NINH BINH – EXPLORE THE HIDDEN CHARM OF AN ANCIENT CAPITAL
Known as Ha Long Bay on land, Ninh Binh is less famous than her sister. However, if you include Ninh Binh in your itinerary, you will be blown away by its hidden charm. Ninh Binh is a province which locates 200km away from Hanoi to the south. The city used to be the country’s old capital before the king decided to move his emperor to northern delta Hanoi. Therefore, Ninh Binh is famous among tourists for its diverse historical attractions as well as spectacular scenery. The magnificent landscape of Ninh Binh even made it into Hollywood blockbuster Kong – Skull Island, making the old capital more well-known internationally.
Ninh Binh is famous among tourists for its diverse historical attractions as well as spectacular scenery.
Ninh Binh Destination
Surrounded by mountains of limestones as strong as a fortress, Ninh Binh was chosen as a capital of Vietnam under Dinh, Le and Lys dynasty. The craggy location played an important role as a military base defending against foreign invaders. However, it also ceased transportation and local development, which was why King Ly Thai To decided to move the capital to the northern plain called Thang Long – Hanoi nowadays. Although the place was left behind, Ninh Binh still holds a crucial part of Vietnam history, preserving a lot of natural and cultural heritage.
How to get to Ninh Binh
Located 93km away from Hanoi, where there are several freeways and North-South railway, it’s not difficult to travel to Ninh Binh. It takes you about 3 hours to go to Ninh Binh by car. You can easily book a taxi or a private vehicle with adequate service to get you to and around Ninh Binh at the rate from $50 to $100.
The best time is from lunar January to March. The chilling weather of spring along with interesting local religious activities after the Tet holiday will give you an unforgettable experience. At this time people in the north usually flock to Trang An and Bai Dinh temple to pray for fortune throughout the year. You might not like the idea of visit a place packed with tourists and local people at this time, so another option is to visit Ninh Binh from May to June. This time is when harvesting is underway, forming beautiful yellow paddle fields that will excite you.
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Tam Coc – Bich Dong
This place has a similar topography as Trang An with limestones mountains straightly lining up along Ngo Dong river. What makes Tam Coc more charming to tourists is the rice fields stretching along the river. When the harvest comes, the whole rice field turns yellow creating such a picturesque view that will make you overwhelmed.
Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex
Trang An has been declared by UNESCO as World Natural and Cultural Heritage. The beautiful landscape complex has impressive karst topography of limestone mountain ranges emerging from a wetland area. The place is well known for its boat cave tour, which allows you to admire the exotic valleys and explore amazing caves such as Sang Cave, Toi Cave, Wine Cave. There are three main routes for Trang An cave tour. If you book the second route, you can visit a demonstration of an ethnic village which was used as a film context in the move Kong: Skull Island.
One emerging attraction which has been whispered among adventurers is Hang Mua (Mua Cave), which is not so far from Tam Coc – Bich Dong. Hang Mua was constructed based on the miniature of The Great Wall. You have to take a hard trek of nearly 500 steps to conquer the top mountain. The view from the peak mountain is worth the effort though. From here you can have a magnificent panoramic view of limestone caves and paddle fields in Tam Coc.
Bai Dinh Temple
Bai Dinh Temple is an attraction you shouldn’t miss when you visit Ninh Binh. The temple has the most massive scale of its kind with many records such as the most prominent bell tower in Vietnam or the longest corridor of Arhat statues. After Tet holiday, Bai Dinh temple holds an annual spring festival is attracting thousands of tourists and pilgrimages. You can also visit some attractions near Bai Dinh Temple: Cuc Phuong National Park, Trang An or Van Trinh Cave
Hoa Lu Ancient Capital
This destination is an essential national heritage which belongs to Trang An World Heritage Complex. The capital lies in a flat valley between steep mountain, once was the army base and house of the king. With the history dating back to more than 1000 years, Hoa Lu Ancient Capital conserves some historical monuments and artifacts, mostly belongs to Dinh and Le Dynasties. You can have a walking tour around the capital and learn about Vietnam in the early days.
Cuc Phuong National Park
With a total area of 25000ha, Cuc Phuong National Park is a famous ecological tourist attraction as well as a natural reserve, attracting thousands of tourists every year. You can explore tropical biodiversity with hundreds of flora and fauna together with fantastic wildlife. You will also have a chance to observe and learn about a thousand-year-old tree and several endangered species. It’s an exciting experience to go camping with your companions in the national park for a night. Otherwise, one day of exploration will do just fine. The best time to visit Cuc Phuong is on the dry season from November to February. If you come here from late March to April, you might encounter flocks of butterflies on the forest pathway which is quite fascinating to watch.
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