Located about 2 hours from Hanoi, Ninh Binh is one of the most charming destinations in the North because there are many spectacular landscapes. This site is recognized by its immense karst rocks perched in the heart of the rice fields, this region is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful destinations in the country. On your 3 days in Ninh Binh, you will surely be speechless in front of these impressive and majestic landscapes here. We often compare the region to the famous Halong Bay, even going so far as to nickname it “Halong Bay on land”. But this comparison leaves a little perplexed because beyond the rock formation which is the same, the landscapes are far from being identical.

Best Things to Do for 3 Days in Ninh Binh:

  • Cruise in a rowing boat
  • Go bicycle and explore rice yields
  • Take a spiritual tour with Bich Dong Pagoda, Phat Diem Cathedral, Bai Dinh Pagoda, Hoa Lu Ancient Capital
  • Discover the majestic and lovely nature with Thung Nham Bird Park  Garden and Cuc Phuong National Park
  • Experience Ninh Binh’s unique cuisine with goat meat, grilled rice, crab soup, etc.
Beautiful Ninh Binh

Beautiful Ninh Binh

Best Time to Visit Ninh Binh

The best time to visit Ninh Binh is from February to April. It is spring in the North when the weather is beautiful and sunny, the climate is cool and not too hot and not too cold. The hottest months are May, June, July, August, and September. The rainiest months are July and August. In November, December and January, the sky is dark and foggy, it is difficult to admire the beauty of Ninh Binh. A trip to Ninh Binh takes place during the day, for 2 days or 3 days and often combines with a cruise in Halong Bay. To be able to explore all the beauty of Ninh Binh, we recommend 3 days.

Top Things to Do for 3 Days in Ninh Binh

1. Cruise in a rowing boat

Cruise in Ninh Binh on row boats - an extremely memorable experience!

Cruise in Ninh Binh on rowing boats – an extremely memorable experience!

The typical landscape of Ninh Binh: the sugarloaf-shaped mountains emerging from the water. Enjoy a boat trip to Ninh Binh to revel in the beauty of the landscapes. Travelers often hesitate between the sites: Tam Coc, Trang An, and Van Long. Here are some descriptions of the sites to facilitate your choice:

Tam Coc with Catherine Deneuve in the film “Indochine”

Tam Coc is the first tourist site in the province of Ninh Binh. It is located in the embroidery village of Ninh Hai. From the Tam Coc pier, you can walk to its market, which is busier in the morning. You should not miss a chance to enjoy the famous “bun rieu cua” (crab rice vermicelli soup). But you have to get up early for that, before 7 AM. From the Tam Coc pier, you can take a rowing boat cruise in about 2 hours. You will sail on the Ngo Dong river which crosses three caves (Hang Ca, Hang Hai and Hang Ba). It is an opportunity to immerse yourself in the landscapes of great beauty. There are karst rocks emerging from the water, ducks swimming on the river, lotus flowers (in June and July), small temples, rice fields…

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Pure beauty of Tam Coc, Ninh Binh

Pure beauty of Tam Coc, Ninh Binh

Tam Coc Travel Tips

  • The landscape of Tam Coc is more beautiful just before the rice harvest (which normally falls in May).
  • Remember to take a hat or an umbrella during the boat cruise.
  • Entrance ticket to Tam Coc: $6/ person.
  • Rowing boat cruise: $7/ boat for 2 people. If you travel alone, you can share the boat with another person.
  • Renting a bicycle is easy at hotels in Tam Coc.

Trang An, where King Kong appears

This is another tourist site of Ninh Binh also offering rowing boat cruises. It is located 9km from the town of Ninh Binh. Trang An hosted the filming of the famous Hollywood film “Kong: Skull Island” and “Running man” – a South Korean famous reality TV. The boat cruise in Trang An lasts 3 hours through grandiose landscapes. Several stops are planned along the way to visit temples and pagodas. You will sail on transparent water, which will allow you to observe the aquatic flora and fauna. As at Tam Coc, you will also cross several caves.

Trang An, Ninh Binh

Trang An, Ninh Binh

Trang An Travel Tips

  • Hotels and restaurants are not located near the Trang An pier.
  • Trang An is 11km from Tam Coc.
  • This site is the favorite destination of the Vietnamese during the weekend.
  • Entrance ticket and boat trip: $9/ person.

The Van Long Nature Reserve

It is located a little on the fringes of other sites, 20km north of the town of Ninh Binh (24km from Tam Coc and 21km from Trang An). Van Long is a wild nature reserve which is popular with tourists. The cruise lasts there for about 2 hours, on very simple boats. Although the landscapes are less impressive than at Tam Coc or Trang An, you can observe many animal species, including birds. Outside the boat ride, Van Long is ideal for bike rides through villages and rice fields on your 3 days in Ninh Binh.

Van Long Travel Tips

  • The best time for the rowing boat cruise would be there at the end of the afternoon, around 5 PM, when the birds return to their nest (especially in July and August).
  • Entrance ticket: $1/ person.
  • Boat trip: $3/ boat for 2 people.

2. Bike ride in Ninh Binh

Ninh Binh is a perfect destination for bike rides. You can discover the Vietnamese countryside: rice fields, small villages, vegetable fields, ponds and daily life of the inhabitants.

Cycling on poetic roads in Ninh Binh

Cycling on poetic roads in Ninh Binh

Several routes are possible, here are some of our suggestions:

  • From Tam Coc to Jade pagodas (Bich Dong) ~ 2km:

The road is flat, bordered by large trees. On the way, you will come across scenes and animals from the countryside.

  • From Tam Coc to Hoa Lu (temples of the Emperors Dinh and Le) ~ 8-10km:

You will go through small villages on a stony track but the landscapes are authentic and magnificent. Along the way, you can stop at Hang Mua Cave, climb to the top and enjoy a grand panorama of Tam Coc and its surroundings.

  • From Tam Coc to Thung Nham (bird garden) ~ 8km:

This is a hilly road, which already requires a certain physical condition. Take the direction from Tam Coc to Jade pagodas and then turn left to reach the Thung Nham bird garden.

  • From the city center/ Tam Coc/ Trang An to Phat Diem cathedral ~ around 30km/ direction.
  • From Tam Coc to Cuc Phuong National Park ~ around 40km/ way.

It is very easy to rent bicycles and scooters in hotels or restaurants in Tam Coc, Hoa Lu or downtown Ninh Binh. Bike rental costs between $2 and $4, depending on the type of bike and the distance you want to travel. Renting a motorcycle costs a little more.

Paradise Travel organizes private excursions with an English-speaking guide to Ninh Binh and other destinations in Vietnam. Let’s book <here>!

Best Places to Visit for 3 Days in Ninh Binh

1. Jade Pagodas (Bich Dong)

Bich Dong Pagoda and the stunning lotus surrounding

Bich Dong Pagoda and the stunning lotus surrounding

These pagodas are located 2km from the pier of Tam Coc, in an idyllic setting. It is a step not to be missed on your 3 days in Ninh Binh. These are three small pagodas nestled in the Jade Mountain: a lower pagoda, the medium one and the upper one. A hundred steps lead us to the upper pagoda, where you can enjoy the fresh air and benefit from a beautiful view of the surroundings.

2. Hoa Lu Ancient Capital

It is a historic site, 12km from the town of Ninh Binh. You can visit the temples of Emperor Dinh and Le, and some other small temples. Hoa Lu was the capital of Vietnam during three dynasties: Dinh, Tien Le and Ly in the 10th and 11th centuries. In 1010, King Ly Thai To transferred the capital to Hanoi and later built many temples and pagodas in Hoa Lu.

3. The Stone Cathedral of Phat Diem

Phat Diem Cathedral is a bit far from other sites, 30km from the town of Ninh Binh and 28km from Tam Coc. It is a perfect combination of the architecture of oriental pagodas and temples and that of western cathedrals. This cathedral is one of the only examples in the world of Sino-Gothic architecture. The most used material for the construction of the cathedral is stone with arched entrances, tall towers, shrines, pillars, blackberries, railings … The neighboring village has a beautiful covered bridge. You can also discover the artisanal techniques of weaving vegetable mats.

4. Bai Dinh Pagoda

Bai Dinh Pagoda, Ninh Binh

Bai Dinh Pagoda, Ninh Binh

This is a complex of Buddhist temples, stretching over 700ha, 19km from the town of Ninh Binh. This is the largest pagoda in Southeast Asia. It holds 12 national records including the largest copper bell, the tallest and heaviest statue of Sakyamuni. There are also three largest Buddhas (past, present, and future) in copper, etc. You can stroll through the 3km of corridors overlooking the beautiful gardens. These corridors house some 500 statues of Arhat (great sages of Buddhist philosophy) all in different poses.

5. Thung Nham’s Bird Park Garden

It is a tourist complex 8km from the Tam Coc pier. This site is suitable for walks or boat trips thanks to a very pleasant idle garden, especially in the late afternoon.

6. Cuc Phuong National Park

Emerald and clear water at Cuc Phuong National Park

Emerald and clear water at Cuc Phuong National Park

Cuc Phuong is the first national park in Vietnam. It is located 50km from the town of Ninh Binh. The 3-hour hike is pleasant and allows you to discover some species of plants and monkeys on your 3 days in Ninh Binh.

Ninh Binh’s Unique Cuisine

There are some typical Ninh Binh dishes that you can taste during your Northern Vietnam tour, such as:

  • Goat meat : grilled goat cheese, goat cheese fondue…
  • Grilled rice : a crunchy dish with an enchanting scent.
  • Crab Soup

Some Travel Tips for 3 Days in Ninh Binh

  • Ninh Binh is a destination served by many tours. Most tourists leave from Hanoi and arrive at Tam Coc or Trang An around 10 AM. If you are looking for a bit of calm, choose your visits early in the morning or in the afternoon.
  • To combine Ninh Bình with other destinations in Vietnam, this is an ideal route for you: Hanoi – Sapa – Hanoi – Halong Bay or Cat Ba Island – Lan Ha Bay – Cat Ba Island – Ninh Binh – train to Hue/flight to Da Nang …

Leave a comment below if you have any questions.

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Bich Ngoc

As a true Vietnamese enthusiast of music, books and coffee, Bich Ngoc loves researching into those typical cultural characteristics of Vietnam as well as exploring further destinations in the country of thousand years of civilization.

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