels to mid-range hotels and guesthouses. Staying in the city offers convenient access to local amenities, dining options, and transportation hubs.
  3. Van Long Nature Reserve: Nature enthusiasts may stay near Van Long Nature Reserve, where eco-friendly resorts and homestays offer a tranquil retreat amidst lush greenery and wildlife-rich wetlands. This area is ideal for those seeking a peaceful and immersive nature experience.
  4. Countryside Homestays: For a more authentic and immersive experience, consider staying in a countryside homestay in rural villages surrounding Ninh Binh. Here, you can connect with local communities, partake in traditional activities, and enjoy home-cooked meals prepared with fresh, locally sourced ingredients.
  5. Luxury Resorts: If you are seeking upscale accommodations and indulgent amenities, there are a few luxury resorts in Ninh Binh. These resorts offer opulent rooms, fine dining options, and spa facilities. These resorts often boast scenic locations amidst lush landscapes, providing a luxurious retreat for discerning guests.

Ninh Binh doesn’t have as many resorts as other tourist destinations in Vietnam, but here are some notable ones:

  1. Emeralda Resort Ninh Binh
  2. Ninh Binh Hidden Charm Hotel & Resort
  3. Tam Coc Garden Resort
  4. Ninh Binh Legend Hotel
  5. The Vancouver Hotel – Ninh Binh
  6. Ninh Binh Valley Homestay
  7. Chez Loan Hotel
  8. Tam Coc La Siesta Homestay
  9. Yen Nhi Hotel Ninh Binh

Places to See in Ninh Binh

Hoa Lu Ancient Capital

Immerse yourself in Vietnam’s storied past by venturing to Hoa Lu, the former capital of the Dinh and Le dynasties. Wander through the meticulously preserved temples and pagodas, absorbing the ambience of this historical landmark. Renting a bicycle from local vendors offers an ideal means of exploration, allowing you to traverse the site at your own pace. Be sure to equip yourself with a cap and sunglasses to shield from the intense heat, ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable journey through Hoa Lu’s ancient wonders.

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Trang An

Recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Trang An boasts a diverse landscape of limestone karsts, caves, and tranquil rivers. Explore this expansive complex by boat, marvelling at its natural splendour and ancient temples.

Tam Coc

Tam Coc has earned the moniker “Halong Bay on land” due to its breathtaking karst scenery and winding water passages. Step aboard a boat and navigate through the idyllic rice fields and limestone caverns, immersing yourself in the tranquil charm of this renowned locale. The 1.5-hour boat tour is priced at 360,000 Vietnamese Dong. Following the journey, it is customary for the boat paddlers to receive tips as a token of appreciation for their service.

Boatmen at Tam Coc

Temples of King Dinh and King Le

The Temples of King Dinh and King Le, situated in Ninh Binh province of Vietnam, are enduring symbols of the region’s rich cultural heritage and historical significance.

  1. King Dinh Temple: Dedicated to King Dinh Tien Hoang, the first emperor of Vietnam, this temple complex exudes grandeur and reverence. Constructed amidst lush greenery and serene surroundings, the temple features intricate architectural details and ornate decorations, reflecting the luxury of the Dinh dynasty.
  2. King Le Temple: Adjacent to King Dinh Temple lies the equally impressive King Le Temple, dedicated to King Le Dai Hanh, a revered monarch of the early Le dynasty. This temple complex, characterised by its traditional Vietnamese architecture and tranquil setting, pays homage to King Le through ornate shrines and ceremonial halls.

Together, the Temples of King Dinh and King Le serve as poignant reminders of Vietnam’s royal legacy and the enduring influence of its ancient rulers.

Temples of King Dinh and King Le

Mua Cave or Lying Dragon Mountain

Hike to the summit of Mua Cave to enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. Climb the 500 steps to the peak and be rewarded with breathtaking vistas of lush greenery and limestone karsts. Wear comfortable shoes and carry a cap.

The Lying Dragon

Van Long Nature Reserve

Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and immerse yourself in the peaceful Van Long Nature Reserve. Take a boat ride through the scenic wetlands, home to diverse wildlife and stunning natural scenery.

Bai Dinh Pagoda

Discover Bai Dinh Pagoda, one of the largest Buddhist pagodas in Vietnam. Marvel at its grandeur and intricate architecture, and stroll through the complex’s peaceful gardens.

Bich Dong Pagoda

Located amidst towering limestone cliffs, Bich Dong Pagoda awaits as a hidden treasure yearning to be uncovered. Venture into this picturesque complex enveloped by lush greenery and majestic rock formations. Ascend the stone steps leading to the pagoda’s upper tiers, where awe-inspiring vistas of the surrounding landscape await as a gratifying culmination of your journey. Marvel at the harmonious blend of nature and spirituality that permeates this sacred site, offering a transcendent experience for all who visit.

Thung Nham Bird Garden

Birdwatching enthusiasts will delight in a visit to Thung Nham Bird Garden, home to a diverse array of bird species. Explore the lush gardens and limestone caves while spotting colourful birds in their natural habitat.

Is Ninh Binh Worth Visiting?

Ninh Binh emerges as a destination of profound cultural significance and breathtaking natural beauty, beckoning you with its timeless allure and myriad attractions. From the majestic limestone karsts of Tam Coc and Trang An to the ancient temples of King Dinh and King Le, Ninh Binh offers experiences that captivate the imagination and stir the soul.

The province’s rich history, evident in the ancient capital of Hoa Lu and the ornate pagodas scattered throughout the region, provides a glimpse into Vietnam‘s storied past and the legacy of its dynastic rulers. Meanwhile, its pristine landscapes, characterised by meandering rivers, verdant rice fields, and tranquil wetlands, offer a sanctuary for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts seeking respite from the hustle and bustle of urban life.

Lying Dragon Mountain

Whether embarking on a scenic boat tour along the winding waterways of Tam Coc or venturing to the summit of Mua Cave for panoramic views of the countryside, visitors to Ninh Binh are treated to a wealth of unforgettable experiences that celebrate the beauty and diversity of Vietnam’s northern landscape.

Moreover, the warmth and hospitality of the local community add an extra layer of charm to the Ninh Binh experience, inviting you to immerse yourself in the region’s vibrant culture and traditions.

Given these considerations, it becomes abundantly clear that Ninh Binh is more than just a destination—it is a journey of discovery, a celebration of natural wonders and cultural heritage, and an opportunity to forge memories that will last a lifetime. Ninh Binh is unquestionably a destination worth visiting for those seeking an authentic and enriching travel experience.

Is Ninh Binh Safe for Solo Female Travellers?

Having visited Ninh Binh twice, once accompanied by a female friend, I can attest to its overall safety for solo female travellers. However, for those who may feel apprehensive or prefer the comfort of group travel, opting for a bus tour through reputable platforms like Viator or Get Your Guide can provide added peace of mind. These tours offer structured itineraries and the security of travelling in a group, ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience exploring the wonders of Ninh Binh.

While the province is generally welcoming and accommodating to solo female travellers, the preventive measures can help alleviate concerns and allow for a more relaxed and fulfilling journey.

Posing at the peak of Lying Dragon Mountain

Closing Notes

With its captivating landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and warm hospitality, Ninh Binh makes it well worth visiting. From the majestic karst formations of Tam Coc and Trang An to the ancient temples of Hoa Lu, Ninh Binh offers experiences that resonate with nature enthusiasts and history buffs.

Every moment spent in Ninh Binh is an example of the timeless allure of Vietnam’s northern countryside. With its natural beauty, cultural depth, and immersive experiences, Ninh Binh promises an unforgettable journey of exploration, discovery, and lasting memories.


  • The prices mentioned in the post are valid only at the time of publication. Ensure that you check the booking websites for up-to-date information and prices.
  • My opinions and views are unbiased. If the post is a collaboration, then they are specifically mentioned.
  • Ensure that you check the relevant websites for up-to-date information on COVID protocols.
  • For any adventurous activities, please note that there is a risk that can be dangerous. Ensure you read the terms and conditions recommended by individual agencies and do them at your own risk.
  • For visas, it is best to see the embassy website for changing rules.
  • While using the recommended guides, auto-drivers or taxi drivers, do your due diligence and trust your judgement.

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