Below is our ultimate travel guide to Ninh Binh. This is the only guide you will need when it comes to finding the best things to do in Ninh Binh. Hotel recommendations and best restaurants included!
The small town of Tam Coc has to be one of our all time favourites in Vietnam. This beautiful town has it all, from towering mountain temples, to low pagodas surrounded by water lillys and even a river flowing through incredible rice fields. Venturing to this mystical part of Vietnam is a must for any backpacker, and for us it has become one of our most highly recommended places to visit. We hope you enjoy this ultimate travel guide to Ninh Binh, and put this destination on your list for your upcoming trip to Vietnam!
While you are headed to the city of Ninh Binh, you want to avoid the actual city itself. Instead make sure to book your accommodation somewhere in Tam Coc. Tam Coc is about a 10-15 minute drive outside of Ninh Binh. So it is close to all the main attractions and away from the city!
THINGS TO DO IN NINH BINH
One of the most impressive views in Tam Coc. The Mua Cave is a temple atop of a mountain with sweeping views of the valley below. To get to the top you must climb up 500 steps, so be ready for a bit of a workout. The price of entry is 100,000 VND. Which can be expensive but for us it was well worth the price.
Our advice for traveling to the Mua Caves would be to go early in the morning. Tam Coc can become busy during higher periods of tourism and as a result, so do the attractions. However, Arriving at 7am, you’ll have the whole place to yourself and climbing 500 steps and taking in the view of Vietnam waking up is something you’ll never forget. This is a must if you’re here and the pictures speak for themselves. This is a must if you’re here and the pictures speak for themselves.
Much smaller than most of the other pagodas in Tam Coc, but don’t let that deter you from visiting. You’ll find yourself enchanted by this small, yet beautiful pagoda not only through the journey to find it, but where it is located within nature. This pagoda was extremely close to where we were staying, so for us it was super easy to find! As with all pagodas in Vietnam and generally Asia, we would recommend getting there as early as possible. Its free to enter and you only need to pay for parking a bike (20,000 VND). Depending on the time of year, there can be a field of water Lillys floating around the bridge and pagoda. This is the perfect pagoda for a quick visit, or a climb up the mountain, but either way you must visit Bich Dong.
TRANG AN BOAT TOUR
Personally, we’re not a huge fan of tourism boards running tours, they can become very crowded very quickly and are often a mess from start to finish. However, Trang An boat tour is an acceptation to this rule. For the price of 200,000VND per person which is expensive in our eyes for any ticket, we found that the tour was actually worth the money. Once you buy a ticket you are asked which route you want to take, A, B or C. We chose route B as it stopped at a beautiful pagoda we wanted to take pictures at. Once chosen, you’re taken to a boat where 4 people can board and your guide will take you up the river and along the route you have chosen. The whole experience for us was incredible. From floating through the rice fields, stopping off at some beautiful pagodas surrounded by dramatic mountains, to traveling through long dark caves to reach them, we found that our money was well spent and we even tipped the lady who rowed us the whole way!
TAM COC BOAT TOUR
Similar to the Trang An boat tour you can also take a boat ride through Tam Coc. The main difference between the two is that Tam Coc is slightly smaller, however you do get to ride amid more Lilly pads and flowers! Just depends on the kind of vibe you want! Both are great tours.
Whilst you’re in Tam Coc the best way to get around is by bike or by bicycle. Most home stays and hostels will have them to rent and we will highly recommend doing so. As located just north of the homestay Cozy Son, where we stayed, there are several rice fields where you can explore.
BEST RESTAURANTS IN NINH BINH
Ninh Loan Rose
For cheap local food in town, be sure to check out this place! The meals are tasty and they don’t break the bank. Additionally, their beers are pretty cheap too, with a big beer only costing 15,000VND ( $0.50).
For those of you who have a pizza craving then look no further than Chookies. An incredibly cute craft beer and pizza restaurant you have to visit! Our favourite pizzas were the Spanish chorizo, margarita and garlic parmesan. Their craft beers are also something to note. For both my self and Hanna we love IPA’s and the selection they had on offer tasted great. Bringing back memories of sunny California. Often times we have a hard time finding quality pizzas in Asia, but this place delivers top quality for sure!
BEST HOTELS IN NINH BINH
Cozy Son Homestay
The Cozy Son Homestay is a great option if you’re looking for a big affordable room. We paid around $10 per night and were given a triple room. The location of Cozy Son is a 10 minute walk from town, which from our experience wasn’t that long of a walk. However, as we mentioned before, renting a bike or a bicycle is the best way to get around town. If you’re traveling to tam coc we would highly recommend staying here as it is a short ride away from rich dong and a 30 second walk from Chookies.
Ninh Binh is definitely one of our top 3 favorite places in all of Vietnam! We hope that this travel guide to Ninh Binh has helped you with any future planning for your upcoming travels. Always remember to leave a comment below if you have any questions and safe travels!
For more Blogs on Vietnam Click below.
Bilal and Izzy says
Guys this is such a well-written article, great job. The Mua Caves look so incredible and would love to plan a trip for it. Thanks for sharing as this will come in handy!
Wests Wandering says
This is a great guide thankyou guys! How long would you recommend to stay in here? Would 2 nights be ok?
George Tyson says
Hey, you can definitely fit it all in, in two nights. but we would recommend 3.