The lush northern region of Ninh Binh enchants with its extraordinarily beautiful landscape of soaring limestone mountains, emerald green rice paddies and dramatic cave formations.
Although within easy reach of Hanoi, Vietnam’s Ninh Binh province feels far removed from the bustle of city life. The region’s spectacular limestone karst topography is often likened to the illustrious Halong Bay, however, with far fewer visitors, Ninh Binh makes a wonderful alternative for those looking to get off the beaten track and experience the quieter charms of rural Vietnam.
Spend your days cycling through the verdant rice fields and enjoying leisurely boat rides down the winding Ngo Dong River, soaking up the sublime scenery and immersing yourself in traditional Vietnamese village life. Don’t miss a visit to Cuc Phong, Vietnam’s first national park, where you’ll find 1000-year-old trees, as well as the Van Long Nature Reserve which is one of the last remaining refuges of the rare Delacour’s langur.
Amidst all this natural beauty lies a wealth of historical and cultural attractions that include the impressive caves of Dich Long and the largest Buddhist temple complex in all of Vietnam – the enormous Bai Dinh Padoga. Not forgetting the ancient capital of Hoa Lua where you’ll find the atmospheric temples and crumbling royal palaces of the Dinh and Le dynasties.
Another essential experience is a tour of the mystical flooded grottoes of Tam Coc by traditional sampan. Dubbed the ‘inland Halong Bay’ with its mighty limestone karsts, the area forms part of the larger UNESCO-listed Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex.