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Ninh Binh
Written by Rajoo on May 21, 2020 Share on

The perfect guide for visiting the scenic town of Ninh Binh

Southeast of Hanoi, Ninh Binh is a town that lies and acts as a base for visitors to explore the surrounding area. The state is also known as Ninh Binh, with Ninh Binh town also as the capital city. Ninh Binh district in Vietnam comprises towns, villages, and key attractions.

trang an bai dinh ninh binh
Image Credits: Pixabay

If you want to spend time in some of the prettiest and most unspoiled parts of Vietnam, Ninh Binh is a great place to visit. Ninh Binh town is used as a jumping-off point to Tam Coc, Van Long, and Hoa Lu and although it is not as well known as other places in the country, it is a great spot for tourists having an interest in nature. Like other parts of the country such as Halong Bay and Sapa, if you want to take the road less traveled then Ninh Binh is the ideal choice. Here are the 10 best things to do in Ninh Binh 

Ninh Binh, Vietnam
Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons

1. Visit Tam Coc

Outside of Ninh Binh town, Tam Coc is located. It is one of the best nature destinations in Vietnam. Tam Coc is known for its landscape, similar to Halong Bay, but scenic limestone hills amongst rice paddies make it different whereas Halong Bay has larger cliffs and is more crowded. If you want to get off the beaten track, Tam Coc is the place to come.

2. Eat at the Snail Restaurants

If you want to taste the local food, then head to D Luong Van Tuy where you will find a wealth of snail restaurants. These eateries are known for serving Oc Luoc Xa which is the Vietnamese for snails which are then cooked with a mix of aromatic lemongrass and hot chilies. If this doesn’t impress then you will find a number of bars here, although the snails are a delicacy in these parts and are well worth trying.

3. Visit Phat Diem Cathedral

From the center of Ninh Binh, around 34 kilometers away, Phat Diem Cathedral is located, which sits in the middle of some scenic canals and rice paddies. This is the central place of worship for the commune of Phat Diem, also called the ‘Vatican of Vietnam’ during the colonial period. The cathedral dates from 1898 and was built using a mix of Vietnamese and Western styles which include two Gothic chapels and some massive ironwood columns. The scale and location of the cathedral are extremely impressive and this is one of the top sights not to miss in Ninh Binh district.

4. Explore Van Long Nature Reserve

If you are keen on exploring outside of Ninh Binh then head to Van Long which is a wetland reserve, a place for keen birdwatchers. As this is a protected area of land, it is teeming with local flora and fauna, so if you are a nature and want to check out the Vietnamese wildlife then don’t miss it off the itinerary.

Ninh Binh, Vietnam
Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons

5. Have lunch at Cho Bop Market

If you want to explore the local bites in Ninh Binh town, then head to Cho Bop Market, the central market in town. There are a number of carts and small cafes at the market serving Vietnamese dishes. They also sell delicious fresh fruit and vegetables if you want to try the local produce.

6. Shop at Van Lan

Van Lan is a small village close to Tam Coc which is famous for its handicrafts. The real cherry on the cake is the intricate embroidery which is famous in the region and you will find a number of artisans here tending to their craft. Just some of the items that you can pick up here include napkins, pillowcases, tablecloths, and even t-shirts. With that in mind make sure to bargain to get the best price for your souvenirs.

7. Bich Dong Pagoda

Just past Tam Coc, there is one of the most interesting pagodas in the region from the 15th century. The Bich Dong Pagoda is located on the side of a mountain and is made up of three levels called the Ha, Trung and Thuong Pagodas. The temples are also built so that they go back on to caves which you can also explore as part of a visit here. As you would expect from pagodas built into a cliff, the path to the top is steep but the views are well worth it.

8. Spend the day at Hoa Lu

Hoa Lu is yet another spot from Ninh Binh. In the 10th century, Hoa Lu would have been the ancient capital of Vietnam. There is a citadel here filled with scenic temples that can be explored.

Ninh Binh, Vietnam
Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons

9. Cuc Phuong National Park

Cuc Phuong National Park is one of the main national parks in Vietnam and was established in 1962. This is part of a huge swathe of protected land in Ninh Binh and was set up in order to take care of the wildlife in the region which has been in decline for many years as a result of poaching. The park now spans 222 square kilometers and is made up of tropical forest which is home to a plethora of wildlife. On a visit here you will find some 307 species of birds, 133 species of mammals, 122 species of reptiles, and over 2,000 different kinds of plants, making it a must-visit for nature lovers.

10. Visit the Endangered Primate Rescue Center

Inside Cuc Phuong National Park you will find the Endangered Primate Rescue Center which is overseen by the Frankfurt Zoological Society. At the rescue center you will find 150 monkeys, 12 kinds of langur, and 3 species of gibbon. The focus is to educate visitors on how to protect wild animals in Vietnam. You can also visit the Turtle Conservation Center using the same ticket. 

Bich Dong Pagoda, Ninh Bình, Vietnam
Image Credits: Google Images

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