Best things to do in Ninh Binh, Vietnam

With only a few days around the area, we had to decide on the best things to do in Ninh Binh. There’s a lot to do in Ninh Binh and it can feel a bit overwhelming trying to decide. After some research we landed on these sights and other travelers later confirmed we made the right choices. So if you’re a little strapped for time and want to make the most of your stay in Ninh Binh or Tam Coc, this guide will help you! While I was there, it was really overcast, but I think so many of these spots would be mind-blowing if you get some sun.

Hang Mua Peak

I think this is most visitors favorite spot in Ninh Binh. Hang Mua Peak is incredibly popular for sunset, but it get’s so busy that I’d recommend going at a different time. Since it was overcast and it didn’t look like we’d get much of a sunset anyway, we went in the middle of the day. We first climbed the stairs leading to the beautiful little pagoda that sits at the top. We almost had it to ourselves and after taking our time for photos we continued to the other pair of stairs leading to the dragon statue at the top of the other hill. As you will see on the photos, on the way to the top we had plenty of space to take photos and take in the view, but at the top it was already extremely crowded. Around 3 o’clock crowds started trickling in already for the sunset, but even before that it was almost impossible to climb to the dragon. I would probably advice doing it early morning if you also want to get a photo with the dragon. The rest of the spots were still accessible during the afternoon.

Bich Dong Pagoda

As you arrive you’ll see this stunning gate with the karst mountains in the background and if you’re lucky blooming lotus flowers in the pond. This beautiful pagoda is worth a visit, but there are a few things to keep in mind. If you’re driving a scooter you will need a place to park. We had read that if you have a coffee at one of the cafe’s you can park there for free, but ended up getting into a fight with the parking attendant. He insisted we park our scooters with him, but we stuck with our plan of parking at a local coffee shop. The guy at the entrance charges 50.000 VND, which is 5 times the normal price of 10.000 VND. It’s not a lot of money, but after he yelled at us and grabbed our bikes we were not willing to humor him. If you want to avoid fighting with this guy, you can either park further down the street or just pay his fee.

Anyhow, let’s continue to to discuss the actual sight. The Bich Dong Pagoda consists of 3 levels and one of them is situated in a cave. There is no entrance fee and you can just walk right in. The visit should not take more then 1 hour as it is not that big.

Dộng Thiên Cung- Secret Cave (area next to Bich Dong pagoda)

When you walk out the gates of Bich Dong you continue on the path to the left besides the pond. This will lead you to a stunning area. When I visited, the cave was unfortunately closed. However,  since I really enjoyed the surroundings I still wanted to mention it. When you visit, it might be a surprise if the cave is open to visit or not, but it will be beautiful either way!

Bai Dinh

I didn’t do much research before visiting, but I soon found out about the absolute vastness of this place. It is the largest Buddhist temple complex in Vietnam. You can buy a ticket that includes little buses that will take you from one place to the next. You can easily spend an entire day walking around, but we went through it relatively quickly. It’s very popular for people to come here on Pilgrimage.

Boat trip in Trang An

The most popular Tourist attraction around Ninh Binh must be the boat trip in Trang An. We went early in the morning and there was already a line of people waiting for tickets and boats. You’ll have to choose between 3 different routes. Number one is heavy on caves, number three is heavy on temples and number two had the best balance for us. A lot of Vietnamese tourists are set on seeing all of the temples so route 3 was a lot busier. Number two was a bit more quiet and we enjoyed the variety of sights.

  • The cost of the boat trip is 250.000 VND (approximately €10) and the boat is shared among 4 people
  • The trips takes around 2-3 hours
  • Don’t forget to tip the rower of the boat (and help them row)

Phố cổ Hoa Lư in Ninh Binh

This lake area is especially beautiful to walk around in the Evening. The temples light up and there are many lanterns, food places and souvenir stands. We stumbled upon this place after having dinner and loved seeing everything lit up.

Where to stay?

Trang An River View Homestay:

I stayed very remotely, which was not the most convenient, but extremely beautiful! If you have no problem driving a scooter around, I’d highly recommend Trang an river View homestay .

Lys Homestay

Tam Coc îs a very convenient area to stay in. It’s a bit more lively and you’ll have nice restaurants around. I’d recommend a place like Lys homestay with a view of the lake!