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Ninh Binh is a province in northern Vietnam that offers a variety of natural and cultural attractions for visitors. Whether you are looking for adventure, history, or relaxation, you will find something to suit your interests in this scenic destination. Here are 15 best things to do in Ninh Binh.
What is the best time to visit Ninh Binh?
The climate of Ninh Binh is typical of the northern region, with four distinct seasons: spring, summer, autumn and winter. Each season has its own advantages and disadvantages for travelers, depending on your preferences and expectations.
- Spring (February to April) is the time when Ninh Binh celebrates the Lunar New Year and many other festivals. The weather is mild and pleasant, with occasional showers. The rice fields are green and lush, creating a contrast with the limestone mountains. This is a great time to enjoy the cultural and natural beauty of Ninh Binh, but be prepared for crowds and higher prices.
- Summer (May to August) is the hottest and rainiest season in Ninh Binh. The temperature can reach up to 40°C, and the humidity is high. The rain can cause floods and landslides, making some roads inaccessible. However, this is also the time when the lotus flowers bloom in the ponds and lakes, creating a romantic scenery. If you don’t mind the heat and the rain, you can still have a wonderful time in Ninh Binh in summer.
- Autumn (September to November) is considered the best time to visit Ninh Binh by many travelers. The weather is cool and dry, with clear blue skies and gentle breezes. The rice fields turn golden, creating a stunning contrast with the green mountains. The sunlight is soft and flattering, making your photos look amazing. This is also the low season for tourism, so you can enjoy more peace and quiet.
- Winter (December to January) is the coldest season in Ninh Binh. The temperature can drop to 10°C or lower, and the fog can reduce visibility. The landscape is less colorful, with brown fields and bare trees. However, this is also a good time to experience the local life and culture of Ninh Binh. You can join the locals in celebrating Christmas and New Year, or visit some of the ancient temples and pagodas that are less crowded.
Generally speaking, the best time to visit Ninh Binh is from February to April or from October to December, when the weather is pleasant and the scenery is at its best. You can avoid the crowds and the heat of the summer months, as well as enjoy the festivals and events that take place during these seasons.
List 15 best things to do in Ninh Binh
1. Explore the Trang An Landscape Complex.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a stunning scenery of limestone karsts, caves, rivers, and forests. You can take a boat tour to admire the views and visit some of the temples and pagodas along the way.
2. Visit the Bai Dinh Pagoda
This is the largest Buddhist complex in Vietnam, with hundreds of statues, towers, and halls. The highlight is the 10-meter-high bronze Buddha statue that weighs 100 tons. You can also climb to the top of the bell tower for a panoramic view of the area.
3. Cycle around Tam Coc
Tam Coc means “three caves” and refers to the three natural caves that are formed by the Ngo Dong River flowing through the limestone mountains. You can rent a bike and cycle along the rice fields and villages, or take a boat ride to enter the caves.
4. Hike up to the Hang Mua Peak
If you are looking for a challenge, you can hike up to Hang Mua Peak, a 500-meter-high hill that offers a spectacular view of Ninh Binh. The hike is not easy, as you have to climb up 500 steps, but it is worth it for the reward at the top. You can also see the Mua Cave and a giant dragon statue along the way.
5. Discover the ancient capital of Hoa Lu
Hoa Lu was the capital of Vietnam in the 10th and 11th centuries, during the Dinh and Le dynasties. You can visit the remains of the royal palaces, temples, and tombs, and learn about the history and culture of this period.
6. Experience rural life at Thung Nham Bird Garden
Thung Nham is a peaceful valley surrounded by mountains and forests, where you can see various kinds of birds, especially in the evening when they return to their nests. You can also explore the orchards, farms, and caves in the area, or stay overnight in a bungalow or homestay.
7. Admire the architecture of Phat Diem Cathedral
Phat Diem Cathedral is a unique example of Catholic architecture in Vietnam, as it combines Western and Eastern elements. The cathedral was built in the 19th century by a Vietnamese priest, who used local materials such as stone, wood, and bamboo. The complex consists of a main church, four chapels, three artificial lakes, and a bell tower.
8. Enjoy nature at Cuc Phuong National Park
This is the oldest national park in Vietnam and one of the most biodiverse areas in the country. You can walk through the lush rainforest and see many plants and animals, such as monkeys, butterflies, orchids, and ferns. You can also visit the Endangered Primate Rescue Center, where you can learn about the conservation efforts for some of the rarest primates in the world.
9. Learn about history at Dong Thai Lake Historical Site
Dong Thai Lake is a large artificial lake that was created in 1951 by damming up a stream. The lake was used as a base for the Viet Minh forces during the First Indochina War against the French colonialists. You can see some of the relics and monuments that commemorate this event, as well as enjoy the scenic views of the lake.
10. Relax at Van Long Nature Reserve
Van Long is another wetland area that features spectacular landscapes of limestone mountains, caves, and marshes. It is also home to many rare animals, such as the endangered Delacour’s langur, a type of monkey that lives only in Vietnam. You can take a boat trip to observe the wildlife and admire
the natural beauty.
11. Taste local specialties at Ninh Binh’s restaurants
Ninh Binh has some delicious dishes that you should try when you visit, such as goat meat, mountain snails, eel vermicelli, or rice crusts. You can find many restaurants and street stalls that serve these delicacies, or join a cooking class to learn how to make them yourself.
12. Shop for souvenirs at Ninh Binh’s markets
Ninh Binh has several markets where you can buy local products and handicrafts, such as embroidery, ceramics, bamboo items, or dried fruits. Some of the popular markets are Tam Coc Market, Bich Dong Market, or Van Lam Market.
13. Take a day trip to Halong Bay.
Halong Bay is one of the most famous and beautiful destinations in Vietnam, and it is not far from Ninh Binh. You can take a day trip to Halong Bay by bus or train, and then join a cruise to explore the bay’s thousands of islands, caves, and beaches. You can also kayak, swim, or snorkel in the clear water, or just relax on the deck and enjoy the scenery.
14. Relax and rejuvenate at the Emeralda Resort Ninh Binh.
The Emeralda Resort Ninh Binh is a luxury resort that offers spacious rooms, outdoor pools, spa services, and fine dining options. The resort is located near some of the main attractions of Ninh Binh such as Trang An and Bai Dinh Pagoda.
15. Enjoy some fun activities at Thung Nang (Sun Valley)
Thung Nang, where you can go kayaking, fishing, camping, or picnicking in a beautiful setting surrounded by mountains and water. You can also visit some nearby attractions such as temples, caves, and villages.
Some of the festivals and events in Ninh Binh
- Hoa Lu Festival, which takes place from the 8th to the 10th day of the third lunar month in Truong Yen commune, Hoa Lu district, to commemorate the great merits of King Dinh Tien Hoang and King Le Dai Hanh.
- Trang An Festival, which takes place on the 18th day of the third lunar month in Tran temple, Minh Hai commune, Hoa Lu district, to honor Saint Quy Minh Dai Vuong, one of the gods worshiped in folk beliefs.
- Thai Vi Temple Festival, which takes place on the 14th and 15th day of the third lunar month in Van Lam village, Ninh Hai commune, Hoa Lu district, to honor the four Tran dynasty kings Tran Thai Tong, Tran Thanh Tong, Tran Nhan Tong, Tran Anh Tong, and Hien Tu Queen Mother.
- Bai Dinh Pagoda Festival, which takes place from the 6th day of the first lunar month to the end of the third lunar month in Bai Dinh pagoda, Gia Sinh commune, Gia Vien district, to celebrate the Buddha and pray for peace and prosperity.
Ninh Binh is a place that will surprise you with its diversity and charm. Whether you spend a few days or a few weeks, you will never run out of things to do and see in this amazing destination.