If you’ve read my previous blog post about Bai Dinh Pagoda Ninh Binh, you will know that I’m a big fan of Ninh Binh. But Ninh Binh is more than just pagoda, it has very beautiful nature and wonders that you can barely find in other parts of the world. In this post, I’m going to show you the top 3 Ninh Binh attractions you must visit.
Ninh Binh Attractions – Where is Ninh Binh?
Located on the Southern end of the Red River Delta, Ninh Binh is around 2 hours drive from Hanoi. It is blessed with diverse topography of both mountainous and coastal areas. It can be said that the province contains all the scenic quintessence of whole Vietnam within its relatively small size. Not only that, Ninh Binh represents typical rural villages of Northern region with vast green paddy field, expanding mountains and poetic river that flows to the horizon. Ninh Binh’s history is also worth mentioning: the ancient capital of Vietnam in the 10th century, Ninh Binh is a venue of relics that reflect its 1000 years of history and development.
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Top 3 Ninh Binh Attractions
Ninh Binh Attractions 1 – Hang Mua Pagoda (Mua Cave)
Down a sleepy road between rice paddies, this cave is truly impressive at the peak. It offers panoramic views of the rice paddies as you climb up the zigzags stairs. There are in total 450 steps but the height of the cave looks a lot more than that.
Once you reach the top, you will see two dragon statues. And guess what? You can actually climb over there AT YOUR OWN RISK. At first I didn’t dare to climb either, but Calvin and I decided to go ahead after seeing some adventurous souls there. I have to say the “path” is pretty narrow and steep, so you really have to be very careful. But trust me, the experience and the view is really rewarding!
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Ninh Binh Attractions 2 – Trang An Boat Ride
If you’ve heard the beauty of Halong Bay, Trang An is the Halong Bay of the land. It has spectacular landscape of limestone karst peaks permeated with valleys, many of them partly submerged and surrounded by steep, almost vertical cliffs. And – best of all – there are very few tourists, so you can really enjoy the serenity of nature. I wrote a post on Halong Bay too, check out the beautiful place if you haven’t.
When you reach Trang An, get your ticket at the counter at 150,000 dong (US$7) per person. In no time, you’ll find yourself in a boat and set off your journey! The boat ride is between 2-3 hours depending on your choice. Although it sounds long, you’ll enjoy every minute of it!
All 5 of us managed to squeeze in one boat. After around 30 mins or so, the large river finally came to an end. What was in front of us was a small dark cave. Guess what? The cave turned out to be a narrow tunnel and was a lot smaller than we expected. We literally had to bend down throughout the journey to make sure we could get out safely and soundly.
After around a long 5 mins, we finally got out and found ourselves being surrounded by mountains again. The scenery became even more beautiful. In many areas, we were the only boat in the lake.
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Over the next 2 hours, we encountered close to 10 caves, with some being long and narrow, others being big and wide. I’ve never seen any landscape like that before, not even in Halong Bay. Going through all the caves was full of fun and excitement. It was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.
The most important bit of advice I can give here is to take sunscreen and some water. In summer especially, it can get extremely hot and there is no shade, so you’ll need some protection with you. And if you are thinking about going to Tum Coc for boat ride instead, many travelers say that it’s over crowded and the boat lady will force you to buy things from her. So stick to my advice, visit Trang An and enjoy the peace!
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Ninh Binh Attractions 3 – Bai Dinh Pagoda
Bai Dinh Pagoda Ninh Binh is a religious complex covering a total area of 539 hectare, a size of more than 800 football fields combined! Located in the mountainous area, the peak of the pagoda offers breathtaking views. When you finally reach the top, you’ll be able to see a beautiful temple with gorgeous scenery as a backdrop. If you want to find out more about the pagoda, read my blog post on Bai Dinh Pagoda Ninh Binh.
Ninh Binh Attractions 4 – Bich Dong Pagoda
From Tam Coc boat pier, head East nearly 3km, you will reach Bich Dong pagoda – an ever ancient three tiered cave pagoda. This pagoda is very small. To be frank, the old relic has nothing much to see or do. I won’t considered it to be the top 3 attractions. But if you are a big fan of historical buildings, Bich Dong Pagoda is a nice place to visit.
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I hope this post has successfully convinced you to visit Ninh Binh. If not, watch the awesome video below and be prepared to be awed!
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