Ninh Binh is quite famous for the stunning landscapes with the constant backdrop of charming rivers, surrounded by karst limestone cliffs and vivid green rice fields. And recently, many tourists have heard of this place through the movie King Kong, which was filmed here. Actually, the whole province is very relaxing, that’s for sure.
Now, let’s go to explore some top attractions in Ninh Binh!
1. Three Cave (Tam Coc)
“Mystical” – one word to describe the beauty of the Tam Coc, which is a miniature landlocked version of Ha Long Bay. It is really great to see the mountain goats high on the cliffs, and bright, darting kingfishers. These caves eroded through the limestone hills with barely sufficient clearance for the sampan after heavy rains.
At Tam Coc, you can take a bike ride and boat ride. Do the bike ride where you can take nice photos of the rock formations. Also, you should try the 1.5 hour boat ride along the river, through three caves and back again. On the way back, you can stop by Thai Vi Temple, a short walk from the river. Actually, it is a quite peaceful and atmospheric spot. Remember to go on a sunny day, and the views will be ten times better.
2. Trang An Grottoes
Maybe one of the most attractive landmarks in Ninh Binh is Trang An Grottoes. It consists of a block of caves and rock towering out from a large network of canals and lakes. Just about 40 minutes to ride bike from Mua Cave to get here. It is so cool to Trang An by bike as the ride towards the grottoes passes through a small village with beautiful rice fields and you can see some livestock roaming including ducks, horses, goats, and water buffalo.
I highly recommend you to go for Trang An tour in the early morning because you will have more time visiting the temples. The temples appear to have come out of a fairytale on the base of a mountain. The quiet sounds of the oars hitting the water is great. In short, the caves are really neat and the grottos are unbelievable with absolutely gorgeous scenery. How beautiful to visit!
3. Mua Caves
Located in Dau Khe Ha Hamlet, Mua Cave is the must-see attraction when you have a trip to Ninh Binh. You can connect your visit to Tam Coc, Trang An with biking, and then trekking to this cave.
Mua Cave was built following the model of “miniature Great Wall” in China with nearly 500 steps up to mountains. Actually, it is a hard trek up with many of its uneven limestone steps, but once reaching to the top, you can seize the impressive and panoramic views of Tam Coc, Trang An and Ninh Binh, especially Lying Dragon Statue. It is breathtaking and well worth the climb.
4. Bai Dinh Pagoda
With a mix of ancient and newly renovated design, Bai Dinh Pagoda is a religious complex which attracts tourists to visit.
Located on the western slope of Dinh Mountain and nestled in a quiet forest, the pagoda houses an ancestor-worshiping house in the center. On the right hand side is Bright cave where the Buddha is worshiped. In addition, on the left hand side of the pagoda is another temple worshiping Saint Nguyen and next to it is Dark cave which worships the Fairy. With fanciful scenery and quiet atmosphere, you can find peace in your minds.
5. Van Long Nature Reserve
You can take a boat tour to explore Van Long. If Trang An offers many cave experiences, this place gives you gorgeous view of the lush waterscape and landscape, with beautiful white crane-looking birds and rare monkeys. The nature reserve is best observed with two per boat, not including the boat operator of course.
6. Hoa Lu temples of the Dinh & Le Dynasties
The next attractions catching tourists’ eyes are temples, where people worship the Emperors and royal relatives that ruled here more than 1000 years ago. Hoa Lu temples of the Dinh & Le Dysnastis will invite you to discover this ancient era of Vietnamese history. It is home to the country’s first two imperial dynasties, the temples are built in honor of the Dinh family. There is a difference that Hoa Lu One-Pillar Pagoda has a pillar full of phrase by Buddha in front of it.
These temples are absolutely worth a visit if you would like to climb 200 steps past the tomb of Dinh Tien Hoang to the top of one of the limestone karst hills. It is special for you to scramble over some rocks and get a great view over the top down to Hoa Lu. Along with these pagodas and temples, there are also plenty of monuments, tombs, shrines to worship here.
7. Bich Dong Pagoda
Last but not least, Bich Dong is regarded as one of the most appealing tourist spot in Ninh Binh, also called “South second nicest grotto”. Ninh Binh still retains numerous scenic spots with a harmonious architectural ensemble. The journey to discover Three Caves departs from Dinh Cac Wharf along with Ngo Dong River and the rice field’s surrounding.
You will comfortably admire the stunning views of the amazing limestones, be careful to observe exotic aquatic species in the waters or contemplate the flocks of white flamingo on the lawns in the lagoon. Inside each cave temple, looming statues peer from the haze of burning incense and outside offers incredible countryside views. Each level up takes you around or through a temple in order to get to another, higher level temple, absolutely gorgeous. Just highly recommend you to wear shoes to this pagoda and walking slowly as the bridge heading to the entrance is quite slippery. This spot is good to experience!