Top 3 Things to do in Ninh Binh

Ninh Binh is a little-known paradise of rolling hills and limestone cliffs about 100 kilometers from Hanoi. There aren’t a whole lot of things to do in Ninh Binh. But I’d still say it’s pretty essential to your Vietnam travels.

As you can tell from the number on the title, there aren’t a lotta’ things to do in Ninh Binh. I mean, that’s not entirely true. There are plenty of attractions and distractions in Ninh Binh.

But when I say “Top 3 Things to do in Ninh Binh”, I’m mostly referring to the musts. The experiences that should become highlights of your adventures through Vietnam. On that front, Ninh Binh doesn’t have a lot to offer.

But do I still recommend stopping by Ninh Binh? 


Despite the slim pickings, what Ninh Binh does offer, is phenomenal.

You won’t find Ninh Binh in most of the Vietnam travel brochures. It’s often referred to as an “Inland Halong Bay”, and it receives quite a bad rap as such. A lot of the backpackers I met along the way chose to skip Ninh Binh altogether. They seemed to consider it an uglier sister to Halong Bay’s glorious attractions.

As crass as that analogy may be, it’s also entirely unfounded.

Sure, Ninh Binh isn’t grand in quite the same scale as Halong Bay. But it comes with its own set of charms. Like Halong Bay, the primary things to do in Ninh Binh involve exploring the grottoes by boats.

However, one of the reasons I actually prefer Ninh Binh is because of how quiet it is. I suppose being neglected by the travel agents has its own perks.

It feels relatively untouched. A slice of Vietnamese beauty that hasn’t been foiled by the gnawing claws of tourism and crass consumerism. Though I’m aware that in writing this I’m probably contributing to the very thing that I seem to so abhor. Forgive my hypocrisy.

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Ninh Binh offers complete peace and serenity.

Enough with the intros. Read on for the best things to do in Ninh Binh!

Side note: You can read more about traveling through Vietnam in my blog Comprehensive Vietnam Travel Guide for First Timers. If you’re concerned about Visa, you can use the services of Vietnam-Visa to apply for Vietnam Visa on Arrival.

1. Explore the Grottoes of Tam Coc and Trang An

Look at a map or a bird’s eye picture of Ninh Binh. You’ll find that Ninh Binh has a serpentine river slithering amidst dense vegetation and green hills on both sides.

Rowing down that river on boats is one of the primary things to do in Ninh Binh. That’s why most tourists come here to begin with.

There are various limestone cliffs that rise above the waters and you get the chance to row underneath them. It’s a visually stunning experience that you cannot avoid. Furthermore, it will also offer the opportunity of taking some stunning Instagrammable shots.

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The limestone cliffs that rise out of the water.

There are two prime avenues through which you can explore these grottoes: through Tam Coc or through Trang An.

You can go about it in two ways.

You can ride a bike to the destination, get a ticket, and get a private boat. This will cost approx. ₫ 150,000 ($6.60 | ₹430). The boat ride will take you through the major caves over a period of 2 hours.

Alternatively, you can also get yourself a Tam Coc Mua Cave Full Day Tour. This is an all-inclusive tour that will take you through all the primary attractions in the vicinity. It costs $79, meals, transportation, and a cooking class included.

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Boats over emerald waters.

2. Trekking and Exploring the Local Ninh Binh Villages 

The Ninh Binh countryside is made up completely of hills and quaint little villages. After you’re done exploring the grottoes, you can take a break and start exploring.

The regions around Tam Coc and Trang An are full of beautiful trekking spots. It’s helpful if you have a bike so you can ride around looking for the perfect spots. Climb up to the top of hills, explore the caves, look at the temples, and walk through the villages.

I don’t need to tell you any more about this. You just need to go out, ditch the map, and explore freely.

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Hiking up the hills for a view.
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A local lakeside settlement at Ninh Binh.

3. Visit Cuc Phuong National Park

If you have the time, you can also take a one hour drive over to Cuc Phuong National Park.

It’s a rainforest that you can take your time trekking through, exploring the fauna and flora along the way.

You can also take a guide to visit the Endangered Primates Rescue Center, which houses a number of endangered primates.

Cuc Phuong National Park
Cuc Phuong National Park | Image Source: Vietnam Travel Blog

Where to Stay in Ninh Binh

Best Backpacker Hostel in Ninh Binh — Tam Coc Homestay

Tam Coc Homestay is a really cool backpacker hostel in Ninh Binh. As the name suggests, it’s located in Tam Coc.

As such, it’s really close to both the grottoes of Tam Coc and Trang An. You can rent a bike at the hostel and get there in about 20 to 30 minutes.

Though the hostel doesn’t have a great bathroom facility, it makes up for it with a great ambiance. It’s surrounded by the green fields and valleys on all sides, and there’s a limestone cliff right behind it.

They also serve delicious food at their on-site cafe.

A bed in a dorm room for a night costs approx. ₫ 160,000 ($7 | ₹450). However, you can check out the latest rates at the Tam Coc Homestay Agoda page.

Best Hotel in Ninh Binh — The Vancouver Hotel

The Vancouver Hotel Ninh Binh is located smack right in the middle of the city center. They don’t have prime luxury facilities such as a spa, swimming pool, etc. However, they do have a lovely garden and comfortable accommodations.

You can check out the latest rates at the Vancouver Hotel Agoda page.

You can also find other suitable Ninh Binh hotels and accommodations in Agoda.

I hope this article has given you some cool ideas on things to do in Ninh Binh. However, feel free to explore other areas as well.

In case you have more questions, you can also read this detailed travel guide I discovered online. I think it has some pretty valuable tips that can help you.

If you wanna’ know more about Ninh Binh travels and activities, let me know down below!

things to do in ninh binh vietnam