Ninh Binh is a typical Southeast Asian city and is the capital of the province of the same name. From my hotel room in the city the view is pretty sad and I can not imagine that there are travel brochure worthy landscapes around the corner. But as soon as you leave the city behind you, words fall short. You will be overwhelmed by the beautiful karst mountains, the river Ngo Dong that winds through and the many caves that she has beaten in the mountains. And to change the greener than the green landscape you spot a beautiful temple or pagoda here and there.
Highlight Tam Coc
And precisely because of Tam Coc, the area is called the Halong Bay on dry land. This hamlet is located 6 kilometers below Ninh Binh and forms the heart of this beautiful piece of nature. From a poisonous green plain with rice fields sprout so far the eye rich karst mountains, which frame the winding river Ngo Dong. During your visit to Ninh Binh, be sure to try a traditional sampan and take a boat trip on the waterways around Tam Coc. The local people literally row you with hands and feet through the breathtaking landscapes.
Silently the boat slides through the shallow, crystal-clear water. Along a sea of water lilies and other plants, through caves, past rock formations and rice fields. And what a wonderful silence! You only hear some birds and the babbling of the water. The trip takes about two hours and you can arrange your boat trip at the jetty in Tam Coc. Dozens of captains are waiting for you here with their boats.
void tourists during your visit to Ninh Binh?
And after that, time for some movement! Near the jetty is the Mua Cave, which itself actually does not mean much. What represents a lot more is the magnificent viewpoint from the top. Climb the endless stairs at the cave and enjoy the amazing view of Tam Coc. The steep climb is worth the panorama view. Comparable to Tam Coc is the environment of Trang An. Less touristy and therefore certainly a nice alternative! Do you have plenty of time? Then visit Tam Coc and Trang An. The following applies to both places: to avoid the tourists, plan the boat trip in the early morning or at the end of the afternoon.
The Pagodas of Ninh Binh
The area is rich in pagodas, which were initially very popular with the locals. The best known is the Bai Dinh Pagoda. An impressive complex with a huge pagoda. Also the caves and pagoda of Bich Dong are fun to watch during your visit. If you continue to follow the road to Tam Coc, you will arrive at this pagoda. This ancient structure is located in a wooded area and treats you to a beautiful view over the green valley.
By bike or scooter
Actually exploring the region on your own is the most fun. The area is nice and flat and you can easily rent a bike or a scooter. Already after the first bend the rain came from the air with bins, but even this desolate weather did not detract from the beautiful surroundings. Forget a tight plan and enjoy the typical rural scenes. Several times we were hopelessly lost, and the friendly Vietnamese helped us on our way with our hands and feet. Narrow concrete paths and sand paths take you along flooded fields, lakes and charming villages where you get a good look into the lives of the residents. But especially: rice fields, rice fields and more rice fields. Occasionally, Vietnamese straw hats squeak above the glittering rice fields. Everyone is busy, on land or with cows.
During your trip you can visit Hua Lu, which was the imperial capital a long time ago. Here you will find the old citadel and the Dinh Tien Hoang temple. Erected in a Chinese-style architecture style and situated in a once again beautiful environment. If you have more time during your visit to Ninh Binh, consider a trip to the Cuc Phuong National Park. This is a bit further from the city but gives a woody variety after all the countryside. Nature lovers get their heart out here! The ancient park consists of dense, tropical rainforest, antique trees and if you are lucky you even spot monkeys in the wild. There is also a reserve for endangered primates that you can visit with a guide. You can discover the extensive flora and fauna through the perfect walking paths or on a bicycle that you can rent in the park. A jungle feeling guaranteed!
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