Vietnam is a country that has long captured the hearts of travelers from around the world. Its rich history, vibrant culture, and natural beauty make it a must-visit destination for anyone seeking adventure and discovery. And nowhere is this more true than in Ninh Binh, a hidden gem in the country’s northern region.
Dubbed the “Ha Long Bay on Land” by the locals, Ninh Binh is a place of unparalleled beauty, where towering limestone formations rise from the earth like ancient guardians, meandering rivers and lush forests beckon visitors to explore their depths. It is a land of ancient temples and pagodas, where the past and present merge to create a unique and unforgettable experience.
Despite its growing popularity, however, Ninh Binh has managed to maintain its authenticity and charm, making it an ideal destination for anyone looking to escape the crowds and experience Vietnam's rich culture and history.
Day 1: Arrival in Ninh Binh
On your first day in Ninh Binh, stroll around your accommodation and soak up the local atmosphere. Then, head to the Tam Coc wharf, where you can hop on a boat and cruise down the Ngo Dong River. The scenery here is nothing short of spectacular, with karst formations jutting out of the water like giant teeth. As you glide through the caves and waterways, you'll feel as though you've stepped into another world.
Day 2: Discover the Trang An Landscape Complex
The Trang An Landscape Complex is a must-visit destination on your second day in Ninh Binh. This UNESCO World Heritage site is home to some of the most spectacular scenery in all of Vietnam, with rivers and caves winding through towering cliffs and lush forests. It's a place where ancient temples and pagodas dot the landscape, each a testament to the rich history and culture of the region.
Day 3: Explore Cuc Phuong National Park
Day three takes you to Cuc Phuong National Park, a biodiverse wonderland home to a stunning array of wildlife, including gibbons, langurs, and flying squirrels. The park is also home to several ancient caves and prehistoric artifacts, which you can explore on a guided tour. As you hike through the lush forests and soak in the park’s natural beauty, you'll feel a sense of peace and tranquility that is hard to find in today's fast-paced world.
Day 4: Visit Hoa Lu Ancient Capital
Hoa Lu Ancient Capital is the destination for your fourth day in Ninh Binh. This former capital of Vietnam during the Dinh and Le dynasties is where the past comes alive. Here, you can explore ancient temples, pagodas, and palaces that date back to the 10th and 11th centuries. The Dinh Tien Hoang Temple and the Le Dai Hanh Temple are both stunning examples of traditional Vietnamese architecture and are not to be missed.
Day 5: Cycling around Bich Dong Pagoda
On day five, rent a bike and take a leisurely ride through the countryside to Bich Dong Pagoda. This ancient pagoda is located at the base of a limestone mountain and is accessible by climbing a steep staircase. The views from the top are breathtaking, with panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. Along the way, you can also stop at local villages and experience traditional Vietnamese culture.
Day 6: Relax and unwind
After a few days of sightseeing, take a break on day six and relax at your hotel or homestay. Enjoy a spa treatment, lounge by the pool, or take a leisurely walk around the local area. Alternatively, head to Thung Nham Bird Garden, a protected area that is home to a wide variety of bird species. Take a boat ride through the park's caves and watch the birds as they fly overhead.
Day 7: Departure from Ninh Binh
On your final day in Ninh Binh, take a leisurely breakfast before departing for your next destination. If you have time, visit the nearby Van Long Nature Reserve, which is home to a range of wildlife, including the endangered Delacour's Langur.