3D2N Ninh Binh Travel Guide: A Solo DIY Backpacking Guide

ninh binh vietnam travel guide

Ninh Binh, situated in northern Vietnam, a two-hour drive from Hanoi city, boasts natural beauty and a rich cultural heritage. Renowned for its stunning limestone karsts, lush countryside, and winding waterways, Ninh Binh often draws comparisons to Halong Bay, which is known as “Halong Bay on Land.” 

Ancient temples, pagodas, and historic sites, such as the Hoa Lu Ancient Capital, pepper this small town, offering a glimpse into Vietnam’s fascinating history. If you want to experience and see more of the natural beauty of Vietnam and discover its rich cultural history, Ninh Binh is definitely a must-visit place! 

During my 21-day journey to Vietnam, visiting Ninh Binh was definitely on my top list! This was my first stop during my first week in Vietnam, following a week of volunteer work. In this travel guide, find out how I was able to explore the majestic beauty of Ninh Binh, such as how to get there, places to see, and things to do in this beautiful small town for 3 days and 2 nights!

Understanding Ninh Binh

Located in northern Vietnam, Ninh Binh is a captivating destination that seamlessly combines natural beauty with rich cultural heritage. The region boasts ancient temples, pagodas, and historic sites, including the Hoa Lu Ancient Capital, providing a glimpse into Vietnam’s fascinating history. 

Ninh Binh is a place where nature, culture, and history converge, offering visitors a tranquil retreat from the hustle and bustle of urban life.

How to get from Hanoi to Ninh Binh?

It’s very convenient to get from Hanoi to Ninh Binh since it’s relatively straightforward. You don’t have to travel for long hours to get to this beautiful town. You can get to the town in approximately two hours. Thus, here’s how to get from Hanoi to Ninh Binh:. 

By Train

One of the most convenient ways to travel from Hanoi to Ninh Binh is by train. Several trains operate daily between Hanoi’s main railway station (Hanoi Railway Station) and Ninh Binh.

The trip usually takes approximately 2 to 2.5 hours, depending on the train type and schedule.

Please take note that trains offer different classes of service, including soft seats, hard seats, and sleeper berths.

By Bus

There are a lot of bus companies that operate direct routes between Hanoi and Ninh Binh. 

These buses usually depart from various bus stations in Hanoi, such as Giap Bat Bus Station or My Dinh Bus Station. The trip usually takes around 2.5 to 3.5 hours, depending on traffic conditions and the specific route.

By private Car or van

Another option is to hire a private car or taxi for direct transportation from Hanoi to Ninh Binh. This option offers flexibility in terms of departure time and convenience, especially if you’re traveling with a group or carrying luggage. Either way, you can also book a trip from Hanoi to Ninh Binh via van. Apart from trains and buses, taking a van is another cheap way to get to Ninh Binh. 

Based on my experience, I booked my trip in advance via Bookaway!

By Motorbike

If you want to be more adventurous, you can opt to rent a motorbike in Hanoi and travel to Ninh Binh on your own. You just have to make sure to have a valid driver’s license, wear appropriate safety gear, and be prepared for varying road conditions.

Getting around Ninh Binh 

Ninh Binh is just a small town that is very accessible by any type of transport. Thus, here are some of the most common types of transport that you may use to get around Ninh Binh. 

  • Motorcycle: If you plan on visiting some of the tourist spots on your own, you can rent a motorcycle when in Ninh Binh. Going around town by motorcycle is definitely way easier and faster. You may rent from your accommodation or other rental shops around town. This is much more ideal when visiting other places or tourist spots. 
  • Bicycle: This is one of the best things that you can do in Ninh Binh. I highly recommend renting a bicycle when you’re in town. Ride like a local and it gives you so much joy while exploring the town. I don’t know, but this is how I personally felt when I decided to explore Ninh Binh by bicycle. Not to mention that this is cheaper than any other type of vehicle. 
  • Private Car: If you opt to choose a private tour or still do it on your own in a lavish way, you may also rent a car. But do note that this could cost you more than renting a motorbike or bicycle. 

Essential Travel Guide & Tips

  • Make sure to book your trip from Hanoi to Ninh Binh in advance, especially if you’re visiting during peak season. 
  • Bring enough cash with you since ATMs and local stores in the region can charge you a lot for service fees. This is a situation I personally experienced!
  • Prepare your driver’s license if you plan on renting a motorbike. 
  • Bring sunscreen for UV protection. 

Top Things to Do in Ninh Binh 

If you’re planning to visit Ninh Binh Province, here are some of the things to do in Ninh Binh as well as the places to see in this small town.

Stroll around the town by bicycle. 

Based on my experience, this is definitely one of my favorite things to do in Ninh Binh! Strolling around the town by bicycle is totally worth it! You can rent a bicycle from your accommodation and explore the Trang An landscape complex. Then, you can cycle through picturesque villages, visit ancient pagodas like Bich Dong, and immerse yourself in the serene countryside of Ninh Binh!

Go on a Tam Coc boat tour. 

Explore and see the beauty of the Tam Coc River by availing of boat tours in the town. See the majestic limestone caves while passing through the river. 

I did the Tam Coc boat tour and to be honest, I really didn’t expect a lot. It turned out that the boat ride was unexpectedly amazing! I totally enjoyed the views and wandering around the limestone caves. Furthermore, it was so much fun passing through the smallest pathways of the caves! I totally enjoyed it with my newly-found friends! 

Explore the Tam Coc River by boat. 

Explore the breathtaking limestone karsts and winding waterways to discover the wonders of Ninh Binh. This is one of the most popular boat tours in Ninh Binh, where you can marvel at the stunning landscapes reminiscent of Halong Bay. 

newly found friends in ninh binh
The guy, who is the owner of the restaurant, offered us free tea drinks after meals! These two beautiful ladies beside me, whom I met at the restaurant, instantly became my travel buddies for the Tam Coc boat tour.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to do this due to lack of time but it’s another reason to go back to Ninh Binh, for sure! 

Visit the Mua Cave. 

This is one of the highlights of my Ninh Binh trip! When you’re traveling to Ninh Binh, make sure not to miss out on reaching the summit of Mua Cave for panoramic views of the Tam Coc valley. The trek involves 500 steps, but the breathtaking scenery at the top makes it worthwhile. 

Hoa Lu Ancient Capital

Immerse yourself in Vietnam’s history at Hoa Lu Ancient Capital. You can visit the temples dedicated to the Dinh and Le dynasties, set amidst lush surroundings. 

Bai Dinh Pagoda

You can visit Bai Dinh Pagoda, one of Southeast Asia’s largest Buddhist complexes. Be mesmerized by the intricate architecture, statues, and panoramic views.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Where to stay in Ninh Binh, Vietnam?

There are a lot to choose from in a variety of accommodations, ranging from boutique hotels to cozy homestays, providing a comfortable and authentic experience. Vietnam is relatively cheap and I must say that you don’t have to break the bank whether you stay in a hotel or homestay! 

Thus, I took the chance to stay in a very nice accommodation located in the Tam Coc area! 

How many days should you spend in Ninh Binh?

I highly recommend spending at least two full days in Ninh Binh province. This way, you can see all the must-see attractions in Ninh Binh. In these two days, you can take the boat ride through Trang An, see the Hang Mua Viewpoint, and cycle around the countryside of Ninh Binh.

When is the best time to visit Ninh Binh?

A dry season from November to April is usually the best time to visit Ninh Binh. It’s usually nice outside during this time, with mild temperatures, low humidity, and little to no rain. It’s a great time for visiting and doing things outside.

Is it safe to be in Ninh Binh at night?

Definitely! It is safe in Ninh Binh at night. Not to mention the fact that it is considered a safe place to visit, even for solo female travelers! However, make sure to be vigilant at all times to keep yourself safe from danger.

Is Ninh Binh town worth visiting?

Ninh Binh is a must-see destination in Vietnam. Thus, Ninh Binh province is worth visiting as it boasts majestic landscapes that can leave you in awe. 

Is Sapa better than Ninh Binh?

If you’re drawn to mountainous landscapes, trekking adventures, and ethnic culture, Sapa may be the ideal choice. On the other hand, if you’re interested in scenic boat tours, cultural heritage sites, and accessible day trips from Hanoi, Ninh Binh could be the perfect destination for you.

Ninh Binh, Vietnam is a place where nature, culture, and history converge, offering visitors a tranquil retreat from the hustle and bustle of urban life.

About the Author

Ara Patria

A travel blogger in the Philippines and a K-pop enthusiast, Ara Patria (The Adventuress) pursues her passion and love for traveling. She’s been blogging for years, where she writes about her own travel experiences and promotes the wonders of the Philippines. Not only does she promote the beauty of her country, but she also focuses on promoting sustainable tourism. She dreams of traveling the world and inspiring other people through her own written works and captured moments with her camera.

The Adventuress is a travel blogger with a purpose. She aims to inspire other people through her personal experiences, stories, and lenses. Outside her blogging world, she is an education, an SEO specialist, and TEFL/TESOL certified.

Join her adventures!

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