Make sure to add Ninh Binh in northern Vietnam to your travel bucket list. This magnificent destination is reminiscent of Halong Bay, featuring towering limestone mountains that will take your breath away. The locals are friendly and hospitable, and you can expect comfortable accommodations during your stay.
From every angle, the panoramic views are simply spectacular, and the lush natural surroundings are abundant with a diverse range of flowers and wildlife. National parks encircle the area, and crystal-clear rivers and streams meander through the landscape, enhancing the overall enchanting ambiance of the region.
Ama Journey introduces top 10 Ninh Binh attractions for visitors to come and explore these amazing beauties.
Top 10 Ninh Binh attractions
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Hoa Lu served as the capital of Vietnam during the 10th and 11th centuries and played a significant role in shaping the country's history. It was the site of several crucial events, such as the unification of Vietnam after the rebellion of 12 warlords, the war with China's Southern Han Dynasty, and the formation of Hanoi.
King Dinh temples in Hoa Lu - Ninh Binh
Visiting 2 temples: King Dinh and King Le temples. Located in an area of great historical and cultural significance, the Dinh and Le temples were intended to showcase the Vietnamese people's power and accomplishments. These temples have since become a cherished symbol of the country's cultural heritage and a popular tourist destination, drawing visitors from around the world to admire their stunning architecture and learn more about Vietnam's rich history.
Tam Coc is a charming tourist town that caters to all your needs, with convenience stores, coffee shops, travel agencies, and a delicious goat meat restaurant. This town is perfect for those seeking natural comforts.
One of the most popular attractions in Tam Coc is the boat trip that departs from the town. If you visit in June, you will witness a magical transformation as the farmlands turn into a sea of mesmerizing yellow. The stunning contrast between the towering green limestone mountains and the yellow rice fields of Tam Coc is a sight to behold. Your skilled captain will row you through the valley using his feet, and you will pass through a fascinating cave along the way.
Tourists enjoying boat trip in Tam Coc - Ninh Binh
The boat ride across the Ngo Dong River is a delightful experience that takes you through the heart of Tam Coc Valley. To avoid the crowds, it's best to embark on the Tam Coc boat trip early in the morning. Despite being one of the most popular tourist destinations in Ninh Binh, Tam Coc is still worth visiting. Take the two-hour boat ride and then explore the town. The towering mountains that oversee the valley are awe-inspiring, and the area offers plenty of opportunities for capturing stunning photographs. Don't forget to tip the boatman and purchase a drink or fresh fruits from the lady on the boat if you wish that to support the locals.
Tam Coc's green limestone mountains and surrounding peaks create a striking color contrast that will leave you enchanted. Take your time to enjoy the moment and soak in the beauty of the area. You can also rent a bike and explore the surrounding areas of Tam Coc. Ninh Binh has numerous hidden caves waiting to be discovered, so make sure not to miss out on the chance to explore them.
The Bich Dong Pagoda is a remarkable example of traditional architectural style, skillfully crafted from wood, stone, and brick tiled roofs.
What sets this pagoda apart is its exceptional three-tiered structure: Ha Pagoda (Lower Pagoda), Trung Pagoda (Middle Pagoda), and Thuong Pagoda (Upper Pagoda).
The ancient beauty of Bich Dong pagoda is on the top 10 Ninh Binh attractions
These three pagodas are ingeniously constructed in ascending order, accessible by climbing a set of steep stairs. Upon arrival, visitors will be greeted by a charming gate adjacent to a magnificent mountain.
Upon crossing the stone bridge spanning a lotus flower pond, guests will enter the pagoda via a beautifully embellished gateway and proceed along a delightful footpath, exploring the entire complex.
Bai Dinh Pagoda is a renowned spiritual and scenic complex located in the Bai Dinh – Trang An ecotourism area with a rich history dating back more than 1000 years. The site is closely linked to various feudal dynasties, including the Dinh, Early Le, and Ly. Situated to the west of the ancient capital of Hoa Lu, in Gia Sinh Commune, Ninh Binh Province, and approximately 95 kilometers from Hanoi, the complex spans across an extensive area of 539 hectares, encompassing both the ancient and new Bai Dinh Pagodas.
The largest pagoda Southeast Asia - Bai Dinh pagoda in Ninh Binh
Regarded as the largest complex of Buddhist pagodas in Vietnam and holding various other records across Southeast Asia and Asia, this destination is a must-visit for all travelers seeking an authentic cultural experience. Make sure to include Bai Dinh Pagoda in your travel itinerary as it is on the top 10 Ninh Binh attractions.
In 2014, Trang An achieved UNESCO World Heritage Site status, becoming the first mixed natural and cultural heritage site in Vietnam. Spanning over 10,000 hectares, this scenic landscape complex comprises Trang An Eco-tourist Site, Tam Coc- Bich Dong Landscape, and Hoa Lu Ancient Citadel, situated across Hoa Lu, Gia Vien, and Nho Quan districts and Ninh Binh City.
Boat trip in Trang An - Ninh Binh
Trang An Eco-tourist Site boasts a breathtaking landscape of limestone karst peaks interspersed with submerged valleys and steep, almost vertical cliffs, creating an impressive outdoor geological museum. The site encompasses 48 caves and grottoes, alternating with 31 large and small valleys, each displaying unique and charming natural beauty, creating a picturesque landscape that is a wonder to behold.
Trang An is a rare and exceptional natural area, home to approximately 500 species of flora, 73 species of birds, and 41 other animal species. Its diverse ecosystem, unique natural beauty, and geological features have earned it global recognition as a world-renowned destination.
Located at the base of Mua Mountain, Mua Cave, also known as the Dance Cave, presents an exciting challenge to visitors with its 486 daunting steps. Upon reaching the top, visitors are rewarded with a breathtaking panoramic view of the Tam Coc scenic landscape, offering an opportunity to witness the majesty of Ninh Binh's natural beauty, as well as Vietnam's overall charm.
Stunning Hang Mua (Mua Cave) in Ninh Binh
Mua Cave resembles a colossal bell face turned upside down, covering an area of around 800m2. The white stone steps that lead up to the mountaintop can be clearly seen from the bottom, along with the distant stairs that connect to the miniature Van Ly Tuong Thanh. As you ascend, the stairwell is lined with exquisite stone carvings of dragons and phoenixes in the image of Tran art, which are sharp and stunning, enhancing the cave's charm.
Thien Ha (Galaxy) Cave is a hidden gem in Ninh Binh that was only discovered in 2007 due to its small size and remote location, nestled in a rainforest on Tuong Mountain. The cave remains untouched and boasts natural formations of stalactites and stalagmites in shimmering colors, creating the feeling of being lost in a paradise on earth.
Amazing stalactites and stalagmites in Thien Ha or Galaxy cave in Ninh Binh
The cave stretches 700 meters in length, including a sparkling dry cave that is 200 meters long and a mysterious water cave that is 500 meters long. To fully explore the cave's stunning beauty, visitors need to take a flashlight (supplied by the boat rowers) along.
As you walk through the dry cave, you can admire the naturally pristine stalactites of different forms hanging down from the ceiling, resembling sea shells, teeth, pumpkins, monkeys, or anything else that may appear to your imagination. Then, you will reach an open hole that leads to the sky, reflecting sunlight into the cave. This hole is also known as the "well of heaven," which could be the reason for the first part of the cave's name: Thien, meaning heaven or sky.
Van Long Nature Reserve is a must-visit destination for eco-tourism lovers in Northern Vietnam. It's a renowned ecological complex, famous for its diverse and rare wildlife species, and has become a major attraction for both foreign and domestic tourists, as well as researchers and conservation organizations worldwide. Its pristine beauty was featured in the movie "King Kong Skull Island" in 2017.
The rustic beauty of Van Long Nature Reserve in Ninh Binh
Located 17 km northeast of Ninh Binh city center, Van Long Nature Reserve is in close proximity to other well-known attractions such as Trang An Eco-tourism Complex and Cuc Phuong National Park. The reserve covers an area of 7 communes of Gia Vien District, including Gia Hung, Lien Son, Gia Hoa, Gia Van, Gia Lap, Gia Tan and Gia Thanh. The area was created in 1960, after the construction of a dike spanning more than 30 kilometers. However, it was not until December 2001 that it was designated as a nature reserve. Currently, it's one of the three special-use forests in Ninh Binh Province, and is well-known for its rich flora and fauna, including many rare and endangered species.
Van Long Nature Reserve is worth in the top 10 Ninh Binh attractions list for tourists.
Phat Diem Cathedral, located in Ninh Binh, is a unique blend of European and Asian architectural styles, making it one of the most distinctive and historically significant churches in Vietnam. Built entirely out of stone over a period of 24 years (1875-1899), the cathedral's grandeur and beauty draw numerous visitors each year.
Phat Diem Cathedral in Ninh Binh
As the center of Catholicism in northern Vietnam, Phat Diem Cathedral is not only a place of worship but also an important cultural landmark. With more than a century of history, the cathedral is a testament to the enduring faith and dedication of the people of Ninh Binh.
Cuc Phuong National Park is a vast protected area covering 22,200 hectares and spanning across three provinces: Ninh Binh, Hoa Binh, and Thanh Hoa. It is situated 130km southwest of Hanoi and 55km northwest of Ninh Binh City, making it a convenient nature retreat from these cities.
Cuc Phuong National park - Top 10 Ninh Binh attractions
As the first and largest national park in Vietnam, Cuc Phuong is home to ancient and dense forests, botanical gardens, and a diverse range of fauna and flora, including numerous species of birds, mammals, reptiles, and butterflies. Visitors can explore the park's natural beauty through trekking, birdwatching, and visiting two animal sanctuaries.
How many days to explore all Top 10 Ninh Binh attractions?
To cover 10 destinations in Ninh Binh it will take about a week. However, not any tourists will discover all the places in Ninh Binh, they will do a day trip or stay a couple of days in Ninh Binh to relax and discover 2-3 attractions with leisure biking.
For day trips, we can combine attractions to make some routes as below:
- Hoa Lu ancient capital - Tam Coc boat trip - Bich Dong pagoda.
- Bai Dinh Pagoda - Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex Nature.
- Van Long Nature Reserve with Biking and Boat trip.
- Thien Ha Galaxy Cave and Mua cave.
- Cuc Phuong national Park.
- Tam Coc boat trip and Phat Diem Cathedral.
Discover some Vietnam Tour packages with Top 10 Ninh Binh attractions
These are some options for Vietnam package tours which include some of the Ninh Binh attractions for your reference.