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Why You Definitely Need to See Ninh Binh

Hello, my dear fellows! When I decided to travel to Vietnam I started to look for the top things to do there, I directly found Ha Long Bay and Sa Pa. Indeed Ha Long Bay is beautiful and Sa Pa is too, I dug a little bit deeper and found the not so popular Ninh Binh.

Ninh Binh is one of Vietnam’s hidden gems, and only a short ride away from Hanoi. The best way to travel from Hanoi to Nính Bính in my opionion is by bus. In Nính Bính you will find rice fields, divided by rivers and surrounded by misty mountains, ancient cities and breathtaking temples which were built directly into the mountains.

In this article, I cover most of the information about Nính Bính, but if you want to read more about further adventures in Vietnam, check out these 24 Fun Things To Do in Vietnam.

girl sitting on a swing in front of a panoramic mountain view

The 90-Minute Boat Tour

We were very lucky as we arrived in Tam Coc as the sun was almost set. Our bus dropped us off directly at a small river where you can start a boat tour. Very eager to not miss any highlights we took a look when and how we could book a tour and luckily one of the boats women asked us whether we wanted to do a tour. Of course, we directly said yes. As it was almost getting dark, we were the last boat that was out. This was an absolute pleasure as I hate tourists and we had the most amazing time talking to our tour guide Lin. She is a wonderful woman and told us everything about the region.

Usually, the tour is about 90 minutes long but as it was getting darker and darker we just did 60 minutes but we were totally fine with it as we loved to experience the whole scenery on our own and not in the presence of a huge load of other tourists.

The tour itself was absolutely amazing as you can see wonderful mountains and rice fields. Furthermore, you go underneath the mountain into a cave filled with bats! And when you leave the cave again you are able to see wild goats on the sides of the river. It is for sure a breath-taking scenery and something I never thought I would be able to experience.

We left the river for our hotel being super amazed and happy about this random boat tour and I can totally recommend it to everyone visiting Ninh Binh.

Related: Responsible Travel Guide

The Lying Dragon Mountain

The next morning we rented some bikes to explore all of the sights near the area. Our first stop was hiking up the lying dragon mountain and it was already another highlight, so if it isn’t already, make sure to add hiking boots to your Vietnam packing list!

To get there you have to get to an Eco Stay and pay a fee to see the sight. After paying you can have a lovely walk in the gardens of the Eco Stay before it gets all exhausting. Because to get to the top you have to take 450 steps. As I am in the physical state of potato, this was quite a challenge for me. But when we reached the top, you instantly forget that you couldn’t breathe a minute ago.

The whole scenery feels so unreal because it is so beautiful. Words can’t describe it decently. Look at my pictures or just book your flight directly.

Lying Dragon Mountain, Ninh Binh


The Ancient Capital of Vietnam

So with the rented bikes, we went from the lying Dragon mountain to the next sight on our way. Even though the destination we wanted to go is beautiful, my highlight was the ride to it. The mountains and rivers are just so scenic and beautiful. The road is quite busy so if you are on a bike you have to take care not to be run over by some cars.

Over centuries Vietnam had a few capitals and this is one of them. Unfortunately, I didn’t like this place that much, because compared to the other sights we visited it was quite unspectacular. But I would still recommend it because the route is so beautiful and overwhelming!

Ninh Binh - Entrance of Hoa Lư Ancient Capital of Vietnam
Entrance of the former captial

Bich Dong Pagoda

This pagoda was my favourite thing on this journey. When you arrive you pay a small fee to park your bicycle and then they let you see the pagoda. From the outside, it looks very small and the bridge you need to cross looks like it could collapse anytime. But when you cross it you can discover a wonderful place with monks and a wonderful pagoda. After donating some money (because it doesn’t hurt us and helps them a lot) you can take some stairs up to another wonderful pagoda.

We took a break there to catch our breath again thinking this was all we could see there. (We were wrong.) Next to the second pagoda is a small way, which leads you directly into a cave. When you pass it, it will bring you directly to the third pagoda (Yeah three pagodas in total!)

After climbing some stairs you will have a wonderful view down the hill to the river. It was one of these moments when I was just filled with pure happiness and gratefulness.

Bich Dong Pagoda, Ninh Binh
Bich Dong Pagoda, Ninh Binh
Bich Dong Pagoda Valley
View down the valley

So these are my favourite sights from Ninh Binh but you can discover even more. I loved this place because it left me speechless more than once. If you are in Hanoi I would even recommend you to skip Ha Long Bay and to see Ninh Binh instead.

This was about Ninh Binh, Vietnam but if you want to read more about my adventures in Asia, why don’t you read my post about Kuala Lumpur?

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Why You Need to See Ninh Binh - La Vie En Marine


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