Travel Ninh Binh Tour In One Day – Vietnam’s Hidden Gem

Travel Ninh Binh Tour In One Day – Vietnam’s Hidden Gem

Travel Ninh Binh Tour In One Day - Vietnam's Hidden Gem

I’ve been to a lot of Vietnam destinations, love to take pictures and write about travel, but never travel Ninh Binh. A bit embarrassed!

Until I accepted Nam’s invitation to take part in the travel Ninh Binh tour in one day. It’s great to realize that there’s a hidden gem in North Vietnam. A peaceful countryside with the breathtaking limestone mountains, the green rivers, the golden fields…

It’s been a long time since I seen the white storks on the fields, the farmers harvesting their crops which the typical image of wet rice civilization in the Red River Delta. I’ve seen a few farmers ride the bicycles going to the fields, and talking cheerfully.

In this article, I’ll tell you about my travel Ninh Binh tour in one day. It’s only one day but full of interesting.

Travel Ninh Binh Tour In One Day

3 days before the trip, Nam asked me to go with him and some guys. I agreed immediately, Ninh Binh as a place that I never have gone there.

Nam met me at Hanoi Old Quarter with a motorbike and some guys. In spite of the rain, we still decided to go to Ninh Binh. It’s raining does not mean the trip got delayed, sometimes, traveling on a rainy day may bring new feelings.

In a group, besides me and Nam, 4 backpacker guys as Nam’s friends. They used to travel Ha Giang and Mu Cang Chai with motorbikes, and this Ninh Binh travel tour also the first time of them. The first stop is Bai Dinh pagoda, one of the biggest pagodas in Southeast Asia.

Bai Dinh pagoda – Big and small

Travel Ninh Binh Tour In One Day - Vietnam's Hidden Gem

I haven’t impressed with this pagoda. This pagoda was built for tourism purpose so it doesn’t make me interested. I interested solely in the ancient pagoda (built around the year 1100 in Ly Dynasty) behind the mountain that I read. I asked the tour guide girl the way to get there to take a sightseeing, but people don’t have much time, so we just went around and sightseeing Bai Dinh pagoda.

I didn’t like the architectural style of this pagoda, it looks like China’s style, completely different from other pagodas in Red River Delta. There’s a tower where supposed to a place stored Shakyamuni Buddha’s śarīra which brought back from India. I didn’t believe it, but I still bought a ticket to get there, mainly for came to the 12th floor of the tower and watched the whole Bai Dinh pagoda zone from above.

Travel Ninh Binh Tour In One Day - Vietnam's Hidden Gem

I visited the tower bell, Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva worships place, then walking through the corridor where placed the Arahant statues to approach śarīra tower, I bought a ticket with the price of 50.000Vnd to sightseeing śarīra tower and got to the 12th floor. Until now, it’s the only place made me feel interested, after a morning with full of frustrated because of the rain and the boring things of Bai Dinh pagoda.

Travel Ninh Binh Tour In One Day - Vietnam's Hidden Gem

Watched the whole this place from the tower, the pagoda stretched on the mountain slopes, in a poetic scenery. I saw the range of mountains loomed in clouds at the distance, the river, the lake and the tiled roofs of the pagoda in Chinese style. What a terrific scenery! A peaceful countryside!

I looked at the back of the mountain, where the ancient pagoda nestled humbly, on another day, I would come to Ninh Binh again and visit this ancient pagoda. It’s rainy again, I have just remembered that some guys waiting for me, running to the 13th floor to sightseeing the śarīra tower.

Travel Ninh Binh Tour In One Day - Vietnam's Hidden Gem

Not many words to describe this room: overwhelmed, symmetric, splendid. Something mysterious from the shapes, the symmetry decorative patterns. All outside of Bai Dinh pagoda also arranged in symmetry, includes the ceilings, the floors which the center as the tower, where storing śarīra. Everything looked like a signal code in treasure hunt movies, and people have to find a way breaking the code, unlocked the treasure! And the 13 floor too, the number 13, something quite mysteries.

I came back to the group. The śarīra tower, the lake, the decorative walls, the Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva worshipping place, the giant Putai statue…It’s all pretty much like the scenes in Chinese’s movie, I’ve not seen any resemblance between this pagoda and other ancient pagodas in North Vietnam. The first spot of travel Ninh Binh tour, I not overly impressive.

Leaving Bai Dinh Pagoda, we stop for the lunch at a restaurant. Nam said that we tasted goat meat, a famous culinary dish of Ninh Binh. The goats here were raised on limestones, they ate diverse plant species, their meats so tough. Moreover, Ninh Binh locals have their own secret making the goat meat become a famous dish. I tried goat dipped in boiling water with some herbs. Great dish!

Travel Ninh Binh Tour In One Day - Vietnam's Hidden Gem

Trang An, a rural wonderland

We continue the trip, the scenery so beautiful! The small houses in North Vietnam countryside style, the giant limestone rocks. Sometimes, I have seen the large lakes surrounding the limestone rocks, like as the rockeries in the fish tank, or the golden fields. The limestone mountains even located right on the side of the road. These breathtaking limestone rocks used to be a film studio in the blockbuster film “King Kong 3: Skull Island”, and now, I have the chance admired it with my own eyes.

Travel Ninh Binh Tour In One Day - Vietnam's Hidden Gem

Tam Coc – The fantastic carpet of water plants and mosses

We got in the boat, wore life jackets, started the sightseeing tour by boat. The boat glided on the crystal green water, the green water plants and mosses carpet shows clearly at the bottom, grew thickly. I feel like being glided on the carpet of water plants and mosses, not the water, the boat moved gently, I didn’t even hear the paddle’s sound, only the sound of water.

Travel Ninh Binh Tour In One Day - Vietnam's Hidden Gem

The boat approached into the first cave, through a small opening at the foot of the limestone mountains. The cave deep and low, we bowed our heads close to the floor of the boat aim to avoid hitting the rock ceiling. The boatman moved our boat through a narrow opening, the boat drifted for a while, we see the light at the gate of the cave, so we already out of the first cave.

Travel Ninh Binh Tour In One Day - Vietnam's Hidden Gem

The boat taken us to the next cave, the boatman said that this cave smaller and longer than the first. It’s only about arm’s length in width but the boatman still controlled the boat skillfully threading through the cave. In the dark cave, we turned the flashlight to lighten the stalactites inside the cave, I have taken the artworks of nature. Sometimes, the boatman reminded everybody noticed avoid hitting the rock ceiling in the dark cave.

Travel Ninh Binh Tour In One Day - Vietnam's Hidden Gem

Out of the second cave, we stepped in a paradise truly, a place surrounded by the limestone karsts. On the 12th century, after got the victory over the Mongolian, King Tran Thai Tong had abdicated, given the throne to his son and came here retired to a monastery.

Travel Ninh Binh Tour In One Day - Vietnam's Hidden Gem

It’s a quiet and tranquillity place with the pagodas, like as a fairyland. There’s a tiny pagoda, located at the center of the lake which like Turtle Tower in Sword Lake in Hanoi. If I have much time and went in solo, I would get there to enjoy the poetic sceneries here.

The last spot, we arrived at the Vu Lam Citadel. Vu Lam Citadel is located south of the Trang An Landscape Complex in Ninh Binh. This area owned a remarkable number of historical sites, including the Citadel Village, where emperors resided; Tuan Cao (Reporting) Village, where mandarins delivered their reports to the emperors; Truong Thi Field, where soldiers practiced military maneuvers; the Divine Harbor, where navel warships gathered; Thien Trao village, home to many skilled boat captains; and Ha Trao Village, where boats anchored near the Citadel.

The travel Ninh Binh tour only within a day, so I didn’t enough the time to experience here. Maybe I’ll come back in another day.

Overview of travel Ninh Binh – Halong Bay on land


Since it is barely a two-hour drive from Hanoi, transportation is not difficult. With the traffic systems in Hanoi and the neighboring areas much improved in recent years, you can take by bus or motorbike within 2-3 hours.

What to eat in Ninh Binh

Vietnam as a food paradise, just a few dollars per meal, you can enjoy any specialty dish. You should try some famous delicious dishes below when traveling Ninh Binh:

Goat meat in Ninh Binh can be processed up to 20 dishes ranging from barbecue and spring rolls to herbal soup to curry. In Vietnam, goat meat is a specialty to feast on when getting drunk.

Goat meat available everywhere in Vietnam, but since all goats in Ninh Binh are grazed naturally on the limestone mountains its meat got the firmest.

Don’t forget to buy rice crackers, a specialty cakes which contributed to popularizing Ninh Binh on the Vietnam cuisine map.

Some dishes that carry the unique flavors of the northern delta such as fish sour soup, cellophane noodles served with eel or field crab roasted with leaves, should be tried while on a cuisine tour of Ninh Binh.

Travel Tips

Remember to carry as little luggage as possible to avoid exhaustion if you have only a day for sightseeing.

Wears sneakers for trekking/hiking comfortably.

You are advised to wear clothes that cover your knees and shoulders when visiting temples and pagodas.

Hi, I am Ventori, own this blog. This blog is my travel stories I experienced throughout Vietnam. This also places to share useful tips and guides for you. Enjoy your visit!

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