Known as “Halong Bay on Land”, Ninh Binh truly lives up to its reputation. With many limestone mountains, green rice fields, serene rivers and rural villages, Ninh Binh is truly idyllic. Visitors can enjoy activities including cycling, river cruising and visiting temples.
Even though Ninh Binh is not as well known as other famous places in Vietnam, it has a lot of things travellers are looking for especially if you want to see the unspoiled parts of Vietnam.
If you are travelling solo in Hanoi and you’re looking for day trip ideas, definitely consider taking a day trip to Ninh Binh. And I highly recommend joining a Ninh Binh tour from Hanoi because it is very affordable and the tour includes all the transportation.
In this post, I detailed my Ninh Binh tour experience and highlight some of the tours that you might want to consider.
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Ninh Binh day trip: what you need to know
Before you spend one day in Ninh Binh, check out these travel tips first:
- Ninh Binh is not as well known as other places in Northern Vietnam. However, that might be the selling point for visiting Ninh Binh. Because not many people know about it, this region is less touristy, and the rural atmosphere remains intact. Roads are wider and with fewer cars.
- Join an organized tour from Hanoi or venture on your own. Even though I’ve never been much of an organized tour type of traveller, this is an excellent option for solo travellers.
- If you go to Ninh Binh on your own, the town is accessible by train and bus.
- And if you stay overnight, consider renting a scooter to scoot around Ninh Binh to see what rural Vietnam looks like.
Ninh Binh itinerary: 1 day tour
My Ninh Binh tour started bright and early. Every traveller is picked up from their hotels and were shuttled from Hanoi to Ninh Binh via an air-conditioned minibus. The ride is about an hour or more.
Bai Dinh Pagoda
On our tour, we visited Bai Dinh Pagoda, the biggest pagoda in Southeast Asia and the Buddhist Centre of Vietnam.
This complex has many temples and covers 1,000 square meters. The biggest and heaviest statue in Vietnam is the bronze Buddha Sykamuni statue in this complex. Visitors come here to see the 500+ Arahat statues, where each figure is in a different position and has a different gesture, and visitors rub the feet of each statue for good luck.
Plus, there is the Great Bell which weighs more than 36 tons. And from the tower, you can see a magnificent view of the limestone mountains of Ninh Binh.
Ecotourism Trang An Boat Tour
After a quick lunch at a local restaurant (which was a buffet-style lunch with chicken, pork, goat, fried noodles, rice and fruits), we continued on the afternoon portion of the tour, Ecotourism Trang An Boat Tour.
Trang An has many limestone systems and natural caves. The only way to see this area is by a small rowing boat. Our guide took us on this scenic river ride, and we skillfully navigated through a series of Trang An grottoes. It takes incredible skills to manoeuvre through the cave systems, as the cave cavities are quite small.
We saw many caves, temples, and even wild animals like mountain goats throughout the two-hour boat ride.
Other Ninh Binh day tours for solo travellers
Many tour companies offer one or two tours around Ninh Binh. Each tour highlight similar attractions and locations so they pick and choose and customize the perfect itinerary for travellers who has never been to Ninh Binh.
Here are a few other tour options in Ninh Binh that you might want to consider.
Tam Coc and Mua Caves day tour
This one day Ninh Binh tour to Tam Coc includes a Sampan river boat ride on the Ngo Dong River and visiting to Tam Coc’s three caves. Then cycle around traditional villages and Tam Coc town and visit Hoa Lu, an ancient capital of Vietnam.
The tour doesn’t stop there. In the afternoon, climb 500 steps to the top of Mua Cave and see panoramic views of the countryside.
Bai Dinh Pagoda, Trang An and Mua Caves day tour
This full day Ninh Binh day tour includes all the major attractions in this quaint Northern Vietnamese town. The tour starts with a visit to Bai Dinh Pagoda in the morning and a boat ride in Trang An in the afternoon. The tour also includes the climb up Mua Caves at the end of the day.
If I have to do it all over again, I would chose this Ninh Binh day tour because it includes the climb to Mua Caves.
Ninh Binh and Hoa Lu overnight tour
This 2-day Ninh Binh tour includes Tam Coc boat ride, bike ride around the rice fields, climb up to Mua Cave, a visit to Hoa Lu and overnight stay at a luxury bungalow homestay.
Where to stay in Ninh Binh for solo travellers
I only did a day tour in Ninh Binh and didn’t stay overnight. In hindsight, I would’ve loved to stay overnight in Ninh Binh because there are some really awesome accommodations ranging from five-star luxury hotels to rustic bungalows lining the river bank with limestone cliffs as the backdrop.
I also read from other blog posts that if you are going to stay in Ninh Binh, book an accommodation in the countryside, Tam Coc instead of Ninh Binh city. Tam Coc is closer to all the attractions, and you can explore the rural country of Vietnam.
Book your accommodation through Agoda. This is the website I always use to search for accommodations in Asia. They have the best prices and have the best selection of hotels in Asia. And if you open a profile and reserve your hotels under your profile, you can accumulate reward points and use them for future bookings.
How will you spend one day in Ninh Binh?
There are pros and cons for doing a day trip to Ninh Binh on your own or joining an organized tour.
But if you want to leave out the hassle of researching and organizing a day trip in a foreign country, definitely consider joining a tour. Plus, you can meet other solo travellers along the way.
Whatever you decide to do, consider visiting this quaint little town in Northern Vietnam. It is so different from the hustle and bustle of Hanoi.
Let me know in the comments if you have questions about touring around Ninh Binh.
Thank you for reading my Ninh Binh day trip post
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