The answer to the question "How many days in Ninh Binh?" depends on which sites you'd like to visit.
In general, 2 days is ideal to discover all highlights in Ninh Binh. A whirlwind trip of fewer than 24 hours is still fine, but certainly, you don't want to travel in a rush!
Don't rush! You should spend time to explore Ninh Binh, especially in the view of locals
So where should you go and what should you do in your 2-day trip? Here is an itinerary that AZ Local Trip would like to recommend you to arrange to explore rural Vietnam on your own
If you would have a day tour to Ninh Binh, we also offer these perfect combinations
You can also have some ideas for your itinerary in the tours offered even do not book
In order to help you navigate around Ninh Binh area, I've put together a map containing all of the main sights and places worth going – IN ENGLISH – split in 2 different days.
The gorgeous landmark is waiting for you!
This first day only has 3 places, but each one of them will need a couple of hours to explore. I strongly suggest you get around on a motorbike as distances between these sights are significant.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Trang An Landscape Complex is an impressive set of large limestone karst cliffs covered by forest. In the entire area, you can find temples, dozens of valleys and about 50 different caves.
The best way to enjoy this inspiring scenery is to take a boat ride which is skippered by local Vietnamese women.
Go on a boat ride to witness this inspiring scenery
The rowing method employed by these women uses their feet to paddle and steer the wooden boat around the river. The aim of such a method is that it allows them to face in a forward position, as well as alleviating the pressure off their backs and arms.
A leisurely rowboat trip through the stunning Ninh Binh countryside is definitely a highlight of a visit!
Tips: The ride has a duration of 2-3 hours.
Hoa Lu is the ancient capital of the Dinh and Le dynasties, dating back to the 11th century. It’s located roughly 14 kilometers from Ninh Binh and close to the Trang An boat ride.
Today, the remains of this ancient city are just that: remains. The buildings still standing include the royal temples of Dinh Tien Hoang, housing a statue of Emperor Dinh Bo Linh and his sons as well as the royal temple of the early Le Dynasty.
Hoa Lu is more about a historical destination
Hoa Lu still keeps the remaining of ancients fortress built by Dinh dynasty more than 1000 years ago. The Imperial place lays under the ground for 3 meters and now become a very interesting place to visit. Tourists will have the chance to see the old items used by the royal family in ancient time.
The fortress outside is built based on the natural advantages: the mountain provides good background, the deep valley is a basement, and the rivers supply water for people inside the fortress and would become traps to fight against the enemy in any case. This fortress is a very solid one that can defend against even the strongest enemy for months.
On the other hand, inside the fortress is marvelous scenery for photo-taking and sight-seeing. In addition, the ancient town of Hoa Lu can easily capture tourists by its unique aspects.
Bai Dinh, where temple hopping within temple hopping is possible
Located 15 kilometers away from Ninh Binh city in a mountain area, Bai Dinh Pagoda is a HUGE religious complex. In fact, everything is massive here. Within the 5.39 square kilometers premises, there are 5.000 Buddha statues, a 36-ton bronze bell and dozens of Buddhist temples, each more opulent than the other. Usually, visitors explore the compound by electric car.
It’s the absolute largest pagoda in South East Asia. Climbing to the top gives you an amazing open view over the Ninh Binh province.
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Contrary to the first day, this one can be done on a bike as distances are shorter. All the sights are in or around Tam Coc.
Known as "Halong Bay on rice field" or "The Terrestrial Halong Bay", Tam Coc looks indeed like a movie scene. Rice fields and karstic rocks surround the Ngo Dong River. When you’re sailing through it, the feeling of passing through a special natural kingdom is very real. Vietnamese call Tam Coc the Green Sea, and you’ll understand why once your eyes witness the scenery of the paddy fields.
Is this from a movie scene?
One of the best things to do in Tam Coc is hiring a bike. It offers you the freedom to travel to wherever you want to go, and at a time that is convenient for you.
Surrounding the rice paddies are endless miles of tracks to explore; ranging from old cemeteries to smaller villages where kids ride their oversized bikes from school every afternoon with the hugest smiles and not afraid to wave hello – there are so many unexpected turns and surprises to stumble upon.
If you’re coming from Tam Coc, the road to Bich Dong Pagoda is simply gorgeous. At a given point, you’ll be surrounded by huge rice fields with limestone cliffs as a backdrop. Definitely worthy of stopping for some selfie moments!
The bridge and the gate of Bich Dong is beautiful already
Bich Dong Pagoda itself is a set of 3 temples enclosed in a mountain. To explore the highest one you need to pass through a series of caves. At some point it’s pitch dark inside, so watch your step!
Inside you can find several Buddhist images carved in stone and hollow stalactites on which you can play some tunes. Some of these caves were used by the Viet Minh to hide from the French during the First Indochina War.
Tips: Aim to stay 1-hour maximum, as the site is not that big.
Mua cave is located near the Ngo Dong river. The actual cave within the karst is quite boring, but the pagoda, 500 steps high up is well worth the hike.
It's worth to climb over 500 steps!
It’s difficult to gauge how far up you’ve hiked due to the zig-zagging nature of the stairs, but persistence will ensure that you're rewarded with one of the best views in Vietnam. At the top, you’ll see the Ngo Dong River wind its way through Tam Coc and the endless mountains, blanketing the landscape far off into the distance.
The heat and humidity can be quite debilitating, so make sure you’re well hydrated and have plenty of water with you at the time.
While Trang An, Tam Coc – Bich Dong are the destinations which have become familiar, Thung Nham is still a relatively unfamiliar name for visitors coming to Ninh Binh. Thung Nham in Ninh Binh is also known under the name Thung Chim. It is the home of thousands of kinds of bird.
Travel to Thung Nham bird valley, you will be immersed in the wild and nature, enjoy the fresh atmosphere and quietly listen to thousands of birds are singing.
The previous sights are the standard to visit the region. If you’re feeling more adventurous or having a little bit more time, then you can expand your route.
An amazing scene in Cuc Phuong park
1.5 hours from Ninh Binh lies Cuc Phuong National Park. It’s a well-preserved rainforest, filled with hiking trails, prehistoric caves, and ancient trees. It’s also a site with rich fauna: turtles, butterflies and critically endangered primate species can be found here.
Phat Diem capital is the blend of Western and Eastern architecture
Located east of Ninh Binh city, Phat Diem Cathedral is considered to be one of the most beautiful churches in Vietnam. It’s western-inspired and it’s worth to visit if you’re into architecture or just want to extend your religious-site hopping spree.
Is this 2-day duration is enough for you to explore the amazing Ninh Binh? If you want to ask any question, please feel free to contact AZ Local Trip!